*A Kiss To Dried Lips*
Anna had gone extra miles to find that photo of Frank in the midst of some boys. Boys that had dreads and coloured hairs, tattoos on chests and arms too.
Frank had sworn severally to Isabelle that he never smokes but the image had proved otherwise. The room was smoky and vapes were visibly lying around the place.
He wondered who had leaked the photo they took the previous week during their weekend gathering.
How could he not have known that Abidjan was the culprit? He had taken several shots of them and shared it on his WhatsApp updates. Anna was quick to get a hold of it to show Isabelle. She had searched so long for strong evidence that could taunt her. Isabelle believed that her lover was a saint who neither smoked nor indulged in illegal businesses- to the best of her knowledge of him and all she had observed. Anna thought it was wise to let her experience truly that boys were different breeds of chameleons.
As Isabelle darted eyes on the photo one more time, she could see how the room was filled with smokes and the topless Frank, seated on a bed with his fellow guys. He was sitting like one who was conversant with the environment. Blatantly, Frank’s image posed amidst those of his friends. He held a bottle of whiskey in his hands, while a stick of cigarette tucked firmly behind his ear. His face was wide in excitement and merriment of the moment.
“What kind of man leads life this way?” Isabelle growled from inside. She was ready to confront him with a myriad of questions. How could Frank have lied about not smoking? She’d never bumped into him on one, nor perceived the dry smell in his apartment. Her mind bashed against the bridge of confusion, popping out several questions. Every tip of her entirety beclouded and constantly clashed with a fuse of confusion and anger. Emotional trauma dragged a stream of tears down her succulent cheeks. She could see through the mirror by her left that her makeup was gradually being washed in a flood of tears, drawing lines on her cheeks.
“This is not the man I’ve loved,” She said, staring at the picture again. Just then, Frank, who heard her sniffs from the bathroom trudged in looking stunned. Isabelle quickly hid everything in her handbag.
“What is going on babe?” he asked in a soft tone, leaning closer with his hand crossing Isabelle’s neck.
“Nothing”, Isabelle knew the best solution to such cases with Frank would be a simple lie. She was not ready to let anyone come between them. She was ready to stomach his flaws for the relationship to continue. Not just because of his assistance in times of financial challenges but for she loved him dearly.
“Nothing?” Frank’s eyes brightened. “Your eyes are wet” Frank was now looking into her eyes, trying to pick a reason from her expressions. In as much as he had chosen to live the life of a player, he still loved Isabelle. It beats his heart to see her cry. Isabelle remained mute and just stared into his eyes. “Tell me, babe, what has happened lately?”
“Your family, friends, uncle too.”
Isabelle’s eyes rolled away. Frank has just reminded her about the call she received earlier from Abuchi her younger brother. Abuchi had called to inform her about Uncle Ifebunna’s health.
Uncle Ifebunna had been manhandled by some hoodlums a few days ago. It was rumoured that the touts were arranged by Chief Odili, his business associate whom he owed some money and refused to pay. Hence the sickness. It then dawned on Isabelle that her uncle, though a despotic and frugal man, had got no one else except them to help him come back to life.
“Frank, I will need some money to pay for my Uncle’s hospital bills. He’s really not in good shape right now.” Her mouth moved so fast as she spelt every word, making sure Frank understood the reason for the money.
Frank was caught in awe of shock by Isabelle’s quick reaction and sudden demands for money after ages of silence. “What happened to him?” his voice was guttural as he allowed his finger to stroke lovely on her cheeks.
“Don’t worry, I’ll let you know that once I get to the hospital”, Isabelle stood up almost immediately, grabbing her bag to go. “Can you help me please?” she begged again, looking Frank in the eyes.
“Okay” Ordinarily Frank ought to get affronted with such actions, he hardly took it from people, but he chooses not to. He gently reached for Hos mobile phone and transferred some money to Isabelle. After she received it, she gave beams of smiles crawling at the edges of her lips. She then zoomed off with her mind still is reminiscent of the photo that was about to change everything she’d known about Frank.