“Two girls are in love with me, Charles,” I said without preamble immediately I landed on the leather sofa in my best friend’s office. It was a tastefully furnished office, with a 42-inch plasma TV, a tall fridge, and a priceless painting on the wall behind him. His desk was meticulously arranged, a testament to the perfectionist that Charles was. He was sitting on the sofa with me, sipping a glass of wine, and calmly looking at me as if I’d commented on the weather.
“Can you imagine that? Me of all people? With all the flaws I’m sporting like huge tentacles,” I continued, his gaze making me uncomfortable. He had that ability to make you say more than you wanted to say, he just had to fix you with his cat eyes and your mouth would become loose. Maybe that was the reason I do not go to him for confessions.
“And which two girls this time, Okey?” he asked in his pastoral tone. In situations like this, I usually found it hard to know which part of him I was talking to: the Catholic priest or the best friend I’ve known for thirteen years.
“My ex-girlfriend, Nkechi and my current girlfriend, Lucy. Both of them are in love with me,” I answered. Again, my mouth offered additional information. “But I’m in love with Lucy, although I care very much about Nkechi too.”
“Of course,” he commented. “Given the way you and Nkechi broke up, I’m not surprised that you’re still in love with her and—”
“I’m no longer in love with Nkechi, Charles! I just care—”
“—and I am not surprised that she still loves you. You both were wonderful together,” he concluded as if I did not cut him off.
I glared at him, willing myself to calm down and not say what I wanted to say. It was not that he would be hurt by whatever I said, no it was because I would later regret it. As for Charles, he had gotten to the point where nothing anyone said could get to him. It was an uncanny ability I’ve always wanted to develop.
“You know I’m saying the truth. What you should be worried about is how you would handle this situation so that you do not hurt anyone,” Charles said, crossing his right leg over the left.
“The last time I checked, it was Nkechi who hurt me. She literally threw everything we had and shared to the dust. And now I have to consider her feelings? What about mine?”
“Okey, if you weren’t bothered about her feelings, you would not be here talking about them. What do you want to do?”
I stared at the painting behind his desk. It was a painting of the crucifixion. As I fixed my attention on the man who loved so much that he had to die for that same love, I felt a sort of kinship with him; I perfectly understood what loving someone to the point of wanting to die meant. Though in my case I’d wanted to die because my ex girlfriend had broken up with me.
That day we’d spent a wonderful evening together, talking, laughing and making love. After she dressed up, in the chilliest voice I’ve ever heard, she said, “I’m sorry, Okey, I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t think this is what I want.”
I was shocked, my mouth was open, becoming a temptation for the adventurous fly. I asked her for a reason, but she kept deflecting the question, saying that the problem was from her and not me. When she wanted to leave, I held her hand, telling her that I loved her, and that I couldn’t live without her.
“I thought you said you loved me?” I asked, trying hard not to cry.
“I just found out that I did not. I merely had pity for you because your mother died, and I got it confused with love. I love the idea of falling in love with you, but I don’t love you. I’m really sorry.”
Despite the fact that my whole world was crumbling, I made one desperate attempt to save my relationship, which I knew was dead immediately she said the initial words.
“But what about what we just shared? Does our lovemaking mean nothing to you?”
“C’mon, Okey. It was just sex. We were both in need of release, and we got that,” she replied and left me.
That night, I cried my eyes out. I was lost, nothing made sense to me. The only thought I had was ending it all. If Nkechi, who I believed loved me with all her heart, could do such a thing to me, then I would never get love. There was one way out of it all: death.
I went to my medicine cabinet, brought out all the drugs and kept it on a side stool beside my bed. What I had in mind was that if I woke up in the night still feeling terrible, I would end it all. Luckily for me, I slept throughout the night, and in the morning when I woke up, I stared at the drugs for a full two minutes before packing them back to the cabinet. I resolved that I would never fall for anyone again.
But life is such a funny thing. Four months later, I fell in love with an old friend of mine, who has promised me that she would rather die than to hurt me. I know I am taking a risk by believing her, but I want to believe that love is meant for me too.
Nkechi got to find out that I was in another relationship few months after our breakup. She visited me one evening and told me that she was still in love with me. According to her, she’d been confused because she had a lot going on in her life, and she needed to be focused. When I told her that I was already in another relationship, she accused me of never loving her; that I had taken her for a ride, using her to fill up a space till the next person came alone.
I did not know what to say to her; perhaps it was because I saw in her eyes that she really loved me. In her own way, she really loved me. So I was silent as she said all she wanted to say and left.
I told Lucy about it and she was very sympathetic and understanding; she advised me to cut her some slack. “It’s not easy for her too,” she said.
I left Charles’ office, intent on proposing to Lucy. Maybe that would prove to Nkechi that I’d moved on, and hopefully she would too. Thankfully I’d bought a ring two weeks ago, but I had been scared to actually propose, because it was better to just be boyfriend and girlfriend than to propose and get turned down. I knew I would not take that kind of blow.
As I drove to the flat where I lived with Lucy, I imagined how her face would be like when I finally popped the question at her. She would be surprised, yes; she would also be scared. She had an aversion to marriage which I noticed from the first time we talked. It was from seeing so many marriages fail, especially that of her parents. They’d been married for twenty-five years, then one day, their parents decided to divorce. It had been a traumatic affair for her, one I prayed would not be a shadow over my proposal.
Immediately I opened the door of my house, I knew that something was wrong. There was this quietness in the house that was unnatural. Lucy should be at home by that time, but she wasn’t. It was obvious from the fact that there was no music blaring from the speakers. It was a habit of hers that irked me a lot. I am a quiet person, but she would never understand the fact that someone would prefer a gloomy atmosphere (as she called it) to a lively place.
I went into the bedroom to change and froze in my tracks. What I saw made me weak at the knees, and I held the wall for support. All of her belongings in the room were nowhere to be found. It was as if she swept the whole room clean, taking every single thing that belonged to her.
I managed to get to the bed, sat down on it and was about to dial her line when I noticed the note on the bed. I picked it up, and as I read the contents, tears of hurt and frustration trickled down my face without restraint.
“Okey, our love,
We know that this might seem as something we planned all along, but believe us, we never knew something like this would ever happen. But we have to thank you for bringing us together, because it helped us to realize that we were meant for each other. Yes, Okey, we are in love with each other. We’ve been for the past year. It was a tough decision letting you know this way, but we think this is best option. You don’t get to see us, and the hurt would be lesser.
We know that nothing we say would ever take away the hurt and disappointment you feel, but we beg you to forgive us. We are madly in love with each other, and there’s no way Lucy could continue the charade of being in love with you.
Currently we are on our way to the States, where we can be free to love ourselves the way we want to. We pray that you forgive us and give us your blessings.
You will always be in our hearts.
Lucy and Nkechi.”
The letter slipped out of my hands at the same time I slipped out of consciousness.