The tears streamed down Simi’s face as she raced down the Third mainland bridge. Rain clouds gathered in the sky above, but she was too upset to notice them. Her phone buzzed beside her in a small compartment, she ignored it entirely. She wondered what was wrong with her. She’d received the call from Andy earlier that morning fully ready to end their relationship but she found herself melting under his apologies and well-crafted compliments.
“I can’t live without you, Simi.” He’d said “I can’t lose you, you’re too special. Please let’s talk this over, my place or yours?”
And as always, she’d chosen his house and gone like a lamb to the slaughter. He’d apologized, made promises and then hugged her and the emotions came flooding back. She’d tried to tell him what she was prepared to say but found she was unable to. He had touched her in all the right places and her defences collapsed. The sex was slicker than usual and it left her feeling like a slut. It took all of her willpower to stop herself from crying in his house, so she hurriedly picked up her stuff and fled, leaving him very confused.
She broke in her car and started crying, unable to understand why crying seemed appropriate. She drove faster than she would normally do, trying to get home as quickly as possible. Regret washed over her in waves. She wished she took Izzy along with her, at least that would’ve deterred him—them a bit. She overtook cars without discretion, drawing honks and curses from the other drivers, palms stretched wide open in her direction.
Simi pulled into her compound teary eyed and slammed the door shut. She stalked past the security guard who she was sure was going to tell her mother he saw “Aunty” crying. Izzy met her at the front door, concern written all over her face. Simi ignored her.
“Simi! Don’t just walk past me. Are you okay? Where have you been?” Izzy inquired.
Simi continued up the stairs and into her room, where she plopped down onto the bed, buried her face in her pillows and began sobbing. Izzy approached her.
“Simi, what happened? Are you okay?” She sat beside her sobbing friend “Did he hit you? I know you went to see Andy.”
Simi didn’t respond. She couldn’t even if she wanted to. For some unfathomable reason, she felt dirty, used, betrayed. She got up, stripped and stepped into the shower, leaving Izzy sitting on the bed, confusion and worry etched onto her chubby face.
The cold water hit her with force. She shivered slightly and fumbled with the tap, trying to raise the temperature. She stood there, letting the water flow over her. She didn’t care about the weave on her head or anything else, her mind racing back and forth.
“Simi, I’m going to make you Horlicks downstairs, I’ll be right back.” Izzy shouted from outside the bathroom. Simi didn’t respond.
She knew Izzy would think she was crazy when she found out why she was crying. It wasn’t the first time she had slept with Andy so she had no reason to flip like that. Andy didn’t force her to do anything, she consented willingly.
“Pastor” Her inner voice said.
She tried to shut it out, shaking her head in the process.
“Pastor’s gist has gotten to you girl. Your conscience is messing you up.”
As much as Simi hated to admit it, she knew she was right. The man had put the fear of God back into her.
“You have to be strong Simi,” She told herself “God doesn’t just strike people dead for their sins.”
She knew that was true, at least in recent times. She’d seen places in the bible that claimed otherwise though.
“Get out of here and do something, you’ve messed up your hair already.” She scolded herself.
Shutting the tap off, she stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel from the rack. She had begun towelling herself dry when Izzy got back with two steaming cups of beverage.
“Trust you to make for yourself.” Simi said.
“What is wrong with you?!” Izzy screamed “First you walk in crying, and then you have a shower and start making jokes!?”
“No! I’m not taking that from you again. I demand an explanation.”
“Okay,” Simi replied coolly “I’m breaking up with Andy. Don’t say anything yet, I’ve made up my mind and I’m not changing it.”
“That’s impossible.” Izzy replied
“You can’t expect me not to say anything. I respect your decision but as your friend, I think it’s a silly one.”
“And why is that?” Simi inquired, strangely unoffended by Izzy’s retort.
“You guys are so perfect together. What more do you want? What do you want, Simi?!”
“First, I want to be happy. I’m no longer happy with him,” She began “Secondly, I want you to drop this and not one more word about this issue.”
“At least talk it over with someone else. Hear what they have to say.”
Simi considered Izzy’s advice for a moment and then grabbed her phone.
“Where are you going to?” Izzy asked as Simi bolted out of the room.
“Please give me a moment. Do not interrupt, I beg you!” She implored.
She found her way into the second living room, right next to her mother’s room and sat on one of the sofas there. She began with a text to Andy.
It’s over between us. You’re a great guy and all but I see no reason for us to continue. It’s not you, it’s me.
She cringed at the cliché breakup line but continued assuring herself she wasn’t in the mood for deep essays.
Thank you for being an awesome guy, but I need more. XO
Exhaling deeply, she navigated her way to her contacts list and scrolled down until she found the name she was looking for. Jonathan. She dialled and held her breath. For the first time, she noticed it was raining outside.
“Hello?” A voice at the other end answered. It was a female voice.
Simi froze for a second before replying.
“Um, hello. Can I please talk to Jonathan?” She responded.
“He’s outside, can you call back?” The voice answered, young and definitely female.
“Okay, thank you.”
She hung up feeling let down. Confused at her conflicting emotions, she scrolled through her pictures, skilfully avoiding the album titled “XOXO”. Her more random pictures were preferred as she waited.
The vibrating phone made her smile. Jonathan’s name flashed across the screen.
“Hello?” The calmness of his voice floated through the phone, or so she thought.
“Hey, it’s Simi.”
“I know,” He said, chuckling “What’s up?”
“Nothing much, I’m just at home, doing nothing.”
“Okay, do you guys have light?”
“Yeah, we almost always do. My mom bought an Inverter.”
“Lucky you, we have absolutely no light here.”
She liked the way he made small talk. He was very easy to talk to and soon they were immersed in random gist.
“That said, go straight to the point.” He said after some extra small talk.
“What?” Simi asked, genuinely puzzled.
“To be honest, I can’t explain how, but I know you have something to tell me.”
She smiled. He’d make a good detective.
“How’d you know?”
“I have my ways.” He replied, making her laugh.
“Okay, but on a serious note, please don’t judge me.”
“Don’t make promises so quickly.”
“Let me be the judge of that.”
She noticed the pun. He was assertive and witty.
“Alright then, here goes,” She took in a deep breath “I just broke up with my boyfriend.”
Silence ensued for a second and then he spoke.
“Okay, um, this doesn’t have anything to do with the incident at palms, does it?”
“No, not entirely. It’s kind of related sha.”
“And if I may ask, you’re telling me this because?”
She felt rejected by his question, like it was none of his business.
“No reason, I shouldn’t have brought it up. I’m sorry.”
“No, Simi. Don’t get me wrong. I’m kind of flattered that you shared this with me. I’m just scared that I had something to do with it.”
His response made her feel slightly better.
“Nah, don’t worry yourself. You had nothing to do with it.” She replied.
It felt like a lie. It was a lie. He had everything to do with it. She knew he was a conscious-unconscious factor in her decision.
“Good to hear. I don’t ever want to be in the middle of two friends. That said, are you okay?” He inquired.
She liked the tone of his voice. It was comforting.
“Yes, I guess. I’m handling it well, better than I thought I would.” She answered genuinely feeling alright with her decision.
“Good for you. I respect your decision though, after all, a failed relationship is better than a broken marriage.”
He sounded like one of those young pastors who talked about relationships and life partners.
“Yeah. I’m not just sure I know what I’m supposed to do from now on.”
“Wait, has he said anything?” Jonathan asked.
“Not yet. He will soon enough. My mind is made up sha.”
“Nice, just ensure its clean. Messy breakups are, well, messy.”
“Yeah. I’m -” She began but was cut short by Izzy shouting her name frantically “I’ll be right back.”
She hung up and strode out of the living room, towel still round her body. Izzy approached her looking shell shocked.
“What is it?”
“Your mom is back. She said you should come downstairs, and wear something appropriate.”
“What’s going on?” Simi asked
“I can’t tell you, just wear something quickly and let’s go.”
Simi felt uneasy. There was tension in the air. She hurriedly switched her towel for a black hoodie and grey sweat pants. She covered her wet hair with the hoodie and wondered if her appearance was ‘appropriate’ by any stretch of the imagination. She shoved her phone into her pockets and headed for the living room.
There were two people other people in the living room apart from her mother. Her mom was wearing a white shirt on khaki shorts. She looked barely thirty. The tension, however, hung in the air. The two other people were a man and a boy. The man wore a simple pink shirt over blue denim. The boy was trendier, sporting a black t-shirt, jeans and black sneakers. He looked 15, 16 at best.
“Simisola, sit down.” Her mother instructed with a seriousness in her voice that was barely heard in the house anymore. Simi recognized it and obeyed immediately.
The room was silent. The man stared at her, pain reflecting on his face. The boy was more composed than the man.
“Do you know this man?” Her mother inquired.
Simi studied him for a few moments.
“No.” She shook her head
Her mom paused. Simi noticed her struggling not to break into tears.
“This man,” She began “Is your bastard father that abandoned us.”