Once bitten by that close encounter or should I call it the virtual fatal collision with Adam the other day, I thought it best to shy away from any public appearances with Fitz at the ‘harmless’ spots in town. And finding myself away from the hawked-eyed spy of my dear friend, I found it more convenient to resume my little chats with Adam. Once in a while, he’d send me a brief video of himself on Snapchat and I’d find myself giggling like a toddler being tickled by anyone with big hands.
Falling back into this temptation wasn’t entirely my fault though. Anytime I wanted to spend some quality time with my husband, he’d politely tell me he had some few things to wrap up and that he’d join me soon. And the ‘soon’ could wound up into two or three hours and since I’ve always been a functional nocturnal being, I’d have to do something to keep me busy. What could keep me up if not the amusing chats and videos from my very own number two?
I did well to limit my technological affair to chats and voice messages. I didn’t want Fitz questioning me on the grounds of suspicious late night calls. I knew how loud I could be when I laughed sometimes so I advised myself against it. And luckily for me, Adam understood when I used the ‘meddlesome roommate’ line which he bought without hesitation.
But for a week after the supermarket incident, I realized that his responses to my texts were not as forthcoming as they used to be. It would show that he was online all right but it would take long minutes before he’d reply. This attitude made me feel uneasy at first and then began to irritate me. Then I knew it was really getting to me when I realized I was beginning to entertain jealous thoughts that maybe he had found someone else. I knew it was silly and selfish considering I legally belonged to someone else. But it hurt that I felt someone else might be taking my place. Maybe it was just my idle mind playing games on me.
So here I was, lying on the bed waiting for Karen to finish her shower so we could go to class together and I felt myself drifting away in sleep (those moments you can’t tell whether you’re conscious or dreaming). Karen’s phone rang and I ignored it for a while but it kept ringing.
“Karen, your phone is ringing!” I called out.
“Pick it up then!” I sat up grumbling about the disturbance and reached out for the phone. A message alert rang out and I blinked hard at the phone wishing I just didn’t read that. It was a message from Adam!
Throwing all caution to the wind, I opened the message and realized it was a whole conversation dating back to a week ago. I shook my head in disbelief as I scanned through the chat. My other hand fisted in rage. I knew someone else had joined the game, I knew it! I can’t believe my very own best friend would betray me like this. Didn’t she have a steady boyfriend, I fumed inwardly.
The bathroom door opened and Karen stepped out, wrapped in a towel.
“I know we are behind time and I took my sweet time in the bathroom today but the water felt so good on my skin today. You would have loved it,” Karen said as she began dressing up.
“Uh huh.” A few seconds later, she turned to look at me when she realized I was quiet. She saw her phone in my hand.
“What is it, Em? And why are you squeezing the life out of my poor phone? Who was it earlier?”
I didn’t reply. My mind was busily figuring out how to confront her without blowing it out of proportion.
“Em? Who was it?” She walked to me and tried taking the phone out of my grasp. I refused to surrender it and showed her the screen.
“What?” She asked innocently.
“I just found out you’ve been entertaining Adam online. Care to explain that to me?”
Karen chuckled with a dismissive wave of the hand.
“It’s nothing. We exchanged numbers back at the supermarket and we’ve been chatting from time to time. No big deal.”
“No big deal? Don’t you have a boyfriend?” I asked in an accusatory tone.
She gave me a stunned look. “Listen to who is throwing the first stone here. Aren’t you a married woman?”
The words stung so much that I winced.
“I just asked you to distract him so we wouldn’t collide. I’m sure I didn’t say you should fraternize enough to exchange contact numbers.”
“Well, he asked for it and knowing me to be the generous friend that I am, didn’t see why I shouldn’t. He’s really funny. I now see why you’re so hooked up on him.”
“Stay away from him, Karen!”
She put on her dress and turned to give me a wry look.
“Is that a warning?”
“You know me not to mince words,” I said in a serious tone.
“And if I don’t?” She asked tauntingly.
“Don’t push me, Karen. You wouldn’t like it.”
“You’re married, Emily. In case you don’t know what it means, let me break it down for you. It means you’re off the market. You belong to Fitz now. I on the other hand, I’m still in the game. Dating is just trying out the goods. So you can’t hold it against me. Besides, I don’t understand why you’re upset. I don’t even like him like that. We’re just online buddies. I have a boyfriend, remember.”
“He’s my number two and I’m not sharing.”
“Sorry honey; this is the new world. Deal with it.” She turned to look at herself in the mirror. Without thinking, I took hold of an empty Alvaro bottle on the table and hit her on the head with it. She fell down and passed out instantly. For a good minute, my mind went blank with the fatal weapon shaking in my hand. I dropped it and went on my knees beside my friend. I shook her and began crying.
“Karen please wake up. I didn’t mean it. Please…Karen.” I touched her head and I felt something moist on my fingers. I screamed when I saw blood. Karen always told me she had an incredibly soft scalp. I thought it was limited to hair relaxer creams but clearly, I was wrong. My mind was racing on who to call for help. I took my phone and dialed Tony’s number.
“Please come to my room right now. I need your help, please.” Thankfully, he could sense the desperation in my voice so he didn’t ask questions. He said okay and ended the call. He knocked on the door two long minutes later. I opened the door for him and he gasped when he saw an unconscious Karen on the floor.
“Please help me take her to the hospital. I’ll tell you on the way.” He carried her to my car and he took the keys seeing that I was in no condition to be behind the wheel. I put my friend’s head on my lap, crying silently.
“Now would you tell me what happened?”
“We were having an argument and things heated up and…” The tires screeched to a halt. The next minute was filled with Tony shouting at the offending driver. I said a silent prayer of thanks for the timely interruption since he didn’t pursue the matter anymore.
After she was admitted and stabilized, Tony excused himself to leave after a seemingly urgent phone call. I thanked him profusely for his help. He gave me a hug and it was just what I needed at that point in time. I called Karen’s boyfriend to come over. As I sat waiting for him to arrive, Karen woke up. When our eyes met, she withdrew her hand in my grip.
“I am so sorry, Karen. I wasn’t thinking. Please forgive me,” I pleaded earnestly.
Karen’s boyfriend James entered. I stood. He rushed to her side and held her hand.
“What happened?” He asked in an alarmed tone, looking at me.
All I could do was cry. Karen weakly lifted her hand to point at me but James held it and brought it down beside her body. I knew my end had come.
As she opened her mouth to speak, I woke up with a start.
“Whoa, must have been a heck of a nightmare. You look like you’ve seen your grandmother’s ghost,” Karen said. I looked at her. She was wrapped in a towel. I blinked hard, trying to clear my head. The phone rang and my heart started pounding. Karen picked up the call.
“Hello honey. Yeah, I have a class in twenty minutes. Yeah, she’s here. I’ll tell her. Talk to you later.” She hung up.
“That was James. He said hi.”
“Uh huh.” I was panting. Karen began dressing up. I got up from bed and went to hug Karen. That unexpected gesture caught her off guard.
“Okay…what did you dream about?”
I shook my head. “I love you, Karen.”
“I love you too, Em.”
“You’ll always come first,” I said.
“Hmm…are you sure?”
“You know what I mean.” She chuckled and hugged me back.
“Thank God it was just a bad dream,” I said to myself.
Behind every glory is a story;
From which is birthed a testimony;
Everyone present this day has a past;
Tales of pain, misery and everything dark;
But thank God for pages we can turn;
So we can close a chapter and start a new one.
There was a time where pain was a constant companion;
But little did I realize that within the pain was a plan;
A well-crafted one intended to test and humble me;
To prepare me for the morrow unknown;
My wilderness was only a preparation ground;
The scars which I once was ashamed of, I now wear proudly.
Everyone finds himself in a wilderness at a point in time;
The experience and duration may differ but serves the purpose all the same;
The drought and thorns toughen us for what lies ahead;
And also teach us to appreciate the little blessings we usually take for granted;
Looking back, the wilderness is one of the best places I’ve ever been;
Because it taught me how to handle where I’m standing right at this moment.
I thank God for the test because at the end I got a testimony;
I’m grateful for the mess I found myself in because I finally got the message;
That even when I stray away, God in His infinite mercies will make out a way
To lead me back to the path He had set out for me;
Out of love He sent me into the fire;
And when I came out, I was as pure as refined gold.
Everyone at one point in time has both in his/her life; sometimes they happen to be the same person. The thought of one brings with it a sense of warmth, safety and a unique sort of communion devoid of words.
A friend is someone you can talk to about almost anything without having to feel self-conscious. The one who makes you smile with the least effort. And the one who you can be your true self around without the fear of being judged. The mood around such a person is usually calm and serene-there maybe no rapid heart beating but it feels comfortable as long as he/she is around.
A lover is the one you particularly make sure you look good for. Someone whose company you cherish so much that it feels like nothing and no one exist except you two. You hold on to every word he/she says as if your life depended on it. The thrill of being around such a one keeps your heart at such a constant high such that you hear it pounding in your ears. The mood can be tense or tranquil.
If asked to choose who to spend forever with, some would choose the friend because although it may not have the thrills, it has the promise of lasting long. And such hope of potential and consistency is all that some require to take the big step. For others, the thrill of always having your adrenaline pumping is enough for them to last a lifetime. If it were to wane, they would find a way to rekindle it.
Amazingly, the perfect picture of being a friend and lover is painted by the love demonstrated by the Son of God who came to die for us. He’s the one you can bare your soul to without any reservations and yet He makes you feel so special-someone worth laying down His life for.
Obviously, finding both the friend and lover in a person is the best choice. So if you have a friend, try and find the lover in him/her and see if it completes you. And if you have the lover, search out the friend in him/her and your joy will be complete. Someone you feel comfortable and thrilled around at the same time.
Only those who have experienced the love of Christ would understand this complete friend-lover kind of relationship. As my good friend rightly puts it, when you get your relationship with God right, your relationship with your fellow becomes easy.
So for the next two weeks or so, I went on a contact strike with Adam (without his consent, of course) to appease my dear friend. Luckily for me, it worked because Karen laid off my case for a while. But unfortunately, it was either Adam wasn’t getting the message that I wasn’t interested in our little ‘thing’ anymore (which I so was!) or he was refusing to be put aside. And did I tell you, I like a guy who fights for what he wants? I like, I like, I like!
This ‘strike’ was making my fingers itch each time my phone beeped so bad that I was beginning to think I was experiencing some kind of Adam withdrawal syndrome. During the day, I was able to resist the temptation of picking the phone up and getting to hear the Adamic husky voice I had become hooked up on. But at night, when I’m lying on my bed wide awake (one of the awful symptoms being insomnia), I’d read all the messages he had sent with varying emotions ranging from sweet, desperate, angry to hurt. My heart broke with each one and how I wished I could help soothe his pain. But I knew Karen was right. I wasn’t being far to Fitz and even Adam. Each of them deserved better than an indecisive girl like me. But they both want a little young me, so I haven’t done anything wrong, have I?
Karen gave my phone a sideway glance as it beeped so much that it almost fell off the bed.
“Haven’t called it off with him, have you?” She asked.
“I’m giving him the silence treatment. Hopefully he’ll get the message.”
“And if he doesn’t? Maybe if you told him you are a Mrs., he might back off.”
“Not relevant. He’ll stop.” But every nerve within me wished him not to as I put it on silent. Thankfully, Karen let it lie. I kept stealing glances at the screen whenever it came alive. Why should I even be doing that when it is my own phone?! Maybe it was time to go back home.
Later during the day, my phone rang.
“You’ve changed your alert tone?” Karen asked as I picked it up.
“No; I assigned a different one for my hubby,” I said as I opened the message.
“Hubby, huh? Do I sense some fondness in your voice? You miss him, don’t you?”
“Of course I do. He’s better company than you.”
“Oh really, how exactly?”
“Oh you wouldn’t want to hear the details, honey.” Karen shook her head with a smile on her face as she turned her attention to the book on her lap.
“He’s arriving tomorrow afternoon. He wants me to come pick him up. Care to join me?”
“Um…I kind of have some plans for tomorrow, thank you.”
“He’s taking you out?”
“Not necessarily; we’re spending time together.” I snorted.
“Campus love; never evolves.”
“Falling in love with a father-figure to overcome childhood daddy issues; never grows old.” I dropped my phone out of shock. Karen burst in laughter.
“I win…all the time.”
“That was mean; below-the-belt mean,” I said, feeling hurt. She blew me a kiss which I ignored. I took my phone and started to type a very emotional text to Fitz whose absence was beginning to take a toll on me. Or was it because I was being deprived of my daily needed dose of Adam’s attention? Either way, I needed a dose now and it seems the only one available to me is the one I got married to.
The following day, I managed to convince Karen to come with me to the airport.
“Why do you need me to come with you again?” Karen asked as I drove.
“To cover up for me just in case the world gets too small.”
“What do you mean?” I shrugged.
“You never know, I might end up bumping into someone I shouldn’t be meeting.”
“Like Adam? Come on, what are the odds? I know the world is such a small place but it definitely isn’t that tiny. Even if that were to happen, why should you involve me? You made your bed, you should lie in it.”
“You’re my best friend, Karen. You are supposed to look out for me.”
“I am not your partner in crime. You don’t even pay me for my services.”
“That is the second reason why you’re coming with me. Fitz might have a package for you. The perks of marrying a father-figure to overcome childhood daddy issues-works every time.” Karen gave me a conceded smile. I smiled triumphantly.
We picked Fitz up at the airport and I realized how much I had missed him. I held onto him tightly when we hugged because I missed being in his broad warm arms.
“I missed you too, honey,” he said after I had whispered same to him.
We sat in the back seat whiles Karen drove us. I could see her eyeing us from the mirror but I was snuggling too comfortably in the arms of my hubby to care. I’d sort her out later. After a few chats, Fitz asked to be driven to a supermarket to get something. Karen and I went to the washroom.
“I can’t believe you’ve turned me into your chauffeur,” Karen was saying when I opened the door for us to get out. Who I saw made me quickly retreat my steps and close the door.
“What is it?” Karen asked, alarmed.
“You know when I said I’d need you to cover up for me if the world got too small? I think the time is now.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think I just saw Adam a few meters away.”
“Oh come on, your withdrawal syndrome includes hallucinations now?”
“I’m serious, Karen. Even if I were to be losing my sight, I’d still recognize Adam from a mile away. That’s how much of his image is etched into my memory.”
“God have mercy on your soul. Check again, maybe he left.”
“What if he sees me? He can get quite passionate.”
“Isn’t that your type?”
“Very funny.” I opened the door two inches wide and took a peek and closed it again.
“He’s still there, he’s taking his sweet time examining the items.”
My phone rang. It was Fitz. I answered it.
“Where are you two?” He asked.
“Still in the washroom. We’ll be out in a minute.” I ended the call.
“See how you’re sweating? That’ll be your daily temperature if you keep this dangerous game up.”
“Not now, Karen. I need you to distract him so I can walk out.”
“Excuse me? I’m not the kind of girl who flashes smiles at supermarkets or the type that guys would usually pay attention to.”
“Well noted; that’s why your boyfriend is who he is.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Not now, Karen; we need to act now. I know you’re not that kind of girl but you can be a pretty good actress when you want to be.”
“And this isn’t one of them.”
“Please Karen, I know this is too big of a favor but I promise to return it in a big way.”
“Like an iPhone 6 kind of big?”
“Whoa…someone is getting exploitive.”
“It isn’t my husband waiting outside for me.”
“Okay fine, we’ll renegotiate on that. Please?” Karen gave an exasperated sigh.
“Fine. This is a one-time offer. It will never happen again.”
“I’ll make sure of it.” I opened the door for her to walk out. A minute later, my phone beeped. She had sent me a text message telling me the coast was clear. I hurriedly walked out and got into the car.
“What is going on? Are you okay?”
“Oh yeah; we just got a little held up.”
“What about Karen? Where is she?”
“She’ll soon be here. I know you’re tired from your flight. We’ll take you home soon.”
“Okay.” Karen opened the door and got into the driver’s seat. I looked at her curiously.
“Good to go.” She started the engine and took off. We stared at each other in the mirror. I mouthed a ‘thank you’ to my dear friend. She just shook her head and kept her eyes on the road.
There has been a lot of talk recently about decoding the message intended when a girl says no to a guy’s advances be it sexual or romantic. Ideally, no means exactly as it sounds: no. But as complicated as girls can be sometimes, their no may not sound as potent as it should be.
Interesting points of view from the male counterpart suggest that, a lady’s no doesn’t always mean what it sounds. Most of the time, it means try a little harder (because you may never know!). At other times, it means I’m considering it (but don’t get your hopes up!). Others too think it is just a mere response they give whiles they think of what they really want.
It is amazing that when the tables are turned, the guy’s no more often than not seem to hold. When a guy is found caught between the exit door and seductive audition of a voluptuous woman, his no is taken seriously after a few failed attempts. But they love to assume that a woman’s no isn’t really a no.
It is true that some women enjoy the chase that men love to do so they do their best to keep the game on. So some men have been successful at decoding the real message behind the ‘no’ that ladies give. Some would say it all boils down in the tone, gesture and body language that accompanies the word no. But some take it seriously when the no is said confidently without a twitch or blink.
Some ladies get annoyed and even hurt when the guy walks away from the chase game simply because they said no. They expect the guys to know they really didn’t mean it; they were only throwing the word around for the fun of it. And the very same species feel violated when their word is not taken seriously and they are pushed too far. So which is which?
For the guys, it will take serious discernment to find out what category a lady’s no falls into. You should know who you’re dealing with; whether she’s into-the-chase type or she stands-by-her-word type. Good luck deciphering that.
And for the ladies, it is better and safer for your no to mean exactly that. Giving mixed signals confuses the guys and puts your regard in jeopardy. And worst still, you might end up losing it all. Giving in to what you want doesn’t make you cheap; it makes you serious. So when you say no, be sure that’s what you really want to say and stick to it.
I am your silent friend;
Your listening ear;
Your uncalled-for but expected-to-be confidant;
Nodding and heeding to your unsolicited rumblings as I pour your drink;
Taking note as your speech becomes more slurred with each shot;
I then decide when you have had enough and call you a cab.
Skilled at mixing drinks is what got me the job;
Welcoming customers with a smile is a priority;
Serving them well enough for them to stay longer is my goal;
A calm voice to get them ordering for more is my charm;
But little did I know that when I decided to pour them a drink;
I had simultaneously signed up to be their shrink.
Upon meeting people from all walks of life sitting across me
Drinking away their troubles, I learnt to humble myself
Because I found out everyone has a problem
Though others do better at hiding it behind their smiles;
I was not any different from them across the bar
They were the ones gulping down the shots but I was the one holding the bottle.
You may see my job as amusing
Since I get to see people make a fool of themselves every night;
But I find it heartbreaking seeing people come apart with booze;
Other times it can be entertaining watching people have fun;
With a little sip, a gulp later and then it brings out the dancing shoes in them;
Amazing how people can just let go and get loose sometimes!
I am your ‘nobody’ by day;
But your laughing buddy at night;
A mere stranger on the street;
But your shrink in the pub;
I am the one in the uniform behind the bar;
I am your bartender.
So Fitz had left for Hong Kong and I was back in my hostel room with Karen and I must say it was good to be back with my girlfriend again. Watching movies till dawn, taking strolls on campus, chatting and laughing about everything that has a name…the joys of friendship. The only thing I hated was being woken rudely every morning for Karen’s morning jog ritual. She didn’t care whether we had only caught two or three hours of sleep…it was a must-do. Although I always went with her grudgingly, I always loved the attention I got from the guys jogging past us via their longing looks and stares. It made me feel special even if it was for some brief seconds.
“I feel like my heart is going to pop out of my chest any moment from now,” I panted helplessly as we entered our room.
“You say that every single day but you always live.” My phone beeped continuously for a minute.
“Wow, someone in Hong Kong must really be missing you,” Karen said. I picked the phone up and before I could check myself, a huge smile had settled itself on my face.
“Huh, I have never seen you smile like that reading a text from Fitz.”
I didn’t respond to that since I was busily typing my reply which was clearly a mistake.
“Unless….it is not from Fitz. Are you back with Tony?”
Before I could say no to that, Karen snatched the phone from me.
“Adam? Who’s Adam?” She gave me a puzzled look.
“Just a new friend I made when I went to the mall the other day…” I said, attempting in vain to get my phone back.
“Good morning, beautiful. Hope you slept well last night. I had a sweet dream last night. Guess who I dreamt about,” Karen read out with an arched brow and directed her gaze at me.
“Is there something you’ve forgotten to tell me for God knows how long, Em?”
“Not really. It’s not what you think so don’t bother yourself wrapping your mind around it. He’s such a sweet guy and you know I have a soft spot for such species.” I tried again to get my phone back but failed. I sighed in frustration. The phone beeped again.
“Does he at least know you’re married?”
“And why should that be a necessary-to-share detail?”
“My guess would be a no because no sensible guy would subject the phone of a Mrs. to such beeping inconveniences at 6am! I know you’re being starved of masculine affection and all that but this is crossing the line, Emily. I expected you to be smarter than this,” Karen said, throwing the phone onto my bed.
“I am not sleeping with him,” I said defensively.
“And that makes it okay? The fact that you’re engaged emotionally outside your matrimonial home is bad enough. Sex only complicates the already dire situation.” Oh boy, listening to the voice of reason could be exhausting sometimes.
“We have an early class today, Karen. I suggest we put this conversation on hold and get ready.”
“There’s nothing to put on hold. End it immediately, Em.”
“What are you, my mother?”
“If that’s what it would take for you see reason here, fine.”
“I’m already married to some old dude that sees me as a daughter. I can’t have my best friend treating me as one too.”
“Have you thought that maybe you’re treated like that because most of the times, you act like a child?” My eyes widened at her insulting question.
“Watch it, Karen; you’re treading on dangerous ground right now.”
“I am your best friend and my job is to tell you the truth even if you don’t want to hear it.”
“Your job? What if I release you of that responsibility? You’re fired, Karen!” And with that, I entered the bathroom.
“We’re not done here!” I turned on the shower to drown out her voice. Why doesn’t she see that not everything is as black and white as she thinks? Adam was only a means to an end-to keep my sanity intact. I didn’t want to wither away both physically and psychologically being tied down with a guy like Fitz so Adam was helping me feel as young as I should be (even if he doesn’t know it).
Fitz was my husband and though a part of me regretted that poor decision, he had been there for me in more ways than one and I wasn’t going to cheat on him or at worst, leave him. At least, that moral part of me wasn’t corrupted…yet.