Galen smiled up at her friend.
‘Step in babe’.
Galen removed her hands from the bowl of beads, smartly pushing the bracelet to the opposite end of the mattress, while equally smoothly rising up to embrace her friend in greeting.
Jane hugged her friend more fiercely than usual.
‘Are you alright, Jane? You’re cracking ribs up there like a polar bear! Hey!’
‘I’m, so…. sorry.’ Her friend’s voice sounded shaken.
Both girls settled on the large mattress on the floor. Galen’s apartment was appropriate, once you considered her friends’ opinions of her. There was a TV on the wall opposite the door of the one-room apartment. She didn’t listen to a lot of music. She had a deep disdain for noise, of any sort, and only the need to socialise had brought her this far with her few friends.
The TV was probably there to ‘light up the room’, as Galen would say.
Jane’s expression lit up almost magically as her hands settled on the velvety surface.
‘How come I didn’t notice when I stepped in?’ she said, her eyes shining as she closely observed the fine carpet beneath her hands. She’d taken off her heels before coming inside.
‘Well, I obviously just got it… ‘
‘The texture is just right! My feet feel like… Mmmmmmm
…’ She trailed off, seemingly trying to run the ends of all four of her limbs at the same time across the carpet.
Earlier signs of disconcertion had all disappeared, noted Galen to herself.
‘Are you alright, Jane? You didn’t answer my question.’
Slowly, Jane came up, coming around to sit upright once more.
‘I suppose I’m as well enough as can be…’
‘Come on babe, what’s wrong? I care about you, you know that.’
‘I’m fine, really! Can we talk about something else? I came to use your Wi-Fi hotspot. I have a download to complete….’
Other than charity, Galen threw away much of her considerable monthly allowances on Internet, spending absurd amounts of naira on the most modern system devices and of course, insane amounts of data to go with it. Her friends were always quick to take advantage of this, though she didn’t mind. She didn’t like to hoard stuff.
Slowly, Galen moved towards the pile of gadgets at another corner of the room. After a few moments, she turned facing Jane.
‘Pass is Venezuela’.
‘Thank you,’ Jane chirped.
Galen moved over and watched the screen of Jane’s device for a few minutes.
‘You’re downloading Black Panther’
‘Do you sincerely believe I’ll pay #3000 to go watch it in a cinema?’ She huffed. ‘I’ll visit Wakanda too. By mobile!
‘You won’t get all the sound effects….’ Galen started saying
‘My phone is a smartphone. I’ll get better than sound effects. I’ll get smart-effects! How’s that for a movie?
‘But….’. She was quickly cut off.
‘Ultra-modern, I’d wager! Super-sonic-smartphone! Yes, thank you.
The download was almost finished, 75%.
Both girls changed position, lying face up, each one lost in their own thoughts.
Galen thought back to Jane’s earlier turn of discomfiture. It was remarkable how quickly her mood changed for the positive. She sensed a deep sadness in Jane. The dark-skinned girl’s voice was steady, but her hands shook slightly from holding up her phone. Although lighting in the room was dim, she could bet that red-rimmed eyes lay hidden beneath her dark features.
‘I’m making a gift for a friend,’ she said after a few thoughtful seconds. ‘Should I make you one too?’
‘How would you like a beaded phone pouch?’
Jane turned her head. She was smiling.
‘That would be awesome’.
‘Can I have your phone for a minute?’
‘Sure’. Jane passed her phone to Galen.
It was a sleek Sony Android. Certainly with a lot of RAM and processing power. Galen remembered taking pictures with her girlfriends with this particular phone. She was sure if she visited the Gallery, she’d view some of her favourite pictures, relive some fond memories.
The movie download was about 2GB. Galen grimaced slightly. She knew her friends were aware of the extraordinary Internet subscription.
The slight vibration of the device was the only outward sign of the incoming text. Her eyes shot up ever slightly as she stared at the bright screen.
Galen’s suspicions had been confirmed. She had a hunch that Jane’s condition was intrinsically linked to her own designs on him. He was the point of it all. Without him, the entire scheme would not be necessary. He was the end in itself. All other matters were trivial, at best means to achieve the set goal. He was hers. He would be hers. Even if she hurt friends while at it.
‘I need to go get something outside. Gimme a minute or two?’
Galen stepped outside of her small apartment. She’d purposely chosen to live in more… modest quarters. She got teased by her friends about what she had sitting in her bank account, got teased so many times that it had become downright embarrassing.
She shook her head. Wealth did not necessarily mean comfort, she mused.
Looking down at the Android, she began scanning the messages.
It was finally in place. The one ingredient she’d been waiting all along for. She marveled at the timeliness of it all. She was the top of this particular food chain. While her friends were probably more beautiful and far more social than she was, she was the King Bee. The unknown hand making invisible moves across this chessboard. She chuckled to herself, amused at her own take on the chain of events she was about to trigger.
It certainly must’ve been convenient for him to make his move, Galen thought. She knew him better than anyone.
He most likely would’ve have been able to resist the full lips, Galen thought darkly. He was a man like that. Jane would’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of emotions. Galen didn’t know a single guy who didn’t cheat. She certainly didn’t think much of the act. It was… to be expected.
She would have him nonetheless.
It was time to involve the Knight. She smiled to herself, once again disported at her creative mind.
She picked up her phone to call Nadeen for only the second time that month.
Galen seemed to be taking her time, Jane thought distantly. She fingered through the stunning pile of advanced ware. Galen did have it all, Jane mulled.
She dimly remembered she was promised a present and made a mental note to remind Galen when she came in.
Still, thinking of presents….
She spotted the work lying at the very edge of the thick mattress. Her eyes immediately went wide. She took it carefully in her left palm, her eyes taking in the intricate design.
Three fine beads stood out from the bracelet. Spherical with seeming multi-facets, the letters etched on them spelled OYE.