It wasn’t easy finding something to wear from among Faith’s collection. And neither was it easy finding money from among her things to take a bus. But she did anyway.
It was 8:30 AM when she eventually arrived at her parent’s house. The caterers were rounding up cooking activities and some others were halfway through dishing the jollof rice into takeaway packs.
Some of the girls from the day before were present. And as soon as they spotted her, thinking she was Faith, one of them called out.
”Ha! Thank God you have come o. Your friend refused to bath or even dress up since morning. She said you must come first. So, biko, go and talk to her. Time is not on our side anymore.”
“Oh, ok”, Grace pretended to be surprised, “I’ll talk to her. Una good morning o”, she greeted all the others as she walked past the ladies decorating the wedding car, and into the house.
Grace would have loved to jump on her parents and tell them how lovely they looked. But how could she, when she was looking like her traitor of a friend. She did stop briefly to greet them though, and openly admire their outfit to make them smile. Then she made her way to her room.
She discovered the door was locked when she turned the knob. Then she knocked. Feet from the other side of the door hurried forward. A bolt moved and a key turned. But Grace was too impatient. She pushed the door open, stepped in and bolted it back before landing a hot slap against Faith’s cheek. “You witch!” she insulted.
But before she could say another word, Faith retaliated with an even hotter slap. She didn’t act like the soft-hearted lady Grace used to know. And she wasn’t interested in looking like such.
She had woken up early that morning to activities outside. The cooks were already on their feet. Grace’s mother was with them, ensuring they had all they needed to cook with.
Her siblings and relations had started to sweep the house and the surroundings in preparation. They were the ones who woke her up too. But at first, she couldn’t understand why she was back at Grace’s house, in Grace’s room, and on Grace’s bed. Heck, she was even called Grace.
“I’m not Grace”, she had told Isabella, Grace’s kid sister, “I don’t know why everyone is calling me Grace”.
“Ah! Really!” Isabella mocked her, “You must have had too much to drink last night. Get a hold of yourself, Grace. Alex isn’t going to wait at the altar all day. If you need a little more rest, take it now so you can wake up in time to get dressed”, she left and slammed the door shut.
Faith heard Isabella all the way in the passage, telling the others not to disturb her sister, as she needed some more rest.
Confused at what was going on, she looked at her body. She was suddenly fair; no longer had dark skin. Faith jumped out of the bed. Her heart raced as she moved to stand in front of the floor length mirror. Her jaw dropped and her hands went to her cheeks when she saw, her appearance wasn’t different from Grace’s. Actually, she was Grace.
Faith wanted to scream, cry, hit her head against the wall or do anything that could wake her up from this dreamy state. Actually, she did hit her head on the wall. She cried at the pain she felt. It was enough to let her know she was truly awake.
She paced the length of the small room, as several thoughts raced through her head. If she was in Grace’s body, then where was her own body? And who was inside of it?
She was still thinking when she heard a phone ring. Definitely, it was Grace’s. Following the ringtone, Faith searched until she found the iPhone X under the second pillow. The caller ID was “By Force Hubby”.
She frowned at the name because the picture that followed it was Alex’s. How in God’s name did Alex become a by force hubby?
“Hello”, she picked up the call, ignoring her racing heart as she was eager to hear what Alex had to tell his new wife.
“Hope you slept well?” Alex sounded cold.
“I did. You?”
“Well, I’m getting married to a lady by arrangement. I seriously didn’t sleep…”
“What do you mean by arrangement?” Faith didn’t let him finish his statement.
“Do I have to recount to you, how we got ourselves drunk and engaged in something we shouldn’t have engaged in? If it isn’t for the fact that I don’t want any of my kids to be called a bastard, I see no reason to be marrying you, Grace. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate you. But I don’t love you in that way either. We both agreed love is not a part of this union. Only respect and understanding. I only called to remind you of that. So when you’re walking down the aisle today, let’s both remember that. Good morning”.
Faith was temporarily dumbstruck. And before she could think of what to say, Alex hung up.
She slowly dropped the phone on the bed and sat beside it, still trying to take in what she just heard. But of course, it was a morning of revelations and more were on the way. Series of messages dropped simultaneously. Faith checked. It was from a WhatsApp contact. The DP was a fair skinned girl. Joy. And the message read thus:
Joy: Hi babe. How far
Joy: Hope you slept well? I just want to let you know I pondered on everything we discussed last night and I think you should go on with the marriage. Steve is not willing to take responsibility for the pregnancy. You know what an irresponsible jerk he is. And Alex, although is pissed, is willing to take that responsibility.
Joy: I know it isn’t easy being married to a man who has no love for you. But he is your best chance. Trust me. And you have to use it?
Joy: It’s unfortunate I’m not in Nigeria right now. I would have been there to stand by you. But all the same, you’re a strong lady. Keep being strong dearie.
Joy: I have to run now. I have the night shift at work today and I’m almost running late. We’ll chat later.
Faith read the messages, over and over again, before scrolling further up, to read their previous chats from almost two months ago.
Apparently, whoever this Joy is, she is Grace’s best confidant. And here she was thinking she was Grace’s best friend. Because in their chat, it explained how and why Grace and Alex were getting married. Taking her mind back to the past, she started to connect the dots. And everything became clear.
It all started a little over five months ago when she had tried reaching Alex. He was still in the UK and he had just started his final exams. She had wanted to wish him success but he wasn’t picking his calls.
Faith assumed he was revising for his paper or was already in the hall. So she decided to call back later.
When she called back later, the same thing happened and she was beginning to get really scared. Something was wrong with Alex.
She then called Grace, who also happened to be studying in the UK, and expressed her fears. She pleaded with Grace to help check on Alex for her. She provided the address Alex gave her earlier and his phone number.
When she heard next from Grace, her friend sounded confused that Faith insisted, she still hadn’t heard from Alex. Now that she thought about it, was Grace just acting up? Then she had gone ahead to say, Alex told her he had already spoken with Faith.
The whole thing was suspicious and Faith began to wonder if Alex was just avoiding her or playing pranks.
It was about a month later he had sent her that annoying text about having done something terrible that compelled him to be with another woman; a woman who happened to be her best friend. Well, ex-best friend.
She needed to know exactly what happened when Grace had gone to visit Alex. And she needed to confirm, that she, now in Grace’s body, was truly pregnant with another man’s child, instead of Alex’s.
Just as she was thinking about where Grace would be, an idea hit her, to call her number. And that was when she started ringing her phone. But Grace didn’t pick her calls, until the third ring.
After saying all she wanted to say on phone, she had moved to bolt the door and turned the key in the lock. She wanted no disturbance from Grace’s people, and she was definitely not helping Grace get to the altar.
Now, Grace was here, and instead of sitting so they could discuss their findings like two civilized people, she had the effrontery to slap her and still call her a witch.
“How dare you call me a witch when you’re the one who has been sucking my blood? And all these while?” Faith asked, frowning.
“You hit me? On my wedding day?” Grace covered her face with one palm.
“Look closely, Grace. I’m the one in your body right now. It is me they call Grace. Not you. So it is my wedding day”.
“You thief! You stole my body, stole my life, my family. And now you’re so proud you’re about to steal my husband. Arrrr…” she rushed at Faith, grabbing her already fixed hair and a serious fight ensued.
They pulled at each other’s hair, slapped, kicked and screamed. It took lots of banging on the door and several raised voices from outside asking what was happening and demanding that they open the door, for them to stop fighting. They pulled away from each other, panting on the tiled floor, as they stared wide-eyed at the door.
Faith knew if she reached for the door, the parents and siblings would step in and kick Grace out. And they wouldn’t know they were kicking out their own daughter.
“Are you going to open it?” Grace asked with a cracked voice. She was scared.
“No. They don’t know exactly what’s happening. And so they wouldn’t think twice about kicking you out”, Faith turned to look at her friend, and for the first time, noticed she was tensed.
“Grace, are you ok?” her mother called from the other side of the door, as the banging reduced.
“It was a big rat mummy. We caught it but it almost made us injure ourselves.”
“Ok open the door let me be sure you’re alright”, the elderly woman insisted.
“Don’t worry mummy. Faith is taking care of me”.
“Ok. If you say so. But be fast and let’s see you. Time isn’t on our side and we need to get to the church early”.
“Yes mom”, she replied.
The others left the door, one after the other. And the ladies could hear them rumbling about what could really have been happening in the room.
A brief silence followed.
“I’m sorry I attacked. I was just pissed off to discover you love my husband”, Grace was the first to speak.
“And I was so pissed off to discover, you knowingly snatched him from me”, Faith turned angry eyes on her.
“What are you talking about?” Grace looked perplexed.