The dinner, the drive and beyond
Matching bracelets? For the rest of the journey, Addison sat dolefully, troubled by it. What did it mean? What was she trying to say? Unable to come to a satisfying conclusion, he brushed it aside. He wasn’t going to let a thin strip of metal unravel the strands of a perfectly planned evening. Luna, oblivious to the thoughts that plagued Addison, blared Afro-pop tunes through the car’s speakers, dancing in her seat.
Kumi met them at the entrance of The RedBowl.
“Birthday boy!!!” Kumi shouted as Addison and Luna walked toward him. “Chale, you do ALL,” he said picking at non-existent lint on Addison’s shoulders.
“Chale, I beg,” Addison said bashfully and looked at Luna, smiling. Luna smiled back. Addison continued,
“Kumi, meet Luna. Luna, Kumi.”
“Very nice to meet you, Luna,” Kumi bowed, “Addison tells me you’re his fairy godmother. Do you know where mine is? Looks like she may be lost.”
Luna laughed. “Nice to meet you too, Kumi.”
“Shall we?” said Kumi, stepping aside and extending his arms towards the entrance. They smiled and followed his lead, Luna slipping her hand into Addison’s as they walked through the doors.
They were ushered into a private room where Addison’s mother and the rest of the guests were waiting. As Addison and Luna joined them, they got up in unison and welcomed him with the happy birthday song. After the usual hugging, handshakes, and sheepish grins, the celebrations continued: conversations, fun, food and laughter. Luna stayed in step with Addison wherever he went, literally hovering over him. Addison was beginning to feel suffocated by her lingering presence. His only reprieve was a bathroom break. Inside one of the stalls, he took off the bracelet and put it in his pocket. On his way back, he saw Luna at the door looking frantic.
“Where did you go?” She queried, “I’ve been looking all over for you,” she added, sounding testy.
“I had to use the bathroom.”
“You should have told me. You made me worry.”
“I’m sorry, Mummy. Next time I’ll tell you before I use the bathroom,” Addison joked, trying to ease the anxiety he felt around her.
She teasingly clapped her hand against his shoulder, “Who is your mother?” They laughed.
“Come, it’s time to cut the cake,” she said as she grabbed Addison by the hand and lifted it up.
“Where’s the bracelet?”
“Oh, it’s in my pocket.”
“You took it off?! Why?”
“Umm… no reason,” he said, letting go of her hand, as a band of singing waiters shuffled through the door with a cake with a chorus of Happy Birthday (the Stevie Wonder version).
When the night was over, Addison had to evade her just so he could speak with his family.
“Kwadwo, na wei nsoɛ?” Addison’s mother asked, curious about Luna.
“O Ma, ɔyɛ m’adamfo. Ɔno na ɔtoo party no maa me,” explaining that Luna had sponsored the dinner.
“W’adamfo kɛkɛ? Na Amerley wɔ he?”
“Ma, wodeɛ mɛ ba fie na y’adi nkɔmɔ.”
“Yooh, Kwadwo, hwɛ wo ho so yie o, w’ate. Na ɛnyɛ nipa nyinaa na ɛyɛ nipa,” warning him to be wary of Luna.
“Yoh Ma, m’ate,” he answered and signalled to Kumi who was talking with Luna. Kumi ran over.
“Abi you dey take mommee go house?” Addison asked Kumi.
“You catch ah, call me. I want talk sometin plus you.”
Addison hugged his mother and sisters and walked them to Kumi’s car.
Before they left the restaurant Luna said to Addison, “I have one last surprise for you.”
“Really?” He queried.
“Get in the car. Let’s go.”
Addison promptly jumped in. Luna turned the car around, slammed hard on the accelerator, and screeched her way out of the parking area.
“Where are you taking me?” Addison asked, half worried as they took the exit ramp on the Tetteh-Quarshie interchange towards the Accra-Tema motorway.
“You’ll see when we get there.”
“You know my home is on the other side of town, right?”
“I know,” Luna said grinning.
After they went past the abandoned toll booths, Addison’s anxiety had peaked to the point of overflow.
“Just tell me already!” he cried, his nerves getting the better of him. Given the vibes he’d been getting from Luna all evening, he wasn’t sure what to expect at the other end of the highway.
“Okay, okay, I’ll tell you. I booked a 2-day getaway for you at a hotel and I was going to drop you off there before I head home.”
“Oh wow,” Addison said nervously. “I didn’t think there was anything else after this wonderful dinner party you just threw me.”
“It’s nothing, Addy. You know I love you,” Luna said, placing her hand on Addison’s thigh. Addison pulled back and cleared his throat, straightening imaginary creases in his trousers.
“Yes, Addy. You must be blind to have missed all the signs.”
Except for his heavy breathing, Addison was quiet, staring fixedly into space.
“Addy? Addison?” said Luna, moving her hand back to the steering wheel. “I know it’s not usual for girls to ask guys out, but I fell in love with you the very day you crashed into my car. I knew then, that I wanted us to be together,” she said, reaching for his hand and interlocking it with hers.
Addison wasn’t sure how to respond to that. He let his hand hang limp, contemplating the quandary he suddenly found himself in.
“Lulu, I’m really flattered by your… um… proposal, and I know how much you’ve been there for me since my break up with Amerley but… I’m sorry… I don’t think I’m ready for another relationship just yet.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” She asked angrily, untangling her fingers from his. “Are you rejecting me? After everything I’ve done for you, you are rejecting me?”
“No… no. It’s not like that. I’m only saying that I may not be the best boyfriend for you right now. I’m still dealing with a lot emotionally and I think it’s too soon for me to jump into another relationship.”
“So you’re saying you don’t love me. Is that why you took the bracelet off?”
“Umm…no? Honestly, it’s just, I’m just confused.”
“Confused? You either love me or you don’t. It’s that simple.”
“It’s not that simple, Lulu. I like you, I really do…”
“But you just don’t love me, right?” she said, starting to drive like a maniac.
“See, Lulu,” he said calmly, “I appreciate what you’ve done, I really do. You’ve been such an amazing friend. I just need time…”
“Time? Time for what, Addy? Have you been so blind all along not to see how I feel about you?” The car started to speed and Addison feared for his life.
“I think you’re going too fast, Lulu. Slow down,” Addison begged, holding on tightly to his seat belt. Luna ignored him, mumbling to herself.
“I can’t believe you’re also doing this to me. This is what they always do. I love them, give them everything, care for them, but they never love me back. They never love me back. Why, why?” She muttered, slamming the steering wheel repeatedly. “Is there something wrong with me? Is that what it is, Addy? Why won’t you love me?”
Afraid they might crash, Addison reached out for her hand to calm her down.
“There’s nothing wrong with you, Lulu. If you’ll just slow down, we’ll talk about it.”
But she wouldn’t slow down, she flung his hand away, slapped him in the face, and floored the accelerator. Addison grabbed her hand as it hit his face, casting it aside. In the process, her bracelet cut his bottom lip. He felt the cut with the tip of his tongue and tasted blood. By now, they were going about 160kmph.
“Luna!” He shouted, angry now. “Slow down or you’re going to crash this car and kill us!”
“Don’t you dare shout at me,” came the enraged reply.
“I said slow down!” Addison said frantically.
“I said don’t shout at me!” Luna replied, picking up a pen from the cupholder and stabbing Addison’s thigh with it repeatedly with every syllable. Addison held her wrist down on the fifth stab and yanked the pen from her hand. While trying to free her hand from his grip, she jerked the steering of the car and veered violently off the road…
To be continued…