She knocked on the gate and waited. She was feeling slightly nervous, but she told herself to calm down. She had tried her best, and it wasn’t her fault that things turned out the way they did. Definitely, she had tried her best… right? The sound of the gate opening made her jump. She hoped the gateman didn’t notice her jump as she tried to compose herself.
“Madam is in?” she asked him.
“Yes, she dey. She dey expect you sef,” the gateman stepped aside and gestured for her to enter the compound.
She swallowed at the thought of the madam expecting her, but she had to calm herself and walk naturally. She wasn’t going to let the gateman realize she was scared. As she got closer to the house, it’s colossal size made her bravado falter. The door opened when she was close to the door, and the maid stood behind it gesturing for her to enter.
“Yes, she’s upstairs waiting for you,” the maid answered, closing the door behind her. The maid led her to the staircase and diverted to another direction she was certain was the kitchen. She looked at the staircase and tried to still her beating heart. She couldn’t think of any other way to stall besides taking the steps one by one, but in the end she reached the top. Her steps echoed through the hallway.
“In the parlour, dear,” a voice beckoned her, and she obliged. When she reached the parlour, she saw the madam of the house seated comfortably with a glass of wine in her hand, the bottle chilling in a bucket and her gown spilling to the floor.
“Ah, Florence my darling. You’re here, welcome. Do take a seat.”
“Th-thank you, ma,” Florence answered as she took a seat opposite the madam.
The woman took a few sips from her glass before speaking. “You seem all jittery, dear. Why is that?”
“Eh… ma… it’s eh… i-i-it’s because it didn’t…” Florence swallowed. “Didn’t work, ma…”
“Hmm… and was that your fault?” the woman asked, sincerity in her voice.
Florence shook her head slightly. “No ma… I did what I could on my end. I never thought Michael would—”
“Yes darling, I know. I should’ve known he would try something stupid. Even after I told him not to,” she sighed. “It can’t be helped, can it?”
“No ma… And… I’m also sorry for your loss.”
The woman’s eyebrows went up. “My loss? What loss?”
“Oh… Why yes, truly poor what happened to her. But by no means a loss to me.”
“Ma?” Florence was confused.
“Oh darling. She was a beautifully spirited girl, yes. But she was the daughter of that wench Omolara. No child of hers could be called a grandchild of mine.”
Despite herself, Florence felt a weight lift off her shoulders. She was not to blame, and this confirmed it.
“So… what next ma?”
“What next indeed…” the woman echoed as she poured wine into another glass and handed it to Florence, who took it with tentative hands. “We wait for the little boy to come to his senses. Now that Omolara has disappeared, he’ll come to realize that his true bride had been in front of him all along.”
Florence only looked at her dumbfounded.
“Or… isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”
“Oh yes ma! It is!” Florence fidgeted. “You think… you think Segun will finally marry me?”
The woman snorted. “At this rate he’d be an utter fool not to! Only a matter of time before you’re part of the family.”
Florence beamed. “I don’t know how to say thank you, Mummy Segun.”
“Thank me? Good heavens why would you do that? This is meant to be!” Segun’s mother laughed again. “And please, none of this Mummy Segun stuff. It’s rather primitive, don’t you think?”
She raised her glass forward with a smile on her face, and Florence moved hers as well to make both glasses clink together.
“Please… Call me mum.”
Did you hear the one about the couch potato? Me neither. I was too lazy to listen.