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She got a text. Four weeks ago. A simple but disturbing one. From a number she was not familiar with. She read it to herself. With her lips parting slightly.

‘On Sunday marks my special birthday. Pls you’re highly invited to C-ron hotel for a brief pool party by 5pm. I swear it’s gonna be fun, though. Call for more info. From Chinasa Desire.’

She read it again. Her posture and mood immediately brightened. Her mind going places. Wondering who the sender is. The name didn’t ring bells to her. So she handed her phone to him.

Her brother, who was seated beside her. He read it too. His curiosity built. He didn’t know anyone by that name. So, he suggested she call the number to verify the identity.

under the sheets

She did.

The person picked the call and explained herself. Speaking boisterously.

‘I’m Chinasa Desire from. . .we met at. . .and afterwards. . .I want you to be in my birthday party tomorrow at C-ron hotel. I lost your number. I just did welcome back now. Thankfully, your number was one of the numbers I recovered’.

It was a mixture of fact and fantasy. She still couldn’t grasp a mental picture of this girl. But the idea that it is going to be a pool party began to fascinate her. She had seen pictures of that hotel before. In a flourishing part of the city. Artistic and pretty. Splendent and resplendent.

So, she began to tell her brother of her hopes of having a pool party there. One she had never had for a long time.

‘This is unbelievably irresponsible’, huffed her brother.

She huffed, too, irritably. And they quarrelled over it. For several minutes. Because she said she was going to attend the pool party. And he said she can’t attend a party she wasn’t sure of who had invited her.

She wanted to convince him this is someone she knows. So she called her again. In his presence. With a small, delighted smile.

‘Your voice sounds familiar, Chinasa, but I don’t recognise you yet. Can you send me a picture of yourself via WhatsApp?’ she said.

She checked her WhatsApp. The picture arrived. It was the face of a girl too plump to be from her neighbourhood. A face that didn’t really look familiar to her brother.

Few minutes later, she put a call to Chinasa Desire. And she said to her, ‘When you come, I’m sure you will recognise me. It’s just a party, a harmless party. Come and have fun, girl. This is corona period, you should have fun. Okay, if you’re scared of coming alone, you can come with a friend.’

Appearing relaxed. She assured her she was going to be there. With a friend. And the next day she was there.

With a friend.

In a party that never brought her back.

That has left her brother glancing at the clock.

Anticipating her return.

It’s four weeks yesterday.

Since she left for C-ron hotel.

Not a word from her.

Not a trace of her whereabouts.

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