Marianna stared at the bottle of red wine she’d brought out of the mini bar in her sitting room and contemplated on drowning herself in it. The words of Patricia kept re-echoing in her head.
“Are you sure your husband is not the one to blame for your childlessness?”
Marianna shot off the sofa and paced about for a bit. The sitting room was silent and even though the television was on, she had placed the volume on mute.
“I can’t stay here anymore…I have to go out and clear my head.” She said, breathing deeply.
A depressed Rosita and her bubbly children had left the house a few hours ago after Patricia had turned things upside down. She pondered on Patricia’s words, indeed, her friend had a point. People weren’t repaid for their good deeds or were they? If they were, then, why did bad things always happen to good people? She thought.
“Auntie Marianna, I’m going to buy vegetable oil from the supermarket as well as some groceries.” Cynthia said, jolting her out of her thoughts.
Marianna spun around and stared at the young girl.
“What’s with you?” She spat. “Why do you enjoy startling me?”
“I am sorry auntie, I didn’t mean to do that…” She said apologetically.
“I’m sorry Cynthia, I guess I’m just a little upset.” Marianna said. “Don’t worry about going to the supermarket, just give me the list of what we need to buy and I’ll go. I am tired of staying in the house. I think that I have to go to my fashion shop tomorrow and relieve my seamstresses of all the work.”
Cynthia nodded and left to make the list while Marianna turned to stare at the bottle of wine again. She picked it up and took it back to the mini bar and placed it there.
“I don’t have any use for you yet…” She said to the bottle of wine and sighed.
Soon, Cynthia walked up to her with the list and the money and she took it from her.
“Please bring me my keys…I’ll be outside.” Marianna said walking towards the exit door.
By the time she reached her car, Cynthia had brought the keys.
“Thanks.” She said, taking the keys from the girl.
“Are you okay, auntie?” The girl asked.
Marianna looked at her and nodded. She loved her husband’s relatives and saw them as her siblings.
“Would you like me to accompany you?” Cynthia asked.
Marianna shook her head.
“I can manage on my own…thanks dear.” She said and got into the car.
As she drove to the supermarket, Patricia’s words ran through her head over and over again.
“Get behind me Satan!” Rosita’s words sliced through.
“Why are doubts running through my head? Oh God! What do I do? How can I get rid of these words? How Lord? How?” She said as tears slipped down her cheeks.
She entered the supermarket’s parking lot and saw a spot but just as she was about to park, another car drove in. Marianna was upset.
“Arrrggghhh!” She growled as she backed up and drove in to park in another parking slot.
Angry and bitter at being cheated out of her parking space, she stepped out of her car and marched on towards the other car that had taken her space. She was furious and was ready to leave her Christianity aside and tackle whoever it was with the vile words of her mouth.
The occupant of the car was male and he was bent over the backseat of the car, so Marianna waited for him to finish whatever business it was that he was doing before speaking to him. The moment he pulled out, she opened her mouth to speak but she let her mouth hang in the air.
The man had a baby in his arms and shut the door behind him then stared at her.
“Marianna!” He called out in surprise.
“Goodwill!” She stammered.
“My goodness! How many years has it been? I …can’t believe this.” He said to her.
Marianna stood there and stared at the man she knew too well and who had abandoned her fifteen years ago while she was pregnant.
“I swear you haven’t changed a bit from our days at Holiander Memorial Secondary school.” He said smiling at her.
“You…haven’t…erm…changed too.” She stammered, wondering how her mission to insult the man who dared to take her parking slot suddenly became a trip down memory lane.
Goodwill moved his baby to his other arm and smiled at her.
“Is she yours?” Marianna asked referring to the baby.
“Yes, she’s my second child…but wow! I can’t believe this! I can’t believe that we’re seeing each other again after so many years.”
“It’s a small world, Goodwill. I remember that your parents quickly changed schools for you when my family informed them that I was pregnant.” She said.
There was a long pause.
“I errm…that…was a long time…a long time…ago.” He stammered.
“Yes, it’s fifteen years and if the child was alive today, he or she will be a teenager.”
“The child died?” He asked in relief.
“I miscarried.” She said.
He looked at her left hand and spotted her wedding band.
“I see that you’re married.” He said.
“Yes I am.” She replied.
“How nice…” He said.
“Yes.” She replied.
“I am really sorry for the hurt of the past…if I can take back the hands of time, I will. You were the only girl who really understood me back then.”
“If there’s any way I could maybe…offer any kind of assistance to you…just to prove that I am really sorry for hurting you. Please, don’t hesitate to tell me.” He said as he fished his pocket for his card and handed it over to her.
Marianna took the card and shrugged.
“Have a nice day Goodwill.” She said as she walked towards the supermarket building.
Patricia had a lot to do. She was at work, staring at her computer and wondering when the work piled up so high for her.
“The work in this office is killing!” Her colleague, Agnes said.
“You can say that again. I can’t believe that I have such a huge workload, carried over from even last year.” Patricia groaned.
“Wait…lemme see.” Agnes said as she walked over to look at Patricia’s screen.
“Wait, haven’t you been filling your client form?”
“Client form? I don’t understand.”
“That’s the new directive from above. Every marketer should fill in the names and contact details on the company log book online, asides the one in the files.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Well, we started it last year.” Agnes said.
“My goodness! How come I haven’t done mine yet?”
“Well…I fill mine on my free days….”
Patricia groaned some more, her free day was on Friday and she spent it holed up with the sisters in prayer.
“I noticed that you have removed the banner from your cubicle.” Agnes said.
“I mean the ‘I Belong to Jesus’ banner which you placed in your cubicle.”
Patricia looked at her cubicle, the only thing there that wasn’t work-related was her framed picture.
“Oh that! It’s old already.” She said.
“Aren’t you going to replace it or don’t you belong to Jesus anymore?” Agnes asked with a hint of humour.
“Look, I’d rather you mind your business. What I do or don’t do is not your problem.”
“Sorry…I noticed it and many of our colleagues noticed it too. I promise to mind my business from now on.” Agnes said.
Patricia gave her a sour look and focused on her work.
Rosita curled up in her chair and stared at the clock on the wall, it was nine pm and her husband wasn’t home yet. Her mother in law had made dinner because she hadn’t been in the mood to do so.
Just then, she heard the horn of her husband’s car and heard the hum of the engine as it drove into the compound. Her heart raced fast. What should she do? She asked herself. Should she cry? Should she walk up to him when he comes in and tell him to his face that he was a big liar? Should she go to the bedroom and pretend to be asleep? What should she do?
She was still contemplating on the gazillion options in her head when her husband pushed his key in the lock and opened the door. She sat there and watched him enter the house and shut the door behind him.
“Hey baby.” He greeted.
“Hey.” She replied.
“Are you alright? You look dull. Where are the kids?” He asked.
“They are asleep.” She replied.
He tossed his bag on the sofa and slumped on the sofa, removing his neck-tie.
“How’s work?” She asked.
“Hectic! Can you believe that I was working all day today? I didn’t even raise my head from my desk.” He yawned.
“Serious? Were you working all afternoon?”
“Yes honey, we had to sign off on a business and I was working on it all through today. I am officially an office mouse.”
“Hmmm…so, when I dropped off your lunch today, you were at your desk?”
He looked at her sharply.
“You…you…stopped by the office?” He stammered.
“Yes I did.”
“Why? Why didn’t you call me?”
“I wanted to surprise you but I was the one you got surprised instead.” She said.
“I…don’t know…what you mean.” He said uncomfortably.
“I know you’re on leave honey but that’s not my question, my question is, why do you want to throw away the beautiful thing that we have?”
He stood up nervously and mopped the invisible sweat on his face with his palms.
“What am I doing wrong?” She asked.
“Look, I need to go and take a bath…” He started.
“If I didn’t know that you’re on annual leave at your office, I bet you’d get dressed and go to ‘work’ again tomorrow when in actual fact, I know you’re going to be with that mistress of yours.” She spat.
Her mother-in-law chose the moment to step out from inside the house.
“What is going on here? Rosita, why are you shouting at your husband like that? Don’t you know that he is the head of the home?” She demanded.
“The head of the home? Ask him where he’s been mummy?” Rosita fired.
“Mum, I had no idea that you’re in town.” Rosita’s husband said.
“How is work my dear?” His mother asked.
“Fine ma…” He replied.
“Your husband has had a hard day and you’re stressing him out. What is the matter with you? I don’t know what women want from their husbands…if you know that…”
“Look mummy, I won’t have you continue to take sides. I am having a conversation with my husband and if you’re not going to add anything meaningful, kindly go back to bed.” Rosita said.
“How dare you talk to my mother like that?” Her husband demanded.
“Don’t you dare change the topic! You haven’t still answered my question.” Rosita spat.
“Do you want an answer? Do you honestly want an answer?” He spat.
“Yes! Yes, I want an answer!” Rosita screamed like a mad woman.
“I am tired of this marriage and I have fallen in love with a woman whom I’d have married if I wasn’t still married to you!”
Rosita stared at her husband in shock, it seemed as though the world was crumbling under her feet.
To be continued….