Love Scandal

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The door was ajar. From time to time, a gentle breeze raised the long curtains running down the living room wall. Eve overheard the conversation of the women outside deep in gossip, and who occasionally broke into a hearty laughter that got her smiling. She sunk deeper into the couch and crossed her legs as her eyes took a lazy tour of the room and everyone in it. Danny was seated at the dining table, holding his now three months old daughter. Seeing him with his muscled arms holding this delicate little girl who made him look so vulnerable was a sight to behold. She imagined how one day, in a week’s time actually, Tony would also be holding their baby. This thought made her wish the due date could come sooner.

When Danny looked up, their eyes met. They flashed each other quick smiles before he focused back on his daughter who was raising her cute tiny hand to pinch his nose. Eve laughed when he feigned pain and made this groaning sound much to the delight of the young girl. Right next to Eve was Tony. He sat with his legs spread out before him and his hands tucked between his thighs. His eyes were closed, probably taking a nap. He looked tired. He, after all, had driven them to the village the same day to celebrate the addition of a new member in Danny and Clair’s family. It had taken three months to hold the celebration because Danny wanted to give Clair time to heal and recover before entertaining guests, an idea which Clair agreed with.

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Love Scandal

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The sun was going down when they pulled over in the parking lot of The Legends’ Inn, a swanky bar that attracted a modest crowd of rich men and women who sipped from their glasses and whispered in their conversations. When they walked in, Eve’s arm coiled around Tony’s left arm like a snake on a twig, the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi welcomed them with his equally legendary song— Wasakara. An infectious music that blew its way into Eve’s ears and heart, making her fall in love with it. It was no surprise though because she was yet to get over Todi, yet another Oliver’s song with which brought childhood memories whenever it played.

Tony, as if reading her mind, leaned in and said, “Oliver Mtukudzi sings in the language of love. A language you needn’t be familiar with to understand. He might as well be singing about war but still, make you want to fall in love.”

“I agree,” she said in a whisper, happy that at least they were syncing on something.

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Love Scandal

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He had made uncountable appearances in her dream. Showing up holding his charm in one hand and a promise in the other. A promise of unending love. She would wake up, and though aware that it was just but a dream, she would still feel the unoccupied side of the bed with her hand as if by dreaming about him he would magically appear. On such occasions, the desire to call him would be overwhelming, but she would remember what her mother-in-law told her about the need for him to learn his lesson. So she wouldn’t call. It was because of this that on this day, she still found it difficult to believe that it was really him, her Tony, standing before her. She repeatedly closed her eyes and opened them, rubbed them even, wanting to be absolutely sure that indeed this was not on of those many dreams.

All this while, he patiently leaned against the door, admiring the woman he loved. He chuckled every time she rubbed her eyes and whispered, “Okay, please let this be true. Let this not be a dream.” And he wanted to say, “So you have been dreaming about me, huh?” But he didn’t. He said nothing. He stood there silently, looking at her the same way an artist would look at his precious painting that no one else but him gets. A painting that he felt no need to explain what it really meant because he was okay with keeping the meaning to himself.

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Love Scandal

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She hung up when his phone rang once. Her heart was threating to rip her chest apart and while holding her face in her hands, she wondered if she was doing the right thing. What was she going to say when he answered? Wait, what if he never answered? Would she be able to live with it? She observed a brief moment of silence, took in quick deep breaths and thought about what she was about to do. Was she really ready to give him the impression that she missed him so badly? Yes, she convinced herself. Now was not the right time to play games. Tony was doing the right thing, and she needed to join him if they were to stand a chance of being together. She dialled his number again and after the second ring, he answered. His voice was so deep it turned her knees into rubber, so she slowly sat down on the edge of her bed, again finding it difficult to breathe.

“Sweetheart, are you there?”

Her eyes, her lips, and her spirit smiled all at once. He called her sweetheart. She couldn’t believe it. He still called her sweetheart? Even after walking away and then eventually, running away from him? He still called her sweetheart. And it wasn’t just in his calling her sweetheart that melted her heart, it was in the way he said it. The way it rolled off his tongue with ease like lyrics from the lips of Ed Sheeran. She could feel her racing heart and anxious nerves calming down. Her breathing evened out too. She always missed him, but never knew how much until this moment.

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Love Scandal

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It starts with you being the only son in the family. In fact, the only child, born of a single mother. So it also starts with you not knowing your father— it seems he decided that his life will be much better without you and your mother in it. It starts with you growing up imagining how your father looks like, imagining how he smiles or laughs because a man’s laughter says a lot about the kind of man he is. You wonder how he and your mother met. The kind of words he used to get her to open her heart for him, get pregnant for him, only for him to walk away without ever looking back. It starts with you constantly asking your mum of his whereabouts and every time you ask, you are met with a sneer and silence so loud you could hear a soul breathing miles away.

Eventually, you stop asking about your father. Your mother is doing her best to give you all you will ever need in life and you asking about your father, you suspect, makes her feel like she isn’t doing enough. So you stop asking. You accept your fate. And go through life like every other kid. Your mother wants you to be an accountant, so you go ahead and pursue Accounting course even though you have zilch interest in accounting. You graduate, refuse to look for a job and to avoid fights with your mother, you relocate to the village to live in your posh house that your mother built with her own sweat. She always used that phrase, my own sweat, to remind you that the things she owned did not come easy.

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Love Scandal

The morning dew clung on the grass like a boy who keeps hanging around after a breakup. The scent of a new dawn rented the air, you could feel it waft through your nose into your lungs when you breathed.  Trees swayed gently in the direction of the breeze and the early birds were up, ready to catch the worm. Tony was one of the early birds. He walked out of the house dressed in blue jeans and a grey pullover, hands pocketed to prevent them from freezing. He was meeting Danny at Sahara restaurant, though Danny did not understand why they needed to meet that early. But since Tony had insisted that it was urgent, they agreed to meet nonetheless over a cup of tea.

Sahara village loved its sleep. It was never eager to get out of bed. At the break of dawn, it’s when it pulled over the sheets to its head, which is to say that there were very few people on the road, mostly school children and teachers. The children appeared to be dragging their feet, wondering why they had to be subjected to early mornings in the name of education. The teachers dragged their feet too, probably wondering what they did wrong to deserve being the first ones up, and also the first ones to bid goodbye to their salaries because they were too meagre. But it wasn’t the dragging of feet that got Tony travelling down the memory lane, rather, it was the fact that Eve was also a teacher. On any normal day, she would be among those dragging their feet to school but now she wasn’t. She was in his mother’s house, hiding from him. And perhaps, hiding from her feelings. From the hurt.

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Love Scandal

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The rain had died down and darkness had risen, spreading its large wings to cover the whole of Sahara village. It was so thick, this darkness, a spear wouldn’t have been able to pierce through it. The kind of calmness that shows its face after a heavy storm also settled in, making the night one of a kind. From where he sat, in the living room, his legs stretched out on the couch, and with the lights off, Tony listened to the distant voice of a lady singing in what he assumed was a church vigil. She had a beautiful voice which managed to pierce through the still night as she sang her heart out about hope. Or something along those lines. He listened to it until this voice turned out to be Eve’s and was no longer singing about hope. It was, instead, calling him a coward. A coward is what she called him earlier that evening and while ordinarily, he cared less if someone called him a coward for something he did or didn’t do, this was different. It was different because it was Eve calling him so. And what she thought of him mattered.

He closed his eyes and tried to catch some sleep but the only thing he caught were the memories of what happened that evening. He remembered standing in the kitchen’s doorway, hands thrust deeper inside his pockets, glaring at Eve with her face buried in his phone. He could have rushed and snatched the phone from her but he didn’t. He remained put, almost as if he wanted her to find whatever she was looking for. When Eve raised her head, he cleared his throat to announce his presence, but she did not look his way. He waited for a few seconds and then cleared his throat again, this time louder and she turned to look at him, eyes watery, veins running down her neck like multiple railway lines.

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Love Scandal

brianmbanacho | Brian Mbanacho

Tony stood at his door dressed in a black V-neck T-shirt and a grey pair of shorts which had many large pockets. He gazed at the thick dark clouds gathering in the sky and wondered if the approaching downpour was going to match the hailstorm in his heart. For days, his heavy heart had weighed him down he was unable to walk without a slight bent. For days, he had gone to bed hoping that morning will come with calmness and assurance he so much needed and desired. But just like January which you wake up hoping that it will be gone, the sadness and confusion in his heart lingered for a little longer, like a visitor who had overstayed his welcome.

It was ironical that he wasn’t sad because things were not going as expected. On the contrary, everything was falling into place. He was supposed to be happy that Danny had received acceptance from Clair’s parents. That as he stood there, waiting for the rain to hit the soil with the fury of a scorned woman, Clair had already moved in with Danny because he had managed to convince her parents after they refused to let them get married before she put to bed, that Clair was better off with him. That he got her pregnant, and that it was only fair he took care of her even if he was going to marry her at a later date. Tony was supposed to be happy that now he could be with Eve. But he wasn’t happy.

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Love Scandal

Couple Holding Hands

One day Clair woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom when she noticed the living room lights were still on. She remembered earlier on, Danny had kissed her goodnight and promised to join her in bed later on for he had a story to write. Can’t it wait till tomorrow? She asked before smoothly kissing him on the lips, purposely seducing him to shelve the writing idea and go to bed with her at that moment. He smiled, wrapped his left arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him, returning her kiss. But just as she was about to think she had won, he pulled away and said, “Unfortunately, words, just like time, wait for no writer. When words call, you answer.”

She understood so she left him behind.

From the bathroom she walked straight to the living room to find him seated on the couch, legs stretched on the table and his laptop balancing on his laps. When she moved closer, she saw that he was asleep. She lifted the laptop from his lap and placed it on the table, and she was just about to wake him up when the blinking cursor of the word document he was working on caught her attention. She stared at the first paragraph he had written and she could feel the excitement building up from her baby bump.

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Love Scandal

He pulled a chair and sat down. Looking at her, it was difficult to tell what was going on in her mind. Her face was expressionless. Her eyes were set on him, but he could tell she wasn’t really looking at him. He opened his mouth to speak but before he could utter a single word, his phone, still lying on top of the table, rang again. ‘Fiancee’ seemed to have run out of patience and so she was not waiting for Danny to return her earlier call. Now both their eyes stared at the ringing phone, at the explicitly displayed Fiancee’s smile than now looked cynical. Like ‘Fiancee’ knew of the demons she had awakened with her calls and she was loving every moment of it.

“Why don’t you answer your phone?” Those were Clair’s first words of the night since the first call. Her tone and voice were void of any bitterness and anger. They were plain, giving Danny every reason to be more worried. Out of experience, he understood that, as a man,  the last thing you want from your woman when you have given her every reason to be mad is for her to be calm. That is never a good sign. You will want her to yell at your face, her saliva flying to your face and dripping from your nose. You will want her to use the magic only women have to give objects such as cups and remotes and phones wings so that they can fly towards you. You will want her to pour water, preferably cold water, on you. But for her to be calm? No brother, NO. Calm in place of upset, in this situation,  is more dangerous.

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