Waking Up

He sat at the diner counter with a coffee and newspaper in hand. The restaurant was best known for it’s Family Sunday Brunch. He had waffles, bacon, sweet potatoes and coffee with newspaper in hand.

He was a lone wolf in a place packed with families enjoying their meals after the Sunday service. He perused his paper as if he had no worry in the world.

Three tables from where he was seated sat a woman with three of her children. She had on a pink floral dress, white pearl earrings and red lipstick. Her hair was a polite afro. She had dyed her hair coffee brown. She was smiling, wiping her son’s mouth, and at the same time sharing the story of David with the other two. It was funny how he could tell her voice from the rest of the chatter in the restaurant.

She hadn’t changed much, he mused. If anything, the years had been good to her. He could remember how they used to talk of having children. How she swore she wouldn’t let her body grow fat simply because she was a mother. He remembered how aggressive she would get if she wanted something, he knew her determination is what had got her where she was.

He remembered her wedding day 11 years ago. He was in Australia. He had left her behind three years back to pursue his career. He had  traveled the world. He had lived among the Tiwi people, brought in revolutionary medication and education to a few children. He remembered her last email a month to the wedding. She said she missed him, but she was moving on. He was a good guy, and he, he was never around.

He tried to call her on the day of the wedding. Sally, her elder sister, picked up the phone. She said it was not a good time, said he had seven years and he chose to run away, said what he was trying to do was selfish because he would never be there for her the way she needed him to be. He said he was sorry, said he knew his timing was wrong and selfish, but she needed to know, needed to know that all his achievements were nothing without her, that he loved her and he was giving up everything to come home to her. But Sally laughed, said he never changed, and that it would always be a cycle. She said that if he truly loved her sister, he would let her go. She then hung up and turned off the phone. With the click of the phone, he had lost the love of his life.

He lowered his newspaper and looked at her. She was happy, healthy and beautiful. Deep down he wondered if he could have ever been the man she wanted, or if his needs, his dreams and his passion would come first. He wondered if he’d be the family man who took her to church and still had time to buy her flowers and bring them to family brunch every Sunday.

She was happy. This was her life, he was her past.

He paid for his meal, folded his newspaper and walked towards the exit. He walked past her, past her life, and for a moment, they locked eyes.

He smiled at her like he used to, he smiled at her and with his eyes said he was happy she was happy.

She looked at him as if she had seen a ghost, as if she was the only one seeing a ghost. Only her eyes moved with him. She couldn’t leave, she said, she couldn’t go on a roller coaster ride with him, she was happy and she was home, and she wished him well.

It was the briefest conversation he had ever had with anyone, but it meant the world to him.

As he walked out the restaurant and the sun hit his eyes, he knew it was time for a fresh start.

Hope in the Rain.

She stood by the edge of the shop, you know, the corner where the sheets are barely enough to cover you but still do a sufficient job to guard you from the weather. She looked at her feet, new suede shoes about to get ruined because the man next to her insisted on taking on extra space to express himslef with his hands. She tried to squeeze in with the rest, pushing them in to guard herself from the rain.

“Excuse me!” hissed the man turning on her. “We won’t get crammed up like this. You either share the space or buy an umbrella and walk on.”

There was a silence now in the crowd hurdling against the rain. In her head she could hear the black lady shout, “Oh no you did-n’t!!”, but in real sense, she knew she was too meek to do anything. She just coughed and looked the other way. She could feel the man size her up from head to toe, then he turned back to his friend and went on with his conversation.

Beans. He was talking about beans, how baked beans tasted way better than home cooked beans. He wanted her to get wet as he needed space to move his hands talking about beans! Who on earth would be in a crowded space, where there were little or no whispers, and you knew everyone was listening, and you decided to talk about beans? Since when did beans become more important than her new suede boots?

She sighed as she tried to hold back her tears. Today marked five months and three days since Ray left. She had locked herself from the world and begun a routine life. Work, home, cook, clean, sleep. Work, home, cook, clean, sleep. And the occasional sappy movie that would remind her of the love she lost. She drank a lot of vodka then. And ice cream, lots of it. Luckily the depression helped cut back the weight.

Her friends had abandoned her. Or should she say she shut them out. They were all happy, and she was the dark cloud that hovered with around, raining all day. She needed some space so she locked herself home. She wouldn’t let anyone in. Until today.

Her hope and desire to be human again had popped up today. She was home, ready for a re-run of Julia Robert movies when she got an email from Ray. He was checking up on her, said he had moved on. Said he met a girl, her name was Angela, and that he was taking her to meet his parents. Said they were friends beyond anything else and that he wanted her to hear it from him. He said he was going to marry her the following year. She was a receptionist. She, a qualified gynecologist, was losing Ray to a receptionist. And Ray said she was two months pregnant, and if there was anyone he could trust with the well being of her baby, it was her. Ray wanted his ex to become the doctor to the receptionist.

That’s when it hit her. For months, she had been home mopping over someone who never thought of her once, until he needed a favor. That was Ray. Their relationship was never about her, it was always about what Ray wanted. She wanted to go for dinner, he wanted to stay indoors -Ray won. She wanted a puppy, Ray said it was too much commitment. She wanted to meet his family, he said his parents would be too judgmental. She wanted a Bettle, he felt a Ford would be better, she bought the Ford- alone!

And now, he wanted a cheap or free gynecologist in her. He used her, dumped her, and now wanted to reuse her.

She remembers going into the closet and picking out the shirt he forgot. She tore it up viciously and grabbed a pillow, put it in her mouth and screamed her lungs out. That scream brought her back to reality. She called Judy, her best friend from way back when, and told her to meet at a nearby coffee shop.

She showered, did her hair, put on a bit of make up and her new shoes. She left the house hoping for a new change, a fresh start, until she met Mr. Flamboyant Beans and the rain.

Maybe the weather was a sign. Maybe this unfriendly man was a sign of what the world had in store for her, maybe she was not ready for it all.

She wanted to run back home now but the rain wouldn’t let her. Plus she was only two minutes away from the coffee shop. Judy would be angry if she cancelled on her now.

Music always helped. She pulled out her phone and earpieces. her cord was tangled. In the untangling process, her phone slipped off her hands and fell to the ground. As she bent to pick it, water from the roof poured on her hair. Things could definitely not get worse than this, she thought.

As she stood up, she looked across the street and  saw a lady having an equally bad day. She wore a short white dress, no jacket and one of her heels had just broken off. she had a newspaper to cover her hair as she walked to her car, but the wind was so strong it blew the paper off her hand. At the same time, a second round of wind came up and blew her dress up. She had on a thong, and everyone could tell a waxing was long overdue.

The lady just stood there and raised her hands, as if embracing the rain. She was smiling now. She the pulled her dress down and bent to take off her shoes. She then gracefully walked to her car smiling.

“It doesn’t get shittier than this!”she shouted as she got into her car.

At that moment, Christine realized that her life was good, it was her perception that needed changing.

Christine watched her as she drove off and smiled. That rained on woman  didn’t know it, but her shittiest moment was a life changer in Christine’s life.

Hush, hush.

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She sat curled up by the sofa. Her eyes were watery and her nose swollen from all the crying. She couldn’t help herself. She felt so sad.

She looked at the empty bowls by her side; crisps and ice cream didn’t help any more. They were done and her stock was over. To make it worse it was raining, which made her all the more sad and lonely…she begun crying again.

She felt so stupid, needy like a baby. What was wrong with her, she kept asking herself. She was such a baby, a needy baby, and nobody liked that. But she didn’t care, she couldn’t be alone again.

She picked her phone and dialed a number, trying to level her breathing.

“Hello?” answered a male voice on the other end. She did not respond but kept on controlling her voice. “Baby…is everything okay?”

“No…,”she said as her tears kept trickling down her face. “I need you home…I need you home now.”

Something in her voice worried him. “I’m on my way,” he said getting up and closing up work.

He knew his boss would be furious, but his wife needed him. Maybe something was wrong…what if it was the baby not okay?

Many questions ran through his mind as he drove home. They had tried for years on end to get a baby, and finally, when they had given up hope, their dreams came true.

The doctors had kept on telling them that chances of getting a child were slim, that even after getting the child chances of survival were slim…that Gloria had to stay home, and do nothing at all. She was in a very delicate state.

What if she slipped and fell? What if she had called him, lying in a pool of blood, holding onto her tummy to save her child’s life? He knew that they couldn’t survive that trauma, that things would not be the same for them…

“Oh Gloria….please be alright…”he whispered to himself as he rushed to the door of the house.

He opened the door. She lay on the rug, tears still streaming down her face.  He rushed to her and embraced her, worried, concerned.

“Gloria, are you, are you alright?” he asked turning her face to him.

She just cried the more. He was worried now.

“Gloria, do I need to call the doctor? What’s going on? Baby, talk to me!”

She shook her head in response, still crying.

“Everything’s alright then?” he asked. She nodded.

He was puzzled. “Then what’s the matter?”

Gloria felt stupid now. “I was watching Titanic, and it was so sad when Jack died…then I thought of you. Thought if that were us…oh Will, hold me! I…I don’t ever want to lose you.”

William held onto his wife, comforting her as she cried the more. He was glad she was alright, but deep down, he couldn’t wait for his wife’s hormones to  get back to normal.