Here is the 3rd part! Sorry it took so long (as opposed to the weekly ritual), but I hope it's worth it. If this is your first time here, read the first and the second below on the blog). Enjoy!
Moving Clocks Run Slow: SECRETS.
Copyright © 2013 Keside Anosike. All Rights Reserved.
Moving Clocks Run Slow: SECRETS.
At night, four women lay with different secrets.
They all tried to sleep, somehow convincing themselves that if they shot their eyes and hoped hard enough, they would drift away from the reality of what they did till the light of morning comes upon their windows and the rays of gold and honey cover them in the sweetness of dawn. But they struggled with these secrets that threatened to choke them. One paced around the balcony of her bedroom, and the second tried to distract herself with the could’ves and would’ves and should’ves thoughts of a failed marriage. The third watched the knife by the side of her bed glitter under the lamp while her husband snored and the last tried to force herself to sleep, her secrets clasped between her hands.
Still they vowed to cover them up, to conceal it; divide these secrets in their souls into smaller and smaller bits and scatter them in places no one would find them.
Tracy tried to cover hers with her day to day living; dropping the kids at school in the mornings, catching up later in the evening with her girlfriends at Ikoyi Club where they talked about shoes and expensive hair extensions. That was what she did, and the last time she went to see her parents in the village, the ladies she went to the stream with to fetch water while she was still in the village beamed from molar to molar with hidden envy. She did not tell them of the unbearable loneliness that sat in the empty seats of her Prado jeep or the strangeness in her husband’s embrace. She smiled and gave them all of her old shoes.
But that night as she lay on her massive bed in the solace of her Luxurious home in Lekki, she thought of several things she could have said to Sam and mourned the fact that her strength usually bloomed late, peaking when it no longer mattered, during the solitary hours close to midnight. It was her friend Joyce, that first told her about Ashley- the woman she described as being so beautiful that it made the stars at night envious. Joyce had seen them at the airport waiting to board an international flight, and it was something in their eyes that gave her an assurance that they were playing with each other’s hearts and body parts.
Joyce was the loud one; the not too pretty lady who quit her job with the Insurance company to be a stay-at-home mom. And her husband, a good looking man with broad shoulders who went around town planting kisses on the necks of strange women. The women at the club that evening in their Polos and skin-tight jeans thought her to be crazy when she told them that she hired a woman to seduce and fall in love, or mutual lust, with her husband. She was trying to save her marriage.
“No!” The women’s eyes burned with shock towards Joyce. “How could you?”
“My sisters, isn’t it better that I have a say in whom I’m sharing my husband with?”
Joyce was not remorseful.
“She’s doing her IT with the Insurance Company and she needs some money to take care of her parents. It’s a long story of how we met but it’s been on going for three years now”
Their brows were raised. “What has been on going?”
“The relationship. Or love. Or lust. Or contract. Or whatever.” Joyce round eyes shadowed a disinterest.
“She would take him from you completely!”
“The minute he decided that I wasn’t enough for him, he ceased to be mine”
“But half puff-puff is better than none...”
“No be for woman wey dey watch im weight” Joyce intruded. “I’ve had just about enough with Nkem and his shenanigans. I’m currently watching how much more I can swallow before my suitcases are packed.”
“No way!” The women chorused again, with a little warmth in their eyes this time around.
“You can’t do that”, one of the women said. “You will leave with nothing. This is not Hollywood, my dear shine your eyes.”
Joyce looked at Tracy on the other end of the table, who sat numb with her head buried, before she giggled. “My eyes are crystal clear. Chidinma calls me about twice a week when they meet.”
“The girl, her name is Chidinma” she added.
“Does she tell you when they…”
“Make love?” Joyce chuckled. “The shameless bulldog gives it to her from the back.”
“You mean she tells you?”
“Every gory detail. I always insist, its part of the contract”
“And it doesn’t get you jealous?”
Lately, jealousy wasn’t a temporary state for Joyce any more. It had become an inherent part of her personality. She found herself being jealous of a madman’s contended solitude and of something as mundane as a dog following a stranger through the narrow streets of Osborne estate.
“Not a vein in my body responds to it”
Meanwhile Tracy had kept quiet all through as the other women talked and sipped from tall glasses. She listened as the women lashed out advices and bible passages that fell through Joyce’s’ jeweled ears. And then they talked about their children and the impending summer vacation they all planned to go on. Tracy made a decision that evening that would change the course of her life.
Tracy followed Ashley from that day, and in no time, knew everything there was to know about her. On Wednesdays was when Ashley went to the African restaurant off Adeola Odeku, while she picked up her laundry on Thursdays after 4pm, and she watched Sam’s driver pick her up every Friday at 6pm. She would always leave the girls with Esther, the house-girl, and run out just to watch the evening breeze get caught in Ashley’s hair as she walked out down the stairs of her office building. And she didn’t do all these with the thought that maybe if she tried, she could emulate Ashley and win her husband back. Tracy did not feel threatened by her, somehow she felt relieved; somehow along the line love wasn’t just enough for she and Sam. As a matter of fact, it made them miserable; made them yell over little nothings while their kids fidgeted behind closed doors. Most of loving someone that ceased to love her back somewhere between three girls and a couple of added pounds made Tracy feel powerless. She had gotten used to the late nights and sudden business trips that happened frequently. And those nights when the other side of their matrimonial bed was cold with his absence, it reminded her of the cold feel of diamond against her neck. Even she herself wouldn’t deny the comfort of Lorraine Schwartz jewelries.
Long before her husband’s affair with Ashley began, Tracy had been trying to pull her worth from Sam. For so long she had been trying to extract her beauty from his skin. She had been trying to rescue her words from the layers of his mouth. She had been dying to be loved by him again...but he will always leave her empty. Until that night he came home, and she could taste the colors of happiness on his breath and the scent of a strange perfume on his neck. Suddenly, she was free. Serving as the only audience for his love and frustration, his anxiety and worries, his mistakes and triumph, exhausted her. The buried thought that he might have found comfort elsewhere was almost a comfort to her.
As Ashley forced herself to sleep that night, she couldn’t help but notice the discomfort her sister was in as they shared a bed. When Addison turned, she felt like she lay beside a heater in the heart of a desert. If it wasn’t an expensive furniture, the bed was bound to make squeaks from all the restlessness Addison exhibited. Still, Ashley shut her eyes tight and hoped to a God she didn’t believe in that the morning would come sooner. The morning was to bring her peace because the darkness in the skies seemed to multiply her secrets like the stars that hung. It was not regret that she felt that night because regrets don’t steal sleeps from people like Ashley who are headstrong; it was a longing, a silent plea for her sanity.
It was just a night, she thought, each time the light from Addison’s phone interrupted the darkness in the room. One wrong, beautiful night shared between two people that wanted it and knew they should never have shared it. It was two minds, being stimulated and engaged on a level they have never experienced with another. There was easiness in the air and they both could feel it; they could speak the truth about how they felt. They were confused, attracted to the connection, but not wanting to mess things up by taking it to the next level. There was no next level actually. Ashley knew that whatever next step was taken would lead to a free falling from a mountaintop. It was just that night, no next levels or second chances; just that moment when they were alive, in tune, in the moment. It was in the blackness of that night that two very different people met minds and shared one heartbeat.
It would be the third time now Addison’s phone had began to ring in the dead of the night and each time she reached out for it with, there was a certain urgency in her actions that worried Ashley.
She took the call and was quiet.
“Did you do it?”
“Yes” Addison replied in hush tones.
“I told you you could!” The person on the other end sounded joyous.
“Yeah you did, and look where it landed me”. There were no bubbles in her throat.
“Why are you whispering, who is there with you?”
“No....” Addison looked by her side before she continued in a much lower voice “Ashley is sleeping, I don’t want to disturb her”
They both dreaded what will come next and neither of them was willing to say anything.
“I just wanted to find out how it went with Denise since you said you would do it this night”
“Yeah, thanks, I would call you tomorrow” Addison promised, and thought almost immediately, -if tomorrow would come.
“I’m at Bacchus, I just came out to take a blunt and decided to check on you”
There was silence on both ends.
Sharon watched her husband sleep, her secrets far beyond where his snores traveled. For so many years she had cultivated the habit of wearing a face, a kind of mask that made it almost impossible for Otumba to figure out what ran through her mind. She was proud of this and it kept her marriage through two grown daughters and sleepless nights.
Now she wouldn’t sleep. She waited for a call; her heartbeats corresponding to the ticks of the clock above their bed. It took her so long to come to this decision; though it was unspeakable and she vowed to take the secrets to her grave, it was meant to give her peace. Sharon knew that a woman could not truly experience what it meant to be a woman till she became a mother, and with all the screams of labor pains lay a vow to protect that being till their last breath. She felt accomplished; she had held her own side of the bargain and she couldn’t wait for her daughters to experience the beauty of raising kids. Addison was doing exceptionally great at the law firm; Ashley was at the bank, reaching her targets and getting promoted regularly. And each time looking at portraits of when they were little in ribbons dresses on the stairwell sprung up feelings within her, Sharon would go into her bathroom and look at more old photo albums.
Then she would see those other two people. God knows why she kept looking, but each time she would run her slender fingers over their faces and trace back the memories in every cracked line in their smiles. The wrinkles on her hand told her age and lots of memories; of mistaken moments of peace and fleeting scenes of love; of shocking strides of betrayal and diminishing rays of affections over the course of time. The wrinkles allied with her veins and ran through her body like the long lines of secrets that weighed down her soul. It was in the past, she would tell herself. Many, many years ago and she was done with that phase. She was done.
But wasn’t it amazing? How she called it the past and yet thought about it every minute of her life and had it rubbing itself against her skin like the hairs on an old sweater.
The light from her cellphone was rude to the room. She picked up before the second ring.
“I’ve been waiting for you to call since, this is why I said you should give me your number that first time.”
“Trust me ma, me calling with a blocked line is for our best interest.”
“Okay, how was it?” There was panic in her voice. “How did it go? Did you…”
“Yes...”She tried to keep it together but her voice wavered.
“Of course. I told you to consider it done”
She wanted to feel a certain relief which she had hoped for, for thirty-five years since Otumba started paying money into a strange account; to feel her chest lowered to the warmth of dew grasses at a park. But it was a knot instead that formed.
“Hello? Are you still there?”
She thought it was the happiest thing she could ever imagine hearing; that she would thank him and offer him more money for a job well done and go down stairs and pour herself a glass of Baileys. And that thought was what kept her on her toes throughout the day as the clocks ran slow towards nighttime. Now she couldn’t feel anything.
“Okay, I just wanted to let you know. It was nice doing business with you”
“So I’m going to hang up and we have never seen each other before”
“I need more than an Um madam, I have never seen or spoken to you before, do you understand?”
“Yes, yes, I do. I neither.”
“Goodnight and wait for the news”
The voice went out on the other end of the telephone and the room lay with just ticks and snores. And then she put down the telephone next to the glittering knife under the lamp and waited for the little rays of bright yellows to crawl through the clouds and shine their beauty down on the ugliness of a broken world.
None of these women could find rest as they struggled with their thoughts. They waited for morning with hanging breaths and withering souls, and not one of them could think of the consequences of their actions.
Each individually dug places far beyond their souls and buried these secrets in little coffins. Coffins were for dead things, things that birthed heartache and sadness. And so tomorrow they will put these coffins in the little graves they dug and lace them with ribbons of plastic smiles and charming eyes. They were women and they all had that single closet that skeletons didn’t dance out from. Closets that held on its shelves an array of faces and emotions they could wear to compliment their couture dresses and cold diamonds and sky-high heels. But none of these women would know exactly which face to put on tomorrow; none of them was ready for what came with the sunlight.
As for the dresses, it would be a Sunday morning and neither had a clue.
Copyright © 2013 Keside Anosike. All Rights Reserved.
SONG BENEATH THE SONG.
My favorite part of every blogpost! YAY! Well, I'm currently obsessed with these songs and strongly suggest you guys check them out. They are great and worth every muscle in your ears. :-)
1, Time After Time- Eva Cassidy.
2, God Only Knows- Bonnie Raitt.
3, Blood Bank- Bon Iver.