Today, the 3rd of September, 2011, I wake up unable to breathe. The alarm goes off, and I register the birds singing outside my window, the greyness that is 6 am, and the fact that my heart hammers in my chest.

It takes me a moment to remember. For panic to claw at my throat. I reach for the Ventolin on the bedside table. Each heave is painful, but not as painful as the lump of  sorrow  in my chest. It’s a selfish thought but you should be here with me. Not somewhere uptown, preparing to marry Her.

I cannot tell which is worse; the knowledge that you will be lost to me forever or the fact that  despite my best efforts, I am awake and lucid.

I tried, but I couldn’t do it. The tablets rest in a glass beside a bottle of Johnny Walker. Another of my many failures, I can’t even end my life.

I drag myself off the bed, wash my face in the sink, dress in jeans and a tee-shirt. The gold and purple card you sent is on the television, and I run a finger over the embossed lettering of your name. I can’t help it. It should be my name there, linked with a heart to yours. If I had been less a fool, maybe it would’ve.

Did you invite me to your wedding to torture me with thoughts of what I have lost? It is not like you to be cruel. I know I promised I would never refuse you anything, but this. This I cannot do. I’m sorry but I cannot look upon you, dashing as ever, smiling into the eyes of a woman who is not me. And you  know this. You must’ve.

The silence in the flat grates. Usually, I welcome it but not today. I don’t want to be here by myself with my thoughts. I don’t lock the door behind me as I set off. There is nothing worth stealing. A flock of pigeons scatter as I cross the TBS Race Course. Does She know how you adore pigeons?

I wish you were here with me. Scratch that, I wish I had one hour, half an hour with you before you  sign yourself over to this woman. I would tell you all the things I couldn’t say before because I was too proud or too busy or too stupid or too zonked to say them. Like I love the way each strand on your head stands straight up like Fido’s. Like you have the perfect smile. And it reminds me of light-bulbs, the way it lights up your face. Do you know? Do you know that your eyes crinkle when you smile till all I can see are dark lines where your eyelashes should be?

I would tell you I’ve been sober and clean for six months now. See, your faith in me wasn’t misplaced. I haven’t had a drink, I haven’t had a hit and I won’t have another till I die.

I would ask you if you remembered that night in ’98. First year at Lag. When we attended the rave party and ended up sharing  one deck chair on the balcony, tracing out constellations in the sky and arguing about Agassi because we were so damned bored. The first time we kissed. The night I acknowledged that I was truly, deeply, irrevocably in love with you. I think I always loved you. Love at first sight doesn’t exist, but somewhere in me has always existed this need. To. Love. You.

I would tell you that I consider it the greatest irony that the one thing I loved the most about you was the one thing that eventually drove us apart. Your simple faith. In God and the Christ and Heaven and Hell, and all of those things that I could never bring myself to accept. But I loved that you did, it made you so…uncomplicated.

I’m sorry for the things I said the last time we saw. I’m sorry for the things I didn’t say. Would it have made it easier if I’d cried, do you think?   I’m so sorry. So very sorry. I will never get the chance to tell you this. I won’t get to kiss you one last time, or lose myself in your eyes,  or watch your smile, all ten thousand watts of it, beam out of you.

I am standing before the Marina. The salt breeze tickles my nose and all I can think of is how easy it would be to walk off the levee and let the Atlantic claim me..

41 responses »

  1. I think the crafting is great, in that it stirred me emotionally, the way it should have.
    I just don’t like how it’s ends with the possibility of another, even more difficult way of committing suicide.
    Or is it that her reminiscing plunged her into even further despair and gave her the unconscious black courage to realise she couldn’t exist in a world without him and thus without apparent awareness walked in the direction of another inevitable means of death?
    I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.
    But I think it was good. You made an impatient girl read a story to the end.

    • Lol! Elaine! What do you think? I deliberately left it open so you can decide if she jumps or if she turns and walks back home. Glad you like it despite the ambiguity 🙂

  2. Osemhen, i’m proud of you as always. Writing from this POV is not as easy as the others but you handled it pretty well. You carried me through the story so that i saw, by your showing. You engaged the senses well. Good story-telling. Well done.

  3. I have to say, this is deeply engaging. I could almost feel her pains in me, and I was just about to email you; telling you to stay strong (It feels like a true story. lol). Most importantly, I have an inexpressive girlfriend and i shall be sending this to her.

  4. C’mon c’mon…!Where is the rest of the story? I’m addicted to this one already. Good work. She quit drinking for six months and she has JW besides her..must have been tough…!

  5. First time I’m commenting on your stuff even though I’ve read quite a number of stories. I like the writing, it’s good. However (and it might just be me, but) I find that I have very little sympathy for your main character. And why should I? She got ditched by a guy who is a practicing christian (and she isn’t). She’s an alcoholic, probably a user as well (even though your story sees her indulging after the break up). I actually find myself thinking the guy is a lucky chap for escaping a girl with such dangerous habits.

    I wish she’d stormed the wedding, or tried to, something desperate to stop him, beg him, whatever, something that’ll inject some drama into the story. Or maybe could have swerved into the life of the guy who got away and maybe see him wishing he didn’t get away, and by doing so touch on the real reason he left her in the first place (which somehow wasn’t specifically mentioned in the story or maybe I missed it.)

    Just ideas. I like the story but I’ve read your stuff and I feel you can do better. Cheers

    • Hi Zino Don Don. Ahn ahn! You’re mean oh, how can you not feel the littlest bit of sympathy for her? Lol!

      “lucky chap for escaping a girl with such dangerous habits” But she reformed na. Please na. 😀 I must admit, her storming the wedding would have been much more interesting. I didn’t think about it.

      Thanks for your comments. Hope you stop by more often to let your voice be heard. 🙂

  6. My point is I’ve read some of you other stories and I know what you’re capable of. With more work you can addmore layers to this story and build it into something greater than what it is now. Look forward to reading more of you. Cheers!

  7. I like it, even though it is corny. You did a good job of making me feel what the character was feeling, and even though I can’t help thinking the guy is better off without her (she has so much baggage, no?), I can’t help sympathizing with her. And I love how it ends, or doesn’t.

  8. Ok, Praying Mantis don’t bite me o.Let’s do a small exercise: There’s a a guy who wakes up strapped to a chair in a room filled with gas. He remembers all the evil he’s done, all the people he’s wronged and decides the time has come for him, he decides too die. Then Celine dion plays and he dies.

    Then there’s another guy in the next room who wakes up in his own chair, strapped and gagged in a burning room. He thinks about all the people he’s wronged. All the evil he’s done. But for a second he remembers his son and some old mother who still sees the good in him, who’s waiting for him to take her to the hospital for her diabetes check up. He decides to take a chance, try to live. He looks around for any windows, remembers his pocket knife, must find a way out of here…

    What you’re saying is that it would be a cliche for this second guy to try to survive because that’s what everyone does.

    What you’re also saying is that you prefer the story of the first guy who hasn’t really given us any reason to connect with him emotionally, root for him, hate some other character who caused his misfortune (all emotional responses expected from a good story).

    Meanwhile, most of what we write imitates life. Except for science fiction and fantasy realism stories whatever twist this writer puts into the story will involve an option that someone has thought of. That is no reason for her not to write it in her own unque way. It’s all about HOW she writes it. Storming the wedding isn’t even the point, its just an idea which you are criticizing without even seeing it on paper (and mind you, you are criticizing an idea when you gave none, yourself). The point is that every character should DO something, because when they DO something, we decide that we want them to succeed or not, we find ourselves investing emotions.

    How many great movies have you seen where you did not wish you could tell the character what you know about what may happen next, to protect them? Don’t go there…..He’s not good for you!….Leave that useless girl alone! Or even hate the bad guy, the terrorist or the scoundrel. This only happens when people DO something.

    this doesn’t mean I want a terrorist in this story or a playboy, it just means I’m advising (of which she knows she can discard my advice) that she makes her character LIVE, even if she has to eventually end in teh same place on the same bridge. Osemhen, forgive me for writing a short story on your space. It’s your show. Carry go!

  9. Good Job Osemhen, I rather like the style you applied here; using very short sentences (sometimes as little as a word) but do take on board what Zino is saying. U need people like this around you to improve your writing.

  10. Osemhen,My name is Etionsa
    I read the story, it’s a simple, it was well told (though i don’t like sad stories), your told it YOUR way and that is what makes it THIS story. Leave am like that. Most people get their OWN Opinion and that go come make the story no be THIS story again.
    I read the story, i like the story and it’s YOUR story. THIS story.

  11. Osemhen,My name is Etionsa
    I read the story, it’s a simple story,it was well told (though i don’t like sad stories),
    you told it YOUR way and that is what makes it THIS story. Leave am like that;
    Most people get their OWN Opinion (version) and that go come make the story no be
    THIS story again.
    I read the story, i like the story and it’s YOUR story. THIS story.

  12. Osemhen, you know what? Two sides of the same coin really. Whichever way u 4 spin dis stori, weda as-is (which I love sans the suicide hopefully) or storming the wedding (which i no dey sure say i 4 like rich dis wan as per the expected ‘usual’ ending), with ur mastery of the art of suspense and carrying the reader along emotionally, u’d still have nailed it. All the comments are useful and will help you in continuing to tell the story – in YOUR inimitable way. I particularly love that despite the babe seeming to be the cause of her own wahala & loss, and my not quite liking her, i still dey feel 4 am. Regrets …na so life b bo. make we no too quick to crucify d babe 4 in mistakes. if in no commit suicide sha, e go beta. Well done, very emotionally engaging story with such brevity.

  13. This is so sad and beautiful at the same time. A true depiction of love lost, and the passion and longing. I feel like I would give anything to trade places with your character.. This really stirred me. I hurt from just reading it. So true to the emotions. Great piece as always Osemhen. 😉

  14. You write very well.Your prose is lucid,those who recommended you certainly weren’t exaggerating.I presume you received some form training to enhance your writing,hope more writers will get trained.

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