RCA In-House, Short Stories, Tale Africa

Redemption (Part 3)

Prison Redemption
By Cynthia Ayeza, Uganda:

Life is a gift. New life, even so. The thought that something…someone is growing in you – that you are manufacturing a human being. Making a baby can be fun – usually people aren't really necessarily setting out for that – of course some do. But for me, it was different. It was my first real time. I do not know if that makes sense. It was not my first time having sex but it was my first real time because for the first time, two adults who wanted to be together were connecting in a special way without the unnecessary burden of being in love – funny that being in love can be seen as a burden, a hindrance to freedom. Are love and being in love the same thing? I wonder.

When I found out that I was expecting, it was not through a pregnancy test. I also did not have to miss my period to know that I was expecting. I felt the initial forming of life, the attaching…what people will call mild cramps. I felt every bit of him forming in me, unsettling the calm in my hormones and violently manifesting in morning sickness. I was ecstatic. Sick but excited. I knew three days after we had made love – there is that word again, love. Yes, I knew that quickly – for he manifested with a turbulence that could not be ignored. Perhaps it is this turbulent alert that was a sign…should have been a sign of what was to come.

Patrick and I met under interesting circumstances – at a friend's party, nothing uncommon about that but the party turned rowdy – and that too is not uncommon. I had accompanied my friend, Florence to the party, and Patrick knew the host – Dan. My friend it turns out was the host's friend – which made sense; but she also had wanted more from him for a long time. A few cocktails and Florence's mouth was without restraint, hurling insults at the girl upon whom Dan was spilling his affections. Before we knew what was happening, Florence and Dan's lady friend were tagging at weaves and afros, buttons snapping and straps coming apart. It is at this point that I discreetly sneaked out the front door to escape the commotion. I was embarrassed. I wanted to escape – run away and pretend I did not know Florence. I also did not expect to find Patrick standing outside. I was caught off guard.

“Hi…”

“Hi…leaving already?” Patrick asked.

“Umm…yes…wouldn't you?” I asked.

“Absolutely…” he said with laughter, “I do not know how people do this at all!”

Patrick turned to look at me, and it seemed like an entire minute passed, when he said, “would you like to grab a drink?”

“Umm…” I attempted to respond.

“Of course you can say no…I know we do not know each other well but let me buy you a drink and we can swap stories about why we are both on this side of the door and not the other side of it,” he interjected.

“Thank you,” I said, “But I really should be going.”

“Alright, then. Let me walk you,” he pressed.

Without giving it a thought, I agreed; after all, the night could not possibly get any worse than it already had. And so began an unexpected friendship. Perhaps all friendships begin unexpectedly – the stranger we hadn't noticed or the stranger we did not think could be sweet.

Ours was a quiet neighbourhood of fairly well to do families, and where a family did not have a fancy car, they had a car nonetheless. It needn't be fancy. It was also a safe neighbourhood. Patrick and I walked and found ourselves in endless conversation, opting to sit by a park bench, our laughter breaking through the dead of night. He was 29 and I was 28 – we understood each other fairly well, and even though I was not looking to date, the chemistry was undeniable. I was sorely attracted to him, and I think he read that about me almost immediately. It was a unique friendship – we understood each other so well. We had an immeasurable patience with each other although being both independent and fairly confident about what we each stood for, there really was little to be patient about.

After that night, we only met a month later, and after that second meeting, we met more frequently because this time, we thought about exchanging contact details. We did not date. A good, solid friendship formed. He spoke to me about anything and everything; while I spoke to him cautiously about some things. It was just the right kind of friendship for me…and yet lying here in this hospital bed, unable to speak, unable to move, unable to communicate in any way frustrated me; I wish I could reach out to him, reassure him, tell him it would all be alright. And our baby…

A phone rings…only twice.

“You better have a good reason for calling me!” a calm Patrick says.

“Is it done?” he says. The words are laced with ice.

“Good!” Patrick responds, ending he conversation.

I can feel a sudden presence next to me … and now on the bed. A soft hand strokes my left cheek, and then my forehead. A light kiss – as light as the brush of a feather upon my forehead. I recongise the hands, the touch, the kiss…but even if I could not be sure, his perfume was certainly as I remembered it – the exquisite Clive Christian 1872. I wish I could see his face, his eyes.

His gentle hand slowly runs over my eyes as he sometimes did when teasing me, only this time my eyes were closed. And now…now…I cannot breathe. I can't breathe!!! My chest tightens, struggling for some oxygen, I neeeeeeed to breathe! God, heeeeeelp!!!

To be continued…

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