“People Just Like You” Series – Dolly Parton “You will never do a whole lot
Chapter 6 -“Love & Life are fickle”
Catch up on chapter 5 here
Love & Life are fickle
It was morning already.
Benjamin woke up to the beeping sound from his mobile phone. Linda had sent a torrent of text messages all night. Her heart as she claimed was broken into bits. He squinted his eyes to read another of her emotional outburst as his eyes take in every ray of light from his bedside window. One text had an edge to it;
“Thank you for breaking me. You broke me and watched me bleed. After all that, what can there be left underneath but the untouchable part of me, my soul, the girl you can never hurt”
He thought about it only for a moment as he had a flight to catch and it was the first out of Lagos. He rolls to the left of the bed and slides down the crack between the bed and the wall. His first few steps unsteady and wobbly but enough to get him to flick on the light switch and catch a quick glimpse of his own puffy eyes from his reflection in the mirror as he walked slowly to the shower. He hadn’t slept much in the last few days. Sleep was beginning to be a luxury he could barely afford.
He didn’t have to pack much, a duffle bag was all he needed, his laptop, basic supplies and a few shirts to complete his travel kit. His blue jeans was going to be his new skin.
His usual cab was waiting outside 10mins after his bath and the driver wheeled the car into the train of other vehicles as they follow the red tail lights along the busy highway to the airport. From his point of view they form a near perfect river of tin and flesh.
That morning, everything was the same and yet different again. As the car sped through the winding black ribbon of asphalt, his mind wondered again to Linda. Only a lover can wound so deep, cut to the very core. That level of trauma had to be an inside job. It takes an inside job to attack one so resilient to emotional injury. He thought about their situation in third person wearing a crooked half-smile. He was the inside job. Linda may be hurt emotionally, but he admits he is incapable of reciprocating her love, not until he finds answers to the nagging mysterious phone call that has haunted him for days.
The silence in the car was only occasionally disturbed by the creaking noise of the suspension of the car as it maneuvered its way through bumpy roads and potholes. The world outside the car held promise but none of it included any form of silence. It was as though silence ended with the night. The sun was still resolutely below the horizon and the streets as dark as some old-school black and white movie.
Soon enough, the airport was within view, he instinctively checked the fitbit wearable watch strapped to his wrist and heaved a sigh of relief knowing his timing was impeccable. He had some time to kill.
At the time he arrived the airport it was as serene as it ever could be. Other passengers moved about with ease like quiet rivers of humanity freshly roused from their slumber. The floors are clean and white, reflecting the early rays and the manmade light the same.
He paid off his cab driver and hurried to join the sea of faces moving in an unseen current, flowing like water to their destinations like a wide river down the aisles. Small groups would sometimes stop and cause a small eddy, but the others would flow around the outside and continue on their way.
When the plane finally took flight after an hour delay, he watched as the wing sliced through the clouds and observed as the hue of light through the clouds slightly changed from pearl white to a calm yellow, warmly glowing in the rising sunshine. His mind drifted but this time to his love story. It was time to distract himself again. He turned on his computer to continue the perfect love story in his new book. A perfect contrast to his crashed and broken relationship. At least he had the liberty to write his story as he pleased.
Mike still couldn’t understand what just happened as he drove Grace back home. That night felt as though it would never end. While it had a comic sense of relief, Grace’s theatrics was quite an ingenious solution to a very difficult situation. He thought about her differently now. She wasn’t just that lady who appeared to live in a cocoon shielded from the real world. She was the warped tour of feminism. Soft yet tough and exuding beauty in sharp contrast. There was so much beauty in the uniqueness of just one individual.
Grace couldn’t find her hand bag. She figured it was in the police van.
“Crap” she muttered under her breath breaking the silence as they approached her apartment.
Thankfully the bag had just a few impersonal items and a few paper receipts from her last shopping at the mall, which ironically included the bag itself.
“My handbag is with those buffoons” her voice sounding ice cold and emotionless.
Mike paid no heed to her comment, his mind disconnected from the present and his attempt to articulate his train of thoughts punctuated only by his own rhythmic breathing. His ego beaten and defeated was still contemplating a comeback from his failed attempt to wrestle an officer of the law.
When he spoke, his voice was soft and distant;
“I can’t believe it’s taken so long to meet someone like you. I guess there is so much more I need to learn about you”
Grace offered no response. She wondered if he would see her differently now and how much this would affect their sizzling romance.
“I have got a question though. How on earth were you able to swing that whole seizure thing to fool the police officers?”
Grace sighed. Her sigh was of a softly deflating; it was as if a tension had lifted yet left her with a melancholy instead of relief.
“So…..” she started as the SUV parked right in front of her apartment.
“When I was 8, I watched my younger brother convulse on the floor, shaking, unconscious, almost hitting the chair and table legs in a restaurant during a Christmas celebration” she paused for effect.
“I stood transfixed and horrified as waves of uncontrolled muscle movement ripped through his body. It was a sight I would learn to get used to over the next few years. He was only 5years old at the time” sadness enveloped her face as she stared blankly into the windscreen. The car engine was all that stood between quiet and both of them.
“He got worse as he got older, but my parents tried everything they could to give him a semblance of a good life. He met with several neurosurgeon and experts in the field and popped pills like his life depended on it. That day at the restaurant changed our lives forever. His fits had a knack for happening during very important milestones in his life. He would have severe seizures during his final exams, sometimes during public events. His triggers always seemed to change as the years progressed. His condition was difficult to understand for my parents. They fought all the time” Her eyes glimmered with watery tears and she turned her face away from him.
Mike was already a bag of emotions himself and nothing on earth prepared him for the sort of night he was having.
“You don’t have to talk about it if it hurts so much” his voice betraying his own emotions.
“Its fine” she managed to reply him. Grace had always been so self-conscious but she could only manage to stifle her sobs until the shutters came down walling off her emotions behind a mask of coping.
“His condition broke my parents” she continued.
“Their relationship was already strained. They were too far gone on the road to divorce before his seizures started”
Then in her arrogant triumph, she smirked – just a small pouting of the lips; a narrowing of the eyes and a tilting of the head.
“But my little brother would sometimes feign a seizure to avoid going to school” her voice suddenly animated.
And they both started to laugh heartily. It was a laughter that Mike could feel in his lungs, so hard that it took his breath away. The lack of oxygen didn’t matter. It was a relief that felt like they were decompressing from a tensed emotional chamber.
They were soon jolted to reality with the pounding of her side window by a huge fist that caused them both to freeze at first.
It was only the gate man asking if she wanted him to open the gate.
There was no energy left in her to scold him. She tore him a look that said all it could and they both watched the gateman scurry away like a dog with its tail between its hind legs.
Their truncated laughter then broke into a chuckle as Grace continued her story.
“I learnt to fake his seizures too in hope that it would get me some attention from my parents sometimes. But it earned me some heavy punishment. And that is how I mastered the skill. I never knew it would ever come handy” she concluded.
The airplane meal was like a band aid on a severed limb. Ben could have eaten the meals from his entire row and still had enough room for dessert. The hostess had stirred him from his love story and he suddenly realized there was something about hunger that robbed the spirit as well as the body. The meal didn’t do much to help him. He looked at his watch and realized the airplane had started its decent. The occasional bumps as the plane cruised through the clouds reminded him of his fear of flying. If there was one way to distract himself, it had to be his writings. He had to finish the story before they arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja.
His friend was waiting to pick him up already.
Back to his story.
He watched Grace walk into her apartment, and couldn’t wait to get back into his cozy apartment to the soft comfort of his pillows. He honked twice as he drove off into the midnight.
The lights were a bother but Mike wasn’t stopping for anything and he sure as hell wasn’t taking his foot off the gas pedal as the hiss of the tyres over the smooth tarmac was lost under the pounding bass of the music from the car stereo.
He noticed a piece of glittering stone from Grace’s dress on the passenger seat and instinctively leaned over to pinch it up. In that instant he lost the opportunity to evade a newly broken-down car with its lights off. Even if he’d been paying attention he would have been hard pressed to make the maneuver.
As it was he barely had time to scream before the air bags knocked him back and sideways. The car tumbled over and over into the central barrier before coming to an absolute stop. He tried to move but he was pinned by the collapsing roof and the steering column.
Mike could taste the coppery blood pooling in his mouth. He could feel it grazing his teeth and soaking his tongue. He felt the aching and cracks in his bones. Each crack felt like rocks were burrowing into his skin. He sucked in cramped air, feeling his lungs caving in on themselves.
His head felt like the only thing inside of it was static. He heard a buzzing noise, filling his ears. It felt like he was there for hours, fading and waking and fading and waking. And then from a distance, he heard the unmistakable sound of the siren and his eyes shut themselves.
Please follow the story as we move into more interesting scenes in Chapter 7
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