“You know what I would have done if I were you? I’ll dump that lying, cheating, broke-ass son-of-a-bitch fast!”
“Annie, I just can’t walk out of a relationship of three years like it’s been three minutes only. It’s hard. It’s really hard.”
“The plan is not to make it easy; the plan is to call it as it is. From everything you’ve told me, it’s obvious David cheated on you!”
“But I don’t have concrete evidence that he did. Besides, he has said to me that he didn’t sleep with anybody. He said he has never cheated on me and never will.”
Annabel sighed. She didn’t have to tell Rain that she thought she was fooling herself. The scowl on her face, the tone of her voice and her protracted hiss said it all.
In the soft light of the interior of her Hyundai Accent, Rain searched for a paper handkerchief to dry her eyes. She had expected them to talk in the comfort of Annabel’s house, but her friend informed her that she had an unexpected guest staying the night. And because her house was a self-contained apartment along the old House of Assembly Quarters road, they’d not be able to converse freely. Plus, they’d be inconveniencing her visitor.
After deliberating on where else they could drive to for privacy at that time of the night, Annabel suggested they remained in the car. Rain was happy to drive to the secluded corner of the street to which Annabel directed her. She would have driven to Lokoja and back if it was what it took to get the advice she so desperately needed from her best friend.
The well-lit spot Annabel chose was in-between two high fences and it wasn’t too far away from a famous gated estate popular with the political class in the state, so Rain felt safe. The number of armed policemen she counted down the alley helped put her mind at ease even more. The two ladies spoke for close to two hours. It could have been longer if Annabel’s didn’t have to rush back to her guest who kept calling and texting intermittently.
Rain discussed her fears with her friend. She expressed her concerns about the turn of her relationship with David with the person she trusted the most in the world and she got the advice she sought.
In the course of their 7-year friendship, they had shared each other’s confidences and relied on one another for sound counsel, constructive gossip and the needed support to get through good and bad times.
The two met at a campus party during their undergraduate years at FUO and became fast friends. It was obvious to them every time they hung out that people were surprised at their closeness. Seeing them together, it was hard to imagine what the two girls had in common. Back then, Annabel was a campus big girl that only dated sugar daddies. She was rarely seen on campus because of her extracurricular activities. Rain on the other hand was the exact opposite – timid and studious. But their friendship worked because Annabel gave Rain tips on fashion and how to handle her campus admirers and boyfriends, while Rain’s monitoring was the reason Annabel was able to graduate with a third class from the creative arts department after three extra years in her faculty and countless exam malpractice allegations.
“So you think I should leave him even though I didn’t catch him pants down and there’s no evidence?”
“But the beads you found is more than enough evidence. If they don’t belong to you, then another girl must have worn them to your house. Your house, Rain! You’ve been paying the rent for that place for months now. I didn’t want to tell you this all this while, but I’ve had about enough of this guy.”
“Why do say you that?” Rain asked, perplexed.
“Yenagoa isn’t such a big town and stories get around.”
“What haven’t you been telling me?”
“That people have been seeing D3 with other girls.”
Rain stared blankly into the darkness. Her head was filling up with all kinds of thoughts, and to calm herself down, she rested her head on the steering wheel. Maybe Annie was right. She had been such a fool for David. She had let her love for him blind her to the glaring truth of their relationship.
It was true that she had been handling most of the bills in the house since she got the job with Edozie Express. She bought groceries, paid for utilities and even paid the rent because D3 had been out of work since the fire accident that burnt down Cleopatra Lounge, the restaurant in Otiotio he managed after he left Aridolf Hotel. She had never complained to him about it or seen it as a burden, but what if Annabel was right? What if she was his prime enabler?
“It’s still his house, you know? It’s his name on the lease and even now he’s out of steady work he still hustles to support my efforts – ”
“Rain, you’re being too trusting and forgiving with this guy,” Annabel scoffed. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re under some kind of spell or something. You used to be so mean and suspicious of guys, but all of a sudden you’re like clay in David’s hands. Common, where’s the Rain of four, five, six years ago? Where’s your thunder?”
“I guess I got tired of pushing men away and being that person that believed every guy was out there to – ” Rain stopped herself from saying too much. “Look, Annabel, before D3, I was a wreck and you know it. I let my insecurities and fears and past experiences sabotage my previous relationships, but I decided not to do that with David. With D3, it’s been different. I’ve been happy.”
“Can’t you see what’s happening here? Your boyfriend carries the money you’re working hard for and gives to all these small girls he’s banging in this town. He brought one of them to your house, possibly slept with her on your bed. Babe, that’s an unpardonable sin if you ask me.”
“Why do all men have to act like scum?” For the second time in one night, Rain broke down in tears. She placed her head on the steering wheel again and just let it all out.
“I hope those tears aren’t for D3? You’re bigger than this, I swear. You’re beautiful, smart and you have money. Rain, you can date any kind of guy in this town you want; D3 isn’t good enough for you.”
“I’m not crying because of D3,” Rain pulled out another tissue and dabbed the tears forming in her eyes. “This has been a very difficult week for me.”
“You’re having problems at work too?”
“It’s not work. I was even promoted today?”
“Wow! Then we should be celebrating and not discussing that small boy.”
“How can I celebrate when everything else in my life is falling apart?”
“Rain, what’s going on? Talk to me.”
Rain hesitated. Even though she had known Annabel for such a long time, she didn’t know if it was wise or right to finally open up to her and reveal her twelve-year-old secret to her.
“I told you about my parents, and how we didn’t get along and all that because they had a different vision about my future, which was why I ran away from home to live with relatives in Yenagoa instead of remaining in Port Harcourt with them, right?”
“Yes. I know the story. You told me when we were in school.”
“Well, that version isn’t correct. The true story is that I left home at fifteen because my father raped me.”
“Your father raped you?”
Annabel’s eyes dilated in shock.
“Well, technically he isn’t my father. My mother just told me that when I went home to see her this last time. The man I thought was my father all my life isn’t my real dad.”
When Rain got back home, David was out, but he dropped a note for her. He had travelled to Warri for a job interview. A part of her was happy he had a new job prospect and wished him well, but another part of her was sad that he would even contemplate accepting a job offer in another city. Was that how badly he wanted to end things and get away from her?
Rain struggled to come to grips with the fact that things got so bad really fast. Still, she willed herself to be happy for him. She searched for happiness in a box of chocolate and red wine, but her mind kept searching for unhappy thoughts. What if D3 wasn’t in Warri? What if he was snuggled with another somewhere in Yenagoa, while all she had for comfort and warmth were her four pillows?
“What on earth were you girls discussing for two hours?” David asked when Annabel got back to the house. He sounded worried.
“Sorry, dear. You know us women and gist.”
“Did she tell you anything about me?”
“No. Every time I brought up your name, she changed the subject,” Annabel undressed as she spoke. “I guess she was too excited about the promotion she got at work to worry about you,” she said jumping into bed with D3.
David pulled her close and they kissed passionately. After a minute or so, he pulled away from her and tried to act casual when he asked, “Rain was promoted?”
Yes. She’s now Chief Business Analyst or something.”
David kissed her again. This time it was longer, and it led to other things. As their bodies intertwined, their minds went their separate ways – each arching a different plot.