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Friday, October 11, 2019

Sauce For The Goose (1)




She could tell as soon as she looked at him; one glance at her and he knew she could tell. Maybe it was because he couldn’t hold her gaze like before. Or maybe it was just that powerful intuition he knew she had; the kind that left no room for doubt. 

Standing there outside the door in the rain with his head down, he wanted the anger back, the fury that had spurred him on; that righteous feeling of being the slighted one. But that place in his heart where the flames of his anger had once raged now held cold ashes.

“Come inside now. It’s cold…and you’re wet.”

Her voice was hoarse, and he could tell she had been crying. He raised his head to look in her eyes for a moment – it was all he could bear. There was neither anger nor accusation, just a sad acceptance. It took all the strength he had to walk across the threshold. 

He stood aside, his hands hanging limp while she shut the door, then he fell behind as she turned and walked up the stairs. They seemed like another lifetime to him, those days when she would have her hand around his waist as he walked up those same stairs, hanging on to his every word like he was the best thing since indoor plumbing.

“Are you hungry? I made spaghetti for dinner.”
 He shook his head, but she had not turned to look at him.

“I’m not hungry…. Thanks.”
As usual she said nothing. He had not eaten at home in at least four weeks, but she had never stopped asking.
    
   ***

He got home late from work that night to find her sitting cross legged on their bed. She looked up as he entered the room, and he knew immediately that she had something on her mind. Well, he thought, she’s picked the wrong night because all I want is a shower and a good night’s sleep.

 The last couple of months had been bordering on nightmarish; what with him working virtually all day every day to please his new investors. It occurred briefly to him that he had not seen much of his wife lately. But it would all be worth it in the end, he knew.

He gave a brief greeting and began undoing his tie. She got out of bed and came to stand in front of him. She said they needed to talk; there was something she had to tell him. It was then he noticed how swollen her eyes looked. He felt an odd blend of concern and exasperation as she led him to the edge of the bed and made him sit. 

Then she got on her knees before him. He could see her inner struggle as she gathered her thoughts. She said she had left her job today; she’d resigned without notice. He gave a sigh of relief. Did women always have to be so dramatic? She had only left her job, and here he was thinking someone had died! 

 Of course, it was nice to have the extra income they got from her job, but his company was doing well enough now and he could comfortably provide for the family. She had never really liked her job anyway so he figured she could take her time now and get to do something she loved, maybe even start that catering school she had been talking about for years.

 He told her this in his most soothing voice, but she looked away, biting her lips like his words had caused her physical pain. She buried her face in his thighs and squeezed them hard. He felt her tears soak through his trousers. Only then did he think to ask what was wrong.

She raised her head slowly to look at him, and through the tears he could see the guilt in her eyes. He was starting to feel uneasy. She said she was sorry. She did not know what made her do it, but she had realized it was the biggest mistake she could ever have made. She said she knew there was no excuse, but she had been so lonely. 

His heart froze with dread, but he kept his face impassive. He asked what she was talking about. She looked away again, staring at a spot on the wall for what seemed an eternity; and then she said it. She had slept with someone. His mind went blank for an instant. 

Then it hit him hard, the volley of emotions; shock, jealousy, hurt, shame, and then the rage. He shoved her off and stalked to the window, ignoring the sharp cry she let out as she hit the floor. He stood staring out into the night, his fists balled up in his trouser pockets, his chest heaving. He could have killed her.

 He wanted to call her all the vile, hurtful names he could think of, but as he had long discovered and come to accept about himself, words failed him every time he got emotional... 



 To be continued 


By  Uche Okonkwo




Friday, September 20, 2019

The Small Print (2)





Coleen continued. “Let’s get on with the interview?”
Jennifer spread her arms out as if to say “Whatever.”
The veins in Wale’s head throbbed. Why didn’t he hit the delete key when the cursed job advert landed in his inbox? Because he was an over ambitious idiot with a bank account the size of a dried pimple, that’s why.

Coleen looked at him, an expectant expression on her face. “Well?”
He sighed with weariness, feeling as though he was about to be strapped to an electric chair for a crime he did not commit. Finally he nodded. “I am ready.”


 ***

“Africa!” Wale’s colleague called out as soon as he returned to the main office floor of Syms & Syms, the IT project management consulting firm that employed him. Wale groaned as Q stumbled through scurrying assistants and ringing phones towards the cubicle they shared.

 Q’s real name was Quaddam, but everyone called him Q. They had been working in the same department- Admin and Supplies- since Wale started at the company. Unlike Wale, Q loved the brain- deadening post office runs, monotonous stationary upkeep and general servitude to the entire company that had been their duties for a little over a year. The position gave Q an opportunity to be the first to hear office gossip while it was still sizzling. On the bright side, Q’s enthusiasm usually made Wale’s days slightly shorter and more bearable.
 But not today.

“Get lost Q,” Wale muttered. “And stop calling me Africa.”
 Q gripped a bunch of manila files under his arm as though his life depended on it. “Not until I finish my investigation.” He wheeled a spare chair close and slammed his files on top of Wale’s desk, unsettling the dust around the pen holders.

“What is it?” Wale asked. He reached for a copy of the IT News magazine on his desk, and hoped that Q would take a hint and get lost.

“Andrea Lennox interviewed you,” Q said, hardly noticing his lack of enthusiasm.

“Yeah?”

“She left a massive IT firm in Manchester to help shape things up here for a few months.”
“And?”

“Why travel all the way from Manchester to London? Syms & Syms has never been in the Times top hundred IT companies to work for.” Q let out a chuckle. “Or top five thousand.”

“Your point is?”

“My point is why?”

Wale returned to the magazine and fingered it; moving his hands across the images at a snail’s pace. ”I don’t know. Leave me alone.”

Q nodded but didn’t shift from his position. ”I see the interview didn’t go well?”

“It was a blast.” Wale replied in perfect monotone. “Go away.”

“Feisty.” Q wiggled his index finger. “Don’t worry, Wale. You’ll get the job you have always wanted. Then you will get promoted and leave me here all by myself.”

Wale placed his palm on his chest and feigned distress. “I’m heartbroken.”

“Okay.” Q sat bolt upright. “One more question and I am gone.”

“Five seconds.”
“Are you and Andrea related in any way, shape or form?” Q’s beady eyes shone with curiosity.
Adrenaline propelled Wale out of his seat. “Me and Jen-Andrea related? Why would you think that?”

“Just answer me.”
“Why?”

“Why do you Africans answer questions with questions?”

“Are you going to talk or not?”
“See what I mean?”

Wale took a deep breath. “This is not the time to muck about.”
Q tapped his chin and stared at the ceiling as though his answer was engrained in the perforated tiles. Finally, he lowered his head and said, “I just ordered an ID card for the new project manager.”

“So?”
“In her passport, her surname is hyphenated.”
Wale’s heart thumped. “What has that got to do with the price of fish?”

“Wait till I tell you,” Q said and then paused.
“I am waiting.”

“The first half of her name is the same as yours.”
“Meaning?”
“Her full name is Andrea Ademola- Lennox.”
The room whirled. Wale closed his eyes. “No. No way.”
“Yep,” Q said. “I saw it myself. Now what was that about the price of fish?”




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