MacBens Tea Shop | Makinde Damilola Peter

She snuck up to him again, casting a wandering spell on his mind for the umpteenth time, that night. He stared at the ceiling, towards the beautiful chandelier hanging from it. But the ornated lighting wasn’t close to what he was seeing. She further strayed his heart, flashing a smile across his reminiscences, making his hands unconsciously rest on his laptop’s keyboard; thus making a long press of unintended letters and symbols, disrupting the Excel sheet he was working on. He didn’t notice.

As the charm of her smile further stranded him, he chuckled to himself, feeling that cozy ruption that usually pervaded his emotions anytime he saw her in front of the Tea shop, tidying its open balcony with her long sticked sweeping brush. She’d wave at him, mouthing a good morning from afar, as he alighted his car to walk into the complex. The meekness of her voice had become his weakness. He simply loved it. The day he passed a compliment and she blushingly replied saying, “Mr Charles, you keep teasing me…” is one he couldn’t get over.

To him, she deserved every bit of each word he uttered in her edification. He just couldn’t define the tingles that riddled his skin like goosebumps, anytime he caught a glimpse of her. The other day, during his lunch break at the Tea Shop, after months of nagging & argument, he successfully cajoled her into undoing her hair clip, for him to believe that the graceful bond was truly her natural hair, always lubricated to shine with coconut oil. The blackness, length and fullness of the strands made his ponders go wilder.

He scored his hands roving through the softness of her dark silky growth, stroking the distance between her forehead down to the base of the strands. He could feel cold shivers race his spine, sending warm thrills through his veins, as he imagined the unholies. His hands were now off his laptop; now supporting his head as he leaned into the wooden chair, basking in the ecstasy triggered by this belle. The succulence of her maiden palms were regurgitated by memories of the first time he met her...

That day, as usual, he had called the Tea Shop for his regular lunch of Toast and Milked Coffee with Ice, only for a different voice to answer the phone. It wasn’t the usual male’s. It was an aesthetically voiced lass. He had to name his preference to have his order placed. Something he hadn’t done in a while. The previous attendant already had his preference registered. He only needed to call for it.

Meanwhile, the hunger that gripped his pangs seemed appeased by the voice he just heard. He felt eager to behold the being behind it, to quench the thirst that suddenly plagued him. After a while, there was a knock on his door.

Trying to sound pleasing and official at the same time, he asked the individual to come in. It was his restless secretary, Bolu.

“Good afternoon, Sir,” she said boisterously, chewing gum as always. It was her trademark. Disappointed it wasn’t his lunch order, he feigned busy, facing his desktop. ” Yes, it’s a good one, and a sunny one too, Bolu” ” I hope no one’s making out in the restroom this time, that you’ve come to tell me.” He added, throwing a sniggering gaze at her, and back at his computer. Everyone in the department acknowledged her busybody qualities.

Smiling sheepishly and uneasily, she answered, “Ehnn, no sir, just to tell you that your lunch is here, and the lady seems to be new, because I told her to give me the food, but she isn’t willing to drop it because she wants her money immediately. All these girls that will be doing like they are…” Just then, he glanced at her, with intent now, interrupting her potential rant.

“For heaven’s sake, what happened to the landphone on your desk Bolu? Did you have to come here to tell me this?”

“Ehn Sir,…” Before she scrambled to find a defense, he halted her ramble. “OK, ok, please usher her in Bolu.”

“Oga, she should come..”

“Yes, she should be sent in, Bolu, I mean, send her in!” Bolu could be an annoying secretary.

Walking briskly out of the door and leaving it to snap closed on its magnetic frame, he heaved a sigh of respite. Not long, there was another knock. “Come in,” he said.

Bolu’s head popped again from the space ajar, as the door opened, “She’s here Sir.”

Sounding frustrated, he said “Bolu, go back to your office, thank you, and let her in!!!”

“Yes Sir!” she hurriedly replied, letting the door clap close again.

Facing his desktop in frustration, a voice repositioned his face towards the entrance. “Good afternoon, Sir.”

He didn’t even notice someone had entered. And standing before him was a woman like the ripened fig fruit, looking juicy and fresh like one bore of the sycamore’s specie. She was milk etched into human.

“Sorry for delaying your lunch. I had been trying to explain to your secretary that I’m the new lady at the MacBens Tea Shop. And I just wanted to make myself known to the customers in the company for familiarization. But she seemed to make a big deal of it.” Bolu had lied. She always tried to keep women off him.

He kept staring at her, immersed in the texture of her voice, lost to the thoughts she was even expressing. She sounded pristinely polished and simply sublime. The phone didn’t do justice to the nectar that was reeling right before him. The black MacBens face cap complimented the oval of her face. While the way she mixed smiling and speaking was enough antidote to evaporate the frustration that Bolu welled up some minutes ago. There was no magic wand, but he felt hexed by her.

It took her to stretch out the white nylon containing his lunch over his desk, saying “Sir, Sir, here’s your order…” to jolt him to consciousness. He answered like a baby’s wobbly limbs trying to balance on the floor, stuttering “Oh, yeah, uh, oops, well yea, yes, thank you. So how much is my bill?” For God’s sake, he knew how much it cost. But, he needed to hear her say it. And she did, revealing the perfection of her spotless dentition again… The depths of her dimples would almost take in one’s smallest finger. The hollows fitted beautifully in her cheeks.

He handed her some Naira notes, and requested for her name, which she replied saying “Haliyah…”. He watched her unlatch the side bag hanging over her yellow round neck MacBens branded shirt, searching for change. He relished that moment of unreciprocated staring. The well apportioned sculpt of her upper region was no doubt meant for a lower part of an hour glass, which she was. She was all sporty, with her shirt finely tucked in her dark blue jean. Her flat tummy was obvious. He sat back in his chair, swaying the rotatable seat, side to side, subconsciously fiddling with his mouse on its pad.

She stretched out his change to him, but he asked her to keep it. Slightly flattered, and unwilling, she declined. But he insisted. She muttered a shy thank you, buttressed with a smile, and he responded stretching out his hand for a handshake, saying “Thanks for the delivery, Haliyah…” He enjoyed the pronunciation of the name as he emphasized it in his response of gratitude. And that was the first time he had a contact with her skin. Her tender palms were like freshly baked white loaves, sending sizzling rushes down his blood stream. He watched her approach the door, and subconsciously got to his feet to stand over his table; to catch a good view of his mesmerizing vendor, as she gaited towards the exit. Her Sketchers sneakers were the smallest footwear he’d seen any adult human wear. Her feet were cute in ’em. She had turned to close the door to find him upright, and in trying to save himself from the obvious embarrassment, he dived into the files across his table like he was searching for something. She knew he’d been staring. She peeked as the door closed, whispering another thank you. He looked at his hand which shook her. And fisted them as if holding tightly the feeling of the handshake. Meanwhile, her perfume fragrance lingered, and he closed his eyes inhaling the available scent of it, as it dissipated.

He had since then stopped ordering his lunch, and always went all the way down to the Tea Shop to have his meal while he savored her exquisiteness, as she attended other customers. He felt jealous anytime she shared giggles and grins with other customers. It was like she was too generous with her natural pleasance. He wanted it all tamed and gestured for him, alone. The best time was when she was less busy, behind her curved bartender kind of desk, and he’d grab a stool to seat before her. They acquainted seamlessly. And he was surprised when she revealed she was a graduate of Food&Nutrition.

She delighted him with the way she could maneuver words, just the way he loved them strung. Her witty remarks during conversations, and subtle but deadly jibes when they playfully argued, always made him want more. The esteem and discipline she exuded despite her joviality was smashing. He was more enthralled anytime she smirked. She made smirking look so enchanting. She was too good for Tea Shop attendant. 8 months upon her arrival and there was a new spark in his way of life.

He now made it a habit to visit the rest room before proceeding to the Tea Shop. He’d go look himself in the mirror, adjust his collar and all, then smile. He knew he was fine man. Who tried to look good going for lunch? He had once taken the stairs from his office on the topmost floor to the ground floor when the elevator seemed a minute late to allow him in. He always anticipated lunchtime like his next draw of breath, all because of this new woman.

Just then, the chandelier went off, alongside other fluorescents, rendering the room dark. The hotel’s power went out, reviving him from the comma he was sedated into by his own thoughts. A Five Star Hotel? There must be a major issue with power, he thought, glancing at his laptop.

“Holy Shit!” He muttered, seeing the rubbish he had unconsciously typed to disrupt his Excel sheet calculations. The company had brought a number of them on vacation for some serious work, and there he was walking his head through an escapade, abstractly accompanied by this woman. “God, what is wrong with me! ” he said, tittering, and spanking his head. The off TV now made the sound of the song which he had put on repeat, more audible. It had been playing in the background of his laptop. It was James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’ playing to an end again.

🎵🎵 You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, it’s true… 🎵🎵

🎵🎵 There must be an angel with a smile on her face 🎵🎵

🎵🎵 When she thought up that I should be with you… 🎵🎵

He remembered her once again, smiling to himself as he ruminated on the last time he joked with her, and she playfully poked the edge of his nose with the tip of her pen, leaning over her desk. She felt a bit awkward after doing it and apologized, but he loved it. Just then, the last lines of the song played to fade him out of his thoughts…

🎵🎵 But it’s time to face the truth,🎵🎵

🎵🎵 I will never be with you… 🎵🎵

He was married.

© Makinde Damilola Peter, 2018.

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