The Shadow of a Known Past

The Shadow of a Known Past

“Hello, my Cherry. It’s me, your old-time lover. I know, I know, you’ve missed me. I’ve missed you too. But don’t you worry, my pretty Cherry, I’m back to fulfill all your dark fantasies.”

Linda could not stop shaking after she read the message; she had woken up to ease herself, and afterwards could not go back to sleep. She’d picked up her phone, wanting to check the time when she noticed the message notification. It was from an unknown number, but she knew who it was immediately she finished reading it.

She looked across the bed at her husband of three years. She forced herself not to let out a whimper of terror as she knew that Dubem her husband would wake up and try to know why she was shaken. He was such a light sleeper and Linda would not be surprised if he was already awake.

Such a good man, she thought. Never for once had he pestered me about having sex since we’ve been together. She recalled how their relationship started; he’d been her best friend right from her third year in school. Then he was in his final year. But he made his feelings for her known to her when she was on her youth service program. She’d been ambivalent because on one hand she loved him too; and on the other hand, she loathed sex, something people in relationships could not do without.

Yet when she gave him the only condition in which she would date him, he’d readily agreed, as if it was never his intention to bed her. And for the whole time they’ve been together, they’d never gone beyond the chaste kiss—just a mere touch of their lips. Sometimes she imagined—such as now—that he had a mistress outside, a very beautiful lady, with the curves, big ass and ample breasts she did not have, fulfilling all his sexual needs. And just like every other time she’d thought about it, she discovered that she was fine with him getting some action outside their cold bed. As long as he never falls in love with her (or them, she included), I’m okay with it.

Suddenly her phone rang in the silent room; the familiar voice of Sia piercing the eerie quietness of the room as she began the opening lines of One Million Bullets.

Linda frightfully pressed her volume buttons, silencing the device, and praying that Dubem would not wake up. He stirred, turned, yawned, and finally faced the wall, with his back to her. She let out the breath she did not know she was holding, as she looked at the phone’s screen to discover that it was the same person who had sent her the text.

She willed herself to end the call, or to allow it go into voicemail, but she found herself standing up, opening the door of their bedroom and creeping out.

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

He’d been awake for a while before she went to ease herself. When she returned, he was surprised that she was still awake few minutes later. That was very unusual of Linda who normally slept like a log. He usually teased her that one day she would be sleeping and he would take her outside their bedroom and she wouldn’t even budge.

He opened his eyes a bit, saw her with her phone and felt her sharp intake of breath. It was probably what he’d been suspecting all along. Linda, his beautiful and lovely wife was having an affair with another man. It was that simple. Yes, she was the one who told him that they would not have sex while they were dating, and he understood her reasons. She was a well-bred Christian girl who wanted to wait for marriage before getting intimate with anyone. But they’ve been married for three years, how did she cope without making love with her husband if she was not getting some action outside?

As he thought about it, he knew that he was not angry with his wife for satisfying herself outside their home, but he was in sorrow because he knew that it was life that forced him to be the way he was; it was cruel, sadistic life that made him sick, sick to the point that he would never make love to his wife.

Then her phone rang, and she frightfully silenced the piece of technology. Dubem tossed, yawned and turned to face the wall. He could not bear to watch his wife in such a state of sinful glee that she had to hold her breath.

As she left the room, a single tear dropped on his pillow.

**********

She sat on the sofa in their parlour, and waited for the caller to call her again. Within five seconds, her phone started vibrating. Her heart gave a painful lurch, and as she picked the call, she prayed that she would not break down.

“He–hello,” she said, reminding herself to be calm.

“Hello Cherry,” the man on the other end said, his voice warm with devilish intent. “How have you been? It’s really been long. How long has it been? Fifteen years, right?”

“What do you want, Emma?” Linda asked, forcing some measure of hardness into her voice.

“Now, now, don’t sound like a bitch, Cherry. You know what I want. It’s the same thing I’ve always wanted, the same thing we’ve always wanted.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking—”

“I heard that you’re now married. It broke my heart when Aunty Amaka told me. And to think that you never invited me to your own wedding! Was that fair?”

Linda wanted to shout, to scream at the top of her voice that he should go to the deepest part of hell. But she told herself to calm down; her husband was sleeping upstairs. She did not want him to find out about his ugly side of her.

Emma continued, “Anyway I understand why you never invited me. You did not want to see me in the midst of other people while you took your vows, knowing fully well that you wanted me to fuck you, to always fuck you. How’s the sex with your husband? Is he half as good as I am?”

“Emmanuel, you have five seconds to tell me what you want from me, or I swear to God I’ll end this call and—”

“I’ve told you what I want,” he cut her short, his voice suddenly becoming cold and cutting, like a shard of glass dipped in ice. “I want you. Just you. I want to fuck you one more time. For old time’s sake.”

“I’m married, you dog!” Linda whispered, anger and regret threatening to choke her.

“I don’t care, Cherry. I want to make love to you today. Or else, I’ll tell your Prince Charming what we were up to in the past. I have his number already. Should I call it out for you? 08147—”

“Okay, fine! Come to my house by 10.30am today. My husband should be gone by then,” she replied, wondering if she had just dug her own grave.

“Wonderful! Don’t worry about the address, my dear, I already have it,” Emma said, purring like a contented cat.

She ended the call, hating herself for what she’d done, yet knowing that it was the only way she could save her marriage; it was the only way she could keep the man she loved.

*********

As Dubem went back to their bedroom, he was filled with a blinding rage he never knew could be part of him. Although he had not come down when his wife had started her secret, illicit call, he had heard enough to confirm his suspicions. Come to my house by 10.30am today. My husband should be gone by then. That was the reason Linda had informed him that she would not be going to work the next day. She had lied that it was her day off. What a cheap lie! And to think that she would bring the bastard to their house!

He sat on the bed, trying to calm his raging temper, knowing that he was at fault, yet unable to bear her betrayal now that it was obvious.

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

Tears marched down Linda’s cheeks, and jumped off her jaw as she recalled how she had started what was now threatening to shear her life apart.

She’d been fifteen years then, so young and reckless. That night she’d gone partying with some of her friends, getting drunk and enjoying every bit of it. Her parents were the type that always traveled around the world, attending conferences and neglecting their only child.

She had come back drunk and delirious, and without meaning to, went into her cousin’s room. Emma had been living with them for three months and she had been having dark fantasies about what it would be like to have him between her legs.

She saw him sprawled on his bed, naked and watching the television, and her insides boiled with raw desire. She had asked him to take her there and then, and he’d obliged.

Over the next six months, they had sex countless times, in all corners of the house till she finally summoned courage to tell him that she was done with their unholy acts. He had been incensed, telling her that she was his and he had the right to take her whenever he wanted. As if to prove his point, he tied her up and raped her repeatedly, till she was begging for mercy.

Linda sighed, wiped the tears off her face and went back to the room. She had not told anyone since then because she knew that Emmanuel was right—she was the one who started it in the first place.

**********

The next morning, Dubem prepared for work with a feeling of anger dipped in sorrow. He had already planned what he would do; it was the best way he could bear the thought that in a few hours his wife would be on the his bed with another man.

He left the house before Linda woke up, not wanting to see her lie again about how her day would be. Before leaving though, he kept the object on the table in the room, where she would see it if she looked hard enough.

***********

Linda’s first thought as she woke up was that it was going to be a wonderful day. That was until she looked across the bed and noticed that Dubem had already left. It was unlike him to leave without letting her know, but then again, maybe he was in a hurry.

The thought of her husband gone for work brought back the memory of the previous night. She checked the time—10.15am. Just fifteen minutes before he would be here. She wished that he would call her and tell her that it was all a joke, but she knew that the sky would fall before that happened. Emmanuel was the devil, and the devil would never miss an opportunity to punish sinners like her.

She got up, wanting to go into the bathroom when she noticed the note on the table.

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

He knew he should be going to work, should be doing what he planned to do. But he also wanted to be sure that he was doing the right thing; he wanted to see the man who would be fucking his wife in the next few minutes. It was sick, he knew, but he was past caring.

He would have missed the man if he wasn’t staring at his gate at that time. Dubem was surprised that the man in question did not even have a car. In his imagination, the man who was coming to make love to his wife would at least have a nice car.

But when the man knocked at his gate, and the gate man opened, he finally accepted that the workings of the heart would always be as mysterious as ever.

He gently started his car and drove off.

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

“Linda, my love. By the time you read this note, I would be long gone to the land of my fathers. I’m sorry it came to this, but I couldn’t bear the thought of another man making love to you when I can’t.

“Yes, I cannot fulfil your sexual desires. And I know that is why you took a lover outside our marriage. I do not blame you. Do not also blame me for not being able to fulfil them.

“The truth is that I am impotent. I know I should have told you long ago, but I was afraid that you would leave me. Funny enough, you’ve already done part of that, as you are now having an affair with another man.

“I sincerely wish that things did not turn out this way, but I am glad that I got the chance to love you._

“The news will read it as an accident, but you alone will know the truth—that I ran into the trailer because I couldn’t live with the knowledge that another man made love to you.”

Yours ever, Dubem.

Linda finished reading the note the same time she heard the knock at the gate. With a sinking feeling she realized that her husband had been aware of her movements yesterday night and had misunderstood them to be that she was cheating on him.

She ran blindly down the stairs, remembering to take her phone with her. Outside, she jumped into her car and signaled wildly to the gate man to open the gate. She drove past a stunned Emma as she frantically dialed Dubem’s phone, hoping that he would pick. But he never picked.

She drove towards his office, praying that he took that route.

***********

Dubem closed his eyes as he drove straight towards the trailer opposite him. His last thought was that the next day would be the anniversary of his three years of marriage to Linda, a day he normally looked forward to.

***********

When Linda’s phone rang ten minutes later, she jumped in fright inside the car. She answered it and the information she got froze her blood.

Dubem was dead!

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