Peter sat beside me on the Chaise lounge in his tastefully furnished living room, my head resting in the nook of his shoulder as he absently rubbed his fingers over collarbone. It made me remember why spending time with him, just the two of us, was one of my favorite moments.
All was quiet except for the soft rock music coming from the Cable radio station. I tilted slightly to the side and glimpsed at his eye lashes and I thought to myself, ‘oh how many women would kill to have their natural lashes so full and long’. His chest was bare as usual covered with a carpet of straight velvety hair. I could never understand why he always preferred being shirtless, despite the cool breeze from the fan and AC combined.
As I stared intently at the tiny specks of hair that lined all the way from his chest, downwards and disappeared into the band of his trousers, I had to swallow before I returned to his face. I half expected him to catch me ogling him but interestingly I realized that his mind had indeed traveled far.
While I got a slight sense of relief, I also found it quite weird because we never had such awkward silences. In fact, if there’s anything I know about this relationship “scratch that, let’s call it situationship” is the fact that we never lacked what to talk about. So even thought I felt something unsettling about the silence, I quickly dismissed it, just so grateful to have escaped the teasing that would have been sure to come.
I reassured myself in the fact that Peter was big into communication and so I felt fairly confident that he would sooner or later tell me what was on his mind. So I settled back into the sofa and began absent mindedly stroking the back of his hand.
A few minutes later, in an almost inaudible voice he asked “Tinuke, can we be friends?”. With eyes glued on the screen of my phone catching up on a certain celebrity fight that was ongoing on popular blogs, I answered with an amused smile on my face “friends? Aren’t we that already”? But as no response came, I turned to look at him and I noticed the seriousness in his eyes. “what I mean is” he said, “I want us to be good friends”. At that, I sidled closer to him and climbed onto his lap and began rubbing my palm across his cheek, just how I knew he liked it as I quipped, “Oh, you mean like girlfriend and boyfriend?”. But he stilled my wandering hands and gave me a puzzled look that made me immediately think “oh wait is he trying to dump me?”
Well ‘dump’ isn’t the best word to be used here because we weren’t technically in a relationship. We hung out, we made out a couple of times but we were never decisive as to what we were doing. “I haven’t been entirely honest with you T”, he said “and I will come to dislike myself if I continue being dishonest” he continued. I eyes stared intently at his misty eyes as he plowed on “I wasn’t truthful with you and even though I know you never quite asked, I hid it from you the fact that I was seeing someone else”
“W-what are you saying Peter, you are seeing who? Since when?” I stammered as I withdrew my hand from under his. At this point, I could feel the sound of my pounding heart in my ears, so much it seemed to be buzzing. Then he responded, “She and I have been dating on and off for 5 years, but we grew closer in the past 5 months and last week we found out we were expecting a child together and we intend to keep it and do it right.
I felt my body start to shake with anger so I got up, and ran a hand through my hair as I paced the cool tiled floor pondering on a response. I could feel the anger rushing in as I turned back to him and screamed, “And you just decided to tell me now? After all these weeks? What am I to you? A pastime?” All of a sudden it seemed like my throat was closing up and my breath was coming in short gasps, so I walked into the guest bathroom, shut the door and slid to the cold floor as the tears that had filled my eyes began to pour in torrents. I wept in silence until I heard him rise from the leather seat and walk towards me as his footsteps grew louder. He tapped at the door twice and called out “T, please open the door” but I refused to respond. Instead I got up and sat on the toilet bowl. My butt was freezing and I didn’t want to add pneumonia to the heart break.
I desperately wanted to turn the knob brush pass him and flee the uncomfortable situation, but at that same time I heard him lean heavily on the thin flush door that separated us. I immediately felt trapped because knowing the kind of resolute man he was, if I didn’t come out to talk to him, then I would have to stay inside the bathroom for ages. So I decided to get up on unsteady feet, reached for the door and unlocked it. As soon as the bolts released,
Peter pushed open the door and I beheld those dark brown eyes misty and I had to resist the urge to run into his broad chest and sinewy long arms, where I had always felt safe.
I kept waiting for him to say it was all a joke, but deep down I knew it wasn’t because I had never seen him more serious. It was then he spoke softly “I will totally understand if you hate me, but I’m hoping you don’t. I can’t stand knowing you hate me. I value your friendship and I have come to care a lot about you”. For a brief moment, all I could dwell on was how ticklish it would feel if I only pressed my cheek against his broad chest. So instead of giving in to those instincts, I leaned all my weight on the door to prevent myself from swooning and pouring myself all over him begging him to take me back.
I forced myself to speak but words failed me. While seating on the bathroom floor, I had crafted the worst comebacks that hurt him as bad as he was hurting me, but staring at him like that, so vulnerable, every well crafted rejoinder disappeared. I swallowed what felt like a thousand times before I could find the words to croak out “Peter, I really can’t do this right now, please step out of the way so I can leave”. He reached out to touch my chin and I flinched and side stepped him, I saw him recoil his hands as though he had been burned and I thought to myself ‘that serves your right, heartbreaker!’ he stared at me through dark painful eyes for a few seconds and then he stepped aside just a little to let me pass through the crack between him and the door. I left him standing there while I picked up her purse and car keys from the centre table and left.
Here’s what you need to know, Peter and I’s meeting was very dramatic. We met at a yard party organized by mutual friends during the summer holidays. It was one of those who-is-who parties where everyone had a clique and gathered around in small circles, eating and having a good time. I loved those scenes because I have a trusted clique that always brought the fun everyday without fail. Janet,
Perpetua and Grace have been my friends since University and we had remained tight through the years. We were having a good time, chatting away, pointing at guys we knew and sharing jokes about who was dating who and who had just had a dramatic breakup.
Somehow I kept feeling like someone was boring a hole into my back, but whenever I turned around, I wouldn’t find anyone. At some point I began to feel that I must be hallucinating. Anyway, our friend who organized the party came over to ask if we were having a good time and I informed him that I wanted more chicken so he asked me to come with him to the grill so he could hook me up with some wings.
When we got the grill, I noticed a tall, dark and mysterious looking young man whom I had never seen standing right in front of me waiting to be served. His shoulders were so broad that I couldn’t even see the grill, so I thought it would be fun to make faces at his back mimicking his movements. I stood on tip toes, stuck out my tongue and spread out my wiry hands to appear as big as him and was hopping left and right. All of a sudden he turned back and looking at my ridiculous charade, his face broke out in a wry grin. Soon his pearly white teeth came out to play and he busted out laughing. I was mortified and turned to walk away with what little dignity I had only for him to wrap his long fingers around my wrist and pull me back.
He had gotten the last serving of the BBQ chicken and he was kind to offer me some which I graciously accepted because I might as well get some recompense after making a fool of myself, lol. We talked for a bit and he mentioned that he had been watching me with my friends for a while and was hoping for an opportunity to talk to me. Aha! I finally knew I wasn’t going crazy. He also mentioned he had just gotten back to Nigeria a few weeks before and immediately my fences went up as I quickly filed him under “I Just Got Back demon” and decided it wasn’t going to be me he’ll use to while away time. But then he told me he had actually returned to Nigeria with most of his belongings as he was hoping to settle here having gotten a contract to run trainings for a multinational firm. Immediately my antenna sprang up and I quickly placed him in the “prospect” file. We had an amazing time talking and then exchanged numbers and from then on, became inseparable.
Weeks have gone by since that day in December when he dashed all hopes of happily after with him but I still couldn’t bring myself to hate him. As I stare at the pre-wedding photo of him and his fiancé showcased on a popular social blog, I realize that as hard as I have tried, there lingers a small torch still burning for him. But with any luck, time will quench whatever ember remains, even as I make an effort to stop torturing myself with thoughts of what could have been.
About Jemimah-Nikky Jates
Jemimah-Nikky Jates is a Public and Media Relations Consultant- specializing in Strategic Communications and Reputation Management. She is an aspiring broadcaster and presenter of the radio programme “Abuja Social Mixx”. She writes short stories and feature articles and run a Human interest Blog.
Blog site : http:// jemimah-nikky.blogspot.com
Contact her via email: email@example.com
Twitter/Instagram: @nikkyjates @abujasociamixx