The office space made Kate smile. It said welcome to her. The settees were dancing, the coffee table drumming itself, the curtains curtsied and the naughty fridge winked at her; that boyish wink she’s received from Kwaku countless times. Kate sighed, giggled to herself and fell into a sofa. Her childhood flew back to her in a breath. She wasn’t the person to go to when you want to walk down the memory lane. Yet, she recollects a fair share of her growing up. Probably from class four. She’d have dates with her dad and they’ll mimic the Cosby Show and Papa will lift her in his arms, set him on his lap, in his sleep chair and they’ll watch the stars. She’ll try to count and after a hundred, she’ll forget which the last she counted was and she’ll give up. Her Papa never made her wish for a mum. She never did. She never has. He was enough. Dzidzor entered her office with two jars of juice standing on both palms.
“Mango for you. Pineapple for me.”
“I’m not a guest.”
Kate took both jars off Dzidzor’s palms and set them on the coffee table. She moved farther from the edge, making space for Dzidzor to join her.
“I don’t get jars of juice for guest. I do for family.”
“Mm. Convincing.” Kate looked at the flower vases standing on the windows and looked back at Dzidzor. “Is dad around?”
Dzidzor shook her head. Her mouth was on the straw. She swallowed. “He went to Takoradi to meet one of an old friend of his.”
“Mm. I haven’t seen him in a long while.”
“He was saying same last Sunday. Mum has missed you terribly.”
Kate propped her straw into her jar and set it on the arm of the settee. She drew in a mouthful of the mango juice, the word mum suddenly standing out in her. Maybe she never misses her mum because she does have one. She has always felt that way about Senam, Dzidzor’s mother: always, since the day Dzidzor became to her more than a family friend in the university.
“I’ll come visit.”
Dzidzor stretched to catch the pop-up on her phone screen. She smiled, fighting the urge to pick it up and plunge herself into a long conversation with Sule.
“I saw the smile.” Kate teased. “When are you inviting me to join you two on a date?”
“There are no dates. But I could still invite you, Matey was asking if I’ll be free this Friday.”
Dzidzor broke into laughter. Kate joined in and the whole room began to swirl with different tones and pitches of joy. Kate reached for her handkerchief and cleaned tears around the corners of her eye. She could break into tears. She hasn’t laughed this hard in years: well months. The thought clutched its icy hands at her heart but she won’t let it break in. This was joy; she won’t let it elude. Dzidzor’s laugh ended like a sob. She sat back and excitement took over, lining the corners of her eyes.
“Kate, I didn’t tell you this quarter’s dinner has been cancelled. Did I?” Kate shook her head, her hands on the edges of her hair. Dzidzor continued. “It has. And I didn’t tell you the dinner with Matey was postponed too. It was to this Sunday and it occurred to me why not, you can come. With Kwaku of course. They’ll be Matey too. And Sule.”
She ended her sentence knowing this could as well be a good recipe for disaster. The bright glare from Kate’s eyes affirmed her fears.
“All the men in your life in one room.”
Her words resounded with nerves and excitement.
Dzidzor grinned, staring ahead, her own excitement welling in her soul. She’s imagined how the day will go since she invited Sule. It was a crazy idea, her mother’s, but she liked it and Sule’s eyes glimmered when she told him. She saw that.
“How is Kwaku?”
She determined to change the subject. She wanted to catch her breath and think straight. Sule had all sorts of effect on her. Kate smiled and threw on her other person, the one she’s been around Dzidzor most times for over a year now.
“Kwaku is good.”
“I here he’s unto a promotion at work.”
Kate cringed. Kwaku has never mentioned a promotion. And then again, they haven’t had a proper dialogue in close to a month.
“He’s been working hard.”
At least she didn’t lie. He has been working hard. So hard he arrives when she’s too sleepy and goes when she’s barely awake. Or that’s how she’s made it seem. She didn’t dwell on the thought. She didn’t have to. However it seems, their marriage was a disharmony currently: that is what matters.
“I’m happy for you.”
Dzidzor drew in the last of her pineapple juice, squinting as she did to look at Kate’s face. Kate grinned and did same.
Dzidzor poked Kate and set her jar on the table.
“You’re my sister.”
Kate crossed her hands, her mouth lop-sided.
“I’m adopted then.”
Dzidzor shook her head and crossed her legs. After a full minute, they were lost in laughter again. Kate’s lungs hurt and she was glad they did. She was alive. This is proof. Alone at home and silent with Kwaku around, life wasn’t equal to alive. Not in too long a time. She fell silent. Dzidzor picked the jars, empty, and put them carefully in the fridge. She stood looking at Kate. She hasn’t trusted Kate’s happy throw on since she came back from her second honeymoon. She’s been wanting to ask. She’s hoped she’ll gather the courage to ask soon, if her guts were right, before she regrets. She will wait for the right time.
Bear each other’s burdens…fulfil the law of Christ…Love one another.
As of her morning’s devotion flowed to her, she knew what God was saying. Now, it wasn’t hard for her to hear Him like this. She was growing closer to His voice; closer than before she realized she needed his strength, the Sunday she slept from afternoon to Monday morning.
She knelt by her friend, her heart filling with compassion for her in a way she has never before. This moment was luciferous. She has never seen – except for the day her godfather, Kate’s father was diagnosed with that heart condition – Kate as the one on the receiving end of any affection, any reassurance.
“I’ve doubted how you are honestly doing all these months after your second honeymoon. You are still my jolly friend. You are still gay and one of the reasons my world is bright. I am afraid you may be dying inside and yet living as though you aren’t.”
She paused and stared her friend fully in the eye. She could see her battling as if deciding what to say and whether to say it.
Lord. Help her share the burden. Help her share the load. Then we can cast it at your feet.
Her prayer surged through her, each word pouring with every care and resolve buried in her being. Kate kept her eyes on Dzidzor’s for a few more seconds and took them to her feet. She stared at the tiled ground as though her response will sprout from them.
“We are struggling.” Kate’s words came out guarded. “Myself and Kwaku I mean. We are yet to settle them.”
“You are sure that’s really all.”
Dzidzor closed her office door, knelt by Kate again, her hands placed firmly on Kate’s knees.
Kate tried to smile at her friend. But her eyes were filled up with tears ready to fall and secure her freedom. Dzidzor enveloped her in an embrace. Kate sobbed. She sobbed hard like she hoped Kwaku will allow her do on his shoulder this morning. After about three full minutes, Dzidzor reached for her pile of tissue and sat by her friend, her hands firmly clutching hers.
“I can’t talk about it yet.” Kate tried to speak as she swabbed her face. “I mean, we are having problems, Kwaku and I and we are in a bad place now. I just can’t say everything.”
Dzidzor half-smiled. Of course, she didn’t understand. She wasn’t married. But she did. She knows how it is to want to keep trust.
“I’ll pray for a resolution.” Dzidzor squeezed her friend’s hand. “You should ask him to go with you to a counsellor.”
Kate nodded. She doubted Kwaku will.
“Or you can come talk with my parents.” Dzidzor tried to sound upbeat. “Mum says they’ve had pretty bad patches of their own. She’s told me a few. Yours may not be any worse.”
Kate smiled – a real one that crossed her face. Kwaku has this tremendous respect for the Awoonors. She could get him to agree. Perhaps they could talk after the dinner this Sunday. She squeezed Dzidzor’s hand and pulled her into a hug. As they sat firmly in each other’s embrace, the rains came down without warning in heavy drops. And Kate smiled. She felt without any hint of doubt God’s promise in the moment. The rains will come again.
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©M’afua Awo Twumwaah 2017.