I looked wistfully as they both walked down the aisle, out of the little antique chapel after the brief and intimate wedding ceremony, into the artificial garden in the sprawling compound where the reception was due to start in a few minutes. For the umpteenth time, I asked myself what exactly I was doing at his wedding. Hands clutched in each others, they looked every bit like an angel and a demi-god gracing the earth with their ecclesial presence.
That was what first drew me to him – he did look every inch like a demi-god just out of the pages of the fictious novels my little head had been wrapped around as a young girl. His height staggered to all of 6 feet and even more and how he loved the gym! His arms and abs were toned to unbelievable perfection and his inclination towards sleeveless tops was one subtle indication of how addicted he was to bodily and physical perfection.
As I sat in a corner dressed in my fitted, cold-shoulder, shin-length dress, I could feel and hear the hushed tones around me. Sometimes, I felt the stares burn into my skin through to my soul and I would wonder why I had obliged him this one time in particular.
‘’I didn’t know I had a ‘’sheepish’’ smile,’’ Ike said slightly hurt at my remark about his constant grinning that night.
‘’Its cute…sheepish in a cute way. And sheepish isn’t meant to be derogatory. Just see it as my way of saying you are blushing since I can’t see the colour of your cheeks change to bright pink’’, I had replied as he burst into a short fit of laughter.
We were at the back seat of his Mercedes something (I was never keen on car models), parked in a deserted street, bodies intertwined warding off the chill of the air conditioner. It was almost 12am and the skies were brightly lit that night.
He had just returned from a business trip to one of the many places he traveled to every now and then and this time he had been gone for a long, long time.
It took all of my self-control not to rip his clothes apart as he held me at the airport when I had come to pick him up.
At the back seat, encased in his hard, toned body and hearing the beating of his heart as we teased each other and he talked endlessly about his trip, I felt lost in a blissful kind of way in this love that was new and refreshing and deep and terrifying all at once.
Nkem’s nudge on my elbow brought me back to the antique chapel which was now empty as everyone had filed out behind the couple into the garden for the reception.
‘’Do you want to leave? You don’t have to be here even if he asked you to; he’s marrying her not you,’’ she continued impatiently.
‘’I’m fine, Nkem’’, I replied as calmly as I could. The storm raging inside me was so frightening even I could not ignore it.
‘’Let’s join the others’’, I said standing from my seat and leading the way out of the chapel.
Ike loved smart women primarily; women whose brains were quick at assimilating, processing and analysing information accurately. He loved high flyers, women who disrupted things, divergents, trouble shakers. He also loved pretty things and people and for most part acquired them as some sort of trophy for a theoretical glass shelf.
And to make up for his astute addiction to looking good all the time, he was a smart high flyer himself. At 36, he was already in a top management where he worked. Suave, well-spoken, charming and affectionate to a stupefying fault, Ike made all my single months and years make sense. Until now.
She. She was everything I was not. Which was why I pitied her the more. I was all of these and more. We had the most explosive relationship I had ever been in for all of 4 years. 4 good years and for all that I was, he was walking down the aisle with her.
The reception had begun by the time we had reached our seats. The couple were having their first dance; dancing to Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud! It was our song! How dare he?!
I watched as he held her close moving slowly to the rhythm as it blasted from the speakers deafening my heart, my ears, my eyes. With every movement of his frame, I slipped in and out of moments – thousands of them that I had taken pains to store in my memory of us, the places we had been, the things we had done, the long nights, the fights, everything.
As I promised, I had sat through the ceremony till the very end. Nkem headed over to chat with a few of the guest who were mutual friends while I went to the ladies to get ”some air”. I had no strength left to be my usual super woman self.
I headed back into the little chapel instead. Hidden by a single huge pillar in a secluded corner of the small space, I willed myself to shed some tears but none came.
”I’m sorry about all of this.”
It was unmistakably his. Now the tears came pouring down, like he had the keys to the wellspring I had been urging to let open all along.
”You should get back to your wife”, I said trying to hide my face from Ike’s classic piercing gaze.
He seemed not to have heard me because in a split second, he was sitting next to me and had left no space in between us.
For what lasted like eternity, I gazed into my palms as it lay limp on my laps and let the tears pour as freely as they came.
He said nothing. Did nothing.
When I lifted my eyes to hold his gaze, all I could feel where his lips desperately crashing against mine like a man fighting for his last breath.
to be continued…
You were mine and I was yours to hold…With you I found life refreshing, new, exciting. I could conquer anything. But #LoveIs pain indescribable and that is what I feel with you gone from here.
Love, The Quiet One