Romance & Relationships

A Short Story by Orji Victor Ebubechukwu: “NOW WE’RE TOGETHER”

She felt lazy to climb down the bed. The club last night had been so full of gaudy artists that she’d barely realized she had to leave early for the day’s task at office. She suspended her sleepy gaze for a while to have a look at the table clock behind her on the drawer. It was three minute to eight, and she knew she’d broken the company’s rules—she was late without calls. Nneka didn’t drop by to check if she was up as in the past, when Nneka was convincing her of the clubbing.

“You could meet a nice dude who’ll just turn up to be your husband,” Nneka had pointed out a year ago, five months after her acceptance as a staff at Ness’s company. But having to be too serious with this job, she too had pointed that clubbing would only but make her late at office or doze on her table.

She stood reluctantly like she’d suddenly fallen ill, took few steps into her bath-room and had a cool bath under the running shower. She then dressed in a pink long-sleeved shirt and black skirt, had a cup of coffee after reading through the text message Anjola had dropped few hours ago to know if  she’d woken with a smile or sadness and set for the office in a street cab. She strictly refused to nod to the hip-hop Dorobucci by Don jazzy that boomed from the cab, even if it was one of her favorites at the time. She refused to think about anything except one. Not Anjola’s message, not how sweaty smelling the robust man pressing himself to her thin self was, but of only how much works that awaited her in the office, and of which best explanation she’d got to render to the pessimistic ‘old woman’ as they’d learnt to call her at her back when she wasn’t somewhere close for coming late, even if it was the first time in two years.

But the old woman said nothing as to regards to her lateness when they’d both met in her office. She’d rather seemed happy, happier than anyone in the company had ever seen her been. Barely seeing the way she reacted joyfully and responded to everyone’s greetings with respect, Myelin knew that she’d either got a piece of good news that would help her company grow, or that it was her birthday. She was abnormal today and everyone wondered why, throwing surprise gazes at each other. Meanwhile Myelin’s heart beat was increasing this time. She was just trying to press the power button of her desktop, and was scared the old woman had caught her and was probably too over excited because she’s got a piece of bad news to give to her particularly. “Sorry Miss Myelin, I think at the moment, we’ll have to say goodbye forever in this office.” She’d imagined the old woman saying even now she stared directly into her eyes. These were the same words she’d said to Mrs. Gladys the last day they saw in the office.

Finally, she said after she’d glanced everyone, “I’d want you all to meeting my grandson who just returned from Canada, after having studied business management there. He’s got one very useful tip to help our company grow. He is the heir to this firm,” she said, like she was a sort of guiding the company from any of them who’d got an eye on it for her grandson. She left immediately but with a smile, like one proud woman who’d got all that she’d ever wanted from a son, and for once Myelin’s mind eased.

“Why did you come late today Myelin?” Ms. Bimbo, the fair colleague very close to her except divided by a board asked again. She’d first asked the question immediately she’d arrived, but then, when she wanted to reply, Mrs. Agnes had come in. Again, she was willing to say why, but then, as she let her mouth opened, there was nothing coming out of it except for her cool breath.

 

“And may I have the pleasure to welcome my Mr. Raymond Good-way, the emerging CEO of Ness’s Companies,” Mrs. Agnes, to call formally, the old woman said, still on her feet before the seated staff members round a long glass table, with a smile that one never thought would ever vanish, even for a little second.

They all, including Myelin joined their palms in a loud echoing clap that filled the room for this little while, and she watched as the Mr. Raymond stood elegantly like one who’d been born floating on money, just like it actually was. His fat framed glass was a little hung above his nose. His round face was familiar to her, and perhaps his ordure too would be if she’d been in any way close to him.

“Good day,” he first said with a smile and to Myelin, it sounded like one familiar tiny teen’s voice a while ago with much more adultness now. “I am…” their eyes met now, and this prompted a pause from him for a while. Definitely, they’d been a little familiar with themselves. He wasn’t smiling now as he looked at her, neither was she, but she was quick to cut her gaze off him. “I am actually,” he continued, addressed everyone, said he was happy to have to work with them, all that he’d demanded was just their respect and cooperation.

She was about leaving the meeting hall with her file at her right arm when she heard Raymond say from behind, after almost every other person had left.

“Excuse me Miss. Myelin,” they’d all introduced themselves to him before the meeting came to an end. She turned totally speechless for a while.

“Hi,” he said smiling, but she wasn’t.”Ada,” he smiled again. “do you remember me”

Myelin’s gaze was quiet uncertain, but her reply made it seemed more serious than uncertain. “I think I do.”

“It’s a coincidence,” Raymond said, still smiling, but she did none—never smiling or speaking until he said, “Nice having to meet you here,” he was giving a different smile now, like he was going to give up ever smiling at her again.

“Nice meeting you,” Myelin said and left. He seemed a bit disappointed in her, but pretended he was fine with her rather seeming ridiculous reactions. He only walked out to meet Mrs. Agnes who awaited him on the walkway to her office.

***

Myelin couldn’t concentrate on either of the office works she’d brought home to complete. It was late night, nine o’clock. She was only blankly staring at her laptop and the files and papers that sat like comfortable gentlemen on her table, and then, her phone rang. She picked it up and it was Nneka.

“What’s up girl, aren’t you coming to the club tonight?” Nneka asked through the line.

“No. Today is just not one unfavorable day, Nneka.”

“I guess its Anjola,” she accompanied her words with a laugh, and for a brief moment, Myelin wondered how so irritated she’d sounded.

“Anjola has nothing here; it’s work. I’ll speak to you later. Enjoy yourself,” she hung up. She didn’t want to keep a long conversation now. They would definitely see at least tomorrow morning and she could save a few minutes to hear all she’d got to say previously. For now, her thought was clouded but for one thing; not just the piles of work, but also for Raymond, the same guy that was going to be her new boss as long as she remained at Ness’s Companies. He’d been one of the handsome guys in class then, but never spoke to any of the girls, not even the most intelligent that was going to be the DSP by next term, and this had made them all hate him, and call him a reckless pompous showoff who’s got all he needs in a platter of gold. She was gliding deep into this thought when a knock came at the door, and when she stood for it, there stood Anjola with a box of perhaps pizza again. That had been what he’d always bought her whenever he came to spend the night at her flat. It had either been pizza or chocolate, or cake, or sandwich. She collected the box from him, uncovered it on the table, and took a piece of the pizza and bit it, turning back to Anjola who’d sat on the chair like one who’d suffered great stress.

“Would you eat rice?” she asked as she tried to move back to her laptop. She turned for a while, and watched him pace round the small pallor for a while, before finally stopping at her front.

“It’s been so serious at station today,” he said and came evenly closer to her. She was glad she hadn’t sat, else, she thought, he would have bothered her to stand again. “I need rest,” he said and pressed his lips to hers’, and she knew that he was going to go through her tonight.

And she moaned silently as he took control of her.

***

“I’d trusted you so much Myelin, and I was going to give you in as my secretary… but you’ve betrayed that trust I had for you.” The old woman, Mrs. Agnes said. It was her third impromptu visit to Myelin’s house, and she knew this time why she’d come. The first time she’d come took her by surprise, the second time was to come rake on her leaving Ray, she’d come to totally fall deep in love with him, and asking her to leave him now was like asking her to throw herself into the Atlantics.

How this had just come to  happen within a space of eight months was just so surprising to even her. After she’d once had a conversation with him about their school days at a restaurant, she’d been just so mean to having him. And this happened. It became more serious the night he had to drop her at her flat after having dinner together and the drizzles of rain suddenly became a rainstorm. He was about leaving when she convinced him to sit and have a cup of hot tea, if only to ease himself from the cold she supposed must have caught him. He agreed, and when she handed the cup to him in the pallor, he felt her soft cold fingers, and was forced to look into her eyes for a pretty long moment. All he could see in her then was a capital of letter LOVE, and she too saw only that in him too.

“Thank you” he’d finally said and took a sip of the tea. He stayed at her flat, they chatted till the rain stopped and then for the first time ever, he was forced by a cool pull to kiss her lips before leaving. That had been a memorial day for her. She’d never felt the love in kissing ever not even the thousand times Anjola had kissed her but this day. This made her immediately preferred him to Anjola. Not only that, she also saw that he was the only guy ready to love her.

“Madam,“ I’ve not betrayed the trust, but only try to give you much prove to see that I love Ray and he loves me too, and there’s nothing that can ever melt the love we have for ourselves, not even the custodians of the word LOVE,” Myelin returned to Mrs. Agnes, who in black scarf round her head seem like one old woman in agony.

“You don’t even know who Ray is.” Mrs. Agnes said, sounding more hash than the sober she’d appeared to be. “You bitch, negative influence, you can’t have my grand-son after all that I’ve labored, never, not until I die,.” She was almost shouting now.

“Madam, with all due respect, if that’s all you came to my house for, then that is the door. That’s exactly what you did to me the last time I’d been to your company.” Barely before Myelin could finish, Mrs. Agnes’ palm was already sounding hard on her cheek before she left.

Myelin cried. She really cried not because of all Mrs. Agnes had said but because of the slap. She was crying when Ray came in. Seeing her that way, Ray quickly ran to embrace her on the seat. He was ready to do anything, anything at all for her. Since she’d been able to sacrifice her love with Anjola for him, then he too would do just anything for her. She didn’t tell him that Mrs. Agnes, who’d sacked her from the company and pleaded with Ray not to leave when he’d once said he was leaving if she would continue disliking Myelin came, but he knew by her question. She’d asked him who he really was, and he was ready to explain.

“My father is unknown. But my mother died during my birth and my grand-mother had been the one catering for me ever since then. The Ness’ Companies is owned by my late grandfather.”

She then felt this pity for him, and in tears, they slept, leaning on each other.

***

Myelin was home alone when her phone rang. She picked and it was Ray with a different number. His initial hello sounded so dull and wounded.

“Is anything the matter baby?” She asked.

“Mama had an accident; she’s in St. Vincent’s hospital.” He said and immediately Myelin had her heart to her legs.

“It can’t be,” She insisted.

“She says she wants to see you.”

Myelin quickly and confusedly picked a long steal flask from the kitchen, picked the key of the Lexus car Ray had recently bought for her and headed out into the tracked road. Though she knew that Mama, Mrs. Agnes hated her so much, but again, she thought that this was the time she needed her the most, and would again prove to her that she was really in love with Ray. She drove into Genesis restaurant, bought fried rice with fish and ice-cream and quickly ran out into her car, heading for the faraway hospital.

Beep, beep, beep, was the sound of the heart monitor. Myelin was in the ward finally. It had taken her approximately thirty minutes to get there since Ray had called her. She couldn’t believe that this was never-wrong Mrs. Agnes on the bed lying helpless. She felt completely sorry for her, but restricted herself from being in any way too emotional now. She’d first stood at a distance, but when her gaze met with Ray’s she decided to draw closer. Mrs. Agnes was half-eyed.

“I’m sorry ma,” Myelin said when her eyes sharply met with Mrs. Agnes’s. Mrs. Agnes only smiled like one who’d for long been suffering, perhaps yes.

“Myelin, how are you?” She asked.

“Fine ma, I bought you food.” Myelin wasn’t smiling, and she wasn’t sure if she was helping her situation in any way

“Thank you,” she said. For a long while, she said again. “I’m weary, my bones are dying, my feet’s are even feebler now.” She paused to swallow saliva. “I’ve come to see that you really love my grand-son. That has always been my prayer, to have Ray married to a lady who’ll always love him for who he is, and not what he has. You have all of these qualities, you’re the right one.” Mrs. Agnes smiled.

“This had all been my system to make this happen. I never hated you; I only wanted to be sure you really loved my grand-son and that he wasn’t getting into the wrong hands. And you’ve hundred percent proven this with your patient.” Mrs. Agnes’s expression now was diverse. She had the look of a happy woman, and also of a mourning one. “The only thing I regret at the moment is not to be alive seeing you both walk to the altar.”

“ Myelin I love you and I want you to always love Ray for me. Kneel.”

“No, ma, don’t say that, you’ll be fine and back to your feet. This hospital has a specialist.” Myelin said now soaked in tears.

“I know Myelin, but this time has come. I love you and Ray, and I want you both to always love yourselves.” She said. “Kneel,” then the sound of excruciating pain arose. “I pray for you, happy moments ever will you two ever have…” She was praying, and then, her lips shot and the heart monitor drew a long sound as it finally stopped.

“No…” Ray shouted, and immediately a Doctor and two Nurses hurried in. The Doctor placed a device on her heart. It jerked her, but she didn’t wake.

“I’m sorry, we lost her,” the Doctor said, sounding a bit regretful, and immediately, both Ray and Myelin fell in deep tears as they embraced themselves, their eyes closed to prevent themselves seeing their own Mrs. Agnes being closed with a white sheet.

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