Fears.

Fear. A feeling aroused by impending danger, pain or distress. Fear reeks straight into the core, causing the heart beat faster, the mind, inevitably going numb, and distress…oh what a feeling, what a rush!

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Amy could feel it. She could feel the fear create horrible scenarios in her head, she could see herself doing things, caught up in things she never thought she could.

She felt terrible. Here she was, worrying about things that may never happen, drifting far in thought, instead of being here, where she was needed. Being here where her best friend needed her.

Julie lay on the couch, fast asleep, tired from the day’s events. She had just lost her husband of thirty seven years, and, for the past two weeks, had been planning his funeral with family and friends.

She lay there peacefully, at ease. Almost as if she had no worries nor care in the world. But the secrets…

Amy sighed. Now that he was dead, people felt no need to protect him any more, and the truth was finally out. The truth that hurt, and caused so much fear…

He had been a family man. Always there for his family, putting them first. He loved his wife, and their four daughters. And now, it came to be that he had another family. Another woman, who had a twenty six year old son.

Now this woman, who nobody knew, had surfaced, with a list of demands. Demanding to be involved in the funeral arrangements, demanding a seat with the family at the funeral, demanding to be recognized, heard and accepted. For she too was his woman, and had been for thirty years or so.

She said that Julie’s anger and rebuke in public was a sham, that she knew about her all along. A woman, after all, always knows when her man has another woman. And for those years, she had decided to live in denial, but she knew. And now, everyone would know. They would all know that she too had lost her love.

But Julie, amidst the tears, had denied knowing this woman. She admitted that, like most marriages, they had faced hard times, times where they hated each other, but they always solved things and came back to each other. Till death, they had said, and she had kept each vow, and all this while, she thought he had too.

So when the letter came in, accompanied by a photo of the boy, she was crushed. He looked so much like her husband, they could not dispute that. Julie was confused. She called her best friend, her husband’s best friend, his wife and her lawyer. She did not know what to do, nor what to say.

Tom, his best friend, swore that he had never said anything about this woman. He was a cornered man and nobody believed him. He was still protecting his friend, his dead friend.

The lawyer however admitted to knowing her. Not directly though. He had made made various payments to her, had commissioned her house, her house that Julie’s husband had built.

He assured Julie that the woman did not want any money from her. She had written to the lawyer as well, saying that he had created a trust for her earlier and needed nothing from them. All she requested was the right to mourn him like everyone else. And if she were denied that right, she would stop the funeral.

And thus, the lawyer advised the family to let her mourn with them.

Julie was drained, and was yet to tell her daughters. She did not want them to know. The last thing she wanted to do is taint her husband’s image to their children. Especially now that they had no chance to confront him.

It could wait till morning, Amy had assured her. She had urged her friend to rest, as she was drained.

Now Amy looked at her friend, feeling sorry for her, yet admiring her bravery. She could not see it now, but she was.

Had it been her in this situation, she would have shut off completely. But Julie, went ahead with the meetings, never spoke ill of her husband who had betrayed her. She still loved him. She always would.

Amy looked out, watching her husband walking towards the house.

She wondered what secrets he had from her, and it scared her. She was afraid of ending up like Julie.

So when he walked into the house and towards her, she embraced him, tightly. Never wanting to let go. For as long as she held on to him, she would never know.

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Someone Like you.

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The grounds were filled with lash green grass, and the sun shone bright.

Earlier arrangements had been made and the grounds were ready. Details such as little ribbons and petals on the ground had not been forgotten.

The ushers by the entrance welcomed guests with smiles on their faces, it was after all, a joyous occasion.

He picked his card from the ushers and decided on the tent to his left.  From that point he could see the alter clearly. This is what he wanted.

“Lovely girl I tell you,”said one woman seated in front of him. “Jason is such a lucky man, but so is our Lucy.”

“Yes,”replied the other.”She had stayed so long alone we had begun worrying for her. But God always keeps the right man for the right woman.”

“Yes he does,” she replied happily,” I, for one, am one of those lucky women…”

He sighed. The wedding would begin soon, rush on, the festivities begin and then he could go home. He was never a wedding man, he thought too much fuss was put into it. It was, after all a woman’s affair.

But today was different. He knew the couple well enough. This was a day to celebrate Jason and Lucy’s love, which had been long and true for over three years. They would finally be man and wife.

Thirty minutes passed and everyone stood up, ready to welcome the bride. She looked beautiful, as always. Her smile was all the way to her eyes, she was practically glowing like every bride should. She walked past him without a glance. He mused, he was, most probably the last person she expected to see here. But he had to come, he had to come say good bye.

As the priest led the ceremony, he mentioned that the two had a pure and honest love and soon, they would be joined before God meaning no one would ever interefere with what is blessed in His presence.

Seated on his chair, he smiled and folded his hands.

Pure and honest my foot, he thought to himself. Lucy, throughout all those years had been his, she was his woman and nobody but them knew. Her family and friends thought she had been alone four years before she met Jason, all the while she was with him. She was his woman, up until three months ago.

He remembered it like it was yesterday. She came over to his place, but it was different that time. She refused to hold him, to sit even. Then, standing by the door she broke his heart. She told him that she was getting married and that marriage would change everything for her. She could not see him again, that it hurt her to say good bye but being together was not…was not right.

He closed his eyes. His sweet Lucy was leaving him and he had no choice but accept it, this is what she wanted. He had to respect her decision or he’d lose her forever.

But still, he couldn’t help but remember the good times they had. Late nights watching movies, cooking dinner together…he missed the way she used to dance when cleaning the dishes, or how awful she would sing in the shower. He missed seeing her depend on him, relying on him to make her smile when she had a bad day…and now, Jason would do all those things for her.

People were clapping now while getting up. The ceremony was over and the bride and groom walked down the isle, receiving congratulations from friends and family. She had to see him, Lucy had to see the pain in his eyes.

She walked towards him, and for a few seconds, their eyes locked. Lucy felt a pain hit her and she bit her lower lip.

“Congratulations Lucy,” he said calmly,” I wish you all the happiness in the world.”

She paused for a moment and held his hand. “Thank you,” she said smiling up at him.

The convoy did not allow her to linger a bit more, she was gone as fast as she came.

The crowd moved towards the reception while he stood, glued to the ground, staring at a memory go further and further away.

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He was distracted from thought by a familiar voice by his side.

“There you are!” she said standing by his side.”Sorry we took so long, had to change this one’s diaper and calm him down, he’s a bit cranky today.”

She looked up at him and noticed a sad look on his face. “Honey, is everything alright?”

He cleared his throat. “Completely dear,”he said smiling at her.”Here, let me help you with the baby, you must be tired as is.”

He gives and takes.

Lizzy drive slowly behind the Toyota in front of her. There were many cars around, and everyone had to drive slowly, it was after all, a District hospital.

She passed her hand through her purse to see if she had her wipes and hand wash, she had msyophobia and hospitals did little to comfort her. The smell of disinfectant filled the air, mixed with faint smells of urine, vomit and blood. The scent made her skin curl, but she had to be here, she needed to be here.

On her left was a couple walking home. It was evident that the lady had been discharged, they had a basin and a bag obviously full of her belongings. She looked sad, dazed, in her own world. Lizzy wondered what the woman had been through, she seemed crushed. As if on cue, the lady broke down to tears as the thoughts escaped Lizzy. She stopped walking and sat down all together. She was unable to hide the tears and her pain could be heard in her sobs, as if beckoning everyone to join her mood. The man quickly but gently moved to her side, squatting to hold her close. He was comforting her, and Lizzy could see, from the way the man moved his mouth, he was consoling a miscarriage, telling his wife, as she assumed, that all would be well, that they would get another baby soon and the pain would go away…

A hoot from the car behind her forced her back to reality, it reminded her that that one woman was one story out of many in this hospital. Some had happy endings while others were doomed from the very beginning.

She wondered what her story would be like today.

Her dear uncle had been ailing from something for a long while. She called it something as a joke, as most doctors were unable to diagnose what it was. The District hospital had been their last resort, and for the past four days, he had shown improvement. He was able to sit down now, feed himself, and even laugh again. She was grateful for each step he made towards recovery.

You see, Lizzy’s father passed away when she was six years old. He was a wealthy man and her mother, a spoilt woman who had never worked her entire life. She had been born in the era where women attained an education to attain the right man, not the right job or life by herself. So when the relatives tried to take the family wealth from her, she was hopeless and defenseless. Uncle Phil was the only one who defended them. He hired the lawyer and fed them when all accounts were frozen during the cases. He beat up his older brother who wanted to marry his dead brother’s wife in the name of culture. He educated her, put her in line when she wanted to quit school. He had become their father and protector out of love and kindness.

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And now, now Uncle Phil needed her. She had grown up independent and liberal, thanks to him. Because of him, she was a successful lawyer and business woman who now took care of her family. If it was not for him, she would have never worked so hard. So she owed him, she would be there for him, with him and beside him till he got better.

The Private wing always smelt better, their food was good and less crowded. Opening the door, she found her aunt sleeping on the chair beside her husband. She sighed, aunty needed to rest on a proper bed. This was her second night her. Today she had to go home, shower, eat home cooked food, sleep for  a few hours then get back.

As always, she was stubborn at first, but after assuring her that her husband would not be alone till she was back, she hurriedly grabbed her car keys and sped off.

Turning to look on the bed, she found her uncle smiling at her.

“You were always the strong willed one, the only child my wife could never say no to,” he said sitting up.

“I learned from the best,” she said smiling back. “How are we feeling today?”

“We,” he said holding her hand, “shall be ready to go home sooner than you expect.”

“I’m glad to hear that,”she said gently squeezing his hand.”I had missed seeing you like this.”

The next two hours flew by fast. They debated about politics, talked about the farm and what various relatives were up to. He seemed happy and rested, she was relieved.

He yawned and lied back.

“Lizzy,” he called.

“Yes uncle?”

“You have been a good girl and a strong woman…never let anyone change that, you hear me?”

“Uncle, stop talking like that, you’re scaring me,”she said.

He laughed. “You think I’m about to kick the bucket? At this state I cannot talk about serious things before someone cries!”

“Uncle I’m just worried…”

“There is nothing to worry about child. The Lord gives and the Lord takes, all we should do is appreciate the time he gives us. Now,” he said clearing his throat, “fetch me a glass of water, something nasty irritates my throat.”

She stood up and moved to the small table right in front of the bed. Her Uncle was special,she thought, he expected us all to have a brave face all this while. But he was right, though, she was grateful for this trying process, it reminded her how important he was despite all these years.

She turned round and moved closer to the bed to hand him the glass of water.

He looked so peaceful, lying on that bed with his eyes closed, like he was in a very deep sleep.

It had only been a minute, there was no way he would have slept so fast….oh no, oh no, no!

As the scream escaped her mouth she remembered that woman by the pavement, the pain in their voices could be heard. The pain was unbearable, indescribable, but so very real.