She walked to the window and looked out over the hospital premises. A deep indigo light brought the copper beech and oaks into a dark relief. Imabasi leaned her head against the window and tightened her arms around her torso. She was devastated and calm. She didn’t know what to do. She watched Victor as he laid on the bed stiffly.
A knock sounded on the door, she remained where she was.
“Hello?” Miriam’s voice came through the door. Folding her arms tightly across her chest, she ignored her.
But Miriam opened the door and walked in slowly.
She stood for a while, watching Victor and Imabasi pitifully.
“I am so sorry,” Miriam whispered.
“I love him,” Imabasi said tearily.
“What really happened?”
“I don’t know how it started, but the doctor said fever.”
Miriam disliked the simplicity of her reply as much as she disliked the complexity of her emotions.
Imabasi blinked away the tears welling behind her eyelids. While Miriam held her hands tight and hugged her. ” Your godchild is growing in my tummy.” She whispered softly.
Imabasi’s heart softened as she withdrew from Miriam’s arms and held her belly firmly with her hands.
She was excited about the good news, but the thoughts of Victor lying on that hospital bed broke her heart into pieces..
She wanted him to just open his eyes and tell her that he was going to be fine.
The pressure in her chest tightened.
“He will be fine,” Miriam said. She’d always known just what to say to make her smile. The appearance of Imabasi’s softer side meant so much to her. She had lured her into being in a relationship with Victor, and she wanted it to work out well for them.
Moments later, Victor coughed and opened his eyes.
“Ima” he called out weakly.
Imabasi’s heart trembled at the sound of his voice. She held his hands tight and took it to her chest.
“I love you.” She whispered softly to his ears.
He stared at her amazingly. He was astounded at the emotions and softness in her voice and face.
“I love you too.” He whispered…The smell of cigarette from his mouth hit her hard on the nose. Hating the smell from his mouth, she gave him a disgustful glance and stood on her feet.
“You still smoke?” She asked with a stern face.
“Why? It turns me off. I told you to stop smoking.”
“I was sad,” Victor said in mere whispers.
But Imabasi became angry.
Victor’s eyes widened and he seemed ludicrously shocked at her blatant query.
“I can’t love a man who smells cigarettes. Just last night, I kissed you. You had the smell of a good masculine perfume. And today, you smell like a taut.” Imabasi said angrily.
Miriam became flabbergasted as she tried to signal Imabasi.
“This isn’t the right time for this Ima.”
“What other time is right? I want to Know!” Imabasi yelled as she walked out and slammed the door.
Victor was mute for a moment. He couldn’t say a word.
He was already tired of letting Imabasi point out his flaws to his face. He became angry and bittered as he closed his eyes. He could only imagine kissing her.
Miriam was sorry, but she couldn’t say it.
She lowered herself on the chair beside the bed and watched Victor grumble words in bitterness. He was heartbroken again and thought it was time to let Imabasi leave his life for good.
He was going to tell her own flaws to her face, and walk away.
He was going to travel to California to see his mother, so he could forget Imabasi and find his one true love whom he thought might kiss him with a smelly mouth. He wanted more than just Imabasi’s kind of love.
It was cold that night, after putting more wood on the fire, Imabasi sat beside the fire and warmed up her body.
Sitting on the ground beside the fire, she didn’t allow herself to think about the smell of cigarette from Victor’s mouth. Or her desire to kiss him again. She didn’t allow herself to think about the kiss she had with him that was now indelibly imprinted in her thoughts.
But not thinking about him proved impossible.
After she toiled herself, trying to sleep. She combed her hair and tied it back with a piece of lace. She drank the last of the black coffee and rinsed the grounds off the bottom with some water. Then she fell asleep.
She saw him, he was dressed in a groom’s suit, set to walk down the aisle. She was among his invitees, and it happened that she was fifty years of age. She watched this beautiful lady walk down the aisle, toward Victor. She became angry, tears running down her cheeks as the lady who was the bride held Victor’s hands. They were about to be joined in holy matrimony when she blurted, “He is my husband!”
The crowds gave an audible applause and watched her walk down the aisle to meet him, she suddenly saw herself in a wedding dress and then a bouquet fell from the sky.
She woke up panicking. Uneasiness prickled through her. She folded her arms, pulling the blanket tighter across her shoulders. When she looked up again, she could only imagine the other woman; the one he was waiting for at the podium.
Her heart felt. She wanted to be that woman, she wanted to just love him and let go his weaknesses, but how long was she going to cope?
She took a piece of paper and wrote down his good side. “He is so kind and nice.” She whispered to herself as she wrote down more positive things. A few moment later, she turned the sheet. She wrote ‘smelly mouth’ under the negative words and after she stared at the sheet of paper for a while, she threw it inside the fire.
“His flaws aren’t much. I can correct it and make him my perfect man.” She said to herself as she watched the fire burn away the woods into ashes.
Clenching her fingers into her palms, she told herself she was ready to be human and love him wholeheartedly.
His eyes glowed warmly in the scented candlelight as he gave her a lazy smile. His amusement showed in the faint lift if his mouth.
Her eyes held his, and she stopped herself from flinching at the cold hatred she saw there. But it was not hatred aimed at her. He hated the fact that she realized he smoked again. He was lovesick and didn’t know how to explain to her that he was heartbroken.
Imabasi stood there with a bunch of yellow rose flowers; It smelt of winter candy apple.
She saw two people in one cute man. The romantic one who had kissed her two nights ago at the quarters, and the horrible one whom she perceived the horrible smell of minted cigarette from his mouth. But she was ready to forgive the horrible man and take back the one she had kissed..
She handed the flower respectively to him and searched for something in her handbag.
“I bought you something from the body shop.” her voice was low. She handed a mouth rinse and a toothbrush to him. He stared at her, looking amazed.
“I have a toothbrush.” Victor retorted.
“This one is specially made for smokers.”
She said shrilly.
He took the items from her and kept them by his side.
“Thank you,” he said without taking his eyes off from her. He wanted to kiss her as his gaze settled on her lips. They stared at each other for moments, muted and unable to move.
“I should be leaving. I have the students work to do.” She said softly.
“Please stay with me. Stay a bit longer.” Victor said, holding her hands tight.
She put her head on his chest and slept off.
Pulling her close to himself, Victor kissed her on the head.
He was going to tell her of her own flaws to her face, and watch her shiver.
He was going to tell her that despite these flaws, he still loved her so much.
To be continued………