I am drunk. At this stage of my drunkenness though, I am surprisingly coordinated, but barely. I’m sure that with one more drink, I would lose myself completely. My eyes are hazy but I am confident that I can walk; so I call the waiter, pay him, generously tip him and suppress the urge to smile at him. I begin to walk towards the parking lot; it’s drizzling slightly and dark clouds have formed. Tonight, it will rain. I try to remember the last time I got drunk without the company of friends. I can’t.
I needed to be alone today, it was important. I needed to think about myself, my life. Kate, from the store department at work, while we were having what I had imagined was a tepid argument, had called me a husband snatcher. It got me. I had to sit down. She came back to tell me how sorry she was and how she wished she could take her words back, but it had already been said and that’s the thing with words, you can’t take them back, no matter how much you wish to.
The first day I met Ade was the day I fell in love with him. I was sure that he was single. He was good looking and fit and did not have that used, exhausted and distant look that married men tend to have. He was clean shaven and did not have a potbelly that protruded towards the ground. I was most assured that he was single after I noticed he was not wearing a gold band around his ring finger. I did not think to ask him even though he looked older; maybe I wanted to avoid the worst. Maybe I did not want to know. I found out much later that he was married and at that time, I was already hopelessly in love. Though I was disappointed, I wasn’t going anywhere.
I enter into my vehicle and drive, fully aware of my drunkenness. Thankfully, the road is clear, not that I expect otherwise, it’s past midnight. My thoughts are unsteady; I cannot decide who to think about, Ade or his wife.
I met Ade’s wife a few weeks ago. She had no idea who I was, of course. She was a fantastic person and I totally understand how Ade could have fallen in love with her. She had a charm, a grace that radiated about her and diffused towards people meters away. She was a tall, light-skinned woman who, even without make-up on, was usually the most beautiful woman in any room. She had beautiful, brown eyes and a nimble carriage that demanded to be noticed in a way that neither seemed forced nor intentional.
She was everything I wished I was, at the same time, everything I knew I couldn’t be. She worked for a Non Governmental Organization, and had come in search of statistics. Academic staff versus non academic staff, number of students in each faculty, male students versus female students… those sorts of things.
I decided to break things off with Ade after I met her; after all, I thought, there was nothing I could give him that his angelic wife couldn’t, two times over. I had decided to end everything but there is something about Ade, words and wit that make it impossible for him to be backed into a corner. I had asked him what exactly he wanted from me with a wife like that. ‘Everything,’ he had responded and as if that was exactly what I wanted to hear, I melted like heated up chocolate bars, back into his arms.
At this point, I have reached the depth. Prior, irrespective of the Ade predicament, I liked to think of myself as a good person. But good people are usually not called husband snatchers by their colleagues at work. If that is what I have degenerated to, then my relationship with Ade has evidently hit an iceberg. I have to try to stop myself from being eaten up by this thing. This thing that I know is wrong but I can’t help it. This thing that is digesting me with my eyes wide open, the way a carnivorous plant digests an insect. It is love minus happiness, plus fear, and eventually, minus love and so I’m left with sadness and fear. It is heartache, but not the kind that they talk about, that they abuse; the kind where you can actually feel your heart aching.
The rains have since picked up and have basically developed into a downpour as I pull up in the driveway and come out of my car. I have a small umbrella in the back seat so I bring it out, open it and bury my head underneath it. It’s hardly enough as the wind blows rain residues towards me; I am getting bedraggled so I walk faster. My apartment is the forth from the far side and I am not sure but I think there is a figure standing under the rain in front of my place. I slow down and no longer consider that I am getting wet. Am I that drunk? I ask myself. When I go closer, I confirm that it’s a human being, a lady. She’s wet; shivering maybe. I get closer to her and my heart stops when I realize who she is and recall that it’s past midnight.
‘Jane? You’re Jane?’ She asks.
I am beyond words and there’s no point hiding that fact, I nod my head, yes. I press in my eyes with the back of my left palm to confirm that I am seeing right. I am. This is Ade’s wife.
‘Can we talk?’ She asks with that smile that still seems glorious even though it’s obvious that she’d been crying. ‘Please?’
I quickly rummage through my purse and bring out my apartment keys, I open my front door and I let her in.
I make hot coffee and serve her without asking for her permission. ‘Would you like to change? Or would you like a hot bath? You look cold.’ I say. I am concerned; earnestly.
She smiles and says, ‘this will do just fine, Jane.’
There’s a long, strange kind of silence. I am not uncomfortable because it’s awkward – it is not awkward, I am uncomfortable because Ade’s wife is sitting drenched in my living room sofa, seeping hot coffee. We stare at each other and then I blurt, ‘I have been sleeping with your husband. I am sorry.’ I don’t know when I say it. I want to cry but crying seems stupid considering the situation. She should be the one crying. She’s the one being cheated on. But just the way the words came out – without my consent, tears, too, begin to come in painful installments. I can’t bear to look at her.
I hear her tea cup clank against the glass stool. She gets up and walks towards me, hugs my head, like I am her child. ‘I know. It’s okay, darling. I forgive you. It’s okay.’ And just like that, she begins to leave.
She’s at the door when I stop her. ‘Why did you come here?’
She forces a smile then swallows. She says in the most polite way, ‘he’s dead. I wanted you to know that he is dead. It’s over. That is what happens when people die. Things end. Whether we are prepared for it or not, they end. I also…” She swallows again; she’s fighting tears, ‘I also wanted to see what he saw in you. I have. Thank you for coffee.’
Before I am able to translate her words into meaning, she’s gone. Does she not understand that she has pierced into me more than a hot knife into butter? That I will forever live with these words banging against my consciousness? ‘Things end. Whether we are prepared for it or not, they end.’ Like fists against a wooden door – banging, banging, banging.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Elena Elisseeva