Eve was seated on one of the chairs by the swimming pool, watching with pride as her son, Damian, taught his cousin Sasha how to float. Damian was a good swimmer and he had said it on many occasions that he wanted to become a professional swimmer when he grew up. He spent most of his time watching Swimming championships on TV and on Wednesdays, the designated day for swimming competition in school, he always woke up early after a night of fantasying himself in a pool. On the deeper end of the pool, Clair emerged from the water, pulling herself up to sit on the tiled floor. She looked sexier in her green bikini, wet hair and with water dripping off her skin, that she immediately attracted the attention of the white guy seated by the pool. Dressed in a pair of brown shorts, a grey T-shirt, and his MacBook Pro laptop opened before him, he seemed to have forgotten all about his swimming wife and two kids.
When Clair turned around to see the white guy gawking at her, she winked at him, making Eve silently wonder how she had managed to stay married to Danny while openly relishing the attention she got from men. When Clair stood to walk towards Eve, the smitten white fellow followed her with his eyes. Fully aware that she was being watched, Clair made sure her hips swayed with every gentle stride she made.
“I swear men only come to this place to gawk at women,” Clair said, grabbing a towel from the extra chair next to Eve’s, wrapping it around herself and sitting down.
“And you love that, don’t you?”
“Show me a woman who doesn’t love attention and I will show you a man who doesn’t wake up with an erection,” she said, winking at the white man who had obviously found it difficult to hide his admiration for her. “And you know what I love more? Raising a man’s hope and then crashing it. It gives me pleasure beyond words.”
“If you are not careful, one day you will be the one being crashed in a way only God knows,” Eve said, but Clair wasn’t listening. She was waving at her admirer who kept looking to make sure his wife wasn’t watching.
“So,” Clair turned to her, “Still bothered about that your useless mother-in-law? You know, the way that woman adored you when you first married her son, I doubted a day would come when you two would be at loggerheads.”
Eve heaved. “The line between love and hate is so fine that when one turns to the other, it’s so seamless you won’t even notice.”
“Or you can go back home,” Clair said. “It’s not like Tony picked you from the streets or something?”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“That you don’t have to deal with all the bullshit your mother-in-law is giving you. Unless you are prepared to fight her and lead a miserable life in the process.”
Indeed, she could go back home, for she was sure her parents would be more than willing to welcome her. Her father would even offer to deal with Tony’s mother on her behalf, but she wasn’t ready to start a war between their two families. She also did not view going back to her father’s house as a plausible solution for many reasons. First, she wasn’t ready to be ridiculed by her village people who saw it as a failure on the woman’s part to be sent away from her husband’s house. And second, because she was sure that most people back in the village knew that Tony was in jail, majorly because of her. And knowing her people, the story had probably been exaggerated in a way that it would take a battalion of priests, armed with holy water and speaking in tongues-prowess to make the villagers give her the benefit of the doubt. But she wasn’t so much petrified of her village people than she was of the fact that packing and leaving would give Tony’s mother an easy win. Yet she wasn’t ready to bow out of her marriage just like that. If she was going to, it would be after exhausting the fighting spirit in her.
She looked up and saw that Clair was filing her nails. Her swimwear, still clinging to her skin like a baby to its mother’s breast, left a whole portion of her skin bare for everyone who cared to marvel at. Before Eve could say a word, Clair held up the nail file. “You don’t have to say a word,” she said, “I know leaving your husband’s house when he hasn’t asked you to himself is a dumb idea.”
Eve chuckled before shifting her gaze to the main entrance just in time to see Chris walking in. Clair saw him too and leaned forward to ask, “What’s he doing here?”
Eve smiled but said nothing.
“Don’t tell me you invited him?”
“Take Damian home with you,” Eve said. “I will pick him from your house.”
“So, you are the one who suggested we come here and now you are ditching us for him? If this is what I am thinking, please don’t make things worse for yourself.”
Chris reached where they were before Eve could respond. Clair shook his hand before gathering her belongings; phone, bag and car keys and walked over to literally haul Sasha and Damian out of the pool. But first, she passed by the white guy’s table and whispered in his ear, “Si tu prends soin de ta femme, tu passeras plus du temps a l’admirer et pas les autres femmes. If you take good care of your wife the way my husband is taking care of me, you would spend more time staring at her and not at other women.”
She had assumed he was French because she had earlier overhead his wife, a petite lady with wide cheeks, talking to her two daughters in French by the pool. She walked away from the white guy, smiling, loving how his nervous smile had turned into a wide grin in a matter of seconds.
Eve waved back at Damian who, together with Sasha, were trailing Clair to the car before turning her attention to Chris. The evening light shone on his face as he pulled a chair and sat across from her, his freshly trimmed beard shining with the aftershave. For a moment, Eve wished she could tell him about her fantasies and hope that he would be pleased to know she thought about him in a sexual way. If he hadn’t asked, she would have skipped the part where she had to tell him about the trouble she was having with her mother-in-law and concentrated on the part where they would have to plan on how to sleep with each other without being discovered. It amazed her, this intimate feeling she was having about him, because she knew she would die first before admitting she felt that way.
“You sounded worried when you called,” he said, holding up the menu a waitress had given him, though he had no intention of reading it. His eyes were on Eve. “So, I reckoned something was wrong and I would be lying if I said I didn’t think it had something to do with Tony’s mother.”
She smiled. “Are you sure that apart from being a lawyer, you don’t moonlight as a witch doctor?”
He laughed. “One would barely need to be a witchdoctor to know that trouble was brewing between you and your mother-in-law. You also must have given it away the day we went to see Tony in prison.”
She remembered how after he had told her not to beat herself up for it wasn’t her fault Tony was in prison, she had said, “I wish Tony’s mother could see that, too.”
“I am honestly confused,” she said.
“What for? Tony’s mother has no right to evict you from your matrimonial home, whether she paid for it with her own money or with money she found abandoned by the roadside one fateful evening on her way to a church meeting. The fact is the house is now yours.”
“And by mine you mean Tony’s?”
“I mean both you and Tony.”
She placed her glass of mango juice down. “Was it supposed to mean anything?”
“That text you sent me, calling me beautiful.”
“You can’t change the subject just like that.”
“I have been thinking about it, you know, and it would be nice if you clarified what you meant.”
“I didn’t know calling someone beautiful could have a different meaning other than affirming that she is beautiful?”
He stared at her for long before leaning back against the chair. But he did not look away, and neither did she.
“I love you, Eve,” he said.
“You love me?”
“The truth is I have always thought about you, way before Tony was sent to prison. When we shared a ride while going to see Tony in prison, it felt nice to be in the same space as you.” He leaned forward, hands on the table. “I know this doesn’t make sense but love almost never makes sense, right?”
“I am a married woman, Chris.”
“I have a wife too but—”
“What do you think will happen once your wife and Tony find out that we are having an affair?” she cut him mid-sentence.
“Who’s going to tell them?” He reached for her hand, but she pulled away from his grasp. He was hurt but went on anyway. “What if I were single and you were single. Would you consider the idea of us being together?”
“But we are not single, are we?” she said in a pleading tone, almost as if there was a chance he was going to tell her that yes, they were single.
“Are you saying no to me because you have a husband and I have a wife, or because you are not attracted to me?”
“What?” Eve said, swallowing hard. She crossed and uncrossed her legs, confused, because she hadn’t expected him to be so blatant with his questions. The question also brought in a flash, the memories of the other morning when she had fantasized herself in his arms while touching herself. Feeling backed up into a corner, and not wanting to make the situation even worse for herself, she stood abruptly and grabbed her bag from the table.Before walking away she told him, “You are paying for my drink because you’ve ruined my day out,” with a smile that said he had not. Knowing that his eyes were on her, like Clair, she walked with a slight sway, her ass trembling in the short dress she was in.
It felt wrong, and yet intriguing. She now felt less guilty because she had no doubt in her mind that it was only a matter of time before her marriage boat hit a dead end. Before walking out the gate, she looked back and found him watching her as she had imagined he would be, flashed him a smile and walked away. She could feel the intrigues that existed in her life before she got married once again knocking on the door. Would she open the door?
Editor: Nyarinda Moraa
Model: Rael Tomboy
Photographer: Otieno Nyadimo