She was the first person he saw after buying his ticket and proceeding to the waiting area. His sense pricked up on high alert the moment he laid eyes on her and the first thing that came to his mind was -soft. She looked so soft and fragile like a delicate cluster of cloud or cotton candy.
It seemed like she wasn’t walking, she was gliding through and she had a meek demeanour but exuded confidence. She looked like a no-nonsense lamb. He couldn’t help but stare at her, eyes filled with wondrous confusion.
She softly landed on a seat almost opposite his, looked around disinterestingly before whipping out her phone. He was holding his phone too but it was only so that it wouldn’t be too obvious to her or anyone the fact that he was staring at her from above the phone
Then it was time to board. He watched her struggle with a medium sized box, a small luggage and her hand bag over the flight of stairs that led to the platform where the train awaited them.
His gentlemanly instincts which was otherwise dormant but for the sights of damsels in distress and a few choice moments kicked in and he approached her. He was nervous. He had never been that nervous to approach a girl. Not even the fiery ones. But he had sweaty palms in anticipation of talking to a lamb.
‘Do you need help with that’? He asked her, his faint British accent becoming more accentuated by the lob-dob of his heart.
She turned to him, a sweet smile already plastered on her face.
‘Don’t worry, I’m good. Thanks though’. Her voice was like he imagined. Cottony. Soft and melodious like she was singing softly in speech.
How modest, he thought. The baggage was obviously dragging her back. He had to help. He wondered why she didn’t take the elevator instead but he wasn’t complaining, it was his grand opening.
‘I know you are. But it seems unfair, I have just a laptop bag and you have three bags. It’s just fair to share’. He flashed her his most charming smile.
She looked at the bags as if in contemplation, turned her gaze to him, then wordlessly extended the big box to him. He collected it, thought fleetingly of how he just acted like a bellboy and hoped she won’t attempt to give him some change after they reach their seats.
‘I can help you with that one too’. He motioned at the smaller hand luggage. Her eyes widened in an emotion he couldn’t decipher, she stared down at it and shook her head.
‘I’m fine really. Thanks’ another smile.
They were both in first class. Good. First class tends to have empty seats so even of they weren’t seat mates, he hoped the seat near hers will be vacant. The connection he felt with her couldn’t just be lost on the train.
‘What’s your seat number?’ He asked, he willed her to say seat 31, the one near his.
’54’ she replied. Dang!
He hauled her box up the rack. She smiled in appreciation.
‘Thank you. Where’s your seat’. She was just being polite.
’32’ he said motioning with his head to the rows of seats behind.
She nodded, he stood still for a bit waiting for an invitation from her to join the seat but she had already settled on her seat and was rummaging through her handbag. The hand luggage was wedged between her leg and the seat in front of her and it looked uncomfortable.
He bent to help her put it up also on the rack but was cut off by an alarmed sound the moment his hand touched the bag.
‘Don’t touch that!’ She exclaimed. Then realised her voice was a notch higher than cottony. She lowered her eyes in shyness and looked away. ‘I want this one beside me’ she explained further.
He nodded and left wondering about the very sudden outburst. His mother had always warned him to never open a lady’s bag, he may be surprised at the things he might find. His mother never said anything about touching it.
He settled on his seat but his mind was restless and soon enough, his body grew restless too. Something was enigmatic about her. He wanted to find out.
He stood up and pretended he was going to buy something in the corner canteen . He wanted to see if the seat near her was like his, empty. But there was an elderly man seated there struggling to settle his laptop on the small fold-in table attached to the back of the seat in front of them.
He passed by them. She was still typing on her phone. He bought two meatpies and two drinks them came back beside the man who sat beside ‘his lady’.
‘ Sir if you want to work on your laptop you could have my seat. It’s that one in the middle by the charging point. If the lady assents of course’.
Both he and the man turned to look at her, both with pleading eyes. She smiled for a fraction of a second then shrugged. The man thanked him, carried his bag and headed to the table spot. With the charging point near him, he could finish his preparing his presentation long enough to have time to hack into his girlfriend’s instagram account. He had a feeling she’s doing something fishy over there.
‘I’m sorry. I hope I’m not imposing myself’ he said, he didn’t sound sorry.
‘I don’t mind’ she replied. He extended the snack and drink to her, she shook her head. He insisted, she collected it and kept it near him. Then they started talking.
Because her speech is soft, one will hardly notice how much of a conversationalist she was. But he noticed, as he noticed everything about her. Like the way her gze kept gliding by the bag.
They spoke about plenty things, their family, their early life, University. She didn’t go into depth, she avoided some aspects, he noticed that too.
Before he knew it, they had arrived. Ut was the shortest Abuja -Kaduna train ride he had ever been on.
He helped her with her bag. They went down the stairs and stood at the end waiting for their rides. Hers came first and he was ad to say goodbye. At least he had her number. Our love story started on the train. It was a classic one. That was what he’ll tell their kids and grandkids, he thought.
It was only when he heard a phone ring beside him that ge realised in horror, she had forgotten her lady bad.
He picked it up. Moved forward trying to see whether they were still in view or had turned back to get it but the cars and people where fewer then. It was already past 8:00 pm. Last train for the day.
He decided to open it and answer. No doubt it was she trying to get her phone back.
He opened the bag, reached for the phone, froze. It was no lady bad, it was a death bag. There was a sleek metallic gun, some bottles, three fingers wrapped in something like cling film, some clothes stained with blood and by the side, huddled between the clothes, a human skull stared at him with empty hollowed out sockets.
He dropped the bag in fear and turned around in confusion hoping no one had seen him but he saw her. She smiled, itbwas everything but warm and fluffy.
‘It’s quite unfortunate. I really liked you. Didn’t your mother teach you not to open a lady’s bag?’.
Before he could move, a car stopped behind him. He heard the door open and all in a split second with shock rendering him immobile, someone covered his face with a cloth heavy with chloroform and he sunk into it’s intoxicating lure all the while staring into her eyes. Her hardened, lifeless, scary eyes.
He should have heeded his mother’s advice.