From the balcony, a chubby teenage girl in glasses noticed a blue van pull in through the rain. She put down the novel she had been so engrossed in but seconds before and took off her glasses. Downstairs she could hear her mom and dad rush outside, she watched as they placed an umbrella over her cousins head, mum cuddled up with her inside of one while dad took her things out the open trunk with the other. So this was cousin Louane. It pained her to admit it but she actually looked much better than she had in the pictures, slim, broad hips, a small chest and a carrier of the family disease no doubt, she wore blue rimmed glasses, jeans and a tee-shirt. Her teeth were whiter, she had this grace about her, even as she slung her backpack over her shoulders and looked up at her. Louane smiled and waved, she stared back, a blank stare, then looked away, returning to her novel. She didn’t like her, she hadn’t since the pictures, it burned worse now.
Things had not changed between them much, Louane wore cheaper glasses nowadays, being ever so unfortunately poor, and she had turned into the obese monstrosity she thought herself as now, but inside, they were both still the same teenage girls who had despised each other from high school right up until college. Still the same dislike, still the same raging jealousy. What “she” didn’t have in looks she had more than made up for in wealth and power over the years, but was that ever enough in a world of mirrors and size 16 clothes? Even Louane who had made nothing of herself the past years, jumping from one violent relationship to another was more valued than her, because she was slimmer, prettier, and yet they wondered why she had grown to be so ruthless, even her parents had picked beautiful over intelligent. From the moment her orphan cousin had moved in her life had gone from near-perfect to incredibly stained, always the second best no matter how many times she did better, no matter how many times she sabotaged… or at least in her opinion it had.
She kept her eyes on Louane, even as she stared around her office absent mindedly, waiting for a response to her downright daring request. She sat directly in front of her, so close she could just about reach out and smack some ugly into her Little Miss perfect face, she pondered the pros and cons of true manipulation in their current situation. She could make her suffer, a smile played around the sides of her lips.
“Why should I give you my money Louane, you don’t like me, I don’t like you either”, she dropped the pen she had been squirming with between her finger and thumb and leaned back in her leather chair. “Because we are family, is that it? Because my mom and dad are dead and you can’t feed off them any-“
“Now you hold it right there”
She looked up at Louane, surprised at her impudence, interrupting her the way she had.
“I came to you for a favor, you help me or you don’t, it’s that simple.” Louane got up to her feet. “You know what? I was expecting this, I knew you would prefer the hard way, you self-absorbed elephant” Her words stung her, an elephant she had called her an elephant. She sighed further into her seat, her eyes peering at the raging Louane through her glasses.
“I know what you’ve been doing, I know what you’ve been doing with that boy, I have pictures” Louane was so angry her fingers quivered, even as she dug her hands into her bag and threw an avalanche of pictures at her, still she stayed calm, picking one of them up from off her chest and staring at it silently.
“How did you get this?”
“I want money, I need that money. 50, 000 cedis in my account by Monday or this makes it to the papers” She flung her bag over her shoulders, less gracefully as she had her backpack some 15 years prior, and stormed out the office.
All of a sudden she was overcome with emotion, she swooped her desk clean with one swing of her hands, crashing her files and paraphernalia to the ground.
“YOU BITCH! YOU STUPID BITCH I’LL KILL YOU!”
She placed a hand on her agitated forehead, the other pulling out the drawer beneath her desk and reaching for a pack of cigarettes.
The flight to Tamale took approximately three and one-half hours yet she was able to finish the Sidney Sheldon novel she had been gifted by her secretary by the second. Anaabea was, well she didn’t know what exactly Anaabea was, for some reason the young lady had been smitten with her from the very onset of her employment. Always Yes Madam, no Madam, almost made it sad that she had in 4 years not added as much as a pesewa to her pay, but that was her. She didn’t care for adoration, but she sure as hell could exploit it.
At the airport she had a heavy dinner by herself in one of the restaurants, used the toilet and changed from her dress-suit. She stepped outside to wait at the lounge and immediately grew self-conscious. The jeans and Lacoste shirt she had changed into were highly unflattering to say the least. She pulled the baseball cap she had grabbed last-minute from god knows where over her eyes and fell into one of the chairs, reaching for a newspaper. The clothes made her incredibly uneasy, her breasts pressed against the shirt, hanging almost to her belly button, her butt felt an extra flat behind the jeans pocket, she felt the eyes, the whispers.
By 10 p.m. when Attah and Hamzah finally arrived, she was in a very foul mood. She stayed behind their pace, making sure she did not through some accursed faith allow her step fall in front of theirs. People like this, they were the ones who whispered “she’s so fat though” behind your back, who spread the rumors about you, yet somehow they were the ones who added to your myth. She didn’t say a word to them, by 1 a.m they were almost at Nyampanduri, and she lay asleep. Attah and Hamzah stayed dead silent, eyes focused on the road, pretending the snorts and whistles coming from behind them were non-existent. She dreamt she was with Jacob again, making love in an open field, the sun warm on the flesh of their skin.
To be Continued.