"I have to warn you," He continued, "Arya has a new board game she wishes to play." I laughed. Arya thought of me as a big sister. In truth, I thought of her as my little sister. She was more attuned to Nigerian styles than I and schooled me often. I helped her with the things a young girl couldn't talk to her parents about. Usually, boy things. Arya was in secondary school and the drama had begun. The boys were just beginning to think girls weren't as useless as they thought. Girls, on the other hand, were separating the studs from the duds. "Sounds like fun," I said. I had no plans that even sounded close to a good board game. Arun looked at me funny. I could tell he was thinking. His eyes always became still when his brain was working. "I love that you come," Arun said, "it makes Anita and Arya very happy, but I worry we are stopping you from things." I smiled and decided to torture him. "What kind of things?" I asked.
"You know...things," He said, using his hands to emphasize things.
"You mean like snorkelling?" I asked with humor.
"You know what I mean," Arun replied, trying to hide his blush.
"Ahh, you mean wild sex," I said, my eyes wide waiting to see if I could deepen the red in his cheeks.
"Well..." He stuttered, "I mean you're a pretty girl. You should be out on dates." He tried hard to clean up my words. I smiled at him.
"Jeremaine makes that difficult," I said, "my time is coming." Nine more years. He turned back to his terminal and began typing again.
"Anita worries about you," Arun said quietly. I felt my heart throb. He was worried about me. I loved him for it. I was in a hole right now and in nine years, I would climb out.
"You tell Anita that all I need is aloo kikki," I said with a little laughter. That got me a chuckle. I certainly didn't want Arun sad on my account. I thought back to my last boyfriend. It had been before my father had passed away. I would be lying to myself if I didn't admit that I missed the intimacy. Sex had its medicinal properties and was a ton of fun as well. Fried potatoes and board games were a poor substitute. I changed the subject and asked Arun what he was doing. This is how I learned about my company. Arun, who had access to all the information, would instruct me in his tasks and I, in turn, would learn. I knew an awful lot about how the money moved, who moved it and why. I knew each employee, who were the slackers and who drove the business. In nine years, the board wouldn't find a naive girl, they would see a knowledgeable woman owner who knew how things worked. Jeremaine was digging her own grave. That was my solace. I stepped into the bathroom before the end of my shift. I looked into the mirror and began to dishevel myself. I pulled a few strands of hair from my ponytail and let them float in a wispy mess. I smudged my glasses with fingerprints and pulled my shirt so it hung poorly, half out of my skirt. I had to look harried before Jeremaine arrived. There was rarely a need for her to be at work early. Her sole goal was to ascertain my level of misery. I gave her the answer she wanted to see. A girl on her last leg, about to throw away her inheritance. My secret defiance was my shield. Only nine years to go.
The drive home was miserable. Droplets of rain ran across the windshield with a ferocity that made the wipers moot. I decide to pull over and let it pass. My first mistake. I ran over something that must have been placed there just for me. The tell-tale flapping and the steering pulling to the right let me know I had a flat. I went through my entire vocabulary of foul words. Then, I went through the litany again. The rain picked up. I made up some new words. I waited for the rain to stop. I used the time wisely and pulled the owner's manual from the glove compartment. I had never replaced a tire on this car. I cringed when I saw the instructions. There was a bolt in the trunk, when turned, lowered a temporary tire. It was raining and I would have to retrieve it from under the car. The rain never stopped, but did change to something less than a deluge. I sighed and stepped out into the rain. There were a lot of places I could have picked to pull over. I had to pick a spot where recent construction had left mud where rock should have been. The state had decided it would be good week to dig up the culverts along the side of the road and had deposited most of it on the shoulders. My white tennies sunk on contact. I slammed the door with anger as my only umbrella, I squished my way to the trunk.