After a month of back-and-forth fights with Fitz with him trying so hard to drum into my head that I was dead to the world and I refusing to accept it; I began to realize that I couldn’t possibly win it with Fitz. I was worn out physically, mentally and emotionally. The only one who made me forget my predicament of a marriage was my lil’ Karen. She had no idea the hell of a life I had created for her and I was sorry for that. Apart from Fitz, my eyes have come across two other people at the ‘prison’ premises, a woman and a man. I had tried to talk to the woman but it was either she was under strict orders not to communicate with me or she was just dumb. Whenever I said something, she looked like she couldn’t understand what I was saying. Perfect attendant for a hostage; brilliant, Fitz! And as for the man, I had no idea the gist Fitz gave him but whenever he looked my way, his eyes conveyed a troubling message. Fitz didn’t tell him I was mental, did he? I wouldn’t put it past him. I couldn’t recognize Fitz anymore.
After several times of trying to get the woman’s attention, I realized she always came to my room when I was in the bathroom so I decided to trick her, hoping to get a hold of her phone. If I didn’t tell someone that I was alive, I’d surely die!
So when I heard her familiar footsteps approaching my room, I rushed to lean on the wall next to the door. When she opened the door, peeked in and realized I wasn’t in the room, she entered. I quickly closed the door and locked it. She turned around to face me, her expression shocked.
“I need your help, please.” She began to shake her head and attempted to leave the room. I stopped her in her tracks. She wasn’t going to get past me that easily.
“Can I please have your phone? I need to call someone.” She didn’t seem to understand me so I tried saying it in a local dialect. She seemed hesitant so I pleaded, putting on my most desperate act. I needed her to pity me but she wasn’t buying it.
“Please, I really need to speak with my sister. It is urgent that I do that. Please…” She sighed as she took out her phone and handed it to me.
“Thank you. I’ll let you have it as soon as I’m done. Would you give me a minute alone?” She walked out and I locked the door behind her.
Whew, finally! I sat on the bed excitedly with the tiny phone in my hands like it was a life saver. Well, technically it was at the moment. But my excitement faded instantly as I stared at the phone. I had no idea what Karen’s number was. Oh what technology has done to me! Gone were the days when I could store contact numbers in my head. I knew the first four digits as well as the last three. How was I going to call her? I didn’t have all day to play trial-and-error. I began to chew my nails nervously as I put my brain to work. What could it be? I closed my eyes trying to recall her number on my phone. This was pointless, I thought in despair as I opened my eyes less than a minute later.
“God, if you’re there, please give me a miracle. Give me Karen’s number, please…”
Even my prayer was pathetic. So this is my end, praying for a divine intervention to remember what should have been an easy number in my head? So I typed in a number but I knew it wasn’t right by just staring at it. So I cleared it and tried again.
If only I could verify it by running the number by WhatsApp but this phone was definitely born way before the app was. I typed another number. Hmm, it looked almost right. Let me try it…
Karen was dozing off on James’ lap as they watched an episode of the Empire series. James tapped her on the back. She opened her eyes.
“Your phone is ringing.”
“An unfamiliar number,” he said, handing the phone to her. She looked at the number.
“Who could this be?”
Please pick up, please pick up, I muttered desperately more like a prayer. I was convinced that was Karen’s number. If only we could speak for a minute… I heard Fitz’s voice. My heart stopped. Oh no.
“Have you cleaned her room?” I overheard him asking the woman. I knew I only had seconds now. What the hell was Karen doing?!
Fitz tried opening the door but found it locked. He knocked.
“Emily? Why have you locked it?”
“So I don’t have to see your face?” I replied in a question tone as if I wasn’t sure of my answer.
“Open up, Karen is hungry.” I sighed. This wasn’t going to work. Maybe it was a wrong number after all. I canceled the call and walked to the door.
The call ended even before Karen could answer it.
“Oh,” She said.
“What is it?”
“I just missed it.”
“Maybe the person realized it was a wrong number and canceled it.”
“Yeah maybe.” She put the phone down and put her head back on his lap.
“So what did I miss?”
I opened the door and took my baby from him.
“Good morning.” I ignored him as I smiled at her instead. I gave her a loud kiss on the cheek. Fitz sighed. He seemed exhausted as well. This wasn’t going as he had hoped. I didn’t mind living an eloped life as long as I spoke with Karen. Adam must have moved on by now and I couldn’t be happier about that. I sat down and began feeding lil’ Karen. Fitz called out to the woman but she didn’t respond.
“Where has she gone to?” He asked himself and took his phone. Before my mind could process what was going to happen, her phone began to ring. Fitz turned to look at me. I swallowed. I knew I was in trouble. He canceled the call.
“Is that her phone?”
“What is it doing here?” He asked as he took it from the bed.
“She must have left it.”
“How? She said she hasn’t cleaned the room yet.”
“Yeah, I asked her to come later; perhaps she put it down when she entered and forgot to pick it up.”
“I’m not stupid, Emily.”
“I wasn’t implying that you are, Fitz.”
“You asked her for it, didn’t you? Who did you call?”
“No one!” He searched the call log.
“Oh yeah? Someone made a call a few minutes ago.”
“Then she probably made it before she came here.”
“Uh huh,” he said as he called the number. Oh no, he didn’t. He stared hard at me as it began ringing.
“Babe, your phone is ringing. It’s that number again,” James said.
“Answer it and let me know who it is,” Karen said groggily. He picked it up.
Fitz gave Emily an incomprehensible look when he heard a male voice at the other end. It didn’t sound like Adam’s.
“Hello, may I know who I’m speaking to?” He asked.
“Excuse me? You’re the one calling this number. Why don’t you introduce yourself?”
“You don’t happen to know anyone called…” Fitz stopped himself before he gave himself away.
“Sorry; must be a wrong number.” He ended the call.
My heart was beating so loudly that I was afraid he could hear it from where he stood.
“Some guy picked up. I was expecting to hear Karen’s voice. But he sounded educated. I wonder why the illiterate woman would make a call to him. It didn’t seem he knew this number.”
“Perhaps she called it and found it to be a wrong number,” I suggested. He shrugged.
He called out the woman and this time, she answered and entered the room. He held up her phone. She gave me a nervous glance.
“Did you leave the phone here?” he asked her.
“Yes sir,” she said with a stammer. Seriously, couldn’t she be a little more convincing?
He gave it back to her. She took it and left the room. I decided lil’ Karen had had enough and burped her.
“I’m going to town. Want anything?”
“A phone or a computer wouldn’t be bad.”
“You know I can’t risk it, Em.”
“You do realize I’m practically cut off from the world for over a month now, right?”
“Technically, that’s what ‘dead’ means, sweetheart. If you’re bored, I’ll get you some books.”
“If you continue to keep me cooped up here, I’ll end up going mad, Fitz.”
“Then I’ll make sure to send you to the best mental home I can find.”
“This is crazy. You don’t do this to someone you love, Fitz. This is obsession.”
“That’s what happens when love isn’t enough.”
“I give you my word to stay away from everyone I know; just let me speak to Karen.”
“Not even your mother?”
“That won’t be wise. I just need to speak with her.”
“Uh huh so she can relay to your sweetheart that you’re alive and that he should not give up on you. Very cute.”
“This isn’t about Adam, Fitz.”
“Of course it is! It’s always been about Adam! And guess what, we’re still working together. It seems just two weeks of your passing has brought him back to his senses. Of course we’re not dinner buddies anymore but business is good.”
“Good for you but what do I get from this absurd arrangement?”
“You get me; all of me. See you later, honey.” He walked out and locked the door behind him. I sighed.
“Well, it seems it’s going to be just you and mama again,” I said to a smiling and toothless Karen. I smiled back.
Later in the day when Fitz returned, I asked why the woman hadn’t come to clean my room yet.
“She’s gone, Emily.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s on leave.”
“Don’t worry; I’ll get someone else.”
“You fired her?”
“Her time was up.” I couldn’t wrap my head around on how far Fitz was willing to go.
“But she was good.”
“Uh huh; maybe if she hadn’t accidentally left her phone in your room, I would have extended her contract.”
“Come on, Fitz.”
“So next time, I’ll make sure no one comes in contact with you with a phone in his or her possession.”
I was lost for words. I blinked and felt tears filling my eyes. I dropped my fork.
“Just lost my appetite.” I got up.
“But this is your favorite. I made sure it was prepared just the way you like it.”
I just entered my room and closed the door. And for the first time since I was cut off from the world, I broke down into tears. I couldn’t keep the wall up any longer. I felt smothered and I was gradually losing it. I had managed to act all tough for the past month but I was tired of the act now. Everyone had a breaking point and I just realized I had reached mine. I covered my mouth as tightly as I could with my hands so Fitz wouldn’t hear me crying in case he was listening.
I wasn’t sure I couldn’t hold myself together for much longer. I didn’t want Fitz to win this fight but I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. I was already losing.