“Gladys, aren't you going to work today?”
"No, I finally decided to take my annual leave so I got ten days off." Gladys came out of the adjoining bathroom to see Aunt Isioma sitting on one of the twin beds. It was late morning on the Monday after her stand-off with Edward, and he was yet to call.
"That was a sudden. I thought you said it was too soon to be entitled to vacation time.”
"I was able to get my manager to agree. The team has a minimal workload." Gladys sat down opposite her aunt and began to fold the clothes beside her.
Aunt Isioma’s gaze went to the suitcase sitting in the corner. "Oh I didn’t notice that. Are you traveling too? You never told me. Where are you going?”
"I’m sorry, that was also a quick decision. I want to spend Christmas with my family, so I’ll be going up to Enugu for a couple of weeks."
“Bunmi just left yesterday and now it’s you.” Bunmi’s father was very sick and her family had asked her to return and help her old mother in their village. “When will you leave?”
“I’ll go and by a bus ticket tomorrow for this Wednesday.”
“Ade can drive you to the station and pick up the new girl on your way back.” Her aunt came over to sit beside her. "But tell me Gladys, are you OK?”
"I’m fine; I just realized that I miss home, Mama and my brothers.”
Her aunt stood up and moved to the window. She fingered her chin as she considered Gladys. “Is this something I have done? Have you finally decided to move out?”
“No, it’s not that…”
“The last time we spoke, you never mentioned this. You were happy enough to spend Christmas here with me and Edward.”
“Aunt Isioma, honestly it's nothing to do with you.”
Her aunt came back to sit opposite her. “Is it Edward then? He has not come by in a while and even if he's out of Lagos, you're not on the phone as much as you used to be.”
Gladys dropped the shirt in her hands. “Well, we're having some problems.”
“You know you can confide in me, don't you? Are you pregnant?”
“No I’m not! I'm not a child and I'm not that naive either.”
"My dear girl, people can make mistakes at any time. After all, it only takes you to sleep with a guy once and that's all."
Gladys could feel her face heat up. Her fingers went to her pajamas bottoms, twisting and smoothing the cotton fabric. This was definitely not a topic she wanted to discuss with her aunt. The first and only sex talk with her mother had been just as uncomfortable. “I wish I could say that was the problem but it's not. Edward and I are at a crossroads. And though it's about sex, it's rather that I wouldn't sleep with him.”