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Thursday, 26 April 2018

Fond memories, right?” Dare asked Toni as we ate. She gave a sheepish smile. I flashed at her in annoyance. How could they be talking of fond memories when I had no idea of what their discussion was about. Toni would not bulge.
“Except, that we are replacing a face here,” she replied.
“For our sakes, I wouldn’t call it replacing, more of changing.” He said.
‘How is replacing different from changing?’ I thought. My salad was going cold as I drummed my fork effortlessly on the plate. It was not responsible for any of my problems yet I could genuinely dish my anger out on the plate.

“I hope you don’t feel lost, we were just catching up on old memories.” Dare said, as if he had read my thoughts. I scoffed. ‘Why were they acting as though they did not work in the same office, or as if they were just meeting for the first time?’ I had no idea of what they were discussing and what they should have done was to save their discussion for later, maybe in the car when I could distract myself with my Blackberry. Reaching for my phone now will seem inappropriate; it is called lunch, not talk time!

“Not lost!” I replied, almost too sharply. Toni immediately cleared her throat to cover up what could have been likened to a ‘jealous housewife reaction’ if noticed by other customers. “I meant, I am not lost, something caught my throat,” I lied.
“Sorry about that. You have barely touched your salad, do you want to re-order?” Dare asked.
If Salad could be cold on my tongue, I wondered what wouldn’t be at this junction. “No, thank you.” I replied.
“Toni and I used to frequent this place with Reina when she still worked with us.” He said, sipping his wine. “She loves very classy environments, I won’t be surprised to find her here,” he added. I remained mute. “Are you sure you don’t want to re-order?” he asked, staring at me.
I smiled as I swallowed some salad. That felt like a bitter pill to swallow. “I am fine, you see.” Who was I trying to convince? I guess more of myself. I snapped out of my thoughts and sipped my wine. “When is my first practice session?” I asked.
“You are quite eager about getting into our playground.” He replied. “It will take a while, after the annual meeting this Friday, we will look into the date.” That meant good news for me. “Do you guys mind visiting the park with me?” he asked.
‘Now he feels like running and he needs company,’ I thought. I looked at Toni, who had no objection as she flashed a smile. “It’s okay by me.” The rest of the lunch was a bit quiet, except for the occasional, ‘hope you aren’t offended with my presence?’ question asked by Dare. I remained mute. I did not give any answer to Dare’s questions. A smile was enough.
We strolled into the central park. I walked by Toni’s side putting her in the middle, I did not want to walk beside Dare. “I will just sit over there while you get on tracks.” I said, approaching a bench.
“Who said anything about me running?” he asked.
I shrugged. “You don’t have to.”
“I brought us here to see you run,” he replied, staring at me.
“Yeah…right!” I drew a dry hiss and sat on a bench. Dare left with Toni. ‘Who does he think he is’ I asked myself. ‘This isn’t the office and he can’t be dishing out orders to me. If he misses Reina so much, he could send for her to amuse him by running round the park, but certainly not me!’ I said aloud.

Dare returned with Toni and some clothes. “Here you go dear, just change in the bathroom over there,” he said, pointing at the bathroom on the far left. “Hurry, those ladies are waiting for you,” he waved at some ladies who waved back.
“You can’t be serious.” I replied.
“It’s just for the fun,” Toni said.
“Fun? I think you should enter for the contest Toni.” I replied, standing up. “I am sorry that you both wasted your time going to get me clothes, but I am not interested in a race”
Dare sighed. “It’s fine Darlene. I was just pulling your legs anyways,” he replied.
“Thanks for the scare.” I replied, clutching my bag to my arm.
“You are such a chicken Darlene,” Toni said. “I can’t believe that you are scared of the crowd here,” she added quickly.
I scoffed. “I am only being cautious, not scared” I replied. “Well, I suppose we are done here.”
“Apparently, since you refused to partake in a challenge, we have nothing else to do here; we will be heading back to the office.” He replied. “I will go and get the car.” He added and left.
I flashed at Toni in annoyance. “What were you thinking?” I asked.
“It’s not that much of a big deal Darlene; we just wanted you to compete with the other women in the race. I felt that you will do well in the race.” She replied, smiling.
“Really? And you didn’t figure that you would fare better in the race? If Dare wants amusement, there are better ways to get it, not through me!” I replied.
Toni shook her head. “It’s all over now, you can calm down. You look worked up. I think you were more scared of not impressing Dare than not getting on the tracks.” She added with a smile.
“Come on Toni, I have no reason to impress him.” I replied, with my eyebrows raised. “Here comes Dare.” I said, as I sighted him. “Shall we?”
The journey to the office continued with Dare and Toni chattering about high school days, especially the Prom event, with Dare likening himself to a Prince on that night. I forced myself to listen to my I-Pod as I struggled with making selections from Owl City to Adele, they would play low, and I was still interested in listening to Dare and Toni. I was the first to hop out of the car when we arrived at the office.

“Darlene, a postman came here looking for you at lunch.” My secretary said, as I approached her. “He left this note for you.” She stretched out a paper to me.
“Thanks Bola.” I replied, and walked into my office.
I opened the note slowly. “Let’s see who we have here.” I raced to the address. It came from Bahamas. “Jake is such a kid. What happened to emails?” I said aloud. Since it was from Jake, I could read it on my way home. I folded it and dropped it in my bag. I turned on my laptop and started reading law tips. I had to prepare for my practise session. I called an Events House to book a meeting with them after work; Dora’s coming out party had to be planned. I would have had Jake plan it if he was available, but due to his absence, I had to plan it.
I was glad when the clock struck 5pm. I had to catch the bus at Broad Street. I hurried to the elevator.
“Darlene, can you spare a minute?” Dare said as he stuck his head out of his door.
‘You have to be kidding me,’ I thought. “Yes Boss.” I replied and left for his office.
“Sorry to delay you but I need you to take a look at a few files for me.”
I placed my bag on a seat. “Where are the files?”
“I am sorry I lied, I need to talk to you.” He said, looking worried.

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