“How do you know?” Lisa asked in surprise.
Doris snorted. “You think am a dummy? I wasn’t sleeping last night. I saw you and that guy outside last night.”
Lisa cringed. She really thought Doris had been sleeping. She would have to be more careful next time. Next time? Was she planning a next time?
Doris interrupted her train of thought.
“Why are you doing this to a good man like Desmond? A man you’ve known for six years for one random dude I’ve never seen before.” Doris was frowning.
“Listen, I didn’t mean to do anything like this. You know me…I still don’t know how it happened.” Lisa protested.
“Was it that guy’s house you slept the Thursday night? Doris asked.
Lisa bowed her head, almost shameful. “Yes.” she admitted in a small voice.
“You don’t know how it happened and yet, it’s happened twice.” Doris shook her head in derision, her mouth bent downward in mockery. “Stop deceiving yourself. Maybe the first time was a mistake. But now it’s not. Don’t you love Desmond anymore?”
Lisa pursed her lips as she thought about it. “I can’t say anymore. I really thought I did. But now that Abiye has come into my life, am seeing a new side of happiness. Surely that couldn’t happen if I truly loved Desmond.”
Doris looked at her thoughtfully. “Since you’ve decided it’s this Abiye guy you want, at least break off the engagement before you start sneaking around. He deserves that much.” She walked away into the kitchen, leaving Lisa feeling like a slut. This is it, she thought. Abiye’s chapter is over. She would find a way to make it up to Desmond. She couldn’t abandon a friendship of six years and engagement of six months for a fling, no matter how the fling made her feel.
She walked into church the next day with her mind resolved, determined to cut Abiye off permanently. She blatantly ignored the pang that tore across her heart as she remembered that he hadn’t called her all though saturday. Desmond waved to her as he rushed to meet the senior pastor. Her heart twisted as she saw him. Desmond really was a good guy who deserved better. Service was just starting when Abiye entered. He gave her a cold look, walked past her and sat down in the seat in front of her even though empty seats were in front. She ignored him. As service went underway, Abiye began a quiet conversation with a beautiful girl seated beside him. She could see their heads bent together as they whispered to each other. As service ended, he escorted her out, right past Lisa like she wasn’t there.
She smiled painfully, refusing to acknowledge the emotion in her heart. As she went outside, she looked around till she saw Abiye and the girl standing beside his car, talking and laughing gaily. The girl was a beautiful light skinned newbie she had noticed before. Tears rose to her eyes and she blinked hard. Was she that easy to forget? She stood stock still as she watched them exchange numbers. They talked a while more before the girl entered the car. As Abiye drove off with the girl in his front seat, his eyes connected with hers for a split second. His eyes were cold, angry, and vengeful. She bit back the anger that poured through her as the pretty girl touched his arm and he turned his head away to look at her. She went back into the church, feeling small. She grabbed her bag angrily and went outside to stand beside Desmond’s car. He came some minutes later. By then she had worked herself into a fit of anger.
“Why did you waste so much time like that?” She snapped at him as he got to the car. He stood surprised at first, then opened his mouth to explain.
“Don’t just say anything. You’re always keeping me standing and waiting for you. If you don’t want to be taking me home, just let me know instead of all this.” She tapped her leg angrily.
“Why you being so harsh? Besides, I’ve told you to come collect the key whenever you are coming to the car.”
He took a deep breath. “Okay, am sorry. Forgive me.” He held her hand imploringly. She snatched it away and stalked to the passenger door.
“Open the door now” she snapped, ignoring the hurt look in his eyes. He drove her home in silence. She climbed out, mumbled ‘thank you’ and walked into her house, banging the door with so much force the hinges rattled. She couldn’t eat the food she prepared for lunch. She covered it up and went to lie in the couch, turning restlessly every now and then. She picked her phone to check. No call. Nothing. Towards evening, she picked the phone and placed a call. It rang. He didn’t pick. She called twice. He picked the third time.
“What?” Abiye barked out into the phone.
“Who was that girl?” she asked.
“Oh don’t pretend like you don’t know what am talking about. The one you were with in church.” she interrupted.
He paused. “Why do you care?” he finally asked. “You said you don’t want to see me again, so why do you care who am with?”
She was quiet, unable to come up with an answer.
He took a deep breath. “Lisa, do you want me?”
She remained quiet.
“You have to say it Lisa. You know how I feel about you. I miss you so much. Just admit that you miss me too. Tell me you want me, just for once.”
She didn’t say a word, her heart just kept quivering, hovering, poised to take a leap. Then she cut the call.
It was around 7pm when she stood up immediately, packed a night bag, hailed a cab and drove off. She got out, walked into the compound and rang the doorbell. The door opened.
“Woah, I wasn’t expecting you.” Desmond said as he opened the door to let her in. She just dropped her bag on the couch then turned, grabbed him by the shirt and kissed him. He pushed her back quickly.
“What are you doing?” he asked, surprise written on his face.
“Make love to me.” She said simply, holding on to his shirt.
“What?” he pulled her hand away. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing” she said impatiently. “I just need to be with you. I need to feel you inside me. Please Desmond, don’t deny me this. Just for once. God won’t strike us dead if we do it this one time. He’ll forgive us.” She held his shirt and began to unbutton it. She could feel his heart beating wildly. As she got to the last button, he held her hands.
“I can’t do this Lisa. You know I can’t. We can’t do this. We said we would wait. Why are you changing your mind now?” he moved away from her.
“Why can’t we do this? It’s just sex. Sex, sex, sex. People do it all the time. Even the ones who go to church. So what’s the big deal? Am giving you permission. Or don’t you want me?”
He turned to face her. “Look at me and say that again.” Her eyes trailed down to his bulging trousers.
“I made a promise Lisa. We..made a promise to God. We can’t go back now when we’re so close. We can’t do this just because the rest of the world is.” He held her shoulders. “Just be patient I beg you. It’s not easy for me too.”
She looked up at him. “Can’t we just kiss at least? I know you’re a pastor but I just want to feel any intimacy at all with you.”
“If we did, it wouldn’t end there.”
She pushed his head down for another kiss. He pushed her away violently and she fell to the sofa. “Stop it Lisa. What’s gotten into you?”
She stood up, grabbed her bag and walked out. She hailed a cab and they drove off. She got to the compound, went inside and rang the doorbell. The door opened.
“If you’re coming in, it’s because you’ve decided it’s me you want. I won’t take anymore of this engagement Christianity nonsense.”
She nodded weakly, tears in her eyes and ran into Abiye’s embrace.
SOME DAYS LATER
“Lisa wait…” It was Desmond, standing outside her gate in a rumpled suit. He looked like he had been waiting a while.
Lisa eyes became cold as she saw him. She hissed quietly to herself and walked grudgingly to his car, pledging to give him ten minutes. Abiye was waiting for her and he didn’t like to be kept waiting.
“What do you want?” she asked coldly.
“Why have you been avoiding me? You don’t take my calls. I haven’t seen you in two weeks and everytime I come here, you’re not around.”
“I’ve been busy.” She replied.
“Too busy to even come to church? What’s happening? You’re acting strange.” He said with confusion in his eyes.
“I’ve just told you I’ve been busy. What else do you want me to say? See am late already. I have to go now.” She turned to leave. He held her hand and pulled her back.
“Why are you not wearing my ring anymore?” He asked.
“That thing?” She scoffed. “I don’t know, it’s somewhere.”
He dropped her hand in shock, giving her the opportunity to step back and start moving towards her cab guy who was parked further down.
She turned to look at him as she got into the cab. He still stood there like a man mentally confused. A twinge of pity ran through her heart and she stiffled it. She was tired of this fake relationship, she just wanted it to end. But she couldn’t break up with him. He had to be the one to break up but so far, he was proving resilient. She yawned widely and relaxed in the seat, smiling as she thought of Abiye waiting for her.
She got to Abiye’s house and entered with her key. He was sleeping on the sofa. She smiled warmly and kissed his cheek. He stirred and held her hand. “You’re back.” He said and pulled her close.
“Yes, and am going to prepare dinner now.” She made to stand up.
“No kiss for me?” he raised his eyebrow.
She smiled warmly and kissed him.
Then the door burst open.
Desmond. They stood up together in shock. She could see the quick angry breaths Desmond was taking, the vein throbbing in his forehead. He moved so fast they didn’t anticipate it. He pushed her to the floor, grabbed Abiye by the collar and punched him smack in the nose. Blood spurted out of his nose, some of it fell on Desmond’s sky blue shirt. He fell to the ground, holding his nose and wheezing in pain. Desmond grabbed his collar, dragged him up and punched him again in the eye. Abiye sagged and would have fallen if not for the grip Desmond had on him.
Lisa stood up and held Desmond by his trouser. “Please leave him alone. Am sorry.” she kept saying.
He flung her hand away and released Abiye who crumpled down to the floor, his nose still bleeding and his eye swollen shut.
She thought he had gotten the anger out. She was wrong. He picked up the black glass vase on the centre table. Lisa ran and held his hand. “Please don’t kill him, please I beg you.”
He pushed her away roughly but she held on tightly to his upraised arm. They didn’t see Abiye as he stood up slowly. He took the ceramic side table and threw it with all his strength at Desmond.
Desmond staggered, then righted himself. He pushed Lisa away, then brought the glass vase down on Abiye’s head like a sack of potato. The glass showered down Abiye’s head like crystals, one piece stuck in his eye and began pouring down rivulets of blood. But the fatal blow was the large chunk of glass that had pierced his head. He stood in shock, his eyes widened in disbelief. Then he began falling backward, till his head hit the two step staircase leading to the dining. There was a sharp crack. Then silence.
Lisa and Desmond stood immobile watching Abiye as he spasmed on the floor, their bodies too shocked to move. Then he became still, his eyes vacant and open.
Abiye was dead.
TWO YEARS LATER
The day dawned bright and early, bringing dread and anticipation to Lisa. Her hand kept shaking as she did her morning chores. She swept the tiny one bedroom apartment, boiled some water before going into the room to wake up the small bundle on the bed. She recalled how the doctor had said ‘You’re pregnant’ a month after Abiye’s death. She had left the hospital in a daze, unable to cry anymore. It seemed her tear tank had dried up. She could hardly glance at the newspapers at that time. They all carried the sensational story of the pastor who had been sentenced to two years imprisonment for murdering his fiance’s lover. She hadn’t been able to leave her house for weeks. Only her mother’s continued presence had stopped her from committing suicide.
She had stopped going to church too, despite her department’s attempts to reach her. She couldn’t forgive herself and she didn’t expect anybody to forgive her. But today was her day of atonement, today was the day that would determine her fate. She shook the bundle on the bed until the little girl, a reflection of her mother, stood up rubbing her eyes sleepily. Lisa smiled as she looked at her. Even though her daughter, Love, looked exactly like her, she had Abiye’s eyes. She ignored the pang of regret that shook her heart and promptly picked her daughter to the bathroom. She applied lotion and powder on her before dressing her up in a cute red gown she had saved for two months to buy. She combed Love’s hair and began artfully arranging it with colourful ribbons. Satisfied with that, she quickly prepared some oats for the little girl and fed her carefully. Then she left to bath and dress up. They had to be there on time else…..she didn’t bear to think what would happen if they were late.
She dressed hurriedly, wearing a pink shirt over her trouser. She combed her hair and simply parked it with a ribbon. She no longer wore ear-rings or make up. She smiled sadly at the mirror, said a quick prayer and went out, her daughter in her arm. Love was still learning to walk. They got into a public bus and were on their way. Love kept fidgeting in the bus, it was like she could feel her mother’s nervousness. The closer they got to their destination, the faster her heart beat. By the time the bus lumbered to a stop, she was a bundle of nerves, berating herself for coming.
She stood outside the dark grey building, holding Love in her right hand.
“Mama, we here?” Love asked her. She gulped audibly.
“Yes sweet” She smiled at her daughter and glanced at her watch. They had arrived early. With fifteen minutes to kill, she walked to a nearby restaurant and ordered a cold drink for herself and Bobo juice for Love. They sat and sipped quietly, one in deep thought, the other happily oblivious.
They left the restaurant and went back to the prison gates. She didn’t enter. She just stood there taking shade under the MTN umbrella of a recharge card seller. They didn’t wait for long. Desmond walked out ten minutes later, considerably thinner than she had ever seen him. His clothes were two sizes too big, all the more emphasising his thin frame. He walked outside and stood, looking around. She knew he was waiting for his family. She had to meet him before they arrived.
With her heart thumping heavily, she crossed the street and walked closer to him. He looked up, then stilled in shock as he recognised her. She stood uncertain, Love humming an unknown tune in her arms. Then he looked down at the little girl she held. She couldn’t recognise the emotion that flittered across his eyes. Tears filled her eyes. She saw what her mistakes had done to an innocent man. What did she expect in coming here? There was no way she could ask for his forgiveness. She bowed her head in shame and turned to walk away. Then a gentle hand touched her shoulders. “Lisa” he simply said.
She stood still, her shoulders shaking as deep tears racked her body. He turned her till she was facing him. Then he hugged her. He didn’t have to say a word. She knew he had forgiven her. When his family arrived, they looked at her in hatred. He simply told them “Who among you here hasn’t sinned?”.
Two years later, they were married, with Love as the little bride. That same day, the Senior pastor conferred the title of ‘Pastor’ back on Desmond.