Signs

They were in church. Praise and worship to kick in the new year.

Val sat next to her best friend, Tabitha. She was busy talking to the other girls about the fire works that would ensure at mid night. they were all excited by the fact that they were out of the house past seven o’clock. They were only thirteen after all.

Val looked across the room and saw Mike seated with the rest of the boys. He was fifteen, tall, lanky and in every way perfect. His voice was in that awkward phase between sounding feminine and deep. He had on braces for the longest time but boy was he perfect. He had helped her in the school hall two weeks ago. She had slipped and dropped his books. He came up to her, pulled her up, picked up her books and told her to be more careful net time. He smiled then he walked away.

From that moment he smiled at her, she knew she was sprung. Her eyes followed him every time they met. He had waved once, the rest of the times, he never knew she was around. They were in the same bible study, lived five houses apart, went to the same school, and yet, he seemed oblivious of her existence.

But he knew Zara. Everybody knew Zara, the sixteen year old cheerleader with the perfect body, perfect walk and attitude. Like all the other boys, he worshiped the ground that she walked on. And Zara, she did not care for anyone beyond herself. She did not have a boyfriend yet, but Val knew that Mike was not for her. He was too smart, too sure of himself to be with a girl like Zara. He was christian too, and perfect in every way for Val. But he didn’t see it.

The pastor’s sermon was about new beginnings, and it stuck with her. She remembered praying to God earlier, asking for their paths to meet, that if it was in His will, she would tell him, show him how much she cared. That if He grated her a chance for him to notice her, she would illuminate so bright he would have no choice but to see her.

She had to walk out and reprogram her mind. Tonight was a night of worship, and if her mother knew she was entertaining thoughts about boys, rather than God, she knew she would be in a lot of trouble.

She leaned by one of the piers, closed her eyes and sighed. Grace, grace, grace she whispered. There would be an appropriate time for this, when she is older, she said to herself.

” Tired of staying indoors too?” she heard a voice speak out to her.

She opened her eyes to find Mike standing by the pier opposite her. She smiled, but she was screaming on the inside.

“Yes,” she said trying to keep her cool. “I needed some fresh air and a more quiet place.”

” You’re Val, right?” he asked. ” I’m Mike.”

He stretched out his hand and so did she. Maybe God had decided to answer her after all.

The new year begun to look promising as they sat by the steps and got to know one another.

The Art of Fighting

Weddings are beautiful and glorious affairs. You have your family, close friends and the curious ones all gathered in one place to see you exchange vows with the love of your life and promise to try your best to make things work. At least that’s how I see the till death part. You vow not to give up on each other, to make things work and love each other always.

Well, life is not a fairy tale. You really can’t remain in love for the rest of your life, there will be breaks in between before you rediscover each other and fall in love a new. There are times you will hate each other, hurt each other and question why you ever got married. These feelings may spark off from basic things like habits; leaving clothes on the floor, snoring, house chores, friends who you want gone but stay, misunderstandings, infidelity, deaths and all other steps of life. We are all human, we change, our understanding evolves, and with time, you may find yourself married to a complete stranger if you don’t stick together through the change process.

Which brings me to my main topic; divorces. I hate them.

Divorces, to me, symbolize, giving up. Saying that nothing can be done to fix what has been broken. It symbolizes damaged and broken hearts who say they can live quite fine without the other person. Of course there are situations where divorce is the only way out but I worry for our current generation that is quick to toss things aside immediately things don’t work out.

It’s like once we stop having our way, we give up. If we are a bit uncomfortable, we give up. Yes, he cheated (which I don’t condone either way) and you let the whole world know what he did. You say you deserve better, which you honestly do, and we all sit there nodding and say that if we were you, we would’ve left a long time ago; that we don’t understand how you do it, that if we had half the grace you had, we would be way ahead in life. Then we will pray and tell you God is faithful, sip our tea and head to our perfect little homes.

But as we go home, we leave you with a doubt in mind. We have created the illusion that what you are going through is far much worse than what we endure. You now begin to question your whole marriage. You wonder how we live, and then the picture of the perfect little home begins nagging your mind. You wonder why your husband never opens the door for you like Jim does Charlotte, or why he never goes grocery shopping like Mary’s husband, or why he can’t watch the football game at home like June’s husband.

And he does the same. Starts comparing you the smartly dressed women his friends have married, the career woman, the grand chef Mike has for a wife, the home maker Tim has, the prayerful support system Mathew has, and of course the cool party animal Joe married, who knows how to balance all his life.

You begin looking for a perfect person forgetting that we are all flawed. You forget the good you saw in your spouse and you both end up feeling bitter in the relationship. She craves love, and he craves respect. Without one, the other won’t happen.

Soon the whispers begin. He has been spending too much time with his secretary, and you have been seen having too many coffee meetings with one male colleague. None of you want to confront the situation. If he’s doing it, I’ll do it too. If he doesn’t care, then i won’t waste my time.

Before you know it, you’re married to a stranger. You’ve become the couple who never sit together. The only conversations you have are about bills and family get-together. You don’t remember the last time he looked at you the way a man does a woman. You don’t remember the man who used to make you laugh and honestly, you both want to be happy. So you agree to call it quits and get a divorce.

Years pass by and you realize that life is the same. That the man you ended up with is still not perfect, and neither are you. That hardships are still coming your way, that change is inevitable. But you are wiser now. You, like the rest of your friends, now understand that marriage is work, secrecy and a lot of patience. You come to discover that Jim opens the doors but is a bum at home, that Mary’s husband goes grocery shopping but talks too much when drunk and that June’s husband always feels trapped watching the game at home but does it anyway as it makes June happy.

You realize we are all flawed and we will hurt each other over the years even when we try not to. That we have to try our level best to make things work. That sometimes, it is necessary to remind your partner that you are on the same team, that you are one, that the vows you took in front of everyone you care about mean something.

I take you to be my wedded wife/husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part. And hereto I pledge you my faithfulness.

Let’s all try to take these words a bit more seriously, and work towards achieving them. I’m sure we will all be happier and the world a better place.

Little feet.

He was sad again, seated on the couch watching Jerry Springer. She looked at him and smiled. Six years seemed like a short time to know someone, she thought to herself. But yet in six years they had their first date, fought, fell in love and wed. It had been a beautiful time where they got to know one another.

Six years is a long time, it is sufficient time for people to change their dreams, change who they are, but in as much as Tim had hoped for one change in her, it had refused to happen. So as the fights increased, she hid her true feelings and said what needed to be said for peace to prevail.

She poured herself a glass of whiskey as she thought about it all. The clanging f the ice diverted his attention from the screen and to her.

“You surely cannot be drinking at a time like this….”he said, calmer than usual.

“What’s the point?”she said sarcastically. “It’s not like I’m pregnant.”

“God! Why are you so sarcastic on the matter, it’s like your mind is not even on the subject. We’ve been trying to have a baby for the last two years Veronica, and every time the results come back, you go back to your whiskey like you’ve given up”.

Maybe I never started fighting.

Silence.

“I don’t know what to do with you any more,”he said wiping his forehead. “You’ve become somebody else.”

Maybe you never accepted this part of me in the first place.

“Say something babe, I’m trying to get to you but you keep shutting me out.”

She took one look of him and saw the pain in his eyes. He really wanted a child and she could not tell him that was never her dream. He would be crushed. She could not talk to the one person she wanted to at the moment. So she did what she knew best, she cried.

Image

As she cried he held her, comforted her and the pain was forgotten fast. In his arms, she was safe, and she knew she belonged.

She clang on to him and they cried together.

She was good with children but could never take care of her own. That’s why four years ago she went to the doctor and had her tubes tied. But he’d never understand. So in this brief moment, they held each other, one mourning as the other celebrated, over a life they were most likely never to have.

Sunshine.

She removed six thousand notes from a stack of notes tied in a rubber band and gave it to the cashier.

“Keep that down, someone may see it and rob us,”he hissed at her pushing her hand lower into her bag.

She smiled up at him, and touched his chin. “Always taking care of us…”

The cashier coughed to catch their change. “Your change and satin madam,”he said smiling at them. “You two are so adorable.”

“Yeah?” she said smiling, “we are getting married this Saturday.”

“Congratulations to you both,” she said bidding them farewell.

They were off to pick their rings now. It was their final week as singles, and they were excited. Neither of them had realized weddings could be so tiring, but in the end, they knew it would be worth it.

“Still having that bachelor party?” she asked him casually.

“Of course, last night as a single man,”he said grinning.

“And of course Tod hired strippers….”she spoke on.

“And one especially for me,”he said cheekily. “Don’t worry, I’ll use protection.”

“And once we are married, I can have an affair with the gardener.”

“Now that’s my girl,”he said laughing. “If anyone is listening, they’ll call us mad.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,”she said stopping in front of him. “I love you Jimmy Mwaniki.”

“I love you too babe,”he said kissing her on the lips and dragging her to the jewelry store. They were lucky to have each other.

Mr. Pragnesh was happy to see them, their pieces were ready. They had asked for their rings to be engraved, ‘I am yours, and you are mine’. They were perfect.

As they were about to pay and collect, two men walked into the store and directly towards Lilly.

One man tried to grab her bag. She was startled.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing? Let go!”

Jimmy tried to shove the man away when the second one pulled out a gun and shot in the air.

“Lilly, give him the bag!” shouted a worried Jim.

Then they heard the second gunshot. Commotion. The alarm.

The thugs ran out in fear. Jimmy could hear Pragnesh on the phone calling 911, calling for help. Someone had been wounded, he said, they had been robbed but nothing taken.

He looked to his right, Lilly’s bag lay on the ground, with all the money intact. He sighed.

Then he heard her cough.

“Jimmy…”she called out lifting her hand, too weak to get up.

That’s when he realized the wounded person Pragnesh spoke of was his fiance.

“Lilly,”he said rushing to hold her. The blood wound was to her chest, it looked serious. “Lilly stay with me, help is on the way.”

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey, you’ll never know dear, how much I love you….”

“So please don’t take my sunshine away,”he finished off, tears welling up in his eyes.

His Lilly was gone.

Dreamy.

She sat by her balcony window staring out into the hot summer afternoon. The gardener was trimming the hedge, and she could hear her mother in the kitchen , humming while preparing the evening meal. It was the perfect summer picture, and she was happy.

She remembered yesterday afternoon so clearly. They lay in bed, he was holding her, gently but protectively, while she lay on his chest. He said he loved her, and that he wanted her alone now, and it was time for the world to know.

She was scared, but happy. She could finally tell her mother, her sisters and her father about him. Father scared her, but once he realized how genuine he was, and how she felt about him, he had to forgive.

“Joan, enough of that,”her mother said out loudly, “daydreaming never got anyone anywhere!”

“It gives hope mama,”she said walking towards her.

“Hope is seeing all those dishes cleared from that pile,”she said pointing towards the sink.

Joan did not argue, this gave them a chance to be alone together, before Betty and Val got back.

“Love is a beautiful thing, right ma?”

“Of course honey,”she said whisking a bowl.”Love gave me you and everything I’m thankful for.”

“And one’s heart is always right about it, right ma?”

Her mother laughed. “What’s his name?”

“Well…”her answer was prolonged when her sister rushed in the kitchen with a gleam of mischief on her face.

“Well, do I have the gossip of the century!”she said jumping on the chair.

“What is it now?” said Val who came down the stairs upon hearing the commotion.

“A scandal,”Betty said gleaming. “A man we know caught by his wife cheating!”

“Ah, I bet it’s Mr. John, always been wayward…”Val said with conviction.

“No, it was Paul,” Betty said out loud.

Their mother gasped. “No…!”

“Yes, mother. Apparently he’s been courting this girl for two years, even when he was dating his now wife.”

“Where?”

“She found them in Paul’s old apartment, apparently he had not leased it like he had told her. It was their lovers den, but she caught them today. Someone tipped her off. Apparently the had not locked the door so she grabbed all their clothes. It was a funny sight I tell you, the man and his mistress covered in sheets trying to get away from the wife who was shouting loudly for everyone to see.”

“My, my, I think she’s lost it,” Val said. “I would never air my diirty laundry out like that.”

“I think she did the right thing though,”Betty said smiling. “He’s shamed now, he’ll behave now.”

“Well,”said their mother getting up,” that’s enough gossip for one day. Now can we all help prepare dinner?”

Joan went back to the dishes with a disheartened soul.

That was her Paul they were talking about.

Damn you

Toby stood next to her in the chill bar. He was telling a joke and she was laughing. He still couldn’t figure out what had changed her mind this time round.

This had been the first time she had said yes in eight rounds. He had gone from the serious, to the casual, to the extremely funny and cheesy ways of asking her out. And she had finally said yes.

Annabelle sat there, sipping on her wine and laughing at his jokes. All those months she had seen him in the office, she had never imagined he would be so full of character, and life. None of his jokes were too cheesy, they had gone through dinner laughing it off, and not once in the entire date had she picked up her phone.

She could tell that this one was a keeper. Just like Will.

She sighed. Just like Will he kept her at ease. He was funny, sweet, charismatic and real. He did not let her have preferential treatment just because she was beautiful, she had to fight for him.

She had to go to the bathroom.

Dammit William, she thought to herself, every time I meet someone good, you always have to seep in and take away my joy. “Damn you!” she cursed out loud.

A cubicle opened and she felt embarrassed by her outburst.

“Everything okay?” asked the lady casually as she washed her hands.

“Yes, thank you,” she said smiling. “Just one of those nights.”

She smiled politely and left her there.

Annabelle sighed, powdered her nose and walked back to her date, fighting every part of her from thinking about him. She would have a good night, she deserved it.

*********************************************************

Annabelle was home. Toby had just dropped her by her gate and watched her leave, like a proper gentleman.

She knew that there would be another date, he was exactly what she needed.

“Had a good date?” she heard a voice near the bushes by her door.

She was not scared, she knew exactly who it was.

“What are you doing here?” she asked angrily. “You shouldn’t have-”

“Tell me,” he said standing up, drawing closer to her,”does he make you laugh like I do. Does he make your toes curl like I can?”

“William, you need to leave,” she heard herself say. “You need to leave now.”

“Why are you so scared Anna?” he said standing right in front of her. She could feel his breathe on her forehead. “What…are you so afraid of?”

He was holding her face on his palm now. Her eyes were closed, he tilted his head kissed her softly on the lips. It was a lingering kiss, the kind that lead to more than just a kiss.

Before she realized what had happened, her bag and keys were on the ground, and her frame was pinned against her door and William.

She pushed him away, she pushed him hard. She felt weak.

“Go home Will!” she shouted. “I don’t deserve this, your wife does not deserve this!”

“Anna, I-”

“Just go Will,” she said, unable to look him in the eye.

He picked his coat and turned to walk away.

“Nothing will change between us Anna,”he said softly. “You will always be mine.”

As he started his car, Annabelle’s last strength escaped her, and she sat on the ground, with tears flowing down her cheeks.

“Damn you William, damn you!” she shouted as the tears cascaded more freely now.

For Keeps

Mike ran up the stairs with a box of chocolate in his hands. He had thirteen more floors to go but he did not care, to day was his moment. The moment he had been waiting for in a long long while.

He could still remember the message she had sent him,’I miss you Mike, I need you. Please come over’.

It had been four long months, where he saw her dive into a relationship with the wrong man. He had cheated on her, time after time, and she still made up excuses for him. But last week, she had enough, she had dumped the guy.

And Carole, he best friend was the first to call her and let him know what had happened. She knew that he liked Hazel, and she thought it was finally his time. She had told him to play it cool, to wait for her to make the first move. So all he did was text her very casually to check on her. And they had not stopped talking since then.

He was at her door. He felt  so nervous now, and the stairs had not helped. He could feel his heart racing and his glands sweating as he knocked on the door.

Act cool, act cool bro, he told himself as he heard the door unlock.

There she was, wearing short shorts and a tee shirt, oblivious to how beautiful she looked.

“I’m so glad you came,” she said hugging him tightly.

He could smell her shampoo, could feel her warmth…he wanted her badly.

She led him on to the living room, where a box of tissue lay, with a few used ones on the table. She was watching The Notebook.

“I’m so sorry,” she said clearing the table, “Sappy movies always get to me. Sit.”

She opened the box of chocolate, sat next to him, lying on his chest, and kept on playing the movie.

They sat in silence, her, engrossed in the movie, Mike, thinking of what to say.

“Hazel,” he started off casually, “I…”

“What is it Mike?” she asked sitting up to face him.

He wished she had not looked up at him, his words were failing him now.

“How, how are you holding up?”

“I’m better now,” she said smiling up at him. “I finally woke up, from a really really bad dream Mike. Andy was a really bad guy, you know, I’m glad I let go and have space to find someone better.”

He sighed. “Yes, well-”

“I mean like you Mike, you are an amazing guy, funny and sweet…”

“And what about you Hazel?You are by far one of the sweetest, most beautiful women I know and I’m glad you finally let go.”

Her eyes looked teary and she hugged him fiercely.

“Oh Mike…you are the best est friend a girl could have! You are like the brother I never had…”

Wait, what? Mike couldn’t believe it, he had been¬†friend zoned, again!