Life and General Fiction StoriesSeries

Comfort in Affliction (Part 1)

I had to be one of the few people who hated coming home after a long day; and definitely, I had to be the only person who loved and hated his wife at the same time. As for the hate part, I couldn’t help it, neither could I stop loving her. It’s a paradox that angered me as the days go by. And today, Mandy my wife was making matters worse; I am not a fan of acting in anger, but she was really pushing me to the wall.

“But you traveled last week for a meeting. What other meeting are you going for this week?” she complained as the trailed me about the house. I was picking up the essential things I would need for my journey the next day. I intentionally decided to ignore her disturbance. There wasn’t much I wanted to say to her anyway.

“Talk to me, Chris!” she finally shouted and pushed me as I put in my towel, toothbrush, and other personal effects.

I’m sure that I would have been given an award in restraint had anyone else seen us at that time. I was also surprised that I did not hit her. Instead, I calmly turned to her, and in the coldest voice I had, said to her,

“What else do you want me to say Mandy? I’ve told you that the new partners at the firm are looking for a man to look at the financial records and discover where the recent discrepancies came from. I’m the man for the job. I’ll be back in two weeks. What’s hard to understand there?”

“Where’s the kind and loving man I married, Chris? Where’s the man who promised me days of happiness on the day he proposed? Where’s the man who told me that I would never have a reason to cry unless out of joy? What happened to that man? Can you tell me Chris?

I stared for a long time at her, and to her disappointment, walked out on her. The man who made those promises was dead, killed by the same person asking the questions.

***************

My eyes burned with hot tears, and I took short, raspy breaths as the scene before me unfolded. My son, Chika was being strangled, and he was writhing and scratching at his attacker. The faceless assailant was also bent on making sure that the child was dead. I, on my part tried to reach them, but couldn’t; even though I was in the room, I was still miles away from my precious son. Then, as I watched, the strangulation was complete, Chika was dead. The killer looked up, and I stared into the face of someone I knew as well as I knew myself. I screamed in rage and agony, and as I rushed towards the person, I woke up.

As I opened my eyes, I was disoriented for the first three seconds, before it dawned on me that I was inside the airplane, traveling for the meeting with the new partners at the firm.

“Bad dream?” I turned slowly towards the voice, and stared at the person who was the most beautiful woman in the world. First of all, her eyes were dark brown, more like chocolate, and the eyes looked at you as though they could see into your soul. Her lips were full and pinkish, and they looked like they badly needed a kiss. She was indeed the most beautiful woman alive.

“Something like that. Why do you ask?” I answered, as I got off my grogginess.

“You were shaking and calling the name ‘Chika’. So I figured that it had to be a bad dream.”

I nodded, and affirmed that it was indeed a bad dream.

“Care to share it?” she asked, giving me the kindest look I’ve gotten in a while.

Normally, I should have told her what the dream was about, but I was afraid of telling her more than that; I was afraid of opening up old wounds to a total stranger. So instead, I replied, “I don’t want to talk about it please. Let’s leave it, okay?”

She did let it go, and we switched to more general topics. Twenty minutes later, we got out of the plane and headed towards our various destinations.

***************

This has got to be the greatest joke of the century! How could they have made such arrangements? It was totally absurd and unacceptable; I took out my phone and dialled my boss at the office. He was sympathetic but urged me to make do with the arrangements they had.

“But sir, I’m a married man. How do they expect me to share a room with another woman?”

“I understand, Christian. But it’s just for two weeks. Till you solve the problem for which you went on the journey.”

“It’s not right sir,” I further complained, “This wasn’t part of the deal.”

“But you’ve got to go through with it, the future of our company depends on these new partners. We can’t rile them, not now.”

Did I have a choice? Of course not, I had to go with the arrangements made by the almighty new partners. I had to stay in the same room with another woman for two weeks. I would have gladly gone to another hotel had this been a city I could afford anything in; but no, this was the most expensive city in Nigeria. The hotel bills are out of this world.

As I angrily waited for the other occupant of the room to arrive, my thoughts wandered towards my wife. We’d been so happy together, everything was working out well for us. We even had a wonderful son who we doted on. Or so I thought, till she killed him. And threw out world into darkness. Though it’s been eight years since Chika died, I still couldn’t find it in me to forgive her. After his death, our marriage was all but over. Except for my strong belief against divorce.

Then she walked in, the other occupant, I mean. And I had to really rub my eyes to make sure I wasn’t in another dream. Yes, you guessed it. It was the same woman in the plane, the one that asked me about my dream. There had to be a great conspiracy afoot.

When she saw me, her eyes danced in delight, and while we filled the necessary documents, she kept on giggling. Her giggling bouts continued even as we were inside the elevator and headed towards our room, Room 199. I just hoped that this trip would be uneventful, but something in me laughed at that thought.

How can you expect the trip to be uneventful when you would be sleeping in the same room with a gorgeous woman who wasn’t the wife you hated?

Read Part Two

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