Once upon a time, I thought to myself and looked at the dashing young man seated opposite me. I thought of the good times we’d shared together.
“I’m sorry, Demola,” I started, “I love you. I really do but we can’t be together.”
It hurt to have said that with little or no remorse but I didn’t see any other way to go about this.
A few weeks after the drama with my boyfriend-turned-ex-boyfriend, Demola called me on the phone. He said he had some things he wanted to tell me. I reluctantly agreed to meet up with at a bar the following day.
“Morris, please. Don’t do this,” he pleaded with me. “I called off the wedding already. You’re all I have left. Please don’t leave me.”
He’d had called a meeting with his parents, his fiancée and her parents and broke the sudden news to them. They were all furious, with questions of “Why?” and “What happened?” thrown at him. His father had actually walked up to him and slapped him, calling him a disgrace.
“Demola…” I moved my hand and held his left pinkie with mine. It was a sort of gestural language between us. “I really care about you. You know I do. But we can’t be together. Not like this. Think of what Mide is going through, what your parents and hers think of you. Two weeks to the wedding and you suddenly pull the plug without any tangible reason? Everyone hates you right now. Twitter users are still trolling you. Blogs are telling it like they know all about you.”
“Morris, I don’t care about any of them or what they’re saying about me. It’s clear –”
“You should. Aside from the fact that I was shocked when you told me about your decision, I was happy. Deep down, I was. I still am. It’s a big sacrifice for someone and it’s the biggest anyone has ever made for me. But this is reality. We won’t be happy. If I mess up in the future, wouldn’t you regret making this decision? Because I will always think of the woman whose happiness was cut short so I could be happy. Life is vicious. It bites us in the ass when we least expect it. Besides you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.”
“What’s funny – the part where you’re doing it all wrong or that I’m genuinely concerned about you?”
“What’s funny is your paranoia,” he said with a smile. “It’s cute to watch.”
With our pinkies still entwined, he pulled my hand to him and covered it with his free hand.
“Dude, what’s wrong with you?!” I yanked my hand free. “I’m breaking up with you here.”
“Well, I’m not accepting it.”
“You have to. You made this decision because Aliu is back. And such decision taken so drastically can only backfire.”
“Moe, I admit that Aliu’s reappearance prompted the decision. But maybe it was the push I needed. Maybe I needed to see the mistake I was about to make. It’s better late than sorry. Abi how do they say it?”
This wasn’t going the way I had pictured at all. I had the urge to sigh but I stopped myself. It would be perceived as defeat. I was really breaking up with him. Demola can choose to accept whatever he wants.
“Look, I have to go.” I signalled the waiter, who came around, and I asked for my bill.
“What are you doing?” Demola asked when the waiter left.
“What does it look like I’m doing?”
He didn’t respond. An awkwardness descended on us as we waited. The waiter showed up with my bill. I paid with my ATM card, smiled at him and said, “Thank you.”
“We’re not done here, Morris,” he said gravely.
“Yes, Demola. We are.”
I got up and started out of the bar. I heard him move behind me. He caught up with me as I approached the spot where my car was parked.
I suddenly stopped in my tracks. Demola halted beside me.
Aliu was leaning against my car. He straightened when he saw us. He had said he’d be back, but I had halfway expected it to be an empty threat or promise or whatever it was. But there he was, salt on an unhealed wound, looking at me with those eyes. I felt flayed, open and raw. And I saw red.
“What are you doing here?!” I snarled.
“Moe, you –”
“Are you stalking me?”
“God – No! Why would I –”
“You are stalking me. You’ve been the one calling me with a private number.”
“What? No! Why would I do that?”
“I’m suddenly psychic to know why you do stupid things?”
“It wasn’t me. I’m not a coward.” When my suspicious glare stayed unwavering, he said with a sigh, “Come on, Moe, you know me.”
“No, I don’t. And if you’ve not been stalking me, what the fuck are you doing here then?!”
Demola moved closer to me and draped his arm around me proprietarily. I shrugged it off and scowled at him. What did he think he was doing? Laying a claim on me?
I turned to face Aliu in time to see him smirk at Demola.
“And what’s funny to you?”
The smirk disappeared immediately.
“Look, Aliu,” I began emphatically, “I’m tired. I need a warm bath and I will not allow myself be sucked into this abyss of darkness you both want to drag me into. I’m going home.”
“Can I come with you, then? I really need to talk to you. Alone.” Aliu eyed Demola as he said this.
I could sense Demola tense as Aliu emphasised the last word.
I hesitated. It was a bad idea. A horrible, god-fucking-awful idea! But at that point, I was torn between running and never letting him say what he had to say. He’d said I owed him a talk. He owed me answers. I may not want to hear them. I may want to cover my ears and scream. But after what we’d been through, I deserved them.
“Okay,” I finally said.
I moved away from Demola’s side to open my car door. Aliu got in on the other side. I didn’t look at Demola as I backed away from the parking lot. It wasn’t until I had driven a few yards away that I flicked a glance at the rear view mirror to see him standing where I’d left him. It was unsettling seeing him there, a lone figure who I’d left for my other ex.
Maybe now, he’d know I was serious about our break-up.
Aliu and I didn’t say anything to each other on the drive to my house. My shoulders were tight as I sat in the driver’s seat, expecting him to say something. He stayed quiet, not saying a word until we walked into the house through the front door.
“There’s juice in the fridge. You can help yourself.” I jerked my head in the direction of the kitchen. “I’ll be out in ten.”
I went upstairs, shucked my clothes and stepped into the bathroom, into a shower. The warm spray of water relaxed my muscles as it hit my skin. I closed my eyes to bask in it and almost immediately, guilt crept up my spine. The guilt of breaking up Demola. I realised he needed me at that point in his life.
God, Moe. You’re selfish!
I sighed and reached forward to turn off the shower. A few minutes passed as I stood there in the shower stall, leaning against the glass pane of the cubicle, contemplating my decisions in the last few days.
The clink of metal on glass from behind startled me. I whipped around to see Aliu leaning on the pane, and through the steam-condensed glass, I caught sight of a metal glint in the cold evening light.
Written by Vhar