By Peace Nkeiruka Maduako
A moth was knocking itself against the glass window, determined to get outside. Olive was awake looking up to the ceiling boards, wondering how Obi would look like after three years of being away. Memories flooded back like it was only yesterday. Their love used to be like a flower opening to the morning sun in spring. She looked towards the window where the moth’s struggles were only futile taps on the glass. She sat up on the bed. Before climbing out of bed she leant over her husband, Jerrold, to check if he was truly asleep. She could smell his breath–his bad breath. Jerrold would not usually wake up until 8am on weekends, Olive had enough time to do whatever. She took a quick bath, brushed her teeth and fixed up her hair. Each time looking towards the bed to check if Jerrold was still asleep. She stood beside the window where the moth was now resting on the frame, tired from all its struggles. “Poor thing,” she mused. “Everyone’s seeking to escape. Freedom is so good.” She opened the window and let the moth fly.
At half past 7am Olive stood at the door step of her apartment waiting for the postman to ride down the street on his scooter. She wore a navy blue shirt on which the word FEARLESS was printed very boldly in white. Her jeans were held around her waist by a nice black belt with a silver buckle. Just two days before, she had heard that Obi had returned from the north where he’d been for three years searching for the greener pasture that would make their dreams come true. She had quickly written him a letter and told him they had to talk.
The sound of the scooter driving down the road makes Olive look up with excitement–the postman. He stopped and dropped a piece of mail in a neighbour’s mail box and continued down the road to stop right in front of Olive. “Any mail for me?” She asked him.
“Well, a fine morning to you Olivia,” said the postman.
“Just give me the letter,” Olive said, snatching the envelope from his hand. She tore it open while he rode away.
The note read:
“Dearest Olive, meet me in Governor’s Park, 8am, Saturday.”
“Oh!” Olive exclaimed realising that Obi must be waiting. Suddenly she heard Jerrold calling, he was awake. Well, Jerrold would not stop her. She quickly unchained her bicycle on the frontage and sped off.
Riding down the smooth road that led to Governor’s Park, Olive grinned as she looked towards the green field. Her young brown skin glistening in the morning sun. She had thin lips and an elegant nose that ran smoothly without crooks to a pointy tip. Jerrold calls her Doll , he thinks she looks like a brown barbie doll.
Olive pulled the brake as she got to the park. She got off and pulled the bicycle by hand as she walked, searching for Obi with her eyes. Children from nearby homes were playing at one end of the park. The park was mostly empty because it was still early. A gardener was beside the flowers, giving them a good trim. Suddenly she saw Obi sitting under a whistling pine on a block bench, looking back at her. She chuckled. When she got to him, she expected a wild embrace but he just sat there staring at her calmly, probably surprised how much younger she looked after three years. As for him, his looks showed his age as he was in his early thirties. His eye brows were bushier than ever in a way Olive didn’t recall them to ever be.
Olive leaned the bicycle beside the seat and sat beside him trying to contain her excitement. They were quiet for a minute. It was weird. “Good morning,” he said, willing to start up a conversation. She looked at him disappointedly.
“It’s been so long, aren’t you happy to see me?” She asked him to hold his hand and squeeze it affectionately.
“I heard you got married,” he said instead.
She turned her face away and bit her lip. “I thought you’d forgotten me,” she looked back at him.
“So quickly? Just three years Olive.”
“Just? It was a long time. You never sent me a letter.”
“You didn’t, too.”
“Well,” she said, moving uneasily, she came closer to him. “Now you’re back. We could still be like we had planned. I love you, not him.”
“You’re married,” he said as though to remind her of something she didn’t know.
“Stop saying that. My Mama knew I was waiting for you yet she arranged for me to marry Jerrold. Mama needed Jerrold’s money because she’d gotten sick and couldn’t pay her bills. Come on now, I know you to be understanding. I don’t love Jerrold, it’s you I love.”
“Stop that,” Obi said, shifting away from her.
“You would have done the same if it were you. Mama could have died. Besides, it’s all over now, nothing holds us back from living our dreams.”
“What dreams?” Obi asked in an upset tone.
“For heaven’s sake! I’m not the one who left and went to the north. You left me. You promised to come back for me and you didn’t till now. You broke my heart!” Olive yelled.
“Maybe. But you’re the one who got married,” Obi replied calmly.
She threw her arms around him and began to sob. “Please forgive me. Let’s run away together if we must. I can’t live without you anymore.”
“What?” Obi withdrew himself again. “You want me to steal you away from your husband?”
“Why not?” Olive asked in a more serious tone. “I told you in my letter that we needed to talk. This is it.”
Obi got up. “You’re getting it all wrong, I cannot run away with you.”
“That’s a sin. I’m not that fearless,” he said looking at the print on her shirt.
“Sin? Don’t be so gutless. Do you want us apart again? You love me don’t you?”
“I do, but I’m sure your husband loves you more.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying we cannot be together again. I thought I’d come back and marry you, but I found out at my arrival that you had gone ahead and married without even breaking up with me. You made me look stupid. How evil do you expect me to be to run away with you now? Besides, I’m a changed man now. God will not be happy if we do this.” He looked above her head as he declared plainly, “It’s over–which really does not need to be said since you are married.”
She stared. She got up, stood in front of him and slapped him across his cheek. “You cannot leave me!” She said almost in tears.
He stared into her eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said. She slapped him again. Pushed him back on the chest and sobbed. He felt pity for her, but he felt the most pity for himself. There was nothing he could do.
“Is this why you called me out here?” She asked bitterly. She flung her long hair over her shoulder and pulled herself together. She looked at Obi with anger in her eyes, “goodbye,” she announced. She took up her bicycle and hopped on. She rode off without looking back. Obi watched her drive away as tears welled up in his eyes. She disappeared down the road.
Olive pulled the bicycle to a stop in front of her apartment. She pulled it out of the road and let it fall on the ground as she rushed up the stairs crying. Jerrold heard sounds so he came running through the front door and she ran right into his arms and cried. He was quite confused. When he woke up and didn’t find her in the house, he thought she had gone to buy something for breakfast. He consoled her and tried finding out from her what had happened. She stopped and looked him in the face utterly speechless. How could she tell him that she had planned to run away with an old boyfriend of hers who had just broken up with her in Governor’s Park? She broke down into tears again trying to buy enough time to figure out the lie to tell Jerrold.
Peace Nkeiruka Maduako is a writer from Imo state, Nigeria. She loves fiction writing and is fascinated by art. She has 23 publications of poems and short stories on different platforms, five of which are in print. These works are on sites like Callapress, Heart Of Flesh, SweetycatPress, Indianperiodical, SpillWords and more since September 2020. She can be reached on Facebook through https//www.facebook.com/peace.nkeiruka.56. or on email through firstname.lastname@example.org.