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Two Worlds - Season 1 - Episode 38
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Source: olaxali
An artist needed a quiet moment, Richard mused, and Tin-can was the least quiet place in Apapa. People drove in and out of the ports, hotels, industries, and banks, determined to create noise, to disturb the artist.
He parked in front of the gallery and remained in his car for some time before stepping out. He eased to the tinted glass door and pushed gently. Different colour shades from boards hit his eyes. Some wet paintings stood next to the louvres, filling the air with a fragrance, and dry ones hung at the upmost four edges of the wall. She loved the place. Her works convinced him more than her “thank you” phone call.

She wasn’t in sight, but the palette on her table had a wet turquoise mix.
A voice called his name from behind. Ivie’s voice.

He turned. She wore on an apron and held a paint bucket. The door squealed and closed. How come he didn’t hear it open? “I arrived few seconds ago.”
“I believe so. I was here the last minute. I went to wash my bucket at the tap.” She walked to a corner of the room.
“What’s this scent?” He sniffed some of it.
“It’s Vanilla. I put it in the paint to curb the odour. But I’m sorry for the little the vanilla couldn’t curb.”

Richard sniffed to catch any other odour than the supposed vanilla. “I think the vanilla curbed them all.” He sat on a bench.
“I’m sorry I can’t get you anything, or I could run across the road to go get something,” she said.
“I’m good. I only wanted to see how you’re doing.”
“How’s your wife?”
“She’s okay. She should be in her shop. She now works in a supermarket.”
“That’s good. You want to see some of my works?”
“Yes. I was viewing some before you entered.”

She made for the open space and squatted to select some paintings from the floor. Anyone could tell she loved the gallery. Amongst all, it was a gallery that worked out.
“How’s your health?”
She didn’t keep the face she always kept when he asked the question. “Things are better.” No fold appeared on her brow. Instead, it shone brighter as she walked to the table and gave him her most recent paintings.
The topmost was a painting of a rippling azure sea. Good work. He picked it. “You paint every day?”
“It’s a hobby, a job.” She sat on her supposed work chair.
“It kills your—”
“It doesn’t, Richard, and please don’t feel bad, don’t ask questions, just accept that painting doesn’t kill any urge.” She paused from her rap and did a loud inhale. “It’s something I’ll have to live with. People live and survive with it.”
Never had she spoken like that, like a normal woman, the way every woman should when tired of upsetting questions.

“I won’t ask again.” He la!d a board on the table and picked another.
“Thank you, Richard. For everything. I’m sincere.”

“I’m glad I could help.” He turned his eyes to hers, and this time, she didn’t remove hers or blink away. The brown spot of her eyes sharpened. Now, he was the one blinking. “I love your works.”
She smiled. An actual smile, not the type that spread halfway across her lips. “Thank you. I painted one for you.” She walked to a corner of the room and crouched, raised some boards and selected one. She eased over to him and placed the board on the table. “You might need a portrait in your office.”
He widened eyes and chuckled. “How did you get my nose?”
“I’ve seen enough of it.”

The painting had a perfect resemblance of his beard. No string was missing. And his nose, better than the original. “This is perfect for my office.”

“I thought so.”
“I love this. Thank you. I love this.”

A trailer’s honk sounded from the road and hit his eardrums, nearly bursting them open. “I guess you get a lot of this every time.”

“My ears are adapting.” She was smiling. The gap in her teeth widened and… she was beautiful, so beautiful. Her rosary shone against her neck like one newly blessed by a priest, and along with it was her necklace of St. Vincent de Paul.

“You still wear a rosary?”
She touched some of the beads. “Don’t mind this.”

“You’re still without a religion.”
“If that’s how you put it.”
“Then why wear the rosary.”
“It’s a bead, one I like wearing round my neck. I can give it to you if you want.”
“Keep it. It’s always useful.”

The door squealed and opened. A man entered and looked to them, and then to her works. A customer.
“I should be leaving,” Richard said. “I will visit another time. I might find time to come to your house.”

She jerked, her head almost dropping from her neck. “My house?”

He weighed his sentence, checking for any bad word. Every alphabet was infected. Coming to her house could arouse things, and she knew it. Since when did she know it? “I should be going.”

“No, no. I’ll be back.” She hurried to the customer and exchanged words with him. The man scanned the gallery and started to stroll round.

She hastened back to Richard. “You can come to my house. You’re always welcomed.”

“Thank you. I will find the time. Thanks for the portrait.” He headed for the door.
At the door, he sent her a look and their gaze locked for a second before she looked away. He had thought she was done with that. She returned eyes to him and stretched her lips into a smile that refused to form properly; one of those smiles she tried forcing. He didn’t return the smile. It was better not to give a smile than give a forced. He slid the door open and stepped out. A wife lived with him, a wife whom he had vowed to on God’s altar.

As he drove, the white girl’s words—balancing both worlds—slunk into his head. Getting married was supposed to stop the balancing of both worlds. It was supposed to make him steadfast in one world, in one faith, without falling prey to the flesh. Now oh God, what was this thing pulling him away from that one faith? If it was desire, let it fade away.

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