There is a lump in my throat. No, it is this tightness in my chest. It must be heartburn. Indigestion. Must be from using too many eggs in the omelette I ate last night.
Two eggs in an omelette is not the cause of my discomfort. It’s because ever since Nanya’s birthday party on Saturday evening, I’ve felt this way. I should have listened to that voice in my head that warned me the party would be a bad idea. But hey, free booze! Well, that and also the opportunity to meet tall, dark strangers who hopefully would be drunk enough to notice me and maybe want to have a close dance and maybe…
Stop it! You are not that desperate! At least…not yet. Besides, it’s only been 2 months, 11 days and 17hrs since he brok…. See, there’s still hope, he could still come back.
Titi said it took 90 days to get over an ex. It wasn’t 90 days yet, so there was still hope.
And then, there he was at Nanya’s party, with that skinny girl glued to his arm the entire time. And her name was Hope. Needless to say,’ hope’ took on a whole new meaning to me from that night. The sight of them slobbering all over each other nearly made me throw up all the gizdodo I had been happily munching on before their arrival. I grabbed my purse, spotted Nanya in the far corner chatting happily with her fiancé’s friends and decided to exit silently.
A few minutes later, I pulled my car to a stop in front of my apartment building. My knuckles hurt and I realized I had been gripping the steering wheel too tightly. Moving on autopilot, I got out, went into my apartment and locked the door. I opened the fridge and the bottle of Irish cream I had bought last week in anticipation of our “make up date” sat there looking all glum.
“Come to mama.” I grabbed it by the neck and not bothering to get a glass, unscrewed the top and took a long drink straight from the bottle. I curled up on the couch, shoes and all and drank every last drop from the bottle. And no, I did not cry. There was no need. I had lost to Hope. It was indeed over.
Hours later, I was awakened by the sound of shattering glass. I had slept off and the empty bottle had slipped from my hand and hit the ceramic tiled floor. The sides of my head throbbed like a heavy metal band hand played there all day. I tried to swallow, but could not get past the lump in my throat.
“ How did that get here? I thought, looking at the broken bottle at my feet. Stepping over it, I made my way to the kitchen and proceeded to make myself an omelette which I ate right out of the pan. Dumping the pan in the sink, I went to the room to sleep. If I had looked at the wall clock hanging above the television, I would have seen it was past 3am in the morning.
My sleep was filled with dreams of me looking for hope. Or Hope.
The cool morning breeze brought the sound of some soft, gospel music playing from Mr. Madu’s car stereo. He was probably washing it out in the front yard. In another hour, he and his family of six would pile into the car and head to church.
Church. I hadn’t been to church in weeks. My mother would have a heart attack if she knew how erratic my churchgoing had become. I could almost hear her voice saying “Do not forsake the gathering of the brethren, Anietie. It’s at church gatherings that you will see, nice tall, handsome, God-fearing responsible men to marry. Not in all those gbangbadidika parties that Nenaya girl pulls you to.” She never pronounced Nanya’s name right. Pushing the covers off me, I stretched out and said, “Church it is!”
There is still a lump in my throat. I have chosen a seat near one of the large pillars on the church auditorium. Just in case the air conditioning in the auditorium lulls me to sleep. The prayers and all the hyms have not cured me of this lump…no, tightness…..you know, heartburn.
I smelled him before I saw him. Why someone would bathe in so much perfume to come to the house of God is just beyond me. Then he slides into the seat next to me, his forearm brushing against mine as he does. From the side of my eye, I see him turn to look at me and flash a bright smile with a “good morning”. My reply was meant to be “mmhmm” but what came out instead was a low grunt. All possibility of me being lulled to sleep by the air conditioning immediately disappeared. Not with this hotness beside me with his overpowering, but……really nice perfume. Hmm, aromatherapy. After a while, even his exclamations, claps and responses to the pastor’s words ceased to become annoying. His forearm rubbed against mine a couple more times and it felt..well, you know…brethrenly. He had rolled up the long sleeves of the pale green shirt he wore which he had tucked in casually into some dark colored pants. I thought it was cute the way his soul patch moved each time his lips moved. I was having so much fun drinking in the awesomeness that sat beside me that I didn’t realize the sermon was over and the choir had started setting up to sing. His fingers brushed lightly against mine as he passed the offering tray to me and I returned his smile.
After we shared the grace, I was pleased when the deacon who closed the service asked everyone to turn to their neighbours and wish them a blessed week. Mr. Aromatherapy turned towards me, hands in pockets. He took his right hand out of the pocket to take my outstretched hand and stuck between his forefinger and index finger was a teal colored rectangle of paper.
“ I, um, hope this doesn’t sound off. But, I’m a dentist. And we’re giving out seven free dentures this week as part of our CSR. I noticed you…”
He bared his teeth and indicated where I had a missing premolar. My smile disappeared immediately.
He quickly added, “You don’t have to. I was just…”
“It’s fine. I’ll be there.”
“Awesome! It would be great to see you again.” He gripped my hand firmly in both of his before he walked away, melting into the crowd of churchgoers.
I sat down again and turned the card over again and again in my hand as I read every detail. And then it hit me. This was what my mom had drummed in my ears about going to church and I didn’t know she spoke the truth.
You will meet a tall dark stranger. Hmm. But was he even that tall? Or dark skinned?
Well, I had a dental appointment coming up that would answer all these questions. And maybe…more.