I met Liv at a tech seminar in Abuja, where I was one of the guest speakers. She approached me, complimented me on my brief speech, talked about techy things and the near future, and then exchanged contacts. That instant, I knew she was the one. We saw a couple of times before I popped the question. It wasn’t rushed or anything, and the rest is history.
Setting aside the bottle of whiskey, I stared long and hard at the wedding band on my finger, wondering if Liv had it on when she screwed Laurette and frowned at the thought. I wondered how something small symbolised a life-long commitment and how easily it could mean nothing.
The knowledge of her betrayal was supposed to ease my pain, yet I hurt even more. I thought about the swell times, the fond memories… Everything revolved around her; there was nothing I could think of without her in the picture. She was my everything. I knew she said it had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help thinking if I had triggered something to make her do what she did. Had I become so distant, so far apart, she couldn’t express her emotions, had I been so hard to talk to, or did I get so distracted with work that she succumbed to ennui?
I remembered the first time she introduced me to Laurette, and I recalled apologising for being late because of the meeting I attended. I remembered Liv gushing about Laurette long after she had gone Laurette was pretty and accomplished in her worth, but I hadn’t spared her a second look because there was no need to, even after her multiple advances. I had Liv, and she was my queen. That was enough for me.
I remembered the Sunday she told me about her betrayal and how I had walked away stunned and speechless—not wanting to hear more because everything seemed to have lost meaning, perspective and form.
I heard my phone vibrate in my pocket, and without looking at the screen, I received the call, “yeah.” I sounded drowsy.
“I’m not home,” I lied when I recognised the caller’s voice. I didn’t want company.
“Come on, man, I know you’re inside.”
“Taribo, I’m not home,” I responded.
“I know you’re there. Just open the darn door, will you?” Taribo retorted.
I went mute, “come on man, let me in, will you?”
“Fuck!” I said after a while, then let him in.
“Just look at you, drinking all by yourself,” he told me, sighting the bottle in my hand.
“There is nothing like drinking all by yourself,” I replied, raising the bottle in the air.
He removed his jacket and sat on the floor beside me.
“I’m sure you know why I’m here.”
“I’m certain you will tell me,” I responded.
“Liv asked me to check on you.”
“Did she now?”
“Yes, she did.”
“Taribo, I’m a grown arse man. I don’t need you babysitting. I’m hurt, not fragile.”
“Exactly the response I was expecting.”
“What does that mean?”
“That you are vulnerable right now.”
I sighed. We were quiet for a while.
“You know,” I began breaking the silence, “we finally talked”.
“How did that go?”
“I don’t know, man. I thought I had everything right. I thought we were”it”. I never thought I’d ever be here. I thought we were perfect. I felt Liv was content, you know, happy with me, happy to be where we are now…”
I paused, “Now, nothing makes sense, everything seems to have shifted, and everything I believe has just crumbled. I don’t know if I can ever trust Liv again or if I will ever be enough for her. I feel hurt, I feel deceived-” I gulped the whiskey.
“I mean, I can’t believe I am saying this, but I-I still can’t picture my life without her. I still love her. Weird, right?”
“No, not really.”
“You know, she says she is sorry and wants us to be together. She says she wanted to experience something new and different and couldn’t do that with me.”
Taribo said nothing. I gulped the bottle and continued anyway.
“I thought that knowing the reason would make me feel better. I felt knowing would give me some clarity and that it would be enough to ease the pain I felt. The painful thing is that I don’t feel better. It still hurts because she never gave me the chance to prove whether or not I could give her whatever she wanted to feel with her lover. Like, she decided without asking me, and in my opinion, that was very selfish of her. Because, by God, I know I had some distractions and still do. I mean, there were more than a handful of opportunities for me to explore, to want to feel some emotional connection with someone else, even fulfil some kinky fantasy and shit-” I wanted to gulp the bottle when Taribo snatched it from me.
“You know, the funny thing is the woman she slept with also came onto me strong and hard. But, unlike my wife, I turned her away.”
I sighed. Speaking of, “that explains why you are here. Liv asked you to check on me, didn’t she?” She always told Taribo to check on me when she couldn’t.
“As much as I dislike being the intermediary, I see why she asked me to.”
I scoffed, “yeah yeah, whatever,” I told him.
“I am worried about you, man.”
“Can I have my bottle back?”
“Bro, I wasn’t making a request.”
“There is no way I am giving you the bottle. You have consumed more than 80% of the content anyway. Look, I am not good with pep talks, and I will not pretend I know how you feel because I don’t. I know Olivia made a mistake-”
I started laughing at the word mistake, not that it was funny, but I somehow found humour in it. “Yeah, you suck at this, bro.”
“At least you can still smile.”
“Pass me the bottle. After all, I’m almost done drinking.”
“Look, I know I am at my wit’s end here, but if you can find it somewhere in your heart to forgive her and move past this, that would be great for you and Liv. I know every relationship has its challenges, and the love you both feel should be able to keep you and her above these challenges no matter your differences. I suggest you see a marriage counsellor or therapist. Do you have some edibles here?”
“Always the hungry fella.”
“Hey, come on, I was about to prepare something when Liv summoned me.”
“Help yourself out,” I told him, smiling sheepishly.
“Your refrigerator is empty, and your cabinets are empty! So what do you feed on anyway?”
“You really need to burn the calories once in a while. So anyway, I ordered the egg and chicken fried rice. Is that okay with you?”
“When did you do that?”
“A few minutes ago.”
“Cool. I am so hungry.”
“In about eight minutes, it should be delivered.”
“We need to get you out of this mood while we wait.”
“Where is your gaming controller?”
“Your PS pad”
“Oh, uh, I’m really not sure where I dropped it, but you should check around the TV set.”
“Seen.” He smiled, “prepare to be slayed.”
“You have never won.” I retorted.
“Well, come on and get slain. I’m sure you will blame the fact that you’d lose on being tipsy.
“I’m not tipsy. Even with my eyes closed, I’d still win.”