SHIMMER OF HOPE……CHAPTER TWO…….
Catherine woke up to the sound of her beeping phone and checking the time it was past eight pm, that evening. Yawning she got out of bed kicking off her high heels taking off her clothes ran herself a hot bath before stepping in to allow the steamy water to refresh her recalling what a tiresome day she’d had earlier. There was utter silence in the house and she wondered if at all she lived alone despite knowing quite certainly that she had a sixteen-year old daughter in the house. Anita had changed, she was no little girl that used to tug at her dress like before. Drying her hair with the blower Catherine stared at her glowing skin in the mirror; a woman facing her own battles. She knew that there wasn’t much to do to rekindle a dying candle in her home, but she still tried either way.
Anita and Catherine over the past years had grown so apart that she couldn’t possibly understand her very own daughter who seemed rather unusually fine despite what happened nearly two years ago. Since that dreadful day Anita suddenly changed. It was like she had become a somewhat strange person, unusually fine, but Catherine had her own woman issues to deal with besides stress over her teenage daughter. Providing food on the table had been more than enough though, in Anita’s eyes there was so much that she knew her mother could be, but circumstances changed.
“Hi sweetheart,” Catherine cooed setting down on the table with her hair neatly combed into a fringe, “How’s been the day?”
“Not bad,” replied Anita poking her phone with a spoonful of spaghetti every now and then, “How was work?”
“Well….” Catherine’s eyes shined, “I can’t say much…. It is killing me.”
“Oh…” replied Anita checking her WhatsApp messages and immediately began to reply, “Don’t you think you are stressing too much?” she asked without looking up at her mother.
“Anita”, squared her mother, “I have to work hard to put food on the table. I don’t intentionally wish to work all day tirelessly. It’s just that sometimes sales don’t go too well, and I’ve got to work extra hours, or we may have new deals and what not—”
“You are only feeding two mouths for crying out loud!” interjected Anita coldly.
“And pay for your school fees, rent and pretty much everything that runs this house,” snapped Catherine.
Anita went silent and sipped her pure joy quietly whilst her mum looked at her expecting something from her.
“Well….” Began Anita sighing, “You left the pot of stew cooking…”
“Which I was I going to take care of”, replied Catherine immediately but her daughter shook her head, “I was”.
“Mum you were on sleeping pills. You nearly burned down the house!”
Catherine’s face went pale, then dull as she rubbed it with her hand, “I guess I was so tired. I only needed a little sleep and I guess I forgot about the pills…”
“Why do you even take them? If you can forget to turn off the stove like that what if I wasn’t around?”
“That’s why you were here in a nick of time,” Catherine feigned a smile reaching for the bow of spaghetti and meat stew and dished her food, “Want some more?” she asked passing it to her daughter.
“No”, replied Anita pushing her plate away, “I’ve had enough,” she said finishing off her juice, “I’m going to bed,” she said taking her plate and glass whilst her mother played with the fork, lazily biting away, “Goodnight”, she said coming back to the dining table.
“Anita won’t you at least sit down so that we can talk or something?”
“About?” Anita went eying her mother weirdly.
“Anything. We hardly spend time together at all”, her mum said squaring again.
“Mum”. Anita said holding the chair, “I need to sleep. I’ve got school tomorrow. Night”, and she left without giving her mother chance to stop her again.
“Why do you look so distracted?” Catherine’s workmate asked the following day over a cup of coffee, “You’ve been stirring that cup for the past five minutes. What’s wrong?”
Catherine looked glum still with her eyes on the coffee, still stirring, “It’s my daughter Violet,”
“Oh….” Went Violet, her office mate, wheeling her leather chair closer to her desktop and began working on something as she sipped away, “What about her this time?”
“I don’t get her”, mumbled Catherine adding another tea spoon of sugar to her cup.
“You always tell me that. How old is she? Sixteen? You are bound to know that’s only a phase”.
“Not exactly”, Catherine said recalling she wasn’t one to share her problems let alone her personal life. She was somewhat reserved but because Violet was all that she had for a friend to freely talk to over the usual working hours she’d somehow mentioned a thing or two she couldn’t get her mind off and that morning she felt like saying more but as usual held back, “It’s um….” She had her eyes on some documents reading through.
“Yes?” replied Violet typing away eyes not once leaving the desktop screen, “I’m listening”.
“Um….” Catherine brought her cup closer for a gulp, “Kind of hard to explain.”
“Is it?” asked Violet still typing.
“Yeah,” Catherine said reading and resorting her files, “It is.”
“Try to break it down for me,” Violet stifled and a chuckle.
“Well…..” she mumbled through her words arranging the paperwork in files on her table.
“Catherine?” called the secretary just in time, “Mr Chali asks of you. Report to his office right away!
“Saved by the bell!” cooed Catherine rising to her feet in her high wedged shoes, “Sorry Violet I guess I got to go…”
“Sure”, she responded with a smile, “I’m here if you still want to talk about it.”
“I will tell you at lunch, perhaps?” Catherine said holding the door knob.
“More like a way to say you will keep quiet again till you whine again sometime,” she took off her eyes off the screen.
“Come on…I will tell you”, laughed Catherine with a grin.
“What you say all the time”, replied Violet returning the smile, “Never utter a word the sooner we settle down to eat”.
“You know me”, cooed Catherine.
“Kind of,” replied Violet a pen to her lip before beckoning, “Go”.
“Sir?” Catherine called when she met her boss in the hallways with some files and gleamingly he handed them to her asked her to follow him.
“So, the new buyer is Bradford Chabila, resident in Kitwe. He’s been looking for prized vehicle and he came to the right place”, he said taking long strides through the corridors.
“Okay”, replied Catherine trying best to keep pace, “What do we have on him?”
“It’s all in the files Ms”, he said reaching the glass door and tucked his hands in his pocket; clad in a lavishing tuxedo, “You know why I called you, right?”
“Strike a good deal, persuade him to buy the car?” she asked.
“Exactly”, the man said opening the door, “I must say he’s quite hard to bargain with based on his expectations of a sweet ride, but I know you can handle him”, he smiled, “Let me know if he agrees to buy”.
“If he does?” she asked startled.
“You haven’t met the man,” her boss said chuckling, “Good luck”.
“Um. Okay”, she said stepping out and approached the yard of parked cars of different brands. From afar she spotted the man in a trench coat talking to one of the supervisors and adjusting her jacket she came over with an elegant display of character, “Mr Chabila?”
“Mrs Mwiba?” he asked in response and she nodded exchanging pleasantries with him, “Great to meet you. So, yes, let’s get to business”, he said inspecting the row of cars beside him, “I believe you know what type of car I want, right?”
“Something that doesn’t burn too much fuel?” she asked going through her book of records
The man raised an eyebrow at her and gave a soft chuckle.
“I’m guessing”, she said, “What exactly do you want? I believe it must be somewhere in the files….” She said flipping through the pages and her eyes lit up as she checked, “Oh….. I see,” she said closing the files to face bright-eyed man, “Something classy. No problem”.
“Really? I don’t want some cheap reap off car that will need servicing few months after purchasing it”, he spoke quite casually hands in the pocket peeping through the tinted windows of a grey range rover.
Eying him with a hint of humour Catherine shook her head stifling a laugh, “We ship off the best cars from Dubai, South Africa and do have good bargaining over the best second -and cars from Japan”.
“You don’t say,” the man piped up bending low, checking the pressure of the tyres of a Toyota Hilux, “Brand?” he said tapping on the wheels of the car and the other beside him on his other side.
“Premium, tiger wheel, we got the best”, Catherine boomed elegantly as usual before she saw his smug, “Not that you are asking just to know since it’s obvious the brand is on the wheel itself”.
“Sure”, the man said walking with her and after much persuasion and convincing him did he finally settled for a Prado, “Where do I sign?” he asked the sooner he’d received the papers.
“Right here”, went Catherine pointing at the column he had to put his credentials on and got the papers from him.
“Great. We will finalise everything and hand you your car keys,” said Catherine eying the papers.
“Sure”, he chuckled staring at her somewhat funnily, “You seem like a chirper and lively woman,” Mr Chabila piped up expressing his compliments eagerly enough his tone making Catherine give him a startled look.
“I beg your pardon but what?” she asked closing the papers upon signing of the receipts and he only chuckled.
“I was trying to be polite”, he smiled, “So you are available this weekend, are you?”
That sent a series of laughter from Catherine, “Pardon me but I must say as charming as you are trying to be I’m afraid to say I don’t go out with my clients let alone a man I just met”, she said turning to catwalk, “All that’s left now is to hand over the rest of the details concerning your car. Shall we?” she asked him to walk with her.
Free to go out for lunch?” Mr Chabila asked off topic earning himself a weird look from his business dealer as he shoved one hand in his trench coat pocket and poked his phone with the other, “I was only trying my luck seeing that you aren’t wearing a ring”, he said looking fleetingly at her and back to the phone, “You get me, right? I was assuming that you were single in short”, he said boldly jingling the keys in his pocket that he’d pulled out, “So, yes, dinner perhaps?” his eyebrows danced upon his brow.
Catherine looked at him fighting the urge to laugh more before proceeding with walking, “Dinner perhaps?”
“Very funny sir”, she said leading him to the offices, “Just some final documentations remaining, and it will be all yours”.
“Lovely”, he said stuffing his hands in his pockets as he and she walked along.
Anita kept looking at her book as she scribbled something in it, ever in her own world, ever by herself away from the crowd. He was there staring as usual staring from the class window not so far from her. He always wondered what made her quite so unique. Something odd that he liked about her but whenever he tried figuring her out entirely she would often prove his assumptions off the chart by a margin. Anita knew quite alright that he was still looking at her even as she sat by the pan bricks and out her pencil and began to draw something in her small sketch book. Suddenly he approached her– his footsteps gave him away and for some reason she knew that he was staring up close now with his usual expression of wonder before even raising her head to steal a glance at him.
Forcing out a sigh Anita raised her head from her notebook and asked him a straight up question, “What is it?” He only smiled. That’s all he did.