This is a work of fiction.
Ijeoma was deliberately late to work. She was avoiding Chike, who had formed the habit of hanging around her desk early in the morning, engaging her in chit chat. As a staff of the ministry of education, she shared an office with 2 others. Chike was the supervisor of education. He was divorced with 4 children. Being 6 feet tall, good looking, and well built, made him the man all the ladies wanted. Ijeoma, however, was the lady he wanted. And he made no attempt to disguise his feelings.
Ijeoma, parked and switched off her engine. Checking her make up in the mirror, she grabbed her bag and stepped out. Quickly, she locked her car, before adjusting the skirt of her green skirt suit. It was snug but not too tight, and the length was just right. As she approached her seat, she noticed him, talking to George who shared the office with her.
“O no! This man!”, she thought to herself.
The two men turned at her approach.
“Good morning, Mrs. Ozo”, George greeted.
“Good morning”, she smiled as she dropped her bag on her desk.
“Good morning, Ij”, Chike smirked. His gaze was fixed on her like he knew she had tried to avoid him.
“Good morning sir”, she snapped irritably and sat down.
“Is anything the matter?”, he asked.
“No, sir”, she turned to switch on her desk top.
He sauntered over to her and stood there, hand in pocket, waiting for her to look up. When she could no longer avoid his gaze, she looked up.
“I just thought you should know that green is your colour. You look fabulous in that suit. I love it”
“Thank you”, she said shortly.
“I wonder how you managed to maintain that figure after 2 kids”, he went on.
“George, does your wife look this awesome?” He addressed him without turning.
Dutifully, George shook his head. “I wish”, he replied. “From her 1st pregnancy, she ballooned into a mattress. With each child, she seems to gain 50kg. Madam’s husband is enjoying”
Ijeoma was at a loss how to get rid of Chike and his unwanted attention. The worst thing was that she felt flattered. Already, she was mentally lining up all her green outfits and matching them with jewelry. She didn’t think it was proper for her to receive such compliments but, could not help wishing for more.
Benita entered and Chike took that as his cue to exit the office. She dropped the files she had gone to fetch and sat down at her desk. Though she knew exactly what had probably happened in her absence, she kept a straight face. Ijeoma did not have her sympathy but, Chike was their superior and she did not want to be in his bad books.
It was sin for a married woman to be so gorgeous. Benita looked hatefully at Ijeoma whose frame was slender and toned. Ijeoma was about 5ft7, fair, and beautiful in that way that men desired and women envied. She had a heart shaped face, with a pointed chin, dimpled cheeks, and lovely brown eyes. She sighed inwardly as she considered her overweight frame. Despite the spanx and other restrictions, her size seemed to only appeal to the men who were unavailable. Her face was unremarkable, though not ugly, and it didn’t help that she had a double chin.
“Benita, good morning”, Ijeoma greeted.
“Morning O!”, her reply was sarcastic.
Ijeoma ignored her. She had matters to attend to.
“George, could you send me the folders that Mrs. Shodipe sent to you? I have an email from her but the folder is not attached” Ijeoma requested
“Sure”, he replied.
“George, how is your wife?”, Benita inquired.
“She’s at home, right?”
“That is good. Married women should stay at home and take care of the kids. No use exposing them to male predators”, she spat.
“Haba! Benita!” George exclaimed. “What’s with the venom?”
“I’m just tired of married women vying for attention with us. Good men are few”, she cast an evil eye at Ijeoma.
Ijeoma was doing her best to ignore her. She knew that she was the object of the girl’s misery and had no intention of exchanging words with her. It was no fault of hers that the most eligible bachelor in the ministry had decided to pick on her. She could not do anything to make the single ladies feel better. Despite warding off his advances, he not only persisted, but, grew bolder by the day. He had graduated to sending her emails and texts that would have ended her marriage, if discovered.
She didn’t bother deleting them. Magnus did not care. A part of her even wished he would find them and know that men still found her desirable. It would be better than the silence, the absence, the late nights. Anything was better. Gosh! How she hated the loneliness. Going home to the kids, only amplified the gnawing ache. She longed for the days when they could not get enough of each other. The days when they sent the kids to bed so they could spend the rest of the evening lounging on the couch. Her head on his lap, his feet on a stool, the television tuned to her favourite channel, and a glass of wine in their hands. Inwardly, she sighed.
“George, let me deliver these files to Ajoke. I’ll be back shortly” she rose with some files in her hand.
“Ajoke is not on seat”, Benita volunteered
” I’ll leave them with Don then; thanks”, she rushed out as if ants were in her shoes.
She desperately needed to breath. The hostility was getting to her and she could no longer bear it.
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