Pete was a natural player. In his books, the more the players in the game, the merrier. He was the kind who wouldn’t sweat a brow even if he were to clash with another girlfriend on a date. He knew just what to say to make the ladies feel unthreatened and unsuspicious of each other and feel like they are his only beloved. His friends wondered how he did it. He claimed he didn’t know. He just knew how to ‘handle’ the ladies. His voice soothed them to sleep and his smile made them forget their troubles.
And after he has had his fun and was no longer interested, he had his own way of ‘dropping’ them softly so they wouldn’t feel the impact. He prided himself in being such a smooth operator. But that source of pride would soon turn to a heartbreaking memory that would stay with him forever.
Her name was Anne. She was beautiful and reserved. The guys in her hostel were intimidated by her quiet nature and so couldn’t approach her. They called her the Virgin Mary. They wondered who could win her heart and have her chasing him instead of a he chasing her. Pete watched her as she passed by with her friends. He loved challenges. He enjoyed being the conqueror. And Anne was just another conquest to him.
She wasn’t really his type but he just wanted to prove to his friends that no girl was out of his league. So from his first hello, he knew how long this journey would last. Three weeks. He would be done with her in 21 days.
Anne was a sweet girl and judging from her attitude, this was her first time of being in love. He was proud to be her first but he also knew and despised the downside of that phenomenon: her clinginess. It made it difficult for him to manage his other girls and for the first time, he felt like he was losing control over his multi-girlfriend territory. So he knew he had to let her go even before he was fully done with her. And he had to break the rule. He would let her down hard; not by himself but with the help of one of his longtime sweethearts. He had once again won the respect and admiration of his peers of being the reigning ladies’ man and that was enough for him.
He knew where Anne would be after her Wednesday lectures: the café. He brought Nina with him there and ordered drinks for both of them. Anne entered at exactly 4:05 just as he knew she would and her eyes gleamed with delight when she saw him. She walked to his table and said hi in her excited girlish voice. He replied coolly. Nina touched his arm and asked when they would go for their party. He said he would pick her up at seven. Anne looked at him, confused. He only gave her a sly smile.
“And who is she?” Anne asked, fearing his reply.
“Who, me?” Nina asked.
“I’ll leave her to introduce herself,” Pete said and leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms.
He watched in amusement as Anne’s confused face turned into shock and then pain. With a hurt look in her eyes, she stormed off. He sighed. She was gone and he was free.
Anne sat on her bed, crying. How dare Pete do that to her? She felt stupid for believing that he was any different from the other guys on campus. He thought he could charm his way into her heart and leave her out to dry? She would make sure he never forgot her.
Pete was on his way to the party when he received a text message on his phone. It was from Anne.
Sorry I was not good enough for you. Hope you remember me forever by what I’m about to do. I’ll always love you.
What did she mean by that? He decided to ignore it. She wanted to emotionally blackmail him but he wasn’t going to take the bait. He turned when Nina gasped.
“What is it?”
“My friend just sent me a text: a student has committed suicide.”
“Yeah…she was a second year student at Courage Hostel.”
“What is her name?”
“She didn’t say.” Pete thought of the message Anne had just sent him. She was also a second year student residing at Courage Hostel. No, it couldn’t be her. Anne was smarter than that. The more he tried to convince himself that, the more it gnawed at him.
Nina was surprised when Pete took a sudden U-turn back to campus.
“Why are we going back?”
“I left something of mine in my room.”
“What, your wallet? Don’t worry, I can take care of us tonight.”
“I know but I need to go back. We’ll get there soon.”
When they arrived on campus, everyone seemed to be out of their rooms and the air was chaotic. All his ‘what is going on’ questions did not receive any new information. He tried calling Anne. It rang for a while. His heart started beating faster at the awful thought running through his mind. But someone picked up and he sighed in relief.
“Hello Anne? Are you all right?”
“Hi…this is her roommate Akosua. Who is speaking please?”
“I’m Pete, her friend. Where is Anne please?”
“Haven’t you heard? Anne hanged herself in the room. I found her about an hour ago. I was too late. She was long gone before I found her,” Akosua said, sobbing. Pete’s heart sank. He ended the call.
No, this wasn’t happening. It was only a dream. How could he, the smooth operator let things get this out of control? He knew he played it out of style with Anne but he thought she was strong to handle a little heartbreak. How could she just end her life because of a silly showoff? The life he knew it was about to change forever.
Most of his friends knew of his plans to dump Anne and so suspected him to be the reason for her suicide. Some of them shunned his company and those who didn’t, teased him for breaking the Virgin Mary’s heart and driving her to end her life. He couldn’t take it anymore. He left the campus for another one but it seemed Anne’s ghost was following him everywhere.
Whenever he closed his eyes, he saw her. Whenever he walked around, he could hear her voice and laughter. He thought he was going crazy. He had gravely underestimated the fragility of a woman’s heart and he was going to pay the price throughout his lifetime. He turned over a new leaf and cut himself off all his numerous girlfriends.
It took a while for Pete to forgive himself for what had happened to Anne. It was selfish on his part to go after her when he knew he wasn’t that into her and had ended her life prematurely. He vowed never to cheat on any woman; he would remain sexually and emotionally faithful to his partner.
His haunted soul made him afraid to settle down. But his heart found love with a woman and they got married. After two years, he had a daughter. He decided to call her Mary Anne in respect to the innocent woman he had killed years ago. It reminded him of how far he had come and how he valued women now. Whenever his daughter was upset over something, he made sure he placated her as soon as possible for fears that history would repeat itself. Maybe it was a bad idea naming her Anne. But it was already done.
Pete decided to serve as a counselor so he would be there for the many more Annes in schools who were emotionally damaged before they took the plunge. It was the only way he could pay for what he did. He would end every working day muttering, “Forgive me, Anne.”
© Josephine Amoako 2017
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