Mercy could not accept it. She could not grasp how it happened.
“That's a lie!” the tiny voice that keeps popping up responded. She settled back on her bed with several thoughts running through her mind. How would she survive? How would she pay her rent and support the lifestyle she was now used to? What kind of stupidity had she allowed the devil to push her into? What a mess!
She thought of how it all started…
It was a lovely Saturday morning when she and her friends went for a good swim as the weather was boiling. Beauty rang her and informed her she was waiting downstairs; she was not ready to climb the flight of stairs. Mercy had put her swimsuits in her sling bag, put on her pair of fancy sandals, and left her room as scattered as it had been since the preceding day. She clambered down the stairs as her phone reverberated. Beauty was calling her repeatedly.
“Goat head! What kept you so long?”
“Chickenhead! Why are you so impatient?” Mercy reacted to Beauty’s greeting as she got into the passenger’s side of the Toyota Camry and settled in, fastening her seatbelt. Beauty, who did not turn off the ignition during her wait, sped up and zoomed off.
“Madam! Be careful, please,” Mercy retorted.
In the pool, Mercy observed Beauty as she walked majestically out of the changing-room in her swimsuit. Her exquisite body, which glistened in the sun, drew the scrutiny of the males around the pool. She observed the gaze of the men and, as expected, found out they concentrated their gaze on Beauty’s buttocks. Beauty has this elegant shape with a butt to die for. She became envious of her friend. Mercy hoped to be the one drawing such attention. Beauty seemed to be unaware of what was taking place around her. Girlfriends, female friends, and wives were green with envy, yet Beauty walked past them, smiling into thin air as she glided into the pool.
Two hours after the swim, they lay lazily sipping their drinks when Vanessa suggested they take pictures. Then the posing started. They laughed, had fun, and left for home.
As Mercy recalled all these, she grew angry. She regretted saving that picture of Beauty’s butt. Maybe she would not have been in this dilemma. She knew deep within her that she was just trying to play the blame game. She recalled how obsessed she had been with the picture, hoping and yearning for a butt like that. You know what they say about always discovering what you are looking for. Because of her obsession, she surfed online to discover ways to increase her butt, specifically through surgery. Most of the trusted platforms were foreign ones, and even though she earned almost four hundred thousand naira per month, she knew she could never afford the outrageous fees. She resigned herself to her fate and gave up her desire. But one day, while surfing the internet, she came across a new health facility. The surgeons were seeking to gain ground in Nigerian society in regards to plastic and curative surgery. They were doing a promo with the first twenty women who weren’t comfortable with any part of their body to sign up. They would have their surgery for free.
That was the deal. Mercy did not hesitate to make enquiries. She signed up for the surgery even against the advice of both her boyfriend and Beauty who identified it as a dumb thing to do. Mercy perceived the advice as Beauty trying to stop her from having her dream butt. She took one month of sick leave and went to the hospital. The surgery was successful, and she moved to Maxwell's house to convalesce. Her boyfriend, Maxwell, looking for an excuse to end the relationship, saw this as a suitable opportunity. He allowed her to stay for two weeks before he gave her “the talk”. His reason was that she was headstrong and that he couldn’t be with someone who wasn't comfortable in her skin. Mercy mustered all the courage she could and stopped herself from begging him, even though she felt her heart being ripped out of her. She had boarded an Uber home to prepare for work the next day after her leave.
She checked her Instagram handles and was amazed at the number of views her post attracted. She had posted on different social media platforms every procedure of the surgery from start to finish. She posted the videos, encouraging any lady to try out surgery to have the dream body they desired, as it was now doable in Lagos. She smiled at the number of views, comments, and likes. Her phone buzzed, and Beauty tried to reach her. Mercy ignored the call, still angry at Beauty for her refusal to visit her in the hospital. She was still very much against the surgery. What a friend!
Mercy went to the office the next day feeling very positive and merry with herself. Everybody congratulated her on her new look and shape, asking if the “sickness” made her gorgeous. She only beamed, glowing from the compliments. She walked gracefully to her office. She exchanged pleasantries with Sam, the young man who stood in for her during her absence. She returned to work. Nothing seemed unusual. She settled in effortlessly. During lunch, she deliberately avoided going to the canteen so she wouldn't bump into Maxwell. Time flew by uneventfully. By 5:00 p.m., the Human Resources Department had requested her presence. As she entered the office, she did not meet the HR staff, whom she preferred. Her greeting was acknowledged by Titi, the slender lady whom she did not admire so much.
“I was sent for,” Mercy informed her, and she sat on the office chair without waiting to be offered a seat. Titi did not look up from what she was typing on her laptop; she entirely neglected her. Mercy seethed with anger. She, however, controlled herself. After about ten minutes, Titi looked up from what she was doing. She held an envelope in her hand.
“This letter is for you,” she said, stretching forth her hand to give the letter to Mercy. Mercy sighed, stood up, and took the letter from Titi, almost snatching it from her. She majestically walked in a way that flaunted her newly gained shape, banging the door after her. Titi shook her head in pity and continued with what she was doing. When Mercy got to her office, she sat down, wondering about the nerve of that lady, who, from her physical appearance, could not be classified as beautiful. She opened the envelope, brought out the letter, and read its contents. She could not believe it; they relieved her of her job. Just like that, her services were no longer required by the company. She wasn't prepared for this. She shut her eyes. Tears refused to come; words failed her, and her hands shook. As she tried to make sense of the whole situation, Sam opened the door with a box bearing his things, perhaps to settle into his current office as the new personal assistant to the MD. When he saw the countenance of Mercy, he turned to leave, but Mercy burst out in laughter.
“Are you okay?” he inquired.
“Why would you ask me that dumb question? So this was the plan! You pretend to stand in for me but lobby me out of my job in the process; you are a wicked person, Sam. So you have been my enemy all these years. My God will punish you…” Mercy hurled torrents of insults at Sam, accusing him of being the reason she lost her job.
Sam burst into laughter. This caused Mercy to stop and stare at him.
“Excuse me, Miss Chukwu, you are responsible for your undoing. You assume we don’t know what you left for one month to do; you had the nerve to post it on social media. My friend, please clean your office in five minutes,” Sam responded as he turned and left.
She then realized what had happened. She quietly packed her things, looked at the room that had been her office for twenty-seven months, braced herself to face her colleagues, whom she was certain must have heard what happened, and left the office.
It had been one week since Mercy lost her job, and she had yet to figure out what to do with her life. Her rent will expire in a month. She had no one to accommodate her in Lagos. She had no savings except the last salary that was paid into her account just an hour before she was told to leave. The room was closing in on her. She was having suicidal thoughts. She could not travel back to her village to live with her parents. She would also not move back to her elder sister’s house, where she would have to battle with sexual advances from her brother-in-law.
She had begun job hunting, but still nothing showed up. The best would be to end it all. She had been looking at the bottle of sniper rifle in her room for some days now. She started staring at it as she sat up. She felt the bottle calling her to come and end this misery. She started for the bottle but paused when she heard the knock on her door…
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