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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BHON Part 5

A WALKING CORPSE

The next two weeks were painful. We barely spoke to each other. We owned an apartment, a joint account and we had to settle things. Remember I left school and I was now financially dependent on him, which made me frankly uncomfortable. He told me he would pay the rents until July, I was to manage from there. I no longer recognized him but mustered enough courage to say “OK.” The pain was excruciating; I had never felt such pain. I couldn't eat or sleep and nothing made any sense to me. I fumbled with my thoughts trying to understand why he had not left me to my studies and my financial aid: “why, why, why...?” I screamed while the tears ran down my cheeks. 

Later during the week he contacted me to say he would be coming in on Saturday to pick up the rest of his stuff. We talked a little before he said “I rented a small place already. I was wondering if you wanted me to return the IPOD Touch you gave me for Christmas?”
My heart sank, “Why do you want to return it?”
“I loved the gift so much I just got myself an iPhone.” Yet another blow! I was barely a walking corpse and dear sir was having the time of his life. How dare he!

A few days later, we picked a fight because I searched his emails and instant messages (he had not changed passwords).
“Atembe, I’m hurt and I’m trying to find answers. I’m sorry I had to do that, but since you won’t tell me what went wrong…I probably shouldn't have invaded your privacy, but when I noticed you had resumed contact with your ex and said things about me like ‘she dropped out of school, she has no ambition, it was a chore fucking her…’ it tore me into shreds.”
“I’m sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you.” He said in his usual calm tone. He finally said, “I'd like you to be there on Saturday when I come around because we have many movies and would need to share them.” I agreed. Call me desperate but I would agree to anything just to see him one last time.

He came in on Saturday morning looking very normal, gave me a big hug, a kiss on the cheek and asked if he could sit for 5 minutes before starting to pack up his things. I agreed and we started talking about everything and nothing. “Why did you get in touch with several people you had vowed never to speak to again?” I asked.
His tone went up a notch, “Wait a minute, you can’t be asking me…”
“You know what, I’m not up for a fight! I’m going to lie down a while,” I cut in. I heard him scoop his stuff (no furniture, they were all mine). He kept asking whether I wanted to keep one thing or the other; I simply said, “take what you want.”  He took about one hour to pick up his stuff. I was in the living room on my computer by the time he was through, trying to act as indifferent as possible. He finished packing and asked if he could sit down and take a pepsi or “do you want me to leave immediately?”
“Atembe, you are home, you pay the rents, do what you want.” I replied. He took a sit and we started talking and then he asked for one last hug. I told him I had something for him - a Farewell note. “Read it when you can - Maybe in your truck on the road. It is important.” He took it and asked if he could read it right away. I did not know what to say but in the end I accepted uncomfortably and I let him read it in front of me.

Atembe,
I simply want you to know that I have accepted the fact that it is all over between us. Since I met you, I have done nothing short of loving you. I am torn by the pain of losing you and I feel lost without you. My soul is empty and my heart is broken beyond repair.
I try to recall the way we once were, smiling and loving each other. But all of that is gone now and there is nothing but an empty space. I used to think I was enough for you, that I completed you as you did me. Apparently I was wrong. I will surely get over this. But I think you have been very selfish, callous and inconsiderate in the way you called off our four year long relationship. Right now my heart is in pieces but one day I will rebuild it.
Goodbye my dear love
Erica

He cried a little but remained very quiet. Finally I said, “I think you should leave now.” He asked me for one last hug (he was sitting on the couch). I got up and sat on his laps and gave him a hug. My heart hurt so badly.


********


BHON Part 4

MORE TEARS AFTER SOME SMILES

“I will always love you,” Atembe told me gently as he leaned down to plant a kiss on my lips on Christmas day as we were snugged up in the couch. We had the most magical Christmas season. We exchanged gifts and made big love declarations. Then he went back on the road early January. The love messages were still going and coming. The ‘I love you,’ ‘I miss you,’ went on for days. He kept saying I was the woman of his life.

Having experienced personal and difficult times in my life, I told him of my desire to go to therapy which he accepted and even playfully suggested that I come with him in the truck, so we could be together. I had to go back to school on 21 January but we talked and I decided to return only in September. We discussed our finances, because if I quit school, my student financial aid will be cut. He said not to worry because he earned enough for two, he would take care of me. I called the school to tell them I would only be going back in September.

The last weekend I spent with Atembe was that of 21 January. He came home but was more distant than usual. However, I did not pay too much attention to that. Every couple has its ups and downs, I thought then. He left for work on 28 January. Before walking out the door, he turned around kissed me passionately and said “I’ll miss you baby. You are indeed the woman of my life.”

“I’ll miss you too sweaty. I love you more than life,” I replied before he planted one brief kiss on my lips and went out the door. I stood at the door and watched him walk away. He was a beautiful sight; but somehow, I felt a slight nudge in my heart, as if all was not well. But nothing was going to spoil this moment. He waved me goodbye before taking the first bend away away from home.

Four days after his departure, he sent me an email with a hello and I replied with a smiley. I was very happy because it was almost weekend and he will be returning home. But this time, when he came home he was even more silent and spoke very little. I asked if something was bothering him and he simply said “I’m thinking.”
Panic set in. I could not help but remember the November episode, however, he had promised. I kept prying to know what was bugging him but he said we would talk over the following weekend because he had to think it through. My heart sank and the words came rushing to my mind like a flood: “no, no, you promised me, you promised, you can’t do this to me, not again...”

Four days after his departure for work the so much dreaded email arrived:

Hi Erica,
I’m sorry to have to do this by email again but I can’t face you. You did not do anything wrong. I'm just disgusted with this relationship that is leading nowhere. I have no future with you and I'm stressed when I’m having sex with you. It’s over, I’m calling it quits. And this time it’s for real. Don’t try to stop me this time, I won’t have it.
Bye now.

I replied with a simple; “so you don’t love me anymore?”
“No,” he said, “that is not the point.”
“You will come back and tell me that in my face Atembe,” I insisted and he promised to come home the next morning.
********

The next day he came in late because he had drank himself to stupor with his colleagues and got sick. He was reeking of alcohol and he is normally not a heavy drinker, so I was quite surprised. I tried to talk but nothing to do, he was in no shape for a talk, so I suggested a nap for both of us and he accepted.

The phone woke me up around 6:30 PM. His mother had just learned about our breakup and called to ask me what had happened (how facebook news flies!). Before hanging up, I told her I too was lost, never saw it coming and that Atembe was sleeping, so she could call later to ask him what was happening. I later discovered that my boyfriend, who had no guts, was pretending to be asleep to avoid having to justify himself to his parents.

He finally woke up and we got talking. I asked questions, in tears: “Why did you tell me I was the woman of your life just four days ago Atembe?
Why now? I wanted to leave in November...” still no answer.
When he opened his mouth to answer, he accused me of things I had said or done after the death of our daughter...
“Erica, when our daughter died, you said a lot of hurtful things to me. I figured it was the pain of losing…”
“Are you kidding me? I was not myself. So why did you ask me to marry you after that?”
 “Because it was important to you” he replied. Shock, silence!
I couldn't take anymore. I stomped to my room and to my bed. He followed me, took me in his arms, to console me, and did not let go. I could only mutter a faint “I love you” (big mistake again, I know) and he answered “thank you, that’s nice.” “Go away. Find some place to sleep.” That’s all I could manage to say before I fell asleep.

I woke up at about 2 a.m. and heard the television. No way, he can’t still be here! Well, yes, Mr Atembe slept on the couch. I turned off the TV and it woke him up; he got up and came to lie in bed with me. I must be dreaming, what was he doing?  He lay in with me and I let him do as he willed. I was probably hurting, but I still wanted him so much.
The next morning I got up before him and made coffee with a heavy heart. He got up, gave me a kiss on the forehead and asked how I was doing. I refused to cry again but tried to talk. He was not very forthcoming but I said, “Tell me you don’t love me anymore.”
“Erica, I can’t say such a thing. But it is really over this time. Don’t wait for me anymore” he managed to say before settling down with his breakfast while watching a movie.
“I understand that it is also your house, but you will have to leave.”
He looked at me, “you want me to leave right away?”

 “Yes” I said with a very heavy heart. He got up, went to the bath and took a shower, got dressed, gave me a big hug and left. I practically went crashing on the floor like a pack of cards. 

********

BHON Part 3

THE TEARS START ROLLING

Three months later, I came back from classes, and just before settling to some assignments I decided to check my emails to see if my sweetheart had sent me a love message, as he was on the road. As expected, I noticed his subject before any other thing in my Hotmail inbox. It read; ‘Absence of joy.’ My heart skipped a little but I thought nothing of it until I opened the email.

My Dearest Erica,
I have loved you, my darling, but lately things have been especially hard on me because our relationship no longer gives me any pleasure. I’m no longer happy coming home to you.
For the past few months, I have tried to bring back the excitement that used to be without success and I can’t do this anymore. I am no longer happy in this relationship and I think it is best we go our separate ways.
You brought me much joy these past years, but my feelings have changed a whole lot and you no longer make me happy. I’ll be moving on without you. When I come back this weekend, we will settle anything that needs settling.
Bye for now
Atembe.

I felt my throat close as I swallowed hard and my eyes welled up with tears. I was beyond shock. All sorts of questions were popping up in my mind. I did not see this coming. When he left for work, all was well with our couple. I couldn't help but wonder what had gone awry in the few days during which we were separated.
I called him in tears, “I just saw your email…”
“Erica, we will talk when I come home this weekend…”
“What happened? Did I do anything wrong? I will make it right. I will make it up to you. Please don’t leave. I still love you so much. I can’t live without you Atembe. Please don’t do this to me…” I pleaded as the tears came rolling down my cheeks.
“We will talk when I get home,” Was all he said before hanging up.

After a few minutes, I started typing a message. I could only think of trying to get him to stay with me. My hands were flying on my keyboard...

baby, please don’t leave like this. you are breaking my heart. I’m suffocating right now just thinking about how ma life would be without you. i can’t do this without you. i wouldn't be able to live if it had to be without you. please, please, please. think about all the good things we share. i still love you dearly. erica

I was so distraught I didn't know what to say. It was only a few days later that I realized I had made some errors in my text, but that was not important, I couldn't think of that at the moment.
A few minutes later I sent another text;

my love, please tell me you won’t leave me this way. i’l be destroyed if you walk away from my life. i love u, i love u, i really really love u and truly can’t leave without you. we can talk about whatever is bothering you. baby please talk to me…

He had to hear my plea regardless. I sent three more messages of desperation in a bid to convince him to change his mind before he replied.
It’s ok baby, never mind my message or what I said over the phone. I’m really sorry to have put you through such trauma. I was just being stupid and playing childish games. It was just a crazy reaction to some frustrations I’m feeling right now. But as u said we can talk it over. Of course I will not leave. How could I break up with you when you are the woman of my life? Perhaps I just wanted to see if you still love me, now I know you do and deeply too.  Let’s forget this incident and move on with our relationship. I love you my angel.

I felt reassured to receive his reply. However, before he came home that weekend, one of his single friends told me that Atembe had told him he was single and could sleep around whenever he chose to. I couldn’t understand why and I felt hurt like never before. Our love making was always great and was one of the strengths of our relationship. I could really see the cookies crumbling, When he came home over the weekend, I noticed, for the first time that his smiles and apparent joy to see me were not sincere. He was not happy, at least not with me.

Before long, the weekend went by slowly and it was Tuesday again. I decided to write him a letter and go away. I packed my bags and I waited for him to come back.
He came back home as usual during the weekend and noticed my bags.
“Hey baby, why are your bags packed?”
“I need you to sit and listen to something Atembe.”
“But, why…”
“Come. Sit.”
He took a sit beside me on the couch and looked at me with questioning eyes. I started to read my letter;
Atembe my love,
The first time I met you I loved you, and even as I write this farewell letter, I still love you. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over loving you. But I have noticed that you are truly no longer happy in this relationship.
When I accepted to come into your life, it was to make you happy, to love and cherish you in every possible way. Now that I no longer make you happy, I believe it’s time to walk out and try to move on.
I have cried every night since that faithful day you sent the breakup message. It’s true you said it was a joke, but your actions say otherwise. I would rather walk away now that I still have the strength, than later. 
This is a farewell letter my dear not a plea for you to stay. Thank you for the memories we share, I will cherish them forever.
Goodbye my love
Erica
After reading the letter, I folded it and gave it to him with my engagement ring (we were engaged since Valentine’s Day) and bade him farewell.  As I started to leave, he got down on his knees in the living room; 
“Darling, please don’t leave me. I still love you, you know. I was just being stupid and playing silly games. You are the woman of my life. I can’t loose you. Please baby, please stay. Please don’t go away, I can’t do without you. I’m so sorry about all the stupid things I've done lately. I’m all yours. Please don’t go…” he begged. 

My heart went out to him and I forgave him, having in mind that we were going to work things out and that he was sincere when he said he was sorry. He put my engagement ring back on and said, “You are the only woman who really matters in my life.” I believed him and we made up.
But before hugging him in reconciliation I said, “Atembe, my heart would not be able to stand it anymore. I would not bear it if in two months or thereabout you repeat the same scenario.”

“Baby, we are together forever. It will never repeat itself again,” he assured me before we hugged. He held me so tight in his arms as if he was afraid I would disappear. I was crying as we hugged, then he started to kiss me. At first on my forehead, then on my cheeks, then on my lips and then all over – we made love with such aggressive passion as if to exorcise ourselves of some demons.

********

BHON Part 2

REALITY STEPS IN - OUR FIRST BIG TEST AS A COUPLE

I woke up with a start and rushed to the bathroom to throw up. Atembe followed to make sure all was well. This had been going on for a while and I was having a fever every now and then.
“I think you need to see the Doctor.”
Yes sure. I will go on Monday.”
Nine months had passed since that famous day when we met at André’s café. I noticed some changes on my body. The weekend went by without any fuss and on Monday I went to visit the doctor for a check-up.

“Congratulations Miss Eware, you are pregnant,” said doctor Achiri with a smile, pulling out my lab test results and handing them over to me. I was speechless. I stared in disbelieve. After a few minutes of shock, I pulled myself together, took the results, thanked him and walked out of his office. Immediately I stepped out of his office, I dialed Atembe’s number. After three rings he picked up the phone:
‘Hello Angel, how are you doing?”
“Hey baby, doing fine and you?”
“Doing OK. You don’t sound too well, did you see the doctor?”
“Yes, I’m just stepping out of his office…”
“Anything wrong with you? You've been rather pale lately.”
“Yes. I mean, No. Not wrong…”
“What do you mean? What is going on? What did the doctor say? You are getting me worried baby.”
“Doc says I am pregnant.”
“Aaaahhh.” he breathed in relief, “You got me worried for a while there. That’s good news baby, or is it not?” he went on in an uncertain voice.
“I guess it is. I was just worried about how you were going to take the news.”
“Honey, I am thrilled you are expecting our baby. I can’t wait to get home and hold you tight in my arms darling. I hope you don’t mind having the baby, do you?”
“No. Not at all. I am presently the happiest woman on earth, just hearing you say it’s ok. I love you baby.”
“I love you right back honey. Can’t wait to be home to my angel.”
We talked for a little while before we hung up and I went home. That was all the confirmation I needed although it was not planned. Every other person was against us having the baby and thought it was too early. We were going to keep the baby, so we moved in together.

In the few days that followed I found out I was pregnant with twins after my routine check at the hospital. However, the news of the twins was tinted by sad news later on. Only 13 weeks into my pregnancy I lost a first embryo but the second one stayed on.  The doctor recommended some bed rest and I moved in with Atembe’s parents. Atembe’s parents were lovely with me, but whenever Atembe came back home he treated me like a princess and always attended to my every request. Everything was great, love was still so deep and the passion was nowhere near dwindling.

********
15 weeks later, Saturday night, I felt a strange piercing pain at my lower back. After a while the second pain came, and then the third, fourth... and they kept getting even more painful. I started to get out of the bed, but the pain was too much, all I could do was scream. Atembe came rushing to my side.
“Baby, what?” I stifled the screams and grunts that were coming up due to the pain I was feeling.
“I think it’s coming...aaawwwwww, it hurts like...aaahhhh”
“Mom, mo-o-o-o-m,”
“Yes, what’s wrong,” she yelled walking into the room.
“We need to get Erica to the hospital like yesterday!” Atembe sounded panicked.
“Dear God! I’ll get the car, you and your father carry her out” and she was gone with a flash.

I was rushed to the hospital urgently but was programmed for an emergency cesarean section because our unborn daughter was not well. I don’t know what happened thereafter but I remember waking up to gloomy faces. Essieme was born brain damaged, so we took the decision to let go and on 3 July in the morning she died - only three days after her birth. This was the first big test of our couple. Little did I know there was still more to come.
After the traumatizing loss of our daughter we returned to our apartment but nothing was the same. We were broken and we couldn't stop yelling at each other. Three months after the death of our daughter we were still fighting every other day. 

Conversations were tense, weekends were even more so.  We couldn't say two words without a fight. After so many weeks spent yelling at each other, throwing angry words and endless fights, I convinced Atembe to go back to long distance truck driving. As a matter of fact, he had found a local job and was no longer hitting the road. We needed time apart to heal, accept the loss and find ourselves again. He agreed to my proposal. We only got to see each other during the weekends like before.
Before long, the long love emails started coming in again, the love words, text messages and more. The love came pouring back as it was on the first day - as if nothing had happened. The kisses, hugs and love making hit the sky once again.

For a while, we lived the passion and love of a loving couple. As would be expected, we had a few issues but it was never anything big. We soon moved to another city, his hometown. We were still going strong, so I decided to go back to school for my 30th birthday. Atembe was more than thrilled with the idea and I went back to school in September with some financial aid.

********

BHON Part 1


BLEEDING HEART ON THORNS
*************

A COLD BUT PLEASANT DAY

“Hey Erica, dreadfully cold morning huh?” yelled Maddie as I went by in a frantic haste.
“Hello Maddie, can’t say I wanted to get out of my bed this morning. Going for a cup of coffee before work” I waved at my favorite magazine retailer as I walked past. It was a particularly cold morning, and on my walk to the boutique where I worked, I made a stop at André’s Cafe, just a block away from my job site, to take my usual cup of coffee. As I walked into the cafe, I noticed a calm looking young man with very intense eyes sitting on my favorite spot, “Aaaaaaargh” I muttered under my breath. Andre’s was as noisy as usual, the smell of brewing coffee was in the air, as I swept past the other customers, I gestured to Julie for my order and she nodded. I walked straight to the rear end of the cafe from where I could see every other person and settled.  Julie brought my cup of coffee and we chatted for a few seconds before she drifted away into the crowded room to serve others. As I sipped my coffee, I felt those intense eyes boring at me. I shifted in discomfort and pretended not to notice. But he kept starring. I had an eerie feeling that the minute I look up at him I would be in great trouble. I felt his eyes travel from my fingers to my upper arm slowly before settling on my lips. I swallowed hard!

That was it, enough of this! He had to stop staring at me like that. I raised my head and turned sharply to tell him to stop, but I could only stare at him. I had not noticed the sharp features, the angular face and the smoky grey eyes. I melted from the inside as I stared at this stranger who had still not taken his intense eyes off me.  Somehow, I managed to tear my eyes off him and quickly gulp down my coffee. My hands were trembling as I picked up my stuff to get out of the café as fast as I possibly could.

I walked passed him in a frantic haste and headed straight for the door without a second glance. As I took the first step out of the cafe, I felt a warm hand grab my arm in a gentle but firm grip. I did not need to look as I knew who it was without a doubt – the stranger had followed me outside the cafe. In one flustered moment I did not know what to do until he spoke up, in an ever so gentle voice, “Hi, could I please have a moment with you.” I hesitated, while keeping myself from looking at him, I barely spoke the words, “I need to get to work, don’t have much time now.” There! That should keep him away now.

His warm hand encircling my arm was very distracting, I could not think straight. I tried to pull my arm away but he held on. My breath caught. “Can I walk with you to work? Do you work anywhere around here?” Oh no, not that, not that! I bit on my lip to stifle the grunt which had made its way up. Then I turned to look at him [big mistake], I was drowning again. Those eyes again. I couldn't say ‘No’ when they were staring at me like that. I quietly accepted to walk with him to the boutique.
“Sorry to barge in on you like this, but I really couldn't help it. I am Kierona Atembe and you?”

“Erica, Erica Eware,” that was all I could manage to say. 

********

A few weeks later, as I expected, the sparks flew and emotions went wild. We spent the days after our meeting, getting to know each other at a personal level and discovering this new found love. Conversation with him was so easy and stimulating. I had never had such a feeling of utter accomplishment in my life.

However, I was a little unsettled about the age difference between my new beau and I. Atembe was three years younger and I had set a number of rules on the kind of guy to date. He could not be younger, be living with his parents, or be dependent. But all of that flew out the door when I looked at him. My heart was totally in love but my mind kept telling me, ‘this is not it.’ I ignored the tiny voice of caution and went for it. ‘To hell with rules! I just can’t stop thinking of this stranger.’

Atembe was a truck driver who traveled the Gabon-Cameroon road, so I knew he would often leave but the passion was big. I had never experienced anything so strong. The first nine months were absolutely magical! He would send me long love emails when he was on the road. We would spend every weekend together, making love and big love declarations to each other. The strong emotional ties of a love at first sight relationship were present, emotions were running wild. My entire body rocked with every word he spoke, every smile he gave and every time he touched me, I melted like heated butter.

********

CONTINUE TO PART TWO