I’m pregnant. That makes it sound too possessive right? Like it's mine and mine alone?
Okay. We are pregnant, baby. That seems doable right? Like it's ours now? Better?
She was staring at herself in the mirror, rubbing her nonexistent baby bump, practicing how she would tell him.
Njeri had missed her periods for three months now and in as much as it might have seemed obvious, she wasn’t ruling out hormonal imbalance. That was the story she was going with until morning sickness kicked in.
She should be happy, elated even. She had been waiting for this day for as long as she could remember. She was 36. Her mother could now wear a smile; she always thought Njeri was holding out on having a baby or getting a husband just to get on her nerves. But she wanted it all; a small part of her even desired the white picket fence. She just wished her family knew that her actions were never influenced by their reactions.
The test was positive!
She started crying. Not tears of joy yet, deep inside she knew this was the best thing to happen to her. She didn’t know who she should share the information with first. She looked at that test and held it close. This was her new chapter and it would take time before she could be in sync with the dynamics that it came with.
She had been the black sheep of everything she had done in life. When she was born her mother almost died and they told her that story every second they could.
“Muiritu uyu niatunogetie.”
Those words followed her wherever she went it was part of her. She had been bringing pain since conception. When her siblings were getting straight A's in school, she was struggling to maintain her C's. That however, said nothing about her intelligence.
Her family had a breed of lawyers and doctors but when she decided to do art in campus, her father washed his hands clean of her. They thought she was doing this to slight them. She had been silent in that house for far too long, art was the only way she could speak out.
Njeri just opted to live within the eccentricities of her art. It consumed her, she would get lost in that world. She felt safe; it was her haven, her only sanctum sanctorum. This place fully belonged to her. It would help her forget until her will to be strong was found. It was the most untainted thing she believed was hers. This was her existence that she conjured up herself.
Her friends loved that fun streak that always followed them when Njeri was around. It was not intentional but it was the right form of escape. Her best friend Mary was infatuated by her she wanted that free spirit, but it wasn’t that Njeri wanted to live her life like that. She was just pulled to it with an intensity that she did not quite understand. Mary had stability and Njeri knew that one day she would seek the same thing.
She tried to tone down but it tore her apart. You could see through the lies that she kept telling in order to fit in. It was like a dose of impurities in an otherwise perfect batch of drugs.
There was one thing that had eluded Njeri, Love. She had had a string of relationships that didn't last long because all of those guys thought she was a ticking time bomb. She wanted passion but all they were giving her was love. That was not enough.
Mike was different. He didn't see her like that, and that made her feel desired. Even before they became anything, she was pulled to him with the same intensity that pulled her to art. "You are the woman, Njeri. Everything about you just encompasses the whole female gender. You define what other women should be."
She shouldn’t have reacted to those words but she did. He was her other form of escape. His words convinced her that Mike was capable of loving her in all the forms that she possessed.
She wanted everything from him. Whatever he had to offer and whatever he was afraid to express. Up until that moment, she was content with their undefined relationship.
She was willing to take any step with him, no matter the direction. She would be the shade on his path if the sun troubled him. When the darkness came to frighten him, she would embellish the heavens with the moon to bring him light. Njeri would never allow Mike to feel sadness; she would tell the silliest jokes if only to see him smile. He was her prayer and it felt so wrong to worship him.
Their relationship wasn't conventional, but it worked for a time.
“Now that I am here what are you going to do with me Njeri?” She never knew what to tell him but she was certain that she needed him to stay. He never stayed and on certain days, she thought he was just a sojourner in the world she had conjured up. When he touched her and when he whispered into her ear the secrets that she believed would remain theirs she knew he was real. His words looked at her. They tore her apart then made her whole again. They made her forget because the truth was not an option she was willing to live with.
“Just close your eyes.”
“Just do it Njeri.” She would because he was so easy to trust. When she would close her eyes, she was so scared to open them again because that would mean that their time together was up. He would always do that, as he was getting ready to leave and go to his real world. He said that once she closed her eyes she could hold on to their beautiful moments and it would remain solely theirs. Looking back it felt silly because that’s how he pacified her when she started throwing her tantrums. She feigned pushing him away but he kept holding on. Oh, well until it was time to leave.
He was there even in his absence. He did not budge and that scared Njeri. He made her happy and she was not used to happiness in those dosages coming from someone else.
Now things were about to change, she was pregnant. Mike had told her a million times he didn't want a child and he couldn't handle being a father, twice. She couldn’t take it back. She wouldn’t take it back. It was their unspoken rule and she went along with it. She wondered how long she could keep this secret from him. She was his habit and for some reason she didn’t mind. This reminded her of a conversation between two guys who were in love with the same girl. Was her story similar to theirs? Did hers count as unrequited love?
“Isn’t it hard?”
“Loving someone who can’t love you back?”
“No it’s the most beautiful feeling in the world.”
“Doesn’t it make you feel weak?”
“No, there is nothing like the power of unrequited love. Unlike other bonds, it isn’t shared. It is mine and mine alone.”
Were they romanticizing a notion just because walking away was too hard?
She thought of all that while she was on the cold toilet seat. She hadn’t moved from the bathroom, she was trying to process some information. She knew that her world was about to crumble and when she heard a knock at the door she knew the storm was here. Mike was supposed to come over today but she had texted him to cancel in lieu of her recent discovery.
She dragged herself to the door only to find Mary and Mike. Mary pushed her way in to the house as Mike followed behind as if held on a leash. Mary looked calm as was her nature but she couldn’t read anything from Mike. It surprised her since he was always an open book even when they weren’t together.
Mary was the kind of person who could get mad at you but she wouldn't kick up any dust. She knew best because they had been best friends for over fifteen years. Njeri had done some foul shit to her over the years but she always forgave her. Mary and Mike took the seat next to the window. Njeri’s eyes looked past them, she could have easily have walked out of the house and left them there but she didn’t. She walked towards them and sat close to the entrance. The silence in the room was wanting but Njeri knew she would not say the first word.
“Njeri out of everyone it had to be my husband?”
Njeri wanted to apologize, anything to explain why she would do that to her best friend. But she said nothing.
“I sat there listening to you tell me you’ve met someone and I was happy for you. Only you were talking about someone that belonged to me.”
She wasn’t sorry because for the first time in 36 years she felt wanted and understood, and Mike did that for her. She turned to Mike expecting him to say anything at least to take part of the blame but he too said nothing. She had zoned out and thought of that day she stood beside Mary as they exchanged their vows. Did she know then that her destiny was intertwined with Mike’s?
“Aren’t you going to defend yourself Njeri?” Even as she spoke, all Njeri could think about was how soothing Mary’s voice was. It was wrong but she did not want to be there experiencing this moment with her best friend.
It would surprise you to note that she never thought about this exact moment. It was blissful for her but she knew that one day their surreptitious relationship wouldn’t be enough. Then they would decide the next step. In her mind she was screaming she was pregnant. But what difference would it make?
She was expecting it to turn sour, but she wasn’t going to put up a fight. She would let Mary win, she owed her that much. But, there was no fight...
"You can have him!" she said, walking out, and slamming the door behind her.
Njeri felt relieved. Mike was hers now and they could raise their baby together. Mike did not move. She was begging him to look at her but his eyes were fixated on the door and at that moment something on his face changed. It was like his soul had walked out of the door and it was taking everything in him not to run after it. Why was she unlucky? She loved him in the right way but at the wrong time.
"I can't leave her. I’m sorry.”
I read! I write! I create!