It was Thursday, and a few minutes to 12:00 pm. The curtains were pulled apart slightly, letting in only a little bit of sun rays. The room was of moderate size and looked plain, save for a moderately high foam seated at the west wing. The wardrobe doors stood ajar and a few clothes were left in a pile in front of it.
At the opposite side of the wardrobe, Phina sat at her reading table. Textbooks and handouts lay open in front of her. But she wasn’t studying. She was smiling broadly at her phone screen as she browsed through several short comedy videos on Instagram.
She was long done with studying, and this was her way of relaxing; at least, since she packed out of the house she once shared with Faith.
Phina had no beef against Grace. But unfortunately, she just couldn’t stay in a house with a woman who had her cousin’s face and body, but the person residing within is someone else.
If anyone had told her sometime back that her dearest, soft-hearted cousin, would agree to a soul-swap arrangement, she would have denied it flat. But then, it happened. At least the real Faith had come personally with her impostor of a friend, to bring her up to speed about what had happened. And thank goodness, they kept the act away from her until she had finished the first stage of her final exams. She wasn’t sure she would have been able to write well.
Two weeks after they opened up to her about their actions, she packed out of the house to a room she rented close to her school. Grace pleaded with her to stay. She didn’t want to be the reason for Phina leaving an apartment she had called home for about two years. But Phina didn’t care.
Yes, she was the crazy type who took mad risks. But after what Faith did, she was sure Faith and Grace were the craziest people she’d ever meet in her entire life.
Grace, now pretending to be Faith, had done everything to win her love and friendship. But she gave no room at all. She had told the duo earlier–the only way to get her to be friends with either of them was if they reversed the swap. But of course, they had made it clear to her that the sorceress who swapped their souls told them reversing it would be impossible.
During the times they came looking for her and trying to win back her friendship, they came with tall, handsome, bearded Jerry; Grace’s elder brother. His smile, white set of well-arranged teeth and slight dimple got Phina’s heart skipping several beats.
Phina would have called it love at first sight, for she was drawn to him the way she had never been drawn to any other man. Not even Silas, her immediate ex-boyfriend, had that effect on her.
Oh well, Jerry was from a stinking rich family and a razz girl like her had no place with a gentleman like him. She did all she could to shake off his effect on her, even when she noticed he seemed not to be able to take his eyes off her.
Hope this one isn’t thinking I’ll spread my legs for him whenever he decides to flash his rich guy status? She had thought then. However, it wasn’t so.
What she loved was the fact that he seemed to be in agreement with her demands that his sister and her cousin returned to their own bodies.
On several other occasions, he had come visiting without the ladies to discuss with her possible ways they could prevail on them to seek help elsewhere, for a re-swap to their main bodies.
On each visit, she seemed to get more attracted to him; his smile, voice, and even the way he gesticulated. But of course, she had to shake off her attraction so as to focus on what he was saying.
Phina would have thought Jerry was on her side due to plain concern for his sister’s well-being. But after a few enquiries she discovered that he wasn’t only interested in his sister’s well-being, he had been interested in Faith. He was attracted to her cousin before the swap. Unfortunately, that cousin now lived in the body of his sister.
Whatever feelings Phina had entertained in her heart for him, she worked hard to clean out from her system. It is man issues that pushed her cousin to take the most stupid decision ever in her life. She wasn’t going to join in that boat.
What a life! Phina wasn’t sure if it was best to pity Jerry or sympathize with him. However, even with their joint forces, the ladies had paid deaf ears to their plea for a re-swap.
Months had gone by now; 5 months precisely, since she saw her cousin. However, Grace tried coming around regularly; still trying to reach out to her. Phina chose instead to bury her head in books. And even when Jerry came looking for someone to talk to, she turned him away.
Her main reason was, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to handle the attraction she had for him. But that didn’t seem to ward him off. Sometimes he came visiting without first telling her.
It was during his last visit she made it clear to him, she needed to focus on her studies. She didn’t want to keep thinking about her cousin’s rash decision as it could affect her academic performance.
Still looking through Instagram videos, she came across one done by Faith. Yes, the real Faith. In the video, she was showing off her baby bump and she captioned it – “a few weeks now to the labour ward. I can’t wait to have this baby.
Phina watched the video for the fifth time, before throwing her head against the backrest of her chair, and letting out a sigh.
Despite everything, she had followed her real cousin on Instagram just so she could keep tabs on her. Apparently, UK life seemed to be treating her well. But Phina couldn’t help worrying about the circumstances surrounding the child. She only hoped Faith would have the baby successfully.
Ever since Phina got to know what had happened between her cousin and Grace, she had gone online and Googled information about body swap and its implications. One Book she read pointed out that depending on the kind of sorcery involved, if the person swapped with was pregnant, the new occupant of the body might not be able to make it past labour and delivery as the birth of a new life only happens if things are as they’re supposed to be.
Phina had done a lot more digging and even came across an ebook on dark magic and its implications. Upon opening the PDF material she felt as though bolts of lightning shot into her body from the phone screen. And the images drawn on the first page were enough to give one nightmare for a whole month. She quickly closed the document and deleted it.
So much for trying to help her cousin. She couldn’t lose herself or her soul. The ladies made a choice, and they were the only ones who could change their fate.
The first 3 months after Faith became Grace, was tough. Faith wasn’t just some random cousin of hers. She was a sister; one Phina had shared many problems and experiences with.
As a little girl, she had lost her mother to armed robbers as they made their way back home one late evening, from a church crusade.
The robbers had jumped out from within the thick bush that flanked the lonely road.
“Run!” her mother had screamed at her. And little Phina wasted no time taking off.
Earlier, her mother had told her that if they got attacked on the way and she was asked to run, she should obey as quickly as possible, so she could get help in time.
Her mother, one of the most beautiful women she admired and loved, begged for mercy. But the robbers thought it wise to rape and kill her, after taking all her belongings. Investigations confirmed the rape part. Sadly, the culprits were never caught.
Since her mother was a single parent, she had no father or home to go back to. Phina spent time moving from one uncle’s house to the other; for shelter and care. But with each movement, she realized her Uncle’s and Aunties would rather have her as an errand girl, than a relative who should be sponsored to school.
She was fifteen years old when Faith’s mother; her mom’s only surviving sister, took her in and cared for her like her own. Faith was about twenty years old and had just gotten admission into the University of Benin. But whenever she came home, she spared time to know Phina better and eventually took her as her kid sister.
The week Faith finished her last paper as a final year student at the university, was the same week her mother got involved in a car crash. She died the following day at the hospital. Her death kind of strengthened the bond between the women, as they now knew they had only each other.
That’s why Phina felt so heartbroken that Faith, after all, they had been through, was glad to exchange places with her friend and forget about her cousin; her sister. She left for London. Just like that. If Faith’s mother was alive, Phina knew she’d talk sense into her daughter. The woman was never one to accept bullshit. Not even from Faith.
Looking back at Faith’s Instagram video one more time, Phina sighed, before leaving Instagram. Still deep in thoughts, she pulled herself up from her seat and began to arrange the room. In the next two hours, she had a class to attend and she thought it wise to start getting prepared. Faith or no Faith, life had to go on.
Unfortunately, despite giving her exams her best shot, she had a carryover that led to a kind extension in Business school. So yeah, she knew she needed to work extra hard to clear it off.
1:15 pm met Phina on the school premises. The only thing she loved about business school was the fact that it was filled with business minded people; both staff and students.
Once in a while, the school management brought in a top business Mogul from any part of Africa and beyond, to have a talk with the students about the reality of business and income strategy.
Right from the entrance of the school gate, Phina was greeted with the normal sight of students walking together in groups; each talking about one business idea or the other.
Phina walked fast and kept her head straight. She hardly had any friends anyway; just a few acquaintances who she said hi to along the way. She was making her way to her department when she caught sight of Faith. Oh. Sorry. Grace.
Grace, looking dapper in a white flowery dress that reached her knees, had emerged from the reception and was looking through some documents in her hand.
Curious as to what Grace was doing in her school, Phina, walked up to her. “What are you doing here?” She asked, skipping any form of pleasantries.
“Oh! Hi. I didn’t see you coming,” Grace smiled.
“That doesn’t answer the question.”
“Common, Phina! Can you just for once stop treating me with disdain. You don’t smile at me, you hardly exchange pleasantries with me. Seriously, for how much longer would this go on?
“It’s not a matter of treating you badly, fake sister. I’m just wondering what you’re doing in my school. Spying on me?”
“No! I was just…”
“Give me that!” Phina dragged the papers from Grace and started to look through quickly. A short while later, her head snapped up, “registration?” She looked surprised.
“Yes,” Grace folded her arms in front of her, “Faith has been sending me my money. So I thought I’ll take a crash course to sharpen my business skills. I want to ensure the company I’m running with Jerry, does more in terms of quality, and income stream .”
“So why here? There are other business schools in this state,” she handed back the registration papers.
“Don’t be too full of yourself, Phina. I came here for my own reasons; not because of you. You’ve made it quite clear you want nothing to do with me.”
“I don’t hate you. I only hate the deception.”
“Well, there’s really nothing we can do about that.”
“So you both have said. You enjoy your sta, and…” she paused ass a red Camry packed some distance away. The door opened and Isabella stepped out.
Having come to know the Ede family a lot, Phina knew exactly who she was.
“Isn’t that your sister?” Phina nodded in her direction, causing Grace to follow her gaze.
“Isabella. What’s she doing here?” Grace looked really surprised.
“Is she coming to school here with you?”
“Definitely not,” she pouted as she watched a young man of about 29 years old, walk up to Isabella, Smiling, before enfolding her in a tight hug. Afterwards, he planted kisses on her face and lips…
Grace’s brows shot up. “I can’t believe this. Mommy’s pet is dating one of the guys in this school. Do you know him?” She asked Phina, who still had her eyes on them.
“We’re in the same class. He’s not exactly rich though, so I wonder what your sister sees in him.”
“Oh. Hahahhaha…” Grace laughed, “He is what she calls a low life then; something I would gladly rub in her face.”
“You shouldn’t rub anything in her face. You’re Faith. Not Grace. Unless you want your stupid secret all over the place.”
“This is Nigeria, sweetheart. No one believes my kind of secret.”
“So you think. I’m off to class. I wish you luck with your registration. And please, kindly remember to stay away from me while you’re here.”
“Phina, how much longer are we going to keep avoiding each other? Just look at me. Anyone who knows this body knows that we’re cousins.”
“They. Think. We’re cousins. You’re not Faith. You can never be her.”
“If that’s how you feel, no problem. I’ll remember to stay clear from you.”
“That would be nice. Thank you,” she matched off
“But I will not give up hope on us being friends,” Grace called after her.
“Whatever!” Phina replied without looking back.
Upon reaching her class environment, not so far from where Grace still stood, watching her, Phina caught site of Isabella and the said boy discussing under a tree. As she walked by, Isabella, looking the other way, threw an ice cream wrap at her, without knowing.
“Oh, jeez! I’m so sorry about that, Phina,” the boy quickly apologized, seeing that it was a mistake.
Thanks to her brown handkerchief, Phina wiped the splash of ice cream off her body and looked up at Isabella, who was now looking at her with rebellious eyes.
“He didn’t throw the sachet. You did. So I think you owe me an apology,” Phina eyed her angrily.
“So you’re saying my boyfriend’s apology wasn’t enough for you?” Isabella was sarcastic.
“I’m saying you’re a spoilt brat who needs to learn to apologize. No wonder your sister hates you so much.”
“Oh please, who are you? And what makes you feel I care what my sister thinks? My boyfriend apologized. Now be gone,” she got to her feet as if preparing for a fight.
Grace showed up just then. “Hi, Isabella. What’s happening here?” She had watched them from a distance, and seeing that a fight was brewing she thought she should step in.
“Just because you’re one of my sister’s closest friends doesn’t mean you can ask me questions,” Isabella fired with a frown.
“Oh! Really?” Grace mocked her. Isabella ignored her by turning her attention back to Phina, and then ranting away.
Her boyfriend tried to intervene but Phina waved him off as she seemed ready to teach Isabella a hard lesson.
“Don’t try to stand me in a fight, Isabella. I’ll beat you black and blue,” Phina warned.
The duo exchange words, one thing led to the other and Isabella got the slaps of her life, before her boyfriend was able to separate the ladies.
Isabelle left the fight with a swollen eye and a promise to get back at Phina.
Phina, waving off Isabella’s threat as nothing, walked away to her classroom amidst stares and murmuring from onlookers. If Isabella’s boyfriend hadn’t intervened, she’d have taught the loose screw a lesson or two.
To Be Continued…
A Pelleura Story.
Idea and Write-up by Karo Oforofuo
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