I’m drawn. Icarus to the sun. I’ve been burnt already and yet, here I am again.
~E.L James, author, 50 shades trilogy ~
You are in bed, lying motionless, wound, ticking like a clock and cannot sleep. The whole house is silent, the night darkness pitch black. You try to call him, his phone is conveniently switched off.
How can he be Mteja? How dare he? Where is he?
Does he even care that you are worried sick? He probably is not after that phone call.
You decide to have a hot shower and as you stand still in the shower to wash off the day, water drops running down your shoulder blades and down your back, the evening’s occurrences weigh down on more than your shoulders.
As you walk out of the shower, grab a towel and hunch your face over the sink to gargle some Betadine, you wonder how long you have to take on more of this Maria crap.
You should probably be selfish, walk away, start over.
But how do you walk away that easy when he promised forever? Promised each other that you would do this thing called life together. Do #marriagegoals entail being cheated on repeatedly and sticking it out for the sake of the kids and for appearances sake?
You look at your wrist watch for what seems like the fifth time and wonder what’s taking him so long.
Ordinarily, it takes him 30 minutes to drive to your house from his, 20 if he drives fast.
He’s 15 minutes late, but you know how this waiting game goes, you have been at it for a whole year now.
Sometimes he shows up, sometimes he does not.You have since been accustomed to it all, the late night phone calls announcing his arrival only for him to not show up eventually.
You decide to change for bed as you wait, might as well kill some time.
You walk past the kitchen, wash your hands in the hallway sink for no reason at all then proceed barefoot to your bedroom.
Your bedroom is cold and nippy. Very nippy.
You switch on the light only to be met by a swarm of flying termites the African symbol of after-rain, buzzing up and down the room, buzzing all the way up to the light and back down when they get burnt then back up again towards the light.
These flying termites are just like you.
You are the chick who can’t seem to get over a married man, you who flies too near the damn light, gets burnt, returns back to the light yet again, a never ending cycle. For all of two seconds you drown in some self pity, wonder whether you will get to eventually settle with a man who you are half attracted to mentally and physically like the way you are attracted to James.
You walk to the window, take in a lungful of the night air, smell the after rain dampness in the night air, then bang all the windows shut, the night breeze feeling cool on your face and arms.
You then switch on the electric insect repellent and stand there watching the termites getting subdued as they lie on the floor.
As the musky vanilla scent infiltrates the room, you also switch on the bedroom heater and open your closet doors and settle for some red and pink flowery yoga tights and a loose fitting long sleeved tee written ‘Bae-cation’ that he got you at the K1 flea market two weeks back. You are now feeling light headed from the vodka and all you want is to lie down and shut your eyes as you nod off to Hurtin’ me by Steflon Don.
You look at your wrist watch again, 12.55am.
You know what?
You need to sleep and besides, why are you even waiting around at 1am for a grown ass man who’s not even your husband? You might as well tell him exactly that.
Your temper is already simmering to the surface like a pot of boiling water whose lid won’t stop dancing.
As you walk back to the living room to fetch your phone and to switch off the lights, you tell yourself to calm down and that he is not worth it. Sh!t you would rather even have Sam and his boring ass here. At least he’s a predictable guy, someone you can bank on.
A man who keeps his word. A man who worships the very ground you walk on.
You bend down to open your handbag lying on the carpeted floor, next to the tv stand to retrieve your Kindle and reading glasses then put them on and sit down on the edge of the sofa.
Once you scroll through your collection of unread Ebooks, you settle on Pierre Alex Jeanty’s ‘To the women I once loved’ then scroll slowly to read the dedication and foreword.
‘To the women who have been overlooked,
To the women who have survived toxic relationships
To the women who have never had the chance to experience the beauty of who they are in a man’s eyes
To the women of substance
To the women who are hopeless romantics
To the men who can’t find quite the words to express the qualities they see in their women.’
You wipe a drop of water on the Kindle screen.
Your eyes feel cloudy, moist and watery.
Sh!t YOU are crying!
Pierre has evoked all the pent up emotions of the past one year just from reading those six lines. You have been overlooked! You are barely surviving this toxic relationship! You have always been a hopeless romantic but maybe never got someone worthy these feelings. You feel your heart begin to crumble but still hold on to its wholesomeness. You dab the corner of your eyes with the sleeve of your tee before more tears escape your eyes.
F**k Pierre. F**k James. F**k Sam. F**k all men.
A loud knock on the door interrupts your ‘all men are trash’ train of thought.
The knock sounds confident and impatient.
A ‘hi honey I’m home to you’ confident knock.
Why is he knocking? Si he has his own key!
Or maybe you imagined the knock?
A second knock follows, slightly louder this time countering that thought.
Poppy your next door neighbor’s dog is now barking loudly. Sh!t.
You walk to your front door, peep through the keyhole.
You can barely see who’s knocking, but you know who it is, you can smell his desperation through the door.
After you fling the door wide open, he stumbles inside, struggling to keep his balance.
It pisses you off that he could not come to you as he was during the day, sober and daddy of the year.
‘Where’s your key? Must you wake up the whole flat when you can simply open the door using your key?’
‘Relax sweets. Let’s not argue over a f**king key’
He kicks off his shoes, walks to the sofa then crashes on the sofa, his arm over his forehead, attempting to shield his eyes from the blinding light.
‘Watch that tone with me James. I am not trying to argue with you over a stupid house key at one am… nimeuliza tu swali’ she says, shuts the door and sits opposite you.
‘Yani a grown man can’t get some peace from his wife and his girlfriend?’
Your stomach growls, you have the munchies and need to peck on something. You spot the abandoned chicken wings on the coffee table and you remember the reason you had a fall out with the missus. The reason you went drinking. The reason you called Maria.
‘Where is he?’
‘Where is who?’
‘Maria don’t f**k with my mind. Is he in the shower?’
‘I should go home to Beth. I shouldn’t be here’ you mumble but sit down.
You feel nauseated from sitting down too quick and you pray you don’t throw up all over her coffee table..You hope she did not hear your drunken mumbling. She has this hurt look in her eyes, her eyes beg you to hug her, beg you to be comfort her, beg you to tell her that only she, matters to you.
She stands up and you watch that ass as she goes to the door and points out the door to the dark, unforgiving world.
‘I’m too drunk to drive’ you announce to no one in particular.
‘Does this look like the Uber headquarters?’
You smile. She’s a feisty one this one. Too much sauce. Too much juice.
‘Beth funga mlango mami’ you mumble and shut your eyes then put your feet back up on the sofa.
You hear the front door bang and its now dark. The lights have been switched off.
Finally! Some peace and quiet.
You wake up to swat mosquitoes from your forehead and feel something poking your thigh. You reach for your thigh. Its your phone poking you. You double tap on the screen expecting it to light up. Nothing. You are in the dark but your stiff shoulders tell you you have slept on the sofa and its not your house.
What time is it?
You feel around for the remote on the coffee table.
Once you find it, you switch on the tv for some light and for some company.
At least it won’t yell back at you.
You are hungry and the nausea has cleared. You slept it off. You get comfortable and wolf down the cold wings, then wrap the chicken bones on the paper and crumble it.
The clock on the wall reads quarter to six am, it will soon be daylight.
You need a pen and paper, you should pen a note, then go home to Beth.
You are too embarrassed to be here, to wait for Maria to wake up and have ‘the elephant in the room’ conversation.
You decide that she must have a pen and notebook in her handbag which you spot lying on the carpeted floor, next to the tv stand. You have this policy against poking around your nose in women’s handbags and women’s phones. Nothing good ever comes out of it – you end up finding sh!t you were not meant to find.
You momentarily weigh the lesser evil – being in Maria’s handbag… or having the ‘why were you such an ass last night conversation’….
You pick the handbag from the floor, place it on the sofa, peek inside, spot a notebook, fish it out and decide to let your fingers feel around for a pen without looking. Not looking does not count for rummaging a woman’s handbag.
You feel the pen, and also something velvety.. a small velvety box at that. You fish both items out and stare at the box like it will bite. You have seen such a box before. Plenty of times actually.
First time was when you bought Beth her engagement ring.
You look at it like its about to tell you what it was doing in her bag.
Should you open it? It was not yours to find or to give so, no.
The magnitude of what you have put both Beth and Maria through in the past year dawns on you.
In a split second you grab the notebook, tear a sheet of paper from it, and write..
‘Maria, I am sorry, we cannot do this anymore.’
You throw the notebook on the sofa, place the paper on the coffee table, place the tiny box on the paper, with the pen right next to it, hurrying before she wakes up and finds you here.
You put on your shoes, like the coward you are, not even bothering to tie the laces, pick your dead phone, confirm that you have your car key, then walk to the front door, unlock it, take one last look at her house, shut the door slowly and walk out, for good.