To all my kind readers and followers of this story, here is a big thank you for the encouraging comments, for taking out time off your busy schedules to engage with me and offer your thoughts about the characters. Thank you.
And happy holidays! ❤
“There is stability in self-destruction, in prolonging sadness as a means of escaping abstractions like happiness. Rock bottom is a surprisingly comfortable place to lay your head. Looking up from the depths of another low often seems a lot safer than wondering when you’ll fall again. Falling feels awful.
I’d rather fucking fly.”
― Kris Kidd
You hear a noise. It sounds like laughter, and it’s coming from him. You are not sure whether to join him at first, because how is this a joke? But the intensity of his demeanor and the awkwardness of the moment overwhelm you and soon, you join him. In seconds, you are both seated on the kitchen floor, half naked and laughing—but you are not sure why.
“I don’t know how this is a joke Gbenga.”
“B—” he laughs “But—” more laughter. “If this isn’t a joke, I honestly don’t know what is.” More laughter.
“Gbenga, let’s get serious. Really.”
“Se—” laughter. “Serious? Okay, okay…” cough. More laughter. Cough. Straight face.
“You are hurt.”
He looks at you; his eyes, blank.
“Gbenga, please talk to me.”
“I am not hurt. I am sad. Sad and weak. Not anywhere close to hurt.”
“Talk to me, please.”
“There’s nothing I have to say that you haven’t heard before Grace.” He smiles “I just hope he makes you happy.”
“We are not dating.”
“—yet. You are not dating yet. Just make sure he makes you happy. I want you to be happy.”
“I am sorry Gbenga.”
“Me too.” He kisses you on your forehead, and stands up to leave. “I should send you Uncle Tunji’s number. Don’t forget to make an appointment before seeing him. I think you will like working with him. He is a great guy!”
He stops at the door and turns to look at you one last time “Take care of yourself and stop brooding about life. It has its ways, okay?”
You are speechless, and tears are welling up in your eyes. How did you end up hurting a good man twice? You continue to stare at the door after he leaves. The feeling that overwhelms you is unsettling. You need to talk to someone but your tears won’t let you, so you chat your sister up.
Me: I caught dad cheating with the help.
TemiDolls: Wait, what?
Me: It was the weekend before I travelled to Camp, I… *delete*
Me: He was… *delete*
Me: I did not want to mention before. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it or who to tell first, but it’s been eating me up inside and I just hurt Gbenga a second time and I feel so terrible about everything: life, love, everything. I am a terrible person. And maybe it’s not me, you know? Maybe it runs in the blood. Having something special in your life yet doing everything to not deserve it. Why do I always push good people away? Why do I always hurt the ones that love me? Why do things have to be so complicated?!
TemiDolls: Baby, calm down. Should I call you?
Me: Yes… *delete*
Me: No, *delete*
You switch your phone off and have a good cry. You soon fall asleep on the cold kitchen floor.
You leave for work very early on Monday, so that you don’t run into Sam on your way to the bus station. You listen to upbeat music on your Mp3: Korede Bello, Mayorkun, Asa, Simisola. You do everything you can to push the weekend behind, and immerse yourself in work all morning. Lucky for you, it’s the busy time of the year, working papers are being compiled and reviewed for all clients and everyone’s hands is on deck to finalize audits before December rolls in with its many holidays.
Soon, it’s lunchtime. There is a lot of unusual movement everywhere, and everyone seems to be talking at the same time but you do not suspect a thing until you see Gbemi run outside the office and back inside almost immediately. You rush after her and realize the cause of the panic is coming from Sam’s station. There is a cluster of people outside his open door. He is on the floor, coughing ceaselessly, struggling to breathe; his face contorted in wrinkles and sweat. You want to go inside but someone shouts at you to stay back because he needs space and air.
You are terrified. You watch Gbemi insert an inhaler into his mouth.
“It’s okay baby. Easy. Easy. You’ll be fine. Easy.”
It takes some minutes but his cough soon subsides, and his breath becomes steady. Gbemi massages his back, and he rests his head on her shoulder, helpless. A tear escapes from your left eye, you quickly brush it aside.
“He will be fine.” You hear Gbemi announce from inside his office. “He just had an asthma attack.”
He had asthma?! I didn’t know o.
What if no one had been around to help him, na so hin go just die?!
It was me that saw him naw.
Its God that saved us o.
The last time it happened to one of my cousin’s sister’s brother ehn, it was at a family party and…
Take care bruh
Thank God Gbemi knew what to do!
Unnecessary chatter and consolatory remarks follow one another as the crowd trickles down, until it is just you remaining. As you turn to leave, Gbemi catches your eye and asks you to wait. She rests Sam’s back against the table and meets you outside.
“Hey. Well done. Thank you for keeping him alive.” You try for a smile.
She turns to look at him briefly before responding. “You know, Sam and I have been friends for about four years now; so more than anything, he is family to me. I don’t know about you, but where I come from, you do whatever you can to keep the great friends in your life forever. Sam really likes you. Don’t use me as an excuse to hurt him.”
You are lost for words.
She shoves her head through the door to his office now. “Hey papi, you are better now? I will check on you later.”
You watch him nod at her retreating figure with a smile, then he waves at you.
You walk in and shut the door.
“How are you now?”
“Alive. Please seat.” He smiles.
You smile too. “I was scared.”
“I didn’t know you had asthma.”
“There is a lot we haven’t talked about.”
“Yes… I was going to get lunch.”
“Yes, me too. Well, before life happened.” He laughs and it sounds like a terrible cough.
You wince. “I could have lost you Samuel.”
“But you didn’t.” he smiles
You take a deep breath to steady your thoughts. You do not want to say too much and you do not know how much is enough to show him that you care. That you want him in your life much as he wants you. That you like him too but you are emotionally unstable. That you want him to stay.
“We still have some time for lunch.” He offers, slicing through your thoughts, and you are thankful for the intrusion.
“I will get us something from the cafeteria, and bring it upstairs.”
“That would be very kind of you.”
“Sure! What would you like?”
“Anything you are having.”
You smile. “Don’t hate me if you don’t like it.”
“I like you already and I like it here. No going back from where I am standing.”
You smile again. “If you say so.”
“I say, my lady.”
© The Short Black Girl, 2017.