Kate pulled out the grilled chicken from the oven with her right hand, her left struggling to keep her phone firm on her ears.
“No Papa.” She said louder and frowned. “Yes. He’s almost home. I got off the phone with him before you called.”
She put the pan on the kitchen counter and shuffled the phone to the right hand. She hurried to the door, sweat beading on her forehead and arms. She has to talk to Kwaku about getting a fan fixed in the kitchen – a ceiling fan, the standing one wasn’t helping.
“He’s here now.”
She turned the security lock twice and stood by the door.
“I’ll tell him, Papa. Yes. I love you too Papa.”
She paused and smiled broadly.
“I can’t wait for you to move to Accra permanently dad. Though I wish you’ll accept to come and stay home with me.”
She laughed hard at a comment Sefa made and peeled the phone off her ears, her joy lining the corners of her eyes. Her dad has found a way of making his diagnosis easy on everyone. If he mentions the condition, the few times he does, he has a ready joke to make it look like she loves her chocolate cake.
“I told you I’ll make it.”
Kwaku shoved his phone from his ears and kissed Kate on her neck. He dumped his suitcase in the closest settee and lowered his voice, his tone overcome with excitement.
“I’ll be done soon.”
He walked towards their bedroom. Kate watched him, happy. They can have their ritual every first Saturday grilled chicken and salad for September. She gazed at her phone. Kwaku actually got home almost 4 pm? She smiled to herself, tucking in her lower lip. She will get the salad out, set the table and have a quick wash. She was getting choked by the smell of garlic and herb spices all over her. Kwaku rushed unto her by the dining area. She gasped and turned to him.
“Are you that hungry?”
She pushed him back and got around to the other side of the table. She spread the placemat.
“Was that Matey on the phone?”
“Yes. You heard his voice?”
“So he’s your friend?”
Kate asked, tilting the salad bowl so it sits well on the table.
“He already was before he left for his school. And we are working together now honey. I can’t just hop pass him at work and hold a grudge for my wife’s best friend. Apparently, they are even seeing each other.”
Kate took hold of the arms of a chair and stared at Kwaku, puzzled.
“That’s close to what Matey said. He’s sent two bouquets, they’ve had about five lunch dates.”
Kate run her teeth against each other, her eyes demanding more from Kwaku. He obliged.
“And they even attended their church’s singles meeting together. Kate, looks to me they are picking up from where they left off.”
“You’re such a man.” Kate hissed and dumped two plates at each far end of the table.
“Well…” Kwaku twitched his mouth and blew Kate a kiss, his mouth pulling far into the air. “I’m still your man.”
“So you both were discussing my best friend?”
She put the forks and knives by the plates and started to fold napkins.
“No darling. How could I?” Kwaku deepened his tone. “We were talking about Suzzy. She wasn’t happy I let Matey fill in for me till Monday.” He slowed on his last four words. Kate can take this wrong. No. Be yourself Kwaku. Be Yourself. He smiled, pulled on of the chairs and sat down.
“Suzzy wasn’t happy?”
“Mmhm. We had to work late to finish some files that came in for the hearing on Monday.”
“Then why didn’t you stay?” Kate’s face suddenly drained. The excitement of the dinner waning. Shouldn’t she rather be happy? He’s risking his partner’s anger to be home for her. But how can she? Others may think her insecure. Or the least an immature wife whose husband can’t discuss difficult and unpleasing situations with because she’ll flare up. Or possibly they’ll say she’s controlling. She’s a fearful controlling wife. The list kept running on in her head.
“I didn’t stay because I want to be with my wife Kate.” Kwaku took the napkin from her hands, forcing her back to the dining table and their conversation. He held her. “Suzzy wants to just hang around me. I want to avoid as much as possible.” He kissed her hands and smiled. Kate frowned.
“Kwaku, you said Suzzy wants to hang around you?”
Kwaku hesitated and took steps back, his hand on the dining table. Why did he say that? He wishes he could dig his nails into the wood and bleed. He has to someday let Kate know the real situation about Suzzy. He intended to tell her. Today, however, wasn’t that day. He kept calm.
“Yes, Kate. I think because of her divorce…” Kate nodded. Kwaku went on talking, shocked he has mentioned Suzzy’s divorce to Kate already. “…she’s looking for a friend to hold on to. She deliberately keeps meetings long. She’s looking for a good friend.”
“You think so?”
Kate’s nerves were racking.
Kate shook her head. Kwaku tried to keep his composure. Don’t let this become an argument Lord. He prayed under his breath.
“I think this Suzzy lady is throwing herself at you. Deliberately keeping meetings long, spritzing perfume on you, mad you’ve got another colleague to step in for a meeting – these are signs she wants you. I think you should call it out with her.”
Kate rattled on, the edge in her voice calmer than she expected.
This is it. Tell her Kwaku. Tell her you believe she’s right. Actually, you canceled the meeting with Suzzy because she touched your face in a funny way today. You were afraid what the two of you being alone in the most secluded conference room at work could bring. Tell her.
“I really think she just wants a friend.” Kwaku rather said, smiling.
“I really think you Kwaku my husband shouldn’t be that friend.” Kate said with sarcasm, smiling. “I’m going to have a quick shower. Three minutes for full time.”
“Alright. Should I come and keep you company?”
Kwaku said, his eyes and tone hovering with innocence.
“No. Sir.” Kate laughed. “You can help with warming the chicken a bit in the oven.” She meandered towards their bedroom. “With the lowest heat you can manage possibly.”
Kwaku lifted the tray with the chicken and went into the kitchen. He put the chicken in. Was it foolish he didn’t voice out his real fears about Suzzy? Maybe it was. He passed his hand over his mouth, tugging at his lips.
Did I make a mistake Lord? Am I making the same mistake Lord?
He said hoping the Lord will say even one word back. He didn’t seem to be talking back. He stood there silent, listening to the sound of the motor of the refrigerator, the chirp of a bird on the wall and his own loud heartbeat.
“I’m putting on a dress now Kwaku. I’ll be out in a minute. The chicken is okay. Please bring it out and take back to the dining table.”
Kwaku screamed back and did as she said. And then as he took his seat at the table the thirteenth verse of the tenth chapter of the first book of Corinthians jumped into his heart.
And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And in the temptation, He’ll provide a way of escape.
This part particularly beat on his heart.
He’ll provide a way of escape.
He was beginning to give the scripture some thought when Kate walked in. She swayed his thoughts to her. Under their ordinary white bulb, she looked stunning. Or he’s now noticing for over two months how breathtaking his wife is. She was in red shorts, a green T-shirt and flip flops. She had her hair in a high bun, showing the details of her face off. She sat, her eyes on Kwaku’s.
Kwaku kept his eyes on her. He’ll be a fool to allow any woman take Kate away from him. He has all he will ever want in any woman right here, in Kate. He is not going to let go a second time. He smiled, the thought sobering.
“Thank you.” Kate giggled. “Did I tell you there is banana smoothie ready for dessert?”
“You have now.”
They both laughed. Kate stopped, poring at Kwaku, praying he’ll read the sincerity in her words.
“Honey, I’m sorry about earlier. You know, the comment I made about Suzzy. I was just scared.”
“No Kate. Don’t be sorry. I think you are right. I’ll talk to her tomorrow.”
“Are you sure?”
Kate stayed on him.
“Fine. Let’s pray.”
Kate folded her hands together, watched Kwaku do same and prayed.
“Thank you, Lord, for bringing my husband home for dinner. Thank you also for the food you provide and for family and for love. Amen.”
Kwaku responded. Kate dished the salad for both of them and passed the grilled chicken. She thrust a fork full of salad into her mouth.
“Have you called dad today?”
Kwaku asked and put a chunk of meat into his mouth. Kate swallowed and answered.
“Yes. He’s planning to retire and move permanently to Accra before the year ends.”
“Great.” Kwaku cut the meat again. “I called my parents too. They’ll be in Accra next week. They’re planning to pass by. I told them they can’t stay. You know how the two can get comfortable and not want to leave.”
Kate laughed, almost choking on the veggies in her mouth.
“Kwaku please give them a break. I’ll call and have them over.”
“I forbid you, honey.”
Kate shook her head.
“Alright. I’ll call so they know I’m happy they’re coming. And please remember the party at Dzidzor’s work September ending.”
“That’s okay. I won’t forget.”
Kwaku said. His eyes danced as he laid them on Kate. He could stare at her for eternity and not get distracted.
“Kate.” He called her, the tenderest way he could. She looked up at him. Her cheeks were almost glowing. She looked close to how she did a year ago. “I love you.” He said and smiled.
I love you and for you, I’ll find that way of escape.
He smiled again. She also smiled. She took a quick look at him, once, twice. How could she not love him?
Author’s note: How have you all been? I’ve been fine too except I’m hugely mia on participation on WordPress. I hope to be back on my reader full swing soon. Anyone started Christmas preparations? I know I don’t have any preparations than just show up at home. And the PDF Christmas present will be dropping soon so still be expectant. Love, M’afua.
©M’afua Awo Twumwaah, 2016.