But for a steady hum of shallowed breathing was all Atinuke could hear. It was warm, smelled like bubble gum and rested on the cracks of her lips with each heave. She wanted to grab that face in her hands, draw in closer and maybe plant a kiss like they did in the movies but the searing pain in her palms yelled a reminder of her current disability. She settled for opening her eyes instead, her lips tugging at the sides. Nnanna was a gem and if smiles were the only way she could show appreciation, then, so be it.
It was Madam’s face, not Nnanna’s, that Atinuke saw the moment she opened her eyes. Bright orange lipstick was smeared carelessly across her lips and her eyeliner came uncomfortably close to her eyebrows. She smacked her lips thrice in succession and scrunched up her nose. “So you can smile? Mgbon? Atinuke o tun rerin? I heard about your escapades at home, how you perambulated all over the place until you broke my glass. Olosho what were you doing in the living room in the first place?” Atinuke did not respond. “Wo, you better tell lover boy here to settle the bill since he doesn’t know common first aid. Who calls the ambulance for fainting when there’s maltina and coke. She grabbed her bag then and walked out of the ward followed obediently by Kaito and Kamsi. Atinuke wondered why fully grown boys were still so attached to their mother, these were the kind that would bring her into the room for sex lessons on the wedding night. More importantly, she wondered why they had never told madam about the uncomfortable arch of her eyebrows. She did not know much about the new school things but she knew eyebrows were not supposed to meet up in the middle of the nose.
Nnanna didn’t leave, he walked over to Atinuke, took her palm in his hand and stroked it lightly, his eyes full of concern. “You’ll be okay”. The searing pain rushing through her hands made Atinuke think otherwise but, she stifled the thought and coughed up a smile. Seeing her brighten up, he kept stroking, slowly but firmly. Poor Nnanna, if only he knew that he was causing more harm than good