The sudden opening of the door startled me. “Misan, this is Lami, the man who saved your life!” This was announced with a wide grin as the nurse strolled in, accompanied by a young man.
“Oh” I said, then stopped pacing. He seemed vaguely familiar with remarkable eyes and a trimmed beard.
Taking his arm in both of mine, “thank you so so much,” I gushed.
Dark eyes twinkled down at me, “I’d do it again.”
“I was told you don’t remember what happened.”
“What?” I asked in surprise.
“I could take you to the spot I found you… see if it helps,” he said.
Interesting! There I was, worrying over the consequences of my actions, and they had no idea I remembered.
His pleading look made it impossible to refuse, “that would be very nice.”
He beamed, the corners of his eyes crinkling finely.
The fragrance of freshly cut grass wafting in, I felt faint stirrings of a new beginning.
I was seduced by the exotic dinner he laid before me that evening.
“This smells like heaven,” I said. “It’s all very beautiful.”
“Not as beautiful as you.”
“Thank you,” I said, warmth flooding my face.
His gaze stayed on me, disrupting the thump-thump of my heart. “You shouldn’t stare at me so.”
The dim lighting threw dancing shadows across his full lips when he smiled. I imagined them on my bare skin.
Reaching over the table, he stroked my hand. I exhaled sharply.
“I just got out of a crazy relationship,” I told him. I had a baby to consider.
“We could take things slow,” he said.
My life was almost always on a roller coaster. Taking things slow was something I could not do.
Leaning forward, I said, “I wonder what those lips taste like.”
Grinning, he covered the distance to help me discover. It was the first of many nights we had.
We shared a love for photography; it was his hobby and my job. When I travelled for work, he often tagged along, turning them to romantic getaways.
When he proposed that I move in with him, I danced in the shower.
Everything was falling in place.
“We haven’t made any plans, honey,” I said to him when I started to show. “I think it’s about time I registered at a hospital.”
“Well,” he replied around a cigarette.
“What do you think?” I placed my laptop on the nightstand and turned to face him.
“How about meeting your family?” I asked, hoping I was subtle though I couldn’t hide the flush in my cheeks.
Squashing the stub, he kissed my ear. Warm tingles coursed through me.
I tried again. “What do you think? It’s a nice idea, right?”
“Right.” He kissed the corner of my mouth. I chuckled in spite of myself, his lovemaking winning my attention.
Having always wanted a marriage, it cost me a load of restraint to wait and hope that he’d someday pop the question.
I busied myself with taking photos, shopping for baby stuff and keeping up with the changes in my body.
“Told my parents we’d be visiting tomorrow,” he announced some weeks after.
“Really?” I almost screamed for joy. Finally, a forward move, I thought, kissing him soundly.
That night, I had a weird dream which I recounted to him;
“… you weren’t in bed and I had a bad feeling. I looked in all the rooms until I saw you across the street, about to enter that blue house. I called out but you did not answer. Instead, you entered and shut the door with a bang.
“I didn’t like it at all.”
“It’s nothing,” he assured me, laughing.
“Come on, I don’t even know who lives there.”
“I suppose it’s ridiculous,” I said with an empty laugh.
Deep down, I feared terribly.
At his parents’, angry dogs barked a racket.
Lami left me waiting in the living room. I had barely taken my first sip of cool water when he returned with his father.
The older man’s smile dimmed as our eyes met, his hawk-like gaze shattering me.
Recognition stuck in my throat. I trembled when I shook his offered hand and made to kneel in greeting.
The room became unbearably hot. Panting, I placed the glass against my burning brow.
“Is she okay?” The older man’s voice struck me like slivers of ice.
“Misan? What’s wrong?” Lami drew me close.
“the baby… think… don’t know…”
“I’ll get the car,” he said and rushed out of the room.
Pain sliced sharp through my belly, letting out a loud scream.
“What do you think you’re doing? Stupid girl!” the older man spat at me as soon we were alone.
Tears threatened to spill.
Lami’s mum hurried in, to my relief.
As I was bundled to the hospital, I recalled how I slipped pills into my beer and tripped ten blocks from home where Lami had found me senseless. It would have been better if I had died, I thought bitterly.
Between screams, I considered telling him all the past I’d foolishly believed was insignificant. Like a stack of cards, my world was falling in on me. I can’t lose him, I told myself.
Clutching his hand fiercely before I was wheeled away, I said, “I’m going to die. I’m scared. “
“You’ll be fine, my love.” His babariga was as drenched as my blouse. “We’re in this together,” he said.
It wrenched my heart to let go.
It was a baby boy and he had his father’s eyes. Lami was smitten. His father eyed me menacingly while his wife raved about their ‘grandson’.
As soon as they left, I grabbed Lami’s hand, my heart pounding. “There’s something I must tell you.”
Stuttering, I confessed to him about seeing his father previously and then poisoning myself when I realized he was not going to marry me, “When I saw everyone assumed I could not remember, I… I decided to go along with it. I’m so sorry.”
On the heels of his excitement, confusion and then anger filled his face. Cursing, he flung my hand and stormed out of the room. My cheeks burned.
“I love you,” I cried after him.
He would kill me if he knew the baby was his father’s, I realised, my heart sinking.
He was gone for a long time. Certain I had lost him, I berated myself for telling. I should have said nothing, I thought.
It was a delightful surprise when he returned though he did not regard me and I bore his snub as best as I could.
It continued after we returned home, the gulf between us widening. Unable to care for the baby in my misery, I left it to my mother.
Lami consumed my thoughts; I craved the feel of his beard against my skin, placing my ear against his chest when he spoke, his cigarette smoke that made my eyes water.
Mulling over a phrase he often used, “Life is a shirt,” I decided to try wearing it right.
“I don’t want to be just your baby mama,” I declared, standing in the door. He was looking through our photos.
The ache in my chest heightened as I stepped toward him. “Say something, please.”
“I’m sorry, honey. I’ve been miserable.” Tears streamed down my face.
I continued, “I’ve been a terrible person, I know, but not anymore. Yes, I’ve made mistakes and I regret them. Forgive me, please.”
I knelt at his side and placed my head in his lap, sobbing.
After two breaths, I felt his hand stroke my head. “It’s okay,” I heard him say.
Lifting me up, he went down on one knee and asked, “How about you marry me?”
I was dumb with shock.
“I’ve had time to think things over; I can’t imagine my life without you in it. I’m dealing with what happened, I understand it’s your past. It’s not easy for me,
“But I’m willing to work things out. I love you.”
I was going to cry again.
“Yes darling,” I managed around the clog in my throat.