Kate Gabrah kissed her husband and embraced him on the side. They strolled to their bedroom, Kate’s needs apparent in the way she clung to Kwaku. She was quickly forgetting how being married felt like, meeting your husband as he comes exhausted and excited from work, preparing him a breakfast he will love to run late for. For the whole of July and August, Kwaku goes out before she wakes and comes in when she’s far deep into sleep. She forbade him from calling from work. She knew he will have to beat time to do that. She wanted to spare him the torture and herself the disappointment. Her only assurance he comes home is the feel of another person in the same bed with her and the tingling response of her skin to his soft kisses. She isn’t one to wake up from sleep in the middle of the night. She just fights to trust her guts.
“Tea or juice?”
Kate asked as Kwaku stripped off his suit, removed his tie and started unbuttoning his shirt.
“Cold water and a warm bath.”
He said, worn out.
Kate walked to the bathroom and turned on the heater. The water should run warm as soon as Kwaku is ready and turns the shower on. They both very much disliked when the heater is just turned on and the water is lukewarm for minutes before deciding to heat up. She sauntered to the kitchen and pulled out a medium size Voltic. She was glad she just put it in there randomly.
“So” She returned with the Voltic and a cup of ice cream for herself. “Who is likely walking out of the supreme court dancing this time?” She waved the Voltic into Kwaku’s hands and set her ice cream by the bed. She sat at the edge, facing the bathroom. She was determined to keep some conversation going before climbing into bed. She couldn’t tell when next she’ll have her husband. She hopes November. In July, the case was adjourned for a month, in August it was adjourned for another month, September. November should be good for any more delays.
“The opponent.” Kwaku ripped the rubber lining and removed the cap. He took a long slow drink and set it by the sink. He wish they’ll win already and spare him the hours of sitting and staring at past rulings and laws and screens that won’t make his marriage any better. The whole case was turning into a nightmare. He was beginning to get afraid.
“Suzzy thinks same?”
Kate squashed the cup and poured half of the ice cream into her mouth.
“She doesn’t say much about outcomes. She sticks to the end and allows the judge decide.”
Kate propped both palms backwards on the bed, unsure of what next to say. Is this what happens when a couple don’t talk every day for months? She let the question bubble in her mind.
“So” Kwaku grabbed the baby sponge, squeezed on bathing gel and run it across his body, thankful the water was actually warm. He closed his eyes as he spoke, raising his voice above the noise of the shower. “How is papa doing?” He asked of Kate’s dad, Sefa. Since his diagnosis of a heart failure, they haven’t got around paying him a visit they’ve been trying to plan, all thanks to his work.
“He’s getting along with his heart fine.” Kate determined to sound positive. Her dad won’t want her being miserable about him. Even if he was about dying in a year or two months less.
“We’ll have to make that visit soon.”
Kwaku washed off the lather and stayed under the shower. He will have to make his work go away soon. He is planning to reapply for a month break after the firm survives this case, a lose or win.
“We’ll have to.” Kate echoed. She poured the rest of the melting ice cream into her mouth and licked the edges of the cup. Vanilla with those little chocolate rocks as she loved to call them has always been her favorite. She lay on Kwaku’s shirt and studied the room curtains. They look like they need a visit to the laundry. She made a mental note and lowered her nose to remind herself of how her husband smells. An unfamiliar fragrance swept across her nose. Kwaku walked to the bed, towel wrapped around his waist.
“You’ve changed your perfume?” Kate raised her head so she was looking into his eyes.
“No. I wouldn’t change the perfume you insist I buy every time sweetheart.” Kwaku slipped on his boxers, cleared his clothes off the bed into their armchair. He pushed the curtains and stood, staring out the windows outside. Kate joined him, embracing him at the waist.
“Suzzy’s perfume?” Kate asked. She determined to put her suspicions to sleep, to shame them and free her heart to trust him.
“Yes. Suzzy’s.” Kwaku paused. There is nothing to be afraid about. He reminded himself just as he had on the drive home. Suzzy had bought a new perfume. She wanted him to smell it and playfully spritzed on his shirt. He was going to say that. That’s what happened. “Suzzy bought a perfume she wanted me to smell. She spritzed on my shirt.” He run the words and passed his hands through Kate’s hair, still staring outside. He wasn’t going to give her a chance to doubt him.
“Suzzy has time to play.” Kate knew she sounded sarcastic.
“She does. Actually I think that’s what helps her to cope with all the long hours of work.” Kwaku overlooked the obvious and kept on the conversation. “She’s working with Pamela on another case. She has to find a way to keep it light.” Kwaku turned and faced Kate. “I would love not to talk about work.”
He said, his words trailing off. Kate thought his eyes shone with sincerity but she didn’t want to believe them. She’s spoken to Pamela about Suzzy.
The first day Kwaku mentioned her as his new partner, she called Pamela and asked about Suzzy casually. Pamela is an old friend. She didn’t need to explain herself. She just talked of how she has heard Suzzy is working on the stolen party mantra case and how she wondered who Suzzy Adofo could be. She got a few details – her high working ethics, many chunked victories and her recent divorce. And her recent divorce is the reason why she is perhaps exaggerating a colleague spritzing perfume on her husband at work.
Kwaku realized Kate’s eyes were dancing but not with delight.
“Can we sleep?”
He suggested and led her to their bed. He kissed her a few times and quickly realized Kate wasn’t in the mood for sex or anything close to it.
“I’m sorry. I can’t.”
She sat up in their bed actually looking sorry. She wanted this so bad too but she couldn’t bring herself to pretend this perfume meant nothing to her; that it didn’t take her to places in the past.
Kwaku took her hand and smiled.
“You know Matey is in our firm now?”
He let the disappointment of the moment pass. Kate must be turned off with all the distance. A lot of things can put a woman out of the mood.
“Yes.” Kate replied, still sobered. “Dzidzor told me about him a couple of times.”
“He’s definitely aimed at the top.” Kwaku pulled the cover over him.
“Matey has always been ambitious.” Kate laughed, unhappy. Matey jilted her best friend for his dreams. “And oh.” She quickly added. “Dzidzor wants us over at the offices quarterly party September ending. They won’t be having the usual last quarter one this year.”
“Hm… I see.” Kwaku took Kate’s other hand. “Let’s pray and sleep already. I’ve kept you awake almost midnight. We can resume devotion tomorrow. I plan to beat time and get here faster.”
Kate nodded and closed her eyes.
“What’s papa’s condition?”
“Congestive Heart Failure.”
Kwaku shut his eyes and prayed.
“You are such a good God. Lord you give us life, family, love, friendships, jobs, health and every good thing and we are glad for it. I pray for papa. We pray for his health and about the congestive heart failure he’s been diagnosed with. Even though in the very advanced stages Lord, we pray for your healing. However if you do not intend for such for us, we ask you allow us see your hand and your miracle in this one year we have left with him. Grant us good sleep and be our King now and forever, Amen.”
Kate said. She kissed Kwaku lightly, mouthed goodnight. She lay on her side, her eyes shut tight. Kwaku reached for the switch beside the bed and put off the light in the room. It’s a good thing the electrician fixed the switch close by. He lay upwards, his thoughts journeying minutes back. He wished he had said more when Suzzy Adofo came up. He should have added he thought she’s flirty around him and perhaps he should have mentioned the occasional comments about how Kate is so lucky to have him. But he knows why he didn’t. He wasn’t ready to make her think he was going to fall into another woman’s trap. He was just not sure if he wasn’t steadily traveling the familiar he took and almost lost Kate.
©M’afua Awo Twumwaah 2016.