Always and Forever


This is the longest non-academic story I’ve written. Bear with me.

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We used to laugh…

September 2008

The leaves have started their slow descent that will usher in the winter; cold and white. I’ve never liked winter, in fact, I thoroughly despise it. You know that. But you, you seem to carry summer everywhere with you; never letting anything chill your warm spirits. It’s why I was attracted to you in the first place. The way you laughed; long and hard and so carefree like no one was watching. I used to get so embarrassed. Everyone would stare at us, and you didn’t care. You’d be rolling all over the floor, tears in your eyes, just cause you heard a good joke. In a way, I was probably jealous, because I was too self-conscious to ever laugh like that. I mean, what would the people think? It’s taken me so long but I finally get it. Why you’d say to me with that solemn look in your grey eyes, “Carpe diem, amor mei.” I want to seize the day now, baby. And I need you here to seize it with me. Just try. You always told me I could do anything as long as I tried. Well, now I need you to try. You have to try, OK? Just try.

March 2005

“… glad that we caught it early. With extensive radiation and chemotherapy, I’m sure that we can get all of it.” The doctor pauses when he sees the look on both our faces. “Listen, try and be positive. There is some new pioneering research now. We’ll do everything we can.” His words mean nothing to me. I am rocked to my core. Last week, my biggest problem was how Brad was leaving Jennifer for that Jolie woman. And now, cancer? You take my hand and squeeze tight. “Hey, I’m gonna be fine. You heard what he said. They’ll treat it and I’ll get better.” You look so sure and so strong, and you have a smile on your face. But I know you. I can see the worry and the fear in your eyes and that’s what frightens me the most. You, who is fazed by nothing. Oh God. I just lost a child. I can’t lose him too!

May 2006

It’s your birthday. We’ve decided to throw a really big party. All our friends, the neighbors, family that we haven’t seen for ages: they’re all here. Your mum doesn’t even look like she’s aged a day since we last saw her at Christmas. That’s where you get your great genes from, I always tell you. I hear you laughing in the kitchen and look up to see you playing a game of darts with some of the men and losing spectacularly. Your aim is still as crappy as the first day I met you and you spilled coffee on my crisp white shirt. What a cliché way to meet your future husband. I can’t remember how many times I’ve made you pay for that particular incident. You were so flustered, so apologetic, it was hard to stay mad at you. Before I knew it, my frown had morphed into a big, goofy smile, and I was handing you my number. Quite the charmer you were. Still are, I correct myself. We were married in 6 months and you’d tell me, “Always and forever, baby.” Gosh, you’re so cliché. I roll my eyes as I think of it. So strong and yet so meek, so confident and yet so humble. Big Ben, they called you. And it had everything to do with your heart. I smile as I carry the big birthday cake out to the yard. You’ve lost too much weight after aggressive chemo and radiation, but it’s all worth it, because the cancer’s all gone. Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, Big Beeeeeen!!! Happy birthday to you!!! The entire yard is ringing with applause and hoots of “You’re the man, my man!” You plant a huge kiss on my lips, and I can see all the love you have for me in your eyes.

August 2005

The vase is a beautiful green and gold one that I bought on my trip to Bali. It has sat on top of the fireplace, far away from any clumsy fingers. I watch you, my mouth open in stupefied silence as you pick it up and throw it hard against the wall. It smashes into a million tiny bits and I find my voice as a bit lodges itself in my upper arm. As soon as you see the blood, you rush towards me and hold me tight. “Oh my God, babe, I’m so sorry, I don’t know what came over me.” But I do. It’s those stupid drugs that they’re giving you. You’re tired and weak and you can’t keep any food down. Last night, when I saw tiny clumps of your hair in the garbage bin, I sat on the toilet seat and cried for hours. We don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve this. You’ve become moody and broody and not the man I married at all. As you bandage my arm, apologizing over and over, I can only look at you, tears in my eyes. Tonight, I will hold you as you huddle over the toilet and the nausea racks your already weak body. Tomorrow, I will support you while you struggle to make it to the car. But now, as I look at you, tears in my eyes, I just want you back. God, please, I just want my husband back.

April 2008

“… spread to your lungs, liver and your throat… went into remission… these things happen… combat with surgery… chemotherapy…” The words float in and out of my head. I’m finding it difficult to follow the doctor’s sentences. “I don’t understand,” I interrupt. “Didn’t you say we got it all the first time?”

“That’s what I’m trying to explain,” he says patiently, the way you would explain to a child that the tooth fairy isn’t real.

“Don’t patronize me!” I yell, jumping off my seat. “You said it was gone! Gone! It can’t come back! It can’t be back!” I’m fighting tears. You pull me gently down. “Sit down, babe. We fought it the first time. We’ll do it again.” You smile that sad smile at me, and in my despondent state, I can only believe what you say. I have nothing else to hold on to.

November 2008

The snow came early this year. It’s so beautiful I wish you could have seen it. It’s cold, so cold and the roads are so slippery. Fred from next door offered to help me salt the driveway and shovel it from time to time. The house is big and empty without you in it. I will probably see a real estate agent when I have the strength. I don’t even know if I can handle today. Everyone will come and say wonderful things about you. The priest will ask me to shovel a bit of sand on a coffin. I don’t know if I can. Damn you, Ben! I sat by your bedside for 5 full weeks, willing you to open your eyes, to wake up, smile that smile of yours and tell me, “Beat it again, baby.” But you didn’t. Instead, you let it take you. Goddamn you, Ben! Did you even stop to think about me?! Did I cross your comatose mind one bit?! I’m so tired, Ben. So so tired. I can’t stand the sympathy from others today. I need your strength. Help me, babe.

I can feel you as I walk out of the house. My brother will drive me to the funeral. They’ll put you in the ground, but you won’t be gone, baby. Not from me.

Always and forever, baby. Always and forever.

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Expensive Gifts.


11:58 pm.

She was not in a good mood. The melancholic feeling that was her constant companion, now threatened to overwhelm her. The feeling just sat heavily in the pit of her stomach, and she suddenly wanted to vomit. She rushed into the bathroom and knelt against the toilet basin, heaving. After almost 10 minutes of dry retching, she leaned her head against the cool toilet seat. Tears tolled down her cheeks, as she stood shakily and moved to the sink, and examined her face in the mirror. Her once plump, beautiful face was now lean and gaunt, with dark, shallow circles were her eyes used to be. Her hair hung limp around her face, her skin almost as white as flour. She reached up to the medicine cabinet and opened it. There they were. The pills. He’d said they’d make her feel better. And they always did. Her slim hands closed around the little white bottle and she popped 2 little white pills into her mouth, swallowing them dry.

“One should be enough,” he’d said.

Suddenly, she felt better. Her face seemed to change before her very eyes. A smile crept up her face, lifting the corners of her mouth into the smallest smile. She remembered her gift, that she so loved to share. She giggled as she banged the medicine cabinet shut.

12:47 am.

Her well-manicured fingers circled the rim of the glass, her eyes scanning the crowd. It was a full house tonight. She downed her drink in one go, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and moved out onto the dance floor. The smell of sweat, cigarette smoke and stale perfume lingered heavy in the air. Sweaty bodies jostled for space, bumping into each other, in a drunken revelry. She moved, slowly and confidently to the middle of the floor and then stopped. And then, lifting her head slowly, letting her hair fall back, she began to move slowly in time with the music. She moved, increasing in tempo with the music, her hips gyrating as the music took over her senses. She ran her hands over her body, paying attention to her breasts and hips. Her eyes closed, her mouth slightly open, she made love to herself with the music. Before long, there was a small circle around her as everyone watched her, swaying side to side in time with the music. She opened her eyes and there he was. He was watching her over the top of his glass, his eyes running over her body ever so slowly. Yes, he was perfect.

1:27 am.

They stumbled drunkenly into the dark, cheap motel room, kissing deeply, his hand fumbling around the wall for a light switch.

“No lights,” she said, in between kisses.

She moved her hands down to his belt buckle and began to undo it very deftly. His hands worked feverishly to unbutton her blouse. They were naked very quickly. She pushed him unto the bed, the springs squeaking very loudly as he landed. She was all over him, touching, feeling, groping. He returned her passion with equal fervour, biting, squeezing, kneading. He took her breast in his mouth, his tongue flicked against her nipple. She threw her head back, moaning loudly. And suddenly, he was on top, his fingers, his mouth, working through her entire body. When his stubble grazed her vaginal lips, she thought she would die of pleasure. His tongue went in and out, stroking, pleasing her. She returned the pleasure, taking him in her mouth, his entire length, her head, moving up and down as she worked her magic. And then, they couldn’t wait any more. He entered her with one swift thrust, cutting out her scream with a heavy kiss. They moved, creating rhythm with their bodies, holding on to each other, slick with sweat. And finally, they came together in a wonderful eruption of body fluids and feelings. She was holding on to him as he spilled into her, his body rocking with the intensity of his release.

“Oh shit! I didn’t wear a condom.”

“That’s OK, I’m on the pill.”

“Oh, thank God.” As he drifted to sleep, he smiled and thought how this was the best sex he’d ever had. Ever.

2:06 am.

She packed her clothes and stealthily crept out of the room. Wearing only her jacket and shoes, she walked down the street, whistling a happy tune. The drug was still in effect. Perhaps, she could find some other lucky guy to share her gift with before the night ended. The drug would only last for so long, before her dark demons came to her again. Better to make good use of the time she had now.

Spreading AIDS isn’t easy business, she thought to herself.

Just A Dream


So, my creative juices were flowing out of my vagina (yes, my vagina), and I was writing and writing (creative shit too), but I was tired as hell, so I dozed off. My computer, the idiot of a device, decided to update itself. And then restarted. And I lost all my work. But you don’t care, do you? Fine. Although, it would be nice if you showed a little care… what? Oh. You still don’t care. Fine. Forget me, then. 😦
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Her bare feet pounded against the ground and the leaves crackled underneath her feet. Her heart beat in sync with the drums, as her feet moved to that same rhythm. She had no idea how long she had been running. Probably hours. It definitely felt like it. But it was coming closer. She could feel it, smell it, almost taste it in the air around her. It. This… thing that was chasing her. She didn’t know what it was, but she knew it was not coming in peace. She had to get away, she was running for her life. The forest was pitch dark. Whether it was night or day, she had no idea. The tall trees shut out the littlest chance of light. But she kept running. The branches slapped at her face, her arms. The small twigs cut into the soles of her feet, each step more agonizing than the last. The thorns tore at her flesh, pulling her from all angles. Her dress, ripped everywhere, clung to her like second skin because of all the sweat. The forest was refusing her passage and she had to pay with blood and sweat. Her blood and sweat. Her hair was plastered to her scalp and she thought she would die from the dryness in her throat. Her pupils were dilated to accommodate every stray ray of light, but of course, there was nothing. The muscles in her thighs burned like the noon sun against a farmer’s back. But she kept running. Running.

And then it stopped. She stopped. There was silence. Nothing was chasing her, the drums had stopped. It was quiet, save for the stridulation of the nocturnal animals. And her breath. She could hear her breath over the cacophony that was the insects. And then the darkness seemed to become more tangible; she could reach out and touch it. It covered her like a cloak and press against her throat. She struggled to breathe. Her heart beat faster than the crazed drums of the Atilogwu dancers that had been possessed by the spirits. She caught a whiff of that scent. It was strong and overpowering the smell of sulfur mixed with the pungent putrid odor of death. Did she catch a whiff of rotten eggs too? All her senses were being assaulted, her eyes watered. ANd then something else. This was familiar. It was the smell in their house on Christmas morning when they were roasting the goat. The charcoal like smell of burning hair. And the sickly sweet smell of blood. And then she felt it. The heat. The sharp tingle followed by a sharp pain. She looked down… She was on fire!
Then IT came and she felt it before she saw IT. IT was upon her, over powering her, her sense of smell sharply picking up its horrid smell again. And then she saw the eyes. Yellow and sinister. Looking straight into her soul.

She screamed…

Agbomma woke up with a start, still screaming. She was sweating and her nightgown and sheets were drenched in the perspiration. She sighed. This was the fourth time she had had this dream in as many nights. Sleep was fast becoming a thing to fear. And it was always the same thing: running through a deep dark forest, before some strange… thing grabbed her. She had never seen its face. Just the eyes. Those eyes that had haunted her. Agbomma sighed again as she turned to look at the green luminous numbers by her bedside. 3:57 am. Well, sleep was not an option anymore. She stripped completely and feeling disgust that she couldn’t explain, she stripped her bed too.

She padded downstairs naked, turning on all the lights as she went. She wasn’t a superstitious person, but she couldn’t deny that she was scared beyond belief. She sighed again. She set up coffee maker. Might as well be useful now and take a shower. She went back up the stairs, her footsteps echoing through the empty house.
She had lived in this house since she was four and her dad had left it to her before he died. She was an only child. Her mum had passed away two years ago. Since then, she had lived alone here. It was a large, old house and Agbomma knew it well. Its squeaks, creaks and noises. It was all familiar and she loved every bit of it from the smell of the polish on the hardwood floors to the creaky third stair on the staircase.
Agbomma stepped into the shower and turned it on full blast. The cold water felt like little pin pricks on her skin. It was refreshing. She stood underneath the stream letting the water pound on her body as if it could perhaps, remove the memory of the nightmare too. Then she began to scrub, aiding the water remove every shard of the memory. Fifteen minutes later, Agbomma was satisfied enough with her body and hair. She turned off the water and threw back the shower curtain.
And there they were. The eyes. Just as yellow as she’d remembered from the dream.

For the second time that morning, Agbomma screamed…

Downstairs, the coffee went drip, drip into the coffee pot…

For Worse Or Worse Pt. 3


Before I continue, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone that has subscribed, left a comment or visited my blog. I appreciate the love. Now, to the concluding part of Tola and Sam’s story…

…And there was so much blood.
But he wasn’t dead. Although, the sight that greeted Samantha made her wish he was… cause he was holding a gun. And it was pointed straight at her heart. Sam started thinking really fast. She had to get that gun out of his hands! She saw the empty bottle of gin. Not a good sign.
“Tola, why don’t you put the gun down and let’s talk. You’ve been drinking and you’re not thinking properly right now,” Sam said with a calm she didn’t feel.
Tola’s short laugh made her cringe. This was not going to end well. Samantha started down the stairs.
“Stop.” Tola’s command was quiet but in his voice was a chill that could freeze hell. Samantha stopped cold. Then she continued down the stairs.
“Tola, please, don’t be sil-,” but the searing pain that shot through her left shoulder interrupted her. He shot her. He shot her!
And then she knew he wasn’t joking. Her husband was holding a gun and he had just shot her. The pain made her woozy. She fought through a haze of unconsciousness as she struggled to keep standing. Balance was hard.
She took another step down, this time she knew it wasn’t her doing; she was falling. She landed very hard on her wounded shoulder. Another wave of pain coursed all through her arm making her break out in sweat. She looked at the wound. My nice grey suit.
Haha! I’m about to die and my first concern is my suit. She wondered why her life didn’t flash before her eyes. Wasn’t that supposed to happen? Maybe it was a good sign; she wasn’t dying. Or perhaps, she was already dead?

Tola saw her as she fell down the stairs and knew he would kill this woman. Tonight. His alcohol-filled brain muddled all his thought processes. Well, almost all. Somewhere, within the deep shadows of reason, Tola could hear a tiny voice – conscience, perhaps?- telling him he was about to make the greatest mistake of his life. He walked towards her.

Sam opened her eyes. And there he was. Towering right over her. She reached out to him…

The shot rang out clearly in the silence of the night. But Adamu, the night watchman didn’t hear a thing. He swatted a fly on his cheek and continued sleeping even though tomorrow, he planned to ask for a salary raise for “keeping watch”. Mr. Asika next door woke up, but he quickly made a sign of the cross on his chest and went back to sleep hoping whoever’s house was being robbed this night, it wouldn’t be his.

Everything was bright. As she bled out freely, she realized she was probably going to die right here. On this floor. Beside the only man she had ever loved. And the one man she would forever hate. How ridiculous that she would die of a shoulder wound. And, then, it came. The slow welcoming bright lights. It was exactly how she had pictured it. Except for the life flashing before your eyes part. Too bad. She would have loved to see how that happened. Samantha took her last breath and smiled happily as her angels – and demons – welcomed her into the cold clutches of the afterlife.
There was so much blood. And it was his. As Samantha had reached out to him, she had taken the gun and shot him straight in the gut. As he lay down on the floor, beside his wife. he understood his mistake. The voice in his head hadn’t said he was making the greatest mistake. It said he was making the last mistake of his life. Anyway, it was a mistake to think he would live while Samantha was dead. They were soul mates. Partners. They survived, thrived of each other.
Plus, he was a man of his word. For better or worse. Or worse. Or worse. And then he was with her. In a place where the violence, or hate, or loathing would cease to exist.

For better.

Notes: this story was supposed to highlight how men are also victims of domestic violence. But somehow, it took on a life of its own. Not sure what the moral is now. However, I enjoyed writing it, so, I hope you enjoy reading it. Don’t forget to subscribe. 🙂

P.S. I found a signature that I think is really cool. It’s from one of the most culturally significant stories of all time: “Boyz N The Hood”:

Increase the peace.

For Worse Or Worse Pt. 2


They didn’t kiss. At the very last moment, she turned her head slightly so his lips connected with her cheek.
“Goodnight,” she called as she walked into her hostel, leaving him with a myriad of emotions, the likes of which he had never experienced. He watched her full hips sway away until the darkness welcomed them out of his sight.
He sighed. He needed a shower. A cold one. He sighed again as he turned and headed back to his hostel.

She knew he was looking. She felt his eyes boring into her back like lasers as she made her way into the hostel. Thank God she hadn’t kissed him. She didn’t want him thinking she was easy. Which, of course, she wasn’t. But, she had never felt so… drawn to another person before. But she could control her emotions. Oh, she was good at that. She smiled a small smile as she entered into her hostel…

They saw each other everyday after that. They became inseparable. Going everywhere together. How many times did they win “Couple of the year???”
Tola laughed bitterly. Yeah, if someone could see them now… They had gotten married, like everyone expected. It was a beautiful wedding, but the marriage… that was another story entirely. The transformation was immediate and absolute. Sam added weight, withdrew, stayed out late and then one night, when Tola had just about had enough, there came a shocker. Sam became violent. Tola would never have imagined in a million years. Sweet Sam, the gentle, but enigmatic Sam was violent. And Tola bore the brunt of all of Sam’s fury.

The first time, Tola had hit back immediately. But Sam was really strong. They fought like 2 wounded lions. Tola could pack a punch too, but was no match for Sam’s size and anger. After all the flying objects and fists, Tola had ended up with two cracked ribs and a split lip so bad, it looked as though there were three lips.
She drove to the hospital. He was in the passenger’s seat. They drove in silence.
“I’m sorry. I-”
“Save it.”
“Look, baby, I was having a rough time and I took it out on you. I shouldn’t have. Just forgive me.”

Tola remembered that day like it was yesterday. It wasn’t just the pain. It was the humiliation. The entire absurdity of the situation. It was disgusting and repulsive.
How could he tell anyone that his wife, his sweet Samantha was beating him??? They would laugh. He would laugh, too, if it wasn’t his situation. But he had had enough. Tonight, the hurt, the humiliation, it all ended tonight. He emptied his glass of gin and slammed the glass hard on the table, shattering it to smithereens. One of the pieces sliced through his palm. But, he didn’t feel any pain. Then, with blood dripping steadily and heavily from the cut, he picked his pen…

Samantha was driving home, on her way back from work. She had a very bad feeling. Something was in the air tonight. She didn’t know what it was, but the uneasy feeling stayed with her even as she pulled her Toyota Camry into the garage. She was tired and irritable. She couldn’t shake this bad feeling off and it was beginning to get on her nerves. She hoped Tola didn’t have any stupid talks or ideas tonight, she couldn’t take any more nonsense. She would just shower and go to bed.
She stepped into the hallway and turned on the lights. She tossed her bag on the table and started to go upstairs when she saw something in the living room that caught her eye.
It was Tola, her husband…

to be continued…

Signed,

Ifunanya.

For Worse Or Worse?


“When had it gotten like this?”
Tola’s laugh was bitter. If someone had ever said… There was that laugh again. Bitter and shallow. The gin burned down Tola’s throat. It hadn’t always been like this. There was a time when things had been better…

They had met in college. Theirs was a match made in heaven. Two beautiful people; everyone said they would have such beautiful kids. If they got married. They smiled any time they heard these stories. They kept to themselves though. People were always trying to figure them out. There were no public displays of affection, except the occasional holding of hands; that knowing smile that they smiled to each other that no one could ever understand but them.

Tola was a second year Finance student. Sam was a “fresher”, had just entered to study Law. Definitely a smart cookie. They both had a wonderful future planned ahead for themselves. Tola – an MBA, maybe an MSc, who knew? The possibilities were endless. Sam wanted to work in Kramer & Kramer, the biggest law firm in town. Then perhaps, a private practice… again, who knew? They had so many options.
It was at the orientation program for new students. She was standing in a corner, surveying the crowd, and sipping on a glass of over-diluted fruit juice. She was a go-getter. Or is that what they called them? Anyway, she knew what she wanted and she went for it. Always. And when she saw him, she knew he was what she wanted. She walked up to him.
“Hi.”
He turned around. He was much more handsome up close. He had smooth hands, manicured fingernails. His face was chiseled, almost to perfection. He had a strong jaw, and his eyes.. “God!!! His eyes…” They were dark, unlike anything she had ever seen. They were swirling pools of darkness, one could easily get lost in them.
“Hi,” he replied.
His voice was a perfect combination of melodies. She felt like someone was pouring warm honey over her insides. It was deep, but gentle. Caressing her to the tips of her very toes. He made her hair stand on end.
She collected her thoughts. He was talking to her, but she had been lost somewhere between his dark eyes and his melodious baritone.
“- behind the science building.”
“I’m sorry, what??”
“Have you heard anything I said at all?”
“Umm.. no, sorry. I was… distracted.”
“Hmm…” He nodded. The girl standing beside him wasn’t pretty. You couldn’t exactly call her that. She wasn’t ugly either. Far from it. She was…. striking. She had…. what did they call it…. charisma? An aura? Whatever it was, she definitely had it in excess. He had seen her from across the room, when she was drinking that colored water thingy from the serving table. He shook his head; who drank that thing anyway? She was a bit round. With really fleshy cheeks. He had always liked his women slim and tall, but this girl…. Her hair was natural, no weaves, wigs or whatever it was that ladies wore nowadays. She had a fine bone structure that wasn’t hidden by her “baby fat”. She was slightly taller than him, which made her quite tall, seeing as he was 5’10. Her mouth was wide and surrounded by full, sensual lips. And her curves were like something out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Her nose was small and cute. He could already picture himself pecking it and calling her “Button.”
“Whoa, whoa whoa!!!! Pull the brakes, buddy! You don’t even know her name,” he thought to himself. “And you’re already kissing her lips and giving her pet names?”
They sized each other up. There was so much chemistry, you could practically see the molecules flying between them. They managed to have a decent conversation without anyone making a fool out of themselves. At least they had learned each other’s names now. They had even shared a few laughs together. The program ended and it was time to go.
“So, what hostel are you in?” he asked her.
“Enugu hostel. You?”
“Kano. Can I walk you to your hostel? It’s dark and you never know what lurks in the darkness..”
“Hahaha!!! I’m pretty sure I can hold my own. But I would love for you to walk with me.”
“OK.”
They walked in comfortable silence for a while. “I would love to see you again,” he said as they approached her hostel.
She stopped and he stopped and faced her. “Look, it’s been a wonderful night, but I don’t think we should see each other like that.”
“Oh, no! I didn’t.. I mean, not if you don’t.. that is…” he was babbling like a thirteen year old teenager that just met their crush for the first time. He regrouped.
“Listen, not like that. Just to hang out is what I meant.” He finished lamely.
She smiled. “OK, then. In that case, I would love to hang out with you.”
“OK, goodnight?” he said, lingering for perhaps a second too long.
“Goodnight.”
They stared at each other. Her lips seemed to be calling out to him. He inched closer to her. She leaned in and closed her eyes…

to be continued…

Signed,

Ifunanya.