Marley Van Streck, Aggie’s lifelong friend, usually picked her up from the Cornavin train station in the evenings. After accepting her new position, it went without saying that Aggie would live with Marley and her family in Geneva until she found her own residence. Of course, if it were up to Marley, Aggie would never leave.
“You should say hello to her,” Marley said that evening after Aggie told her about the woman’s acknowledging smile. “Exchange information.”
“That’s an idea.”
“Just don’t replace me. You know I’m yours forever,” Marley said, grinning.
“Without a doubt.”
The following afternoon, Aggie leaned across the aisle and handed the woman her business card. “I’m Agnes,” she greeted. “I thought, since we see each other so often, that we might as well know each other’s names.”
The woman smiled brightly. “Yes, I completely agree,” she replied in a French accent. “My name is Marième.”
“Do you work in the city? Perhaps we can meet one afternoon for lunch.”
“I do work in the city, and I would like that very much. I am out of business cards, but I will definitely send you a message.”
“Wonderful. One last question: where are you from, Marième? I’m from Ghana.”
“Senegal. We are neighbors, of sorts.”
Aggie smiled and nodded. No, she had hardly inherited her father’s skills.
Several weeks later, when she didn’t hear from Marième, Aggie chalked it up to the reluctance to reach out to a stranger. Fellow African or not, they simply didn’t know each other. However, she was also missing from her usual spot on the train. Was she all right? Aggie wondered. Did something happen to her?
“You said she wore an engagement ring, right?” Marley asked as she pulled into the driveway of the Van Strecks’ home that evening. “Maybe she had her wedding.”
Aggie nodded. “I forgot about that. Highly probable.” Satisfied with the possibility that Marième was celebrating her wedding, Aggie decided to put it out of her mind. Nevertheless, she couldn’t deny the puzzling feeling that consumed her.
The aroma of food instantly greeted them when they entered the house. Moments later, the two sat in the airy kitchen and watched Diana Van Streck, Marley’s mother, carefully place a tray of just roasted Cornish game hens on the counter. “A few more minutes to cool and they’ll be ready,” Diana said.
“But I’m starving,” Marley said melodramatically, closing her eyes and slightly groaning for effect.
“I say if you don’t work, you don’t eat,” announced Daniel Van Streck, Marley’s older brother, as he entered the kitchen.
Marley shot him a withering glare. “I have a job, thank you very much.”
“Going to the playground with the kids? Is that working?” he asked. “I was told you spend more time on the swings than they do.” He quickly winked at Aggie. She shook her head disapprovingly at him.
Marley shot up from her chair. “Let me tell you something—”
“Enough, you two,” Diana said. “Daniel, kindly apologize to your sister. Being a nanny is indeed employment.”
“I was just teasing. Please accept my apology, Marls.”
“Revenge is mine.”
“Marley,” Diana warned. She then rolled her eyes, glancing at Aggie. “29 and 32 years old and they still argue like toddlers. Be happy you’re an only child, Agnes.”
“She’s not an only child,” Marley said, still glaring at her brother. “We’re sisters. I’m an honorary Boateng, remember?”
Aggie laughed and nodded. “That she is.”