At the end of the wedding, I met with my close friend Isabella who had also attended the wedding as Maureen’s friend even though she wasn’t on the bridal train. Diana and I had still not reconciled and she had gone for an ushering job at another event so she didn’t come. Isabella and I strolled out of the reception venue to the main road where we would see a keke to take us back to school. I removed my heels and wore a flat slippers that I had in my bag.

“I didn’t see you go out to catch Maureen’s bouquet,” Isabella said as we approached the gate.

“What’s the need? You that went out, did you catch it? Besides, it makes one look desparate. Imagine all the men knowing that I am singe and available.”

“This your pride will kill you one day,” Isabella said laughing.

A Toyota Venza car came to a halt near us and we turned to see a dark bearded man inside. He wound down the glass of the passenger side and asked to give us a lift.

“No, thank you sir,” I responded almost immediately.

He insisted saying that the weather looked as if rains would soon fall and giving us a lift would be to our benefit. But I stood my grounds saying that we would find our way. He wound up his glass and drove off. When he was out of sight, Isabella scolded me for rejecting the free ride.

“He’s a stranger. Why should I accept a free ride from a stranger?”

“Stranger ke. Is he not coming from the same wedding that you and I attended? I’m not ready to suffer standing for long looking a keke and it will soon rain. The next car that asks us for a ride, I’m accepting it and hoping in with or without you.

She had just finished speaking when a Toyota Avensis car stopped by us. The glass of the back seat was already wound down and a man sitting behind asked to drop us. Isabella eyed me and then accepted.

“Isn’t your friend coming with you?” he asked her as she made herself comfortable on the front passenger seat.

“No, I’m not. I’m going in a different direction,” I lied with a broad smile.

“I could still drop you somewhere along the way,” he said.

“I’m actually going in the opposite direction. It’s completely off your route,” I lied again still smiling.

RELATED: MAUREEN’S WEDDING

He waved at me with a smile and his driver drove off. Did I make a mistake by not accepting the ride? May be, because it started raining almost immediately and there was no shade or shelter around. I wasn’t with an umbrella either and there were no empty kekes passing by. I started running back to the reception hall to seek shelter and I was already drenched and soaked by the time I got there. I was so angry that my hair had been soaked by the rain. If you know how much Maureen had made us pay for such an expensive hair and how I managed to get the money, you would understand why I was angry.

Maureen and her husband had already left the venue and the vendors were tidying up the hall. I stood on the verandah until the rains stopped falling before I proceeded to go back to the hostel.

When I got back, shame would not allow me to check Isabella’s room because I knew she would laugh at me. I went straight to my room, had my bath and lay down in my dry, comfortable night wear ready to sleep after a long, tiring day filled with drama and adventure.

RELATED: MAUREEN’S WEDDING – 2

Diana came back shortly after and asked how the wedding was. We hadn’t been communicating for days and I was surprised when she asked how the wedding was. I told her it was fine and skipped all the details about how I met one guy named Idy and how I ran away from the salon for not wanting to fix my lashes and how I got soaked by the rain for refusing a free ride. Diana asked about Isabella and I told her she should be in her room.

“I checked her room and her roommates said she isn’t back yet. I was surprised to see you in the room. I thought you and Isabella were supposed to come back together,” Diana said looking confused.

“She isn’t back yet?” I asked in shock. “She left before me. Many hours before I did.”

I looked at my phone to check the time and it was quarter to 8 in the evening. Almost 3 hours after she left the wedding reception venue and she isn’t back yet? I explained to Diana about the free ride Isabella had accepted and my fear that may be she had been kidnapped. We dialled Isabella’s number but it was switched off. We began to panic. What do you think could have happened to Isabella? Where could she be? Why wasn’t she back yet? Why was her phone switched off?

End Note: This is a fiction story and episode 21 of #UduakObongStorySeries