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Short Story Excerpt: Family Matters

When Renate checked, she saw that Preye had left a single message. Call Me.

It was like her sister to be cryptic and annoying. Whatever it is, why didn’t she just text the entire message? Her hand hesitated over the green call button beside Preye’s name. What was the matter now?

It was early evening still. As promised, Adeun had brought her to Freedom Park for the monthly Afropolitan Vibes. The band was still setting up and it wasn’t crowded, yet. Adeun had compared it to a concert gathering but it still seemed rather tame. They sat on a raised porch, facing an array of food bars and she’d ordered ofada rice; one of the few cravings she remembered from childhood. Adeun had tried to convince her the ofada wasn’t all that here. “I’ll take you somewhere else. They grind the pepper by hand.”

“I’ll take what I get. When did you say they built this park?”

“I guess 2010? I first came here in 2011 and…”

He was interrupted by a squeal, “Deun!” He turned, just in time to see a petite young woman with waist-length braids and a short Ankara shift dress launch herself at him. “Ah ahn! Long time no see!”

“Guvan! Of all places!”

“Yes! How are you?” She turned and gave Renate a curious look. “Hello?”

“Hi.” Renate did a little wave, bobbed her eyebrows. She was getting used to these things.

“Guvan, this is my…sister, Renate. Renate, Guvan. We were…friends in secondary school.”

Guvan laughed, throwing her head back.  “Friends. Right. Is Renate a Yoruba name? And I thought you were an only child? ”

It was Adeun’s turn to laugh. “I thought I was too.” He planted a kiss on her forehead. “It was great seeing you, Guvan. What’s your number? We should catch up.”

“We should, my love.” She slid off his lap and tapped her number into his phone. “Make sure you call me!”

“I will.”

Renate watched her sashay off, amused. “She’s very pretty.”

“She’s also very crazy. This is why I don’t come here often. Always running into people from the past. Forward ever!” He emptied his beer can.

“That’ll be all for this evening.” She glanced pointedly at the beer can. “That’s your third already.”

“Don’t even start.” The guitarist started to strum and he cocked his head in the direction of the stage. “Shall we get up close? They’ll start in a bit.”

She stood up, and felt her phone vibrate in her bag. She ignored, taking the hand Adeun offered.

“You didn’t bring your camera?” He asked.

“I had a teacher at school who said not every moment should be captured. Sometimes, just enjoy it. It’s a bit like Schrödinger’s experiment.”

“Huh?”

“Is it Schrödinger’s? I don’t remember. But it’s a theory in quantum mechanics that moments are altered if they’re witnessed? I think moments are altered by being captured and you know, brought into a future they weren’t part of.”

“Ehn?” But he was laughing, his yellow eyes twinkling and she punched him playfully. ” You are such a nerd.”

“Whatever.” She took her phone out of her bag as they arrived in the space in front of the big stage. Yup. Preye again.

I know you’re out with Adeun. Be careful. He’s not all he seems. 

She looked up to see him smiling at her but his eyes were harder. “Big sister Preye? She can relax. I don’t have beef with you. She’s the one being unreasonable.”

 

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