Ijeoma was surprised to wake up and not find her husband beside her. Though they were barely speaking to each other, she knew he never woke up before her. His firm was closer to their house than her place of work, so he left for work around 6.30 am on most days. She searched for a note, but there was none. Her phone also showed he left no message. She dialled his number. It rang and was cut off. That was when it dawned on her that her husband was cheating on her.
“Ha!”, she muttered as she prepared the children for school. “So, Magnus has the guts to sleep outside this house? A man I married when he had nothing? Wonders shall never end”
“Mom, Miss Mary said we should buy a flute for the orchestra”, Jonah interrupted her thoughts as she buckled his shoes.
“When you see your useless father, ask him for the money”, She snapped.
“Daddy is useless! Daddy is useless!”, he sang, jumping up and down. Kevin joined him.
“Shut up! You are wasting time. I don’t want to be late” She hushed them.
As she drove to work, she kept trying his number with no success. It was obviously switched off. She could not believe that she had begun to have 2nd thoughts about leaving him for Chike, only for him to pull such a stunt. Chike was besieging her day and night to marry him. She told him to give her time to pray.
The 2 pastors she submitted his picture to were yet to give her a response. Instead, they kept asking for more money, to facilitate the prayer and fasting. Eme, her colleague at work, had introduced her to 1. The other was recommended by an aunt. Ndidi did not approve of them. She kept urging her to join Elyon fellowship but, Ijeoma felt she was stretching herself thin.
At work, she was in a foul mood. She couldn’t wait till the close of day to go home and confront him. If he thought she was going to let him get off that easily, he had another thing coming. She would expose him to the world. In fact, she would embarrass him at work so he would be fired. Better still, she would hire a private investigator so she could get hard evidence. Pictures, or videos, preferably. He would pay for all the hurt he had caused her. Yes, he would pay dearly.
Ekene was driving to the hospital. Miriam had been rushed there from work because she was bleeding. She drove like she was on steroids, narrowly missing getting arrested for traffic infractions. Miriam had managed to send her a text. She had tried to call Regina but, she didn’t pick the phone. At the hospital, she ran into the reception and informed the receptionist who she was there to see. After a call, she was told to wait as Miriam had been taken to the theatre. She found a quiet spot in the parking lot and began to pray for her friend.
30 minutes later, her phone rang. It was the receptionist. She had asked her to call her the moment Miriam was out of the theatre. Heart pounding, she rushed in, and up the stairs, to Miriam’s room. Miriam was lying propped up, in a blue hospital gown, eyes closed. The nurse who let her in, told her she only had few minutes because Miriam had personally requested her, and left them alone. Approaching her bedside cautiously, she put her bag on the floor, and held her hand.
“Mimi? “, She whispered.
Her eyes fluttered open. Tears rolled down her cheeks. “She’s gone. My baby’s gone”, She wept.
Ekene held her head against her chest and wept with her. “I’m so sorry. So so sorry”, their tears mingled.
“I really wanted this baby, Kene. I loved her so much. Why is God punishing me? What did I do wrong?” She lamented.
“Shhhh…God is not punishing you” Ekene hushed her.
“I want my baby back……”
“Shhhhhh….It’s okay” Ekene was sitting in the bed, by her, holding her. “No need beating yourself up”
“But I repented. This baby was my only memory of her father. Now I have nothing, no one…..”
“You have me, Mimi. I’m here for you”
“Ekene, my baby is gone…….”, she wailed.
There was no consoling her. When her crying escalated, the nurse came in and gave her a sedative. Ekene went out to clear her head. The crying had almost given her a headache. Regina showed up at 11am. She saw Ekene at the reception and rushed over.
“Kene, what is going on?”, She asked as she plopped into a seat beside hers.
“Mimi lost her baby”
“She started spotting at work. When she called her doctor, he asked her to come to the hospital. Before she could get into her car, she started feeling dizzy. They had to rush her here and evacuate her womb”, Ekene narrated.
“She’s so distraught! They had to sedate her”
“Where have you been? I’ve been calling you”
“I had to drop Magnus off. His car refused to start. I just got a mechanic to check it out” Ekene stared at her, mouth open.
“What? ” Regina was nonplussed.
“Did you hear yourself?” Ekene asked.
“We are just friends”, she defended.
“So he and his wife spent the night in your house, then?”
Regina shifted uncomfortably.
“This was what got Mimi where she is now. Regina, don’t make the same mistake”, Ekene warned.
Regina changed the topic. “So, how do we know when she wakes up? ”
“The nurses know to inform me. Reggie, please, you have to end this relationship, friendship, whatever. I can’t bear to see another friend hurt”, Ekene pleaded, holding her hands in hers, earnestly.
“It’s not as if we are doing anything”
“He slept in your house! That’s enough!”
“I really like him”
“Let him go. Please”
“I don’t know if I can”, Regina removed her hands from Ekene’s and reached into her bag for her phone.
Ekene shook her head sadly and sent up a silent prayer for God to deliver her friend from the slippery slope she was dancing on.
Ijeoma ensured she left work early. She was home long before Magnus. After putting Kevin and Jonah to bed, she sat in the living room to await his return. None of his clothes was missing, so she assumed he had not been home. At 8pm, Magnus drove in. Ijeoma did not even let him say a word before she pounced on him.
“Where did you sleep, Magnus?”, She stood before him, chest heaving angrily.
He ignored her and tried to walk past but she grabbed his arm.
“I’m talking to you. Don’t walk out on me!”, She shouted.
“Let go of my arm”, he muttered
“Where are you coming from?”
“A client needed me”
“At what time of the day? You sneaked out at night, without telling me”
“I didn’t want to wake you up”
“Did it occur to you that I am your wife?”
“I meant to call earlier. Sorry”
“Really? Magnus, you are having an affair! “, She accused.
“Don’t accuse me of what I didn’t do”, he warned.
“When did you begin spending the night in client’s houses? ”
“I’ve told you the truth. Just get out of my way”, he snapped.
“Is that what you are saying?”
“Yes. When last did you say a kind word to me? Always angry about one thing or the other. When last did you let me touch you?”
“Touch who? After sleeping with your girlfriends out there? God forbid!”
“I am not having an affair”
“Akuko! Tell that to the birds”
Magnus managed to step away from her. He went to their bedroom and began pulling off his clothes. She followed him.
“You are wearing what you wore to work yesterday. I see you are tired of this marriage. We had better get a divorce”, She spat.
“What man will not be tired of living with a hag like you?”
“You are behaving like one. If you are tired, get a lawyer. We’ll see in court” he threw at her.
“O, after these years I stood by you? Now things are looking up, you think I’m a hag? Well, there are men out there who will see the woman in me!”
“Men? Is it that fool, Chike? He is an idiot! You deserve each other” he spat.
Ijeoma stood, mouth agape, as Magnus stepped into the bathroom without looking at her. She had had no inkling that he suspected that Chike was more than a colleague. She sat at the edge of their bed dejected. No, she could not let him have the upper hand. If that was the only way, she would have to cut off from Chike till the divorce was completed. She could not afford to give Magnus ammunition to get custody of their children. No, that would never happen.
TO BE CONTINUED.
*Akuko : Story!