She & I – Chapter 1

S

******Chapter 1******

She had made the right choice. No one would find her here. The sitting room and bedroom were small and cozy with two windows each that had slabs should one wish to rest on them. She had her mattress bed on the rug in the room. There was a guest toilet along the mini hallway by the flat entrance door and a built in wardrobe in the room. The bathroom had a water heater, a shower and a toilet. The kitchen came with a mini food shelf, a sink with two cupboards and an empty space where she had put her refrigerator and a table top gas stove. The flat entrance had a balcony with another by the kitchen. Her new home was surrounded by huge Rocky Mountains. It was one of the many developing communities outside the city of Valleyveiw. Thirty minutes’ drive away from the ever busy central business district she just vacated. By the edges of the rocky mountain, one could see early in the morning the smoke amidst the fog coming from tiny villages and hamlets.

Among the fifteen flats within the building, her apartment was the last on the second floor of the two story building. It was also close to the gate overlooking the street and the traffic on the highway leading back to town. She looked at the time; it was 07:40 pm. The door to her flat was firmly locked; she had a shower, changed to her night dress, popped out the pillows and knelt to pray like she had been doing since she moved in.

For few minutes, she was silent. Unable to speak with so much emotion gripping her, she let the tears flow as she laid her head on the side of the bed. She was really lonely. Managing just few words amidst her tears, she spoke: “Father, Please lord; heal all my pain and hurt. Take all the aches in my heart away. Make me whole again, make me whole again,” she continued repeating those words until she felt peace within her.

Her phone vibrated, she reached for it and saw the number calling was withheld. She didn’t pick the call. She just stared at it. Her heart ached. Seconds later her phone beeped. It was message.

“Darling, how are you?” I came back two days ago from Italy with one of my clients in the senate. I have been going for meetings & appointments since. Was thinking of taking you out tonight to dinner. I’ve missed you so much….call me!”

Unbelievable! That he would just call, like nothing had happened. For two whole months she hadn’t heard from him. Now, he was calling her? What had she done to him to deserve an uncaring attitude towards her?

She read the message one more time; sighing she laid flat on her back facing the ceiling. Fresh tears rolled down her cheeks as she remembered the very first day they had met.

******

The second floor banking hall was where she was stationed as a customer service officer. He had approached her requesting for his bank statement.

She had looked up from her desk to respond to him with her eyes red as she redirected him to the personnel to meet for his request. He thanked her and asked in a concerned tone if she was well because of her red eyes. She had explained to him her frequent migraine attack and that she was getting ready to leave her desk when he approached her. He had felt bad for delaying her and had wanted to get her a quick medication but she had insisted that she had taken some and only needed to rest. He however took her complimentary card and promised to check in on her. He didn’t call and she never thought he would either.

Weeks later, on a Friday during office lunch hour. She had gotten a call from him. He was calling to apologize for not checking on her as he had been busy and had to travel outside the country. She had listened and had explained to him she wasn’t offended and had thanked him. He had requested to see her after work to buy her dinner to make up for his behavior which she declined but upon his insistence they both agreed to meet at one her friend’s house who was having a party that night.

Whilst at her friend’s, she became the topic of discussion because she wasn’t in a relationship. Her ex-boyfriend from university had impregnated another lady and that had made her relocate to the Central state. It was while living with her aunt she had gotten the job at the bank and had moved to sharing apartment with another of her friend who was hosting them that night. She was explaining that she didn’t need a relationship with any man to be happy but was going on a date that night. Her friend’s hadn’t thought she was serious until she gave the address of her friend’s house to her date. Minutes later, he arrived in a beautiful black BMW. Her friends had all rushed to welcome him while she had introduced them one after the other. He was amazed at the welcome he received from the girl’s. Without asking, the girl’s had told him they were happy for their friend whom they had been trying to fix up for a date.

She had cancelled on having dinner and had insisted they take a walk or drive instead . They had driven around the city. He had showed her some of his achievements within the city as an architect. They had decided to sit and talked at one of the last blocks of flats he was still developing. There he had confessed to having lied to her about how he could get his account balances and statement because his account officer had made everything available to him before he approached her. He had always been checking her out anytime he visited the bank and had made effort to inquire about her from his account officer who had told him she was new at that branch and was single.

He made his move that day because her desk wasn’t crowded as was usual. He wanted a relationship with her. She had told him she wasn’t ready for a new relationship because she had just ended one and had relocated to Central to heal. He persisted, saying he too had been hurt by someone he loved and had been alone too long. He wanted someone in his life and it had to be her. He wanted to start afresh with someone who understood what love is.

She had listened to him and had asked if they could be friends, she was not just ready for a relationship He accepted her proposal.

In the next month that would follow, he would call or send text messages during the day to inquire about her work. Sometimes he would pop at her desk to ask about her day. When too busy, he would send his driver to deliver chocolate, biscuits and sometimes lunch packages. On some Fridays, he would pick her at the close of work, take her to dinner or order in while they watch a movie before she would go home.

On a particular day at work, exactly eight months, his account officer at the bank had approached her with a large envelope to give to him because he was on his way out for marketing. The account officer in her presence had put a call to him to explain the situation of the package stressing the word ‘girlfriend’ in his conversation. She had looked surprised. He handed the package to her, thanked her. Few hours to close of work, he had called to tell her he would pick her to take her home and thanked her for collecting his package for him. She had responded that it was no problem and they needed to talk. He had asked if there was a problem, she had told him nothing but insisted when they saw she would tell him.

He had arrived that night, holding a gift bag containing a bottle of perfume and had given her a hug. She had handed over his package which he dropped at the back seat of the car. They had gone to his apartment; there he had a table set with dinner, wine and candles. She had sat on the couch, waited for him to come out of his bedroom where he had gone to change.

Upon his return, he had sat on the couch with her, cleared his throat and asked her why she had been so unusually quite since picking her from work and asked her what it was she wanted to tell him since he also had something to tell her.

She had looked at him and asked why his account officer had referred to her as his ‘girlfriend’ and wanted to know if he had been discussing her with his account officer.

He had smiled, drew closer and placed his hands on her shoulder and acknowledged that he had once told his account officer when he was asked if she and he were having a relationship. He had said they were so as to keep his account officer and other male colleagues away from her because his account officer had mentioned to him that the guys at work were taking bets on who would approach her first. By confirming that he had relationship with her to his account officer, he knew the news would go round and the others would back off. He was well known and no one would want to lose their job nor would the account he held with the bank.

He continued that he had observed that she was independent and not the superficial nor supercilious type and that within the time he had met her, things had drastically change for great. He had been awarded more projects and even old and forgotten clients within and outside the country had contacted him. Therefore he had proposed that he would give whatever and anything to take their friendship further.

He had held her facing him and pleaded with her to accept him. He had fallen in love with her. She hadn’t spoken a word, only listened as he poured out his heart.

Even so, she couldn’t lie. Not while he had been holding her that close. She had bottled up her emotions for so long she yearned to be free. The past months they spent as friends, she had developed great likeness for him. She loved his company. Never letting him know how she felt. He had been a complete gentleman. Never once had he pressured her into doing anything indecent.

She had held on his gaze. He had asked to kiss her. She had shyly accepted. The sparks had rocked her. She had been so weakened by emotions that she held on to him as he rocked her. They were locked in an embrace while seated. Dinner forgotten, she had let him make love to her on the couch in the living room. The whole world had been forgotten. It had just been the two of them. After dinner, they had talked more. He had professed his love to her and she had given in. He had taken her again, on his huge king sized bed in his room.

For many months she had basked in the euphoria of her new love. He would pop in to check her at work and would loudly call her “darling” “love” in front of her colleagues and even with other customers of the bank present. Although she hadn’t liked the attention it gave her but she hadn’t stopped it either. She knew it would offend him. On her first birthday with him, he had sent her chocolate at work with flowers. She had been so shy and uncomfortable around her colleagues even as they praised him for being so romantic. She was happy. They were a perfect match.

Trouble had started when one day her boss in the office had called her and told her that she doesn’t want her hurt and that she needs to put an end to her relationship with her boyfriend because she had some information about him from a friend of his whose wife was friends with her.

At first she had ignored it. But each time he checked on her and he sees her boss was seated at her desk. He would rush his greetings leave and would signal that she calls after work.

It went on for months. One day she decided to tell him that her boss had advised her to break off with him. She had asked him to explain why her boss would say that. He had replied that her boss was crazy and jealous of her progressive relationship. She had asked why he had thought so. He had then looked her and asked her to be careful around her boss because he suspected her boss liked him and wanted them to get together. He doesn’t like women chasing him, he loved doing the chasing. He had concluded that her boss was a menace and advised her to stay away from her.

She hadn’t argued nor had she contested his account because she had no evidence. Besides her boss hadn’t told her anything other than to stay away from him because he would hurt her.

There had also been instances when some of her colleagues would ask questions such as “Is your boyfriend serious with you at all? and she would in turn ask why they thought he wasn’t  hoping she would be told something. This went on for months. Then he stopped coming to pick her at work, she would take a cab if she needed to see him, some times he would send his driver. The romantic text messages had stopped too. She only got messages if she had missed his calls while working or to inform her for any cancellation on their date and when she mentioned the change in his attitude and behavior; he had calmly apologized and explained that his work and many projects were weighing him down.

On her second birthday with him, he had traveled without informing her but had called two days after the birthday that he totally forgot but would make it up to her when he returned. He never did. He had been too busy. He only talked to her when he wished but was always ready to make apologies.

One time she had been so ill and had gone to the hospital without his support. She contacted him that it was important they see each other. Due to the urgency in her voice, he came to see her at work but waited at the parking lot. When she approached him, he commented on her frail looks. She had been ill, she told him angrily and asked why he hadn’t come to see her despite her calls and the message she had sent. He denied getting the message but had seen the calls but was busy with clients who had traveled from Europe to see him.

She had proceeded to explain the reason for her urgent was because she had missed her monthly menstrual flow and she wanted him to know the situation. He hadn’t taken the news well and had told her she had to go to the hospital at once to get an abortion because he wasn’t ready to have a family yet. He was making the decision for both of them because it was the best at the moment. He had told her he would foot all the bills. She should make an appointment right there in front of him. Too shocked, she complied. Satisfied, he had told her to make an excuse at work, his driver would come back to take her for her appointment and to bring cash for her. She had returned to her work while he had driven off. She had done some more work before she took an excuse to go for her appointment at the hospital where she had been admitted weeks before. While waiting to pick a cab, the driver had arrived with an instruction to take her to the hospital and to give her an envelope. She had let the driver take her, seated in front she had directed him and had asked him to leave, promising to call his boss to send him back when she was through. He had left after giving her the envelope containing cash.

The French doctor who had treated her for acute typhoid had been surprised to see her and had requested that the doctor on call let him attend to her. Her test results after speaking to the doctor came negative. The doctor had explained her that her missed period was due to stress and also because she had been on antibiotics medication. She was advised to eat more and take plenty fluids.

She had left the hospital happy that day. Elated she hadn’t committed murder nor even died herself if she had had to have an abortion. She decided then on to part ways with him. Although he had called and sent messages, when she hadn’t replied he had come to her office and demanded to see her almost making a scene. She had taken an excuse from her boss. Outside he had asked why he hadn’t heard from her for weeks nor had she returned or replied his calls and messages. She had calmly told him it wasn’t important to do so. Everything was fine with her and the test results had come back negative, so they weren’t going to have a baby. She had also been told to lay off stressful work so as to regain her health and that’s exactly what she was doing. He was the only stressing thing in her life and she was staying away from him. He had asked if she was breaking up with him and she had answered yes and walked towards her office building. She waited a little bit more to comport herself before going in. While still outside her office building, she had turned and saw him parked three blocks away from her office building. He was still seated in his car, a light skinned lady walked towards him, he opened the door from inside, the lady hopped in and they drove off. What she saw had been painful but was also a confirmation that she had done the right thing ending their relationship. If not for the unending excuses he was always making but for the fact that he had said he wasn’t ready to have a family. It also meant their relationship cannot move beyond ordinary dating.

Several weeks later, he appeared at her house on a weekend. By then, she had started living alone at a new residential district in Central city town. One of her new colleagues had visited her that evening and they had planned on going out for drinks. Her colleague was meeting him for the first time and she had introduced him as her ex. He had smiled and told her colleague that it wasn’t true. They were still dating but had a disagreement and he was there to sort things out. He had traveled and needed to give her time to cool off. All these, he was telling her colleague not minding they were meeting for the first time. Her colleague decided to give them time by cancelling on their outing and called her boyfriend to pick her. Not wanting to be alone with him at her house, she requested they take a drive to talk after her friend had driven off with her boyfriend.

He wanted to get back with her. He had missed her so much but he had to give her space because he knew she was angry. He had also explained that his excuses were real; his job was really a hectic one. Most of his clients would rather have meetings with him very late and at mid night when they too are calm. Most of them were senators and top government officers. He also acknowledged that he had acted cruel by asking her to get an abortion. He was sorry and glad she hadn’t gone through such because he wouldn’t forgive himself if something had happened to her.

More so, saying he wasn’t ready for a family yet doesn’t mean he wasn’t serious. He had to plan his family life. He had to have time for his wife and kids. He couldn’t handle it at this present state of his work. No woman will appreciate a man going off for midnight meetings or keeping late nights. She had let him finish before she mentioned that she had seen him picked a light skinned lady three blocks from her office the day they broke up. So who was she?. He hadn’t remembered so she explained very well where he had parked in front of the plaza three blocks away from her office  and how when turning she saw him opened the door of his car while he still seated and a fair skinned lady hopped in.

Then he hissed and smiled and said it was true that he had picked a lady truly. He had parked to receive an incoming call, he was about to drive off when the lady asked if he could drop her at a junction. It was hot that day and he had obliged her. Besides, it would have been inhuman not to help her. He had also said he wasn’t a cheap man to just pick any random lady and begin another relationship minutes after a break up, assuming he had consented to their breakup. He just had to let her be, to simmer down. He wanted them to start again. He had also said that his projects were still many and ongoing but he would always try to find time for her. She was too important in his life to just leave like that.

She had accepted him back because he had pleaded so much. She had forgiven him. More so,she had missed him too. There in the car not so far from the city park, they had kissed hungrily and passionately. He had held her hands in his and told her how much he loved her and she knowing this would always take advantage by treating him as she wished. She had smiled and said the same to him. They had both laughed. He had taken her to a five star restaurant that night to celebrate their reunion.

Although calling on her during office hours had stopped. He would send messages asking how she was and to let her know of his movements, whom he was having day or night time meetings with and when he would be free to see her. They were doing great. He had promised to take her to see his parents who lived in another region of the country but he never did. Nor had she ever spoken to them. Although he had told her they knew of her already because he had told them about her. She too had told her parents about him but he hadn’t met them nor had he spoken to them. Her parents too lived in another region of the country. She had hoped as soon as he took her to meet his parents she too would do the same.

She had never bothered him for anything even if she couldn’t handle it. She was independent and financially okay and even he commended her for it.

One time, about two and a half years into their relationship, her landlord sold his building, the new owner wouldn’t renew rents but gave time till each tenants would find a new place. Not wanting to be the last to leave the building, she began her search and found one flat she liked. She had limited cash and had asked him to help out. He had asked her how much the new place cost. She had told him and he had said he would get back to her. She had waited for two weeks without a response to her request. She then placed a call to remind him and he promised to see her soon. Not wanting to look desperate, she decided to let him be. By then the new apartment had been rented out so she had to look for another. Thankfully, she had been participating in monthly contribution with some of her colleagues but it wasn’t her turn to take cash so she decided to inquire from some of her colleagues to know whom she could swap with so as to get payment which she would use to pay for a new place. One of her colleague had oblige her his turn since her need was urgent.

She was able to get a place within an estate outside of town. She had completed and concluded her moving arrangement without his help. She didn’t begrudge him.  She had let the issue slide. By their third year, he was travelling more frequently and forgetting to inform her. She would sometimes hear mostly from his account officer who would ask how she was doing, if she was hearing from him or he would start with a complaint of how stressing it was for him dealing with her boyfriend. To all these she would smile, hiding the fact she knew nothing of his whereabouts. Sometimes he would call her while on his trip or would wait till he arrived, take her to dine and start complaining about how the country wasn’t moving forward, how he was tired and needed a break. She would listen, put on a smile and tell him to take things easy. She made love with him when she wanted as opposed to when he called for it. She would sometimes excuse herself after dining with him, taking a cab home. She was hoping he would notice the change in her behavior and make amends. If he did, he never showed nor asked her anything. This further proved their relationship was no longer of interest to him.

Furthermore, there were reshuffling in her office. Her boss had been transferred to a branch with a man to replace her as the head of her department. She too had been posted to a new desk, reporting directly to the new department head. Her new posting brought frictions between her and the new boss. He often found faults with her despite her commendable work ethics from other departmental heads. She was dealing with so much work. Her boss was harassing her. She had no one she could talk to.  Her friends were no help. After confiding in them, they advised her to give in to their boss’s demands if she wanted to keep her job.

She had approached her boss and requested for a transfer to another region of the country close to her parents. He had assured her he would take necessary steps in ensuring a quick transfer for her. She also needed to get someone to make an exchange from other branch to replace her.

She had set to work sending emails to acquaintances and colleagues within and outside her branch to know who was interested in making a transfer. After four months, she had made a head way through a friend who connected her to the interested candidate who was a lady. They had booked to meet during one of their annual training. On getting to know themselves and the boss she would work with. The lady declined to continue the process claiming she had been harassed by the same man at one time when she had newly started work the bank. It was the intervention and several threats made by her older sibling who also was in the same sector that saved her. She had been transferred from that branch to where she was now coming from. Her new acquaintance had told her to pray because he would frustrate her. Truly, he frustrated her with memos, queries and then finally a suspension from their regional head. He claimed in his report that her customer service was poor and customer’s had complained to him a lot. He had also gone as far as to incite some customer’s known to him personally to make scenes at her desk to back his claim. He would also question some customer’s at her desk if she was attending to them well.

All these were unknown to her boyfriend because he had disappeared totally from her life. She was battling to save her job. She had been suspended for a month with no pay.  While on the suspension, she had been so depressed she fell back heavily into smoking and drinking. Her friends had condemned her for not handling the issue of her harassment maturely, after all, it was just sex and she could have given in and saved herself from trouble.

She hadn’t thought that way but wouldn’t explain it to them either. She just couldn’t allow a man use or cow her into having sex with her just to keep her job. This new boss was a married man and despite not being in the best of relationship, she would never be involved in office romance with a married man. On resumption, she had changed her looks by having her hair cut. She had been well received. Her desk and job function had been changed. She had been moved to sit beside her boss on the ground floor banking hall. While her locked identification was being processed for release that day at the bank’s HQ, she had decided to ask if she had wronged her boss in any way and pleaded that he forgives her. His response had been shocking and confirmatory that he was really after her pants. He had said, he wasn’t mad at her in any way, she was hard working and everyone praised her ethics which was okay by him. She had been so shocked that she requested for the day off and he said she would have to quit then. She had picked her bag and removed a hard copy of her resignation letter and had given it to him. On his request, she submitted another copy to the branch secretary who had scanned and sent copies to the HR department.

From her savings, she had rented a space at the city food court, employed two staffs who had helped her in selling lunch to busy government workers and started a catering business. From her profits, she had invested in bedspread, pillow case and throw pillows of different sizes and shapes which she sold on the side. The competition for the catering was high and she was almost running into debt so she stopped cooking to concentrate on selling the bed spread, pillow cases and throw pillows to fully concentrate on home decor.

On one weekend, while treating herself to ice-cream at a shop. She had gotten a call from one of her former colleagues who wanted to know if she was still in relationship with her architect boyfriend. Sensing there was more to the question, she had replied no and her caller had told her of how he recently got engaged to a young lady who happened to be the sibling to her own childhood friend who had invited her to celebrate the union at their new home. She had seen several of his pictures and the engagement ring her friend’s sister wore was the topic of discussion because it was quite a fortune. She further told her that the celebrant and her family were living in an apartment rented and paid for by her ex. Her caller had told her she felt she owed it to her to tell her what she had witnessed so she wouldn’t be hurt.

She had thanked her caller and told her they had stopped seeing each other few months back. They had chatted more. On getting home, she had broken down in tears and wept. She had stayed indoors for a few days thinking of her life. Sad and lonely with no one to talk to, she took to drinking and smoking. After much thought, she had contacted her landlord and told him of her intention to terminate her rent and relocate. The reimbursement on her rent had been used to get the new accommodation out of Central city town……

******

She heard someone yelling from the gate. She got up to see one of her neighbor from the first floor. He was locked out. The security man was running towards him from outside of the locked gate. She turned to check the time, it was 11: 50 p.m. She picked her small black bible and began to read from the book of psalm till she dozed off.

 

About the author

Victoria Goldstone

Victoria Goldstone is an a writer, blogger and seasoned paint artist, She prides herself in the ability of her creativity which comes from various people and their life experiences - by bringing such variables together and crystallizing it in her writing prowess.

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