Somniloquy III

As promised! This is an alternate ending to Somniloquy written by @OfficiallyKJR. It’s alternate because there’s another ending, which I put up yesterday. If you want to read that, you can find that here -> Somniloquy II

For starters it looks like Bree’s lamp is shattered but rather than be upset like I thought she’d be she is glaring at me. I can’t have broken the lamp though, I’m still on my side of the bed. With her light off, the room is cast in darkness, the light from the moon that comes through the window is blocked by her body, and eerie shadows are cast on the wall. She turns away from me and when she turns back to look at me there are tears in her eyes. “Who is Megan?” she asks, the tears dripping down her cheeks unto her dress. This is going to be a long night.

 I love Bree with all my heart. There is no disputing that. I haven’t told her yet so I suppose there could be doubt on her end but I know I do. To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t told her. And it’s not what you think. I’m not cheating on her – at least not in the conventional sense. I want to tell her about Megan but some things are better left unsaid. Speaking of things better left unsaid, how did she know about Megan? There’s only one way. As the thought crosses my mind, I can feel myself get angry. The journal in the suitcase I keep on top of my dresser is the only place I have ever put down any thoughts about Megan.. How could she? She knows how much I hate invasion of my privacy, and to think she has the audacity to wake me up over this.

 She notices that I am angry, her expression going from distraught to utter confusion. She wipes her tears with the back of her hand, sits facing me, and looks intensely at me with an expression that clearly says “are you going to answer my question or look at me like a deranged predator?’  I try to calm myself down but she asks again, slower than before, “who is Megan”, and that’s when I lose it.

 “Why are you snooping through my stuff?” I start, my voice betraying my barely controlled rage. “Didn’t I make it clear my stuff is mine is mine and yours is yours?”. She starts to say something but I don’t let her.

“Don’t Interrupt me” I say, “I bet you think you’ve got me in a corner. I mean I know I promised not to hide anything but we also agreed we would not invade each others privacy. Before we talk about who Megan is, the answer to which you clearly already know, you need to tell me why the hell you’re going through my stuff.”

 By now her eyes are completely dry, she’s stopped crying, which annoys me. I’m so angry I want to make her cry. I get like that when I’m mad. Just as she’s about to launch into what I expect to be an aplogy,  her phone rings. It’s her sister, who recently moved to New York and often conveniently forgets the time difference. It’s usually not a problem because of Bree’s insomnia but today Bree answers and says through gritted teeth “something’s come up, I’m trying to get to the bottom of it. Call me in the morning”. I’m sure her sister’s wondering what’s going on but now I’m confused as well. I get the sense that things are about to get bad for me.

 “What are you on about?” she asks cooly, eyebrows raised. Something isn’t right, do I have it wrong? Did she find out some other way? How is that possible? It can’t be. Why is Bree so confident if she hasn’t read my journal, she usually never is when we argue.

“Why did you go through my journal?” I ask.

 “Dude, what the fuck are you talking about? You mentioned the bitch’s name in your sleep. You fucking talk in your sleep every night!” She’s off the rails. For a moment I’m scared. But that’s quickly replaced with a cocktail of emotions that I do not want. Fuck! I think. I was so sure it had stopped. No one has mentioned it in a while. I’ve been talking in my sleep since I was 16. At least that’s when I found out about it. But I am sure it happened the year before.

 I fell in love when I was 15. It lasted 3 months. It was a summer fling, the greatest love story of my life. I fell in love with my neighbour and it was magical. We’d spend the whole day together and the night texting. There was not a moment in those three months we were not in touch. She had come from Canada with her family and she was going to go back. But we didn’t let ourselves to think about it. For three months things were amazing; till they weren’t. As summer drew to an end, my faith in the enduring power of our love begun to diminish. What if she went back and everything ended?

She tried to convince me that we would be fine but I was not as hopeful as she was.

Things just got worse. We went from me worrying and her comforting me to fighting all the time. The worst fight was the last night I saw her. I was enraged because she implied we had had a great summer and whatever happened, we’d always have that. I went off. I rained a ton of obscenities interspersed with actual words about how she never saw a future with us and how she wasted my time. She got up to leave because she said she wouldn’t let me talk to her that way. As she stepped out the door, I spoke my last words to her, “I hate you.”

The next time I saw her was at her funeral. I don’t know the full story. They said it was a hit and run but somehow I always thought that she got herself run over because of how horrible I was to her. I became a zombie. All I could remember of her was the last moment when I spat out hatred I didn’t feel for her. Every night after the funeral, I had nightmares where I watched her die, over and over. Nightmares where I said my hateful words and she run straight into an oncoming car. Sleeping was no longer an option, I steadily lost weight. My performance at school sucked. Until I read somewhere that your dreams are usually about the last thing on your mind before bed. After that each night I’d go to bed saying the same four words. For some reason it sort of worked, those words somehow found their way into my less distressing dreams and so I came to find out at the age of 16 that, every night, while I was asleep, I’d mumble: “I love you, Megan.”

The dreams/ nightmares stopped when I met Bree, and once I no longer had to say my mantra before bed to get a good night’s sleep, I asked her to move in. Now it looks like I’m back to square one and I’m going to have to find something to tell Bree. From the way she’s looking at me I’m not going to get away with an evasive answer.

Somniloquy II

and III? 

When I put Somniloquy up, I promised a sequel. I also said there were many ways this could go and tomorrow at 10 am, I’m going to put up an alternate ending written by @OfficiallyKJR. I won’t spoil it for you, all I can say is the two pieces are very different. That being said, I hope this more than makes up for the two week wait 🙂

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

One look at Bree’s face and Nathan knew he was screwed. Her lamp was on the floor, shattered, and rather than freak out like he thought she would she was glaring at him. Before he could ask what had happened, Bree was grabbing pillows and a duvet. For a second he thought she was going to smother him. She instead walked towards the door with them, presumably to spend the night in their guest room. Hopping out of bed, he walked toward her, intending to get some clue as to what had happened. Before he could get to her she was out the door and all he could do was watch the door slam in his face in her wake. Trust Bree to punish me for something I must have done in my sleep he thought, and got back under the covers with a groan. For a moment he contemplated going after her, to find out what had happened but his instincts told him it was a bad idea. When Bree was upset it was better to give her time on her own to calm down before making whatever case you had. From across the room he could virtually hear the wheels of her brain turning. Going over whatever heinous crime he must have committed in his sleep over and over. He tried to remember what he had been dreaming about before Bree startled him awake but nothing came to him.

An hour later as he fell asleep, he still had not figured out what he had done to upset Bree so much. He woke up just in time to catch her having a bowl of cereal before work. Today it was he who studied her as she ate, watching those gorgeous eyes that had called out to him from across the room that night a little over three years before. Abruptly she dropped her spoon and looked up at him, her look more sad than angry. This was not a good sign.

“Who is Megan?” she suddenly asked.

For a moment Nathan was stunned into silence, wondering how Bree had known about Megan and then his dreams from the night before came flooding in.

He groaned inwardly and trying his best to control his facial expression he responded “just a girl I work with, what’s going on Bree?”

“Just a girl you work with?” Bree asked, her words dripping with anger.

Anger was good, Nathan thought, anger he could work with.

“A girl you work with that you’re dreaming about and professing your love to?” she continued.

Nathan frantically thought of a response. He knew that a lot hinged on his next statement.

“Is that what this is all about?” He asked. “You’re punishing me for something I said in my sleep? Something I have no control over?”

Bree turned around from dumping the rest of her cereal into the bin to look at him.

“Do not make me out to be crazy Nathan” she said, putting her bowl in the sink. “Obviously you must have been thinking about her to dream about her two nights in a row. I think I’m entitled to know what’s going on. Are you having an affair? Is that it? When were you going to tell me? Are you leaving me for her? Because I would really rather just know now. I would rather not find out a year from now that I’ve been wasting all this time. That my mother was right, that I should never have moved in with you. I would rather know now” she continued.

“Hey hey hey” Nathan said, cutting across the room to her. “Who said anything about anyone leaving? Are you having second thoughts about living together? Why haven’t you told me?” he asked, holding her arm.

“Stop changing the subject” Bree said, wrenching her arm away. “Who is Megan?”

“I told you, a girl I work with” Nathan replied.

“I’ve got to get to work” Bree said, storming out.

Nathan watched her go and then made himself some cereal. Miserably he finished his cereal, thoughts on the source of his misery, Megan. Being an expatriate, he hadn’t felt very welcome by any of the staff when he first started work at their telecommunications company. The company had by then just been sold to a huge multinational where he had been the number two guy. Taking this job had been his opportunity to move to the top. None of the staff except Megan had initially liked him very much, especially as he had to make the tough decision of axing staff that had been there in name only and contributed nothing of import to the company. Megan had been the only one in those first few days that spoke a word to him, the rest of the staff were cold, even if they were respectful, in their interactions with him. Soon he was eating lunch in the staff cafeteria with her, and even when the rest of the staff warmed up to him, lunch was their time together, where he could forget he was the boss and have a relaxed conversation. The more he spent time with her, the more he started to notice all that was lovely about her, although to be honest with himself he hadn’t thought he had feelings for her until the dreams started.

As he drove to work he thought of the mess he had found himself in and for the first time ever found himself dreading lunchtime with Megan. She knew him so well she would pick up that something was wrong right away but at the same time he couldn’t not have lunch with her. Save the one or two times he had been away on business trips, they had never had lunch without each other. In an office like theirs where everyone seemed to live for scandal, they would probably be the subjects of all kinds of speculation, making things worse.

Turning on his work PC, Bree’s face was the first thing that he saw. It had been ages since he even noticed her picture that he had used as his home screen, often distracted by all the emails he needed to answer before going on to the day’s business. Now with the risk of losing everything looming, he was reminded again of that night when they first met, her eyes seeming to hold him captive. The month long chase, the initial dates, and the decision to ask her to move in. Lost in this reverie, he didn’t hear Megan coming in until she playfully cleared her throat.

His heart skipped a beat when he looked up and saw her, memories of his dreams and the subsequent argument flooding his brain. She shut his door, looking excited.

“I know I should probably have waited till lunch time but I can’t make it today.” she said, sitting in the couch he kept in the corner of his office for visitors. “Remember that guy I was telling you about last week?”

‘The one who wouldn’t commit?’ Nathan was tempted to ask, remembering what Megan had told him the week before about the guy’s penchant for mind games but he kept quiet.

“He’s taking me for lunch at the really fancy restaurant just round the bend from here” Megan continued, beaming as she spoke. “Anyway, thought I should mention it because I’ll technically be missing our lunch date for the first time ever and I may be a little late back.”

Nathan forced himself to smile, in spite of the fact that his mind was all over the place, trying to think of a way he could tell her not to go without giving away his thoughts on the matter. He could pull the boss card, but he thought that would strain their friendship, and now was really not the time. From Megan’s previous accounts, this guy was really a douche, and he didn’t think he was good enough for Megan. His thoughts were interrupted when she said “earth to Nathan, what’s going on with you today?”

“Probably the fact that you’re ditching me for lunch with some guy but I’ll survive” he said. “Now go, some of us have work to do.”

When Megan finally left his office, Nathan tried to go back to work but his thoughts kept veering off on different tangents. One minute he was relieved he didn’t have to come up with an excuse for lunch, the next minute he was angry at Megan for letting this douche treat her like this. Other times he thought about Bree, not quite sure what all these feelings meant for the two of them. By lunch time he had worked himself up to a mixture of emotions he couldn’t quite place and without giving it much thought jumped into his car, intending to go crash the lunch date and check out this guy Megan was drooling over.

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

“Have you got a reservation sir?” the woman asked him, but he was lost in watching Megan and her douche at a window table, laughing their heads off at some joke the guy had probably told her. Suddenly he flashed back to the night he met Bree. Granted, it wasn’t the same restaurant but it was her laugh that made him glance at the table where she had sat with her girls who were clearly drunk, initially irritated by how loud they were being until her eyes caught his, and he felt them pull him in. In that moment he didn’t know where things would lead, but he knew he had to get to know her and he had stopped at nothing until she agreed to that first date. Now he might have screwed it all up.

Nathan felt a tap on his shoulder and jumped, having momentarily forgotten where he was.

“I asked if you have a reservation sir?” the woman said.

“Forget it”, was all Nathan said before he rushed out to his car.

*********

“Is he in a meeting?” Bree asked Nathan’s personal assistant. “I just want to pop in for a quick minute.”

“Sorry Bree, he’s gone to lunch” Nathan’s P.A responded. “Would you like me to call him?”

“I see. No need, I just thought I’d pop by and say hi. Is Megan in?” Bree asked.

The uncomfortable look on the girl’s face before she said no told Bree all she needed to know. Keeping her cool, she thanked the girl and left, calling her office to take the rest of the day off. She needed to think, and her office was not the most conducive place for thinking.

**********

“What do you mean she’s not at work today? I know she came to work”, Nathan argued over the phone with the receptionist at Bree’s firm. He was quiet for a minute as he listened to her and then with an abrupt goodbye, hung up. He’d have to make it up to her later but right now he didn’t exactly have the luxury of time. Bree was a creature of habit and if he knew her at all, he couldn’t go back to the office like he originally planned.

***********

Bree swung in the hammock and flashed a perfunctory smile at the approaching waiter, expecting him to pass by her. She sat up when he stopped at her side, intending to set the cocktail down.

“I didn’t order that” she said.

“But that gentleman did” he replied, pointing his chin in the direction of said gentleman and setting the drink down.

Bree looked and saw Nathan on the other side of the room, fast approaching her. For once she wished she wasn’t so predictable.

“You found me” she said, stating the obvious.

“I did” Nathan replied. “Look Bree”, he begun, just as she said “I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“Just hear me out” Nathan said, joining her on the hammock. “I’m sorry. I messed up. I let myself get caught up and I didn’t even realize what was happening. Not that anything happened” he was quick to add. “But I shouldn’t have gotten that close.”

“You shouldn’t have” was all Bree said.

“I know and I’m sorry” he said. “It was just….she was the only one that would speak to me when I first started working there. Not that it excuses anything. Nothing ever happened.”

“So now what?” Bree asked.

“Now this” Nathan said, sliding out of the hammock and getting on one knee. As if on cue, Bree’s favorite song started to play in the background and for a moment she was distracted from what was happening, caught in the song. She spotted the ring in Nathan’s hand and snapped back to reality. The diamond was huge. It was like everything she had ever dreamed of. Then she remembered why they were there in the first place.

“Is this because you feel guilty about what happened? I don’t want a ring if it’s just a guilt offering. Clearly you have feelings for her, they’re not just going to disappear because you gave me a ring.” She said with a frown.

Nathan shook his head. “I have feelings for you. I’m sorry it took me so long to realize but I want to do this forever.

“And Megan?” Bree asked.

“There’s no Megan” Nathan said, “It’s you, it’s always been you. I don’t know what to say but nothing ever happened with her. I probably let myself get a little closer to her than I should have but it doesn’t change how I feel about you. I love you Bree, please marry me.”

Bree looked at him for a long moment, before saying “good thing you’re sticking around, there’s someone you need to meet. I’m pregnant” she said with a grin, raising his hand to her stomach.

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

I Hope you enjoyed this! If you’re curious by nature like me, please come back tomorrow for the alternate ending! 🙂

Somniloquy

I wrote this https://ajreads.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/somniloquy/ a couple of years ago, and then recently a new and improved version got published in the @KeeleCreativeWriting Society’s anthology of fiction. So I thought I’d share, especially since there’s now a sequel which I’ll put up pretty soon (don’t worry, I won’t flake out, it’s already written lol). There’s many ways this could have gone, and if you’ve got any ideas I’d love to hear them. For the moment, here’s the first part, I hope you enjoy it! :*

“Have I told you how much I love you?” Nathan asked, inching closer. Bree looked up from the book she was reading, one of the many books she kept on her bedside table for sleepless nights. She was surprised to find him still sleeping.

“It’s hard to find the words,” he said and snuggled in.

I should have known Bree thought, taking off her reading glasses and turning off her lamp. Nathan was never this expressive, especially these past few months. She didn’t mind hearing it this way though. When she was falling asleep a few minutes later, she still had a smile on her face and Nathan’s arm around her midsection.

She found him in the kitchen the next morning, already dressed for work. She stood for a moment and studied him as he wolfed down his cereal, taking in his broad shoulders and high cheekbones. He was wearing the blue shirt she bought him for their three-year anniversary. She loved how the shirt fit, the shade of blue complementing his dark skin. They had first met at Suzanne’s birthday dinner and with his rugged good looks and boundless charisma all her friends had thought he was too good to be true. Even she thought so when he wouldn’t stop calling her, until a month later when he finally convinced her to go on a date with him.

“Morning!” she said, still feeling quite chipper from the night before.

“Morning,” he replied. He looked up, and caught her looking at him. As if that was his cue, he dumped his bowl in the sink and grabbed his bag. He gave her a perfunctory peck on the cheek before heading out. Just like that, Bree felt the high spirits she had woken up with deflate. Rather than the leisurely breakfast she had envisioned, she rushed through her bowl of cereal and dressed up for work.

As senior analyst at her firm she could arrive later than everyone else. She liked to wait till the morning rush had died down before heading in. She arrived in time to catch the end of the junior analysts’ morning meeting before entering her cubicle. An hour later and she was still staring at the same page of today’s financial report, too distracted by thoughts of Nathan’s nighttime declarations and his attitude this morning to focus.

“Penny for your thoughts,” she heard behind her, making her jump in her seat. Nelly, one of the junior analysts, smiled at her from the cubicle adjacent to her own. Knowing Nelly would gossip if she told her, she laughed and told a joke instead. For the rest of the day she ploughed through the report, trying her best not to think of Nathan.

Before the clock struck five Bree was up and packing, in a hurry to get home before Nathan. She wanted a luxurious bubble bath and a glass of wine. As she drove home, she reminisced about the early part of their relationship. Nathan would meet her after work and they’d have a few drinks and a meal or, even watch a movie before saying goodnight. She missed those times, when Nathan couldn’t seem to get enough of her. It was his idea to move in together, a year after they became a couple. She wondered if this had been a mistake.

Lapsed catholic though she was, she had had reservations about moving in with a guy before she was married. Moving in with Nathan had caused arguments with her mother, who still had conventional views and disapproved of Bree’s decision. “I need this to work” she thought. She parked her Toyota Yaris in their two car garage, happy to see Nathan’s Nissan Rogue absent. She couldn’t bear the thought of what her mom and her cronies would say if this ended. Especially now that she had just turned thirty. Already there were subtle digs about when she and Nathan would tie the knot. Her mom never missed a chance to make her disapproval clear.

Two hours and a long soak in the bath later, she came downstairs to find Nathan stretched out on the couch watching football. He was no longer in his work clothes; he had clearly been home a while.

“Didn’t hear you come in,” she said to him.

“I didn’t want to disturb you,” he said, studiously avoiding eye contact.

“When is that ever disturbing?” Bree asked him.

“Calm down Bree,” Nathan said.

Without another word she turned and went upstairs.

Halfway up the stairs she turned around again and headed back to the hall.

“I’m tired of this Nathan,” she said. “I don’t know how much longer I can take this.”

“Take what exactly,” Nathan said and looked at her.

“This coldness between us,” she said. “lately things just seem so off”

“They do?” he asked, pulling her into his arms. “Nothing’s off, I still feel the same; or have things changed for you?” he asked, nibbling on her ear.

Bree let out a sigh. It was just her imagination after all.

“You know they haven’t,” she replied, snuggling in closer. She tried to remember the last time they had done something like this.

A few hours later; with Nathan by her side, she was just about to turn off her night-light when she heard Nathan mumble something. Eager to hear what he would say this time, she inched closer her book and night-light all but forgotten.

“I’ve never felt this way about anyone before,” he said. Bree smiled. Take that mom! She thought. Perhaps she would always wait for Nathan to fall asleep first. Then she could hear all the lovely things he would never say to her when he was awake.

“I love you Megan,” he said.

Feeling as if she had just taken a bullet to the heart, Bree shot out of bed, knocking down her lamp and waking Nathan. For a moment she looked at him without speaking, her mom had won after all.

Smile

You’re sitting at a window seat in the new coffee shop down the road. It was a good decision to come here after all; you think. It’s very quiet for a Saturday.  You turn away from the window to look around the room, glad for the unexpected solitude the lack of clientele gives you.
You look back outside and see what seems like the umpteenth couple to pass by in the 30 minutes you’ve been sitting there. They walk past hand in hand. She’s smiling. It’s such a broad smile. A real expression of happiness.
Suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a good idea to be sitting at the window.
You were happy once before.

Now your days are spent marking the hours till the day is over. You haven’t smiled in ages, sometimes you wonder if your mouth still remembers how.

Your mind drifts back to the last time. You turn your head a fraction to the left, not wanting to but unable to stop yourself from looking over at the spot where your life changed.

You can almost see yourself sitting at that table, laughing, happy. Digging into the chicken pasta Alfredo that was your usual fare whenever you came there.

Back when the coffee shop was an Italian restaurant of course.

Your favorite place to eat, the both of you.

You try to tear your eyes away, but it’s too late now.

The sequence plays out, almost like a movie.

One minute you’re laughing at some joke he’s told. You’re thinking about how good the pasta tastes, better than it’s been all week.

You look up and he’s slumped on the table.

“Get up,” you say, thinking it’s some macabre joke.

You wish it had been a joke.

Everything between then and the hospital is a blur. You can’t remember how the blanket you eventually found around your shoulders got there; or even how you got to the hospital. There’s a girl next to you, wearing the restaurant’s waitress uniform. You didn’t notice her before.

You can remember the pain though. The gut-wrenching pain. The pain that comes when the doctor comes to find you in the waiting room, somber.

You remember wondering whether it’s one of the things they get taught in school. The bad news look. The look that says it’s all gone to hell.

In your mind, you’re silently screaming.

You almost don’t hear him when he says “I’m afraid we lost him”.

You tuned him out after the first “I’m sorry”.

Those words jolt you back to reality.

They ask if there’s anyone you can call to be with you.

You take out your phone in a daze. Press 1 on your speed dial and it starts to ring. Your purse vibrates. Of course, you’ve got his phone. You must have grabbed it on your way to the hospital. That’s when it hits you. He’s never going to answer when you call. He’s gone, left you behind.

A ruptured aneurysm, the doctor says. You don’t know what that is. They’re hard to catch the doctor says. But you hardly hear him. You’re trying to remember the last thing you told him. You wish you could remember, but you can’t. You can’t even remember what the joke was. You can remember how good the pasta was, but you can’t remember his words. You start to laugh, you laugh so hard your shoulders are shaking. The doctor looks at you, alarmed. He can’t get away fast enough.

The sound of the door chime brings you back to the present.

You look up to see a large group trooping in. You sigh, your solitude is over.

You resign yourself to the thought of going back to your apartment, where your mother is waiting.

You came to the coffee shop to be away from her. You’re tired of having to explain that grieving your dead fiance a year later is only natural. Your mother’s extended visit which was a blessing in the beginning, when remembering to do normal things like eat was a hassle, has now become a pain. Still, you’re grateful. You at least had her to lean on in the worst of it. You pick up your cup of coffee with a sigh, intending to gulp it down and leave before the group settles in and the chatter becomes unbearable.

You look up and lock eyes with one of them, a guy.

He’s looking at you so intently, and he breaks into a smile.

Before you know it, your lips are moving.

Your mouth remembers after all, you smile.

You take a sip of your coffee and set your cup down.

Maybe you’ll stay a while.A_time_for_a_cup_of_coffee

Tracy

Hello people! I know it’s been a while but I hope this more than makes up for my long silence 🙂 enjoy!

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

Tracy looked at the filthy probably smelly guy that had suddenly appeared at her car window, wondering where he had appeared from since he hadn’t been there a mere 5 seconds before. Just as she was rolling down she was jolted with the realization that under all the filth, she knew that face. At first she thought it was because she often saw him on that same stretch of road smoking cigarettes, the cigarette stick being the only clean thing about him. Until it hit her how she really knew him. Joojo? She said furtively. The look of shock on his face was enough confirmation for her. It was him. Thankfully the light turned green at that precise moment and she used the opportunity to speed off, so overwhelmed by different emotions the thought of stopping at the nearby bus stop so she could talk to him never occurring to her.

 “I swear it was him!” she said to her friend Enyo some 45 minutes later. After seeing Joojo she couldn’t bring herself to continue her journey and 30 minutes later she found herself parked outside her bestfriend’s gate, now calling to find out if she was actually in. Enyo had barely opened the door when Tracy asked her if she remembered Joojo.

 “Joojo as in Joojo Quansah?” Enyo asked, understandably surprised her friend was dredging up memories from a chapter of their lives both of them had tried hard to forget over the last decade.

“Yes” Tracy replied. “The almighty Joojo Quansah, now clothed in rags and filth.”

“I just can’t wrap my mind around the idea” Enyo said, “who’d have ever imagined”.

Tracy sighed heavily, her mind drawn to the time 10 years ago when she had told Joojo she was ending things with him. Remembering the scorn in his eyes still gave her chills. The way his entourage had laughed with him at her expense when he called her boring.

“Plenty more where you came from” he had said, gesturing towards the scantily clad girls strewn all over the room, most of them hoping to catch his eye.

Of everything he said that day; Tracy remembered that statement had hit the hardest, seeing as he was the one that had relentlessly pursued her, refusing to accept no for an answer.

She felt a tug on her arm that brought her back to the present,

“Earth to Tracy” Enyo said, “don’t tell me you’re imagining what your babies would have looked like”.

Rather than tell her what she had actually been thinking, Tracy laughed off her accusation and discretely steered the issue towards other matters

 

Two days later she was driving down that same stretch beside the 37 military hospital when she spotted him from afar. Without consciously realizing what she was doing she parked at the nearest bus stop, and only when she got out and was locking the car did she acknowledge what she was about to do, her courage nearly deserting her. She stood rooted to the spot for a minute, talking herself into walking towards him.

“What’s the worse that can happen?” she rationalized to herself as she walked towards him.

She waited till she was right behind him and then tapped him. He turned almost aggressively and then stopped short when he saw her. For a fleeting moment she thought he had recognized her and started to smile but her smile immediately dropped when the next thing out of his mouth was “money for cigarette madam, me I no go lie you, ibe cigarette I want buy” he continued in the pidgin English people of his caliber often resorted to.

“Joojo it’s me” she said, “Tracy, don’t you remember me?”

“Tracy who?” was his arrogant reply as he stormed off, muttering about people who wasted time with talk rather than giving the money they were meant to.

Undaunted, she followed him, “we were in university together” she tried to remind him. “We dated in level 100”.

All she got was a “leave me alone” before he crossed to the other side of the road and left her looking at him, mouth agape.

 

********

Tracy got out of her brand new Kia Optima. If any of her achievements in the past 6 years filled her with pride, this was it. It had almost cleaned out her account but it was totally worth it. She loved the sleek lines of the car and the silver colour she had chosen. She checked her reflection one last time, making sure every hair was in place and her lipstick was still sharp. This was her first meeting with these people and she’d be damned if she didn’t leave them with a good first impression. She considered it a great compliment that they had requested her specifically to be the primary consultant on this case. Her boss had been very mysterious about who she was meeting and the nature of the job. Once her boss had agreed however, she had no fears about the meeting as he was fiercely protective of her. She walked briskly to the entrance, checking her reflection once again when she got to the glass door. With a flip of her hair, she pushed the door open- using as it turned out much more force than required so that rather than the elegant walk she had intended entering the room with, she found herself stumbling into the room. As if that wasn’t enough, she righted herself and lifted her head only to find herself face to face with Joojo Quansah.