There was a note. It was written on a delicately folded piece of paper placed on the center table. The paper was a detached page from a jotter, a souvenir from a wedding you had attended with him and had agreed was the best wedding ceremony ever. ‘Our wedding is going to be exactly like that.’
He had said to you that night as you cuddled on the bed and waited for sleep. You smiled, your hands around his midsection, his around your waist; your legs entangled in his like Siamese ropes. You tried to remember what the wedding smelt like and how many storey the wedding cake was. Vanilla Ice-cream and Seven, you thought and hugged him even tighter.
You caught glimpses of the handwriting as you inched closer to the center table; your heart was thumping, your fingers would not stop shaking. It was his handwriting. It was MJK’s slanting handwriting. When he wrote, he held the pen as if he was an artist shading a drawing and carefully trying to make sure some parts remained without shade. You taunted him ceaselessly because of this.
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The first two paragraphs of the note he had written on the piece of paper and had folded so delicately, so deliberately, were of things you already knew. How you had spent the last eleven months of your lives living under the same roof defying everybody including your mother, his mother and Thank God’s mother who fried yams and sweet potatoes across the street and had stopped selling to you when she found out you two were living together outside what he referred to as ‘the convenience of matrimony.’
He thanked you profusely for allowing him live under your roof. He wrote of how ‘he was sure’ you two were meant for each other from the very beginning when you had both been fortunate to sit next to each other in a taxicab. How he said his name was Majekodunmi, Majek, for short and you said you would just call him MJK. How you said your name was Elizabeth but your friends called you Liz and he said he would call you Beth because if he had a daughter named Elizabeth, he would call her Beth.
The paragraph that followed was blurrily incoherent. The only thing you were sure of was that the name of your best friend, Comfort appeared a lot. And also the words ‘I thought I could love you forever,’ and the words ‘I am sorry.’ And that name again, you were convinced that it was the name and not the feeling: Comfort.
By the time you had finished reading the note, the only logical thing you could do, you imagined, was to call Comfort. You had started sweating even though it was raining outside and had been raining all day and that day had been particularly cold; you put the fan on and sat down, you sat down for three reasons: 1. So you would not collapse if what you assumed had happened had actually happened, 2. To still yourself a little bit, at least, from shaking like a jar of Jam being transported by car along a rocky road, and 3. To stop yourself from sweating. You sweated, still. You shook, still.
Comfort picked at the third ring. ‘Liz,’ she spoke your name, and for the first time in your life, you did not know what response was suitable for when your name was called.
Fifteen seconds of confusion passed and then you managed to say, ‘Where are you, C?’
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She laughed. Then there was a small argument on her side with the masculine voiced person she was with. The man collected the phone and said, ‘Beth?’
MJK, you thought. It was at that point you understood what had happened. What the note had said. Why Comfort, the name, not the feeling, was all over it.
‘Beth? I hope you understand, Beth. C is perfect for me. I hope you understand, Beth? This is not your fault. You were a good girl. I am just better suited for…’
You could not bear to hear any of the things he had to say anymore. You pressed the red button and allowed your finger to linger on it for a while longer until the phone asked if you were sure you wanted to switch your phone off. You switched off. There went your Vanilla Ice-cream and Seven. You collapsed, still.