The Script

It’s 2 a.m. I’m seated at my reading table staring at a blank Word page on my laptop, completely out of ideas on what to write about for my next blog post. I pick up my phone, unplug it from its charger and decide to scroll through Twitter. I’ve been tagged in numerous memes showing how interesting Arsenal is at the moment. Yes. I’m an Arsenal fan. That should give you a hint of how emotionally stable I am. My phone hangs and forces me to exit the app. I recline on my chair and stare at the clock. The minute hand rests on the number 6 as I still rack my brain on what to write about.

It’s raining outside. All that can be heard are rain droplets crashing against the tiles on the roof.  I start to type. I cover four lines and my conscience tells me it just isn’t working and so I delete all of it. The cycle goes on three more times as my eyes grow weary. I want to try something different, totally discrete from the gritty missions that characters in my stories always seem to have. Don’t forget the heartbreaks too. Soon, aside from the rain, is the sound of my fingers clashing on the keyboard.

****

The world’s a stage, and we are all merely players. Each man, in his own time plays many parts. These are words that I presume may be well acquainted to avid Shakespeare fans. But more importantly, it is really overwhelming how life is captured within the confines of these words. Don’t believe me? Take your life as an example. You have several friends, but you can really depend on a selected few to bail you out when you’ve messed up. I’m sure there’s people who disgust you. There’s a crush somewhere, who doesn’t know you exist. Make the first move by the way. Slide into the DM and show them how strong your texting game is. Drop a line or two that you got from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Crash and burn. Get up and try again. Live to tell your children of the L’s you took. Your life could be a real-life spin-off of How I Met your Mother for all we know. And furthermore, just like in a play, characters die and new ones are born into your life. The show always goes on.

That’s the way life is. It’s a really bemusing phenomenon. Days swing past you as you remain static; left unaffected, apart from the little hair growing just below your chin that is slowly becoming visible and just in case anyone thinks I’m being gender-insensitive…we’re all broke, right? I’m not trying to point out how miserable your life is (or could be). I’m just saying life should be about making an impact on someone else’s stage. You get the metaphor by now. Don’t forget to win on your stage too. That means going for the absolute best in everything you do.

The impact you make in someone else’s life also goes a long way. The little things count. For one, your dealer coming through, starting a blog to rant about how beardless you are and still manage to fit in some good hacks of life somewhere within your ramblings. In addition, just being a nice person too could go a long way. Be a hero without a cape.

I’ll stop there.

Long story short, your life is a play and you control your own script. Make yourself Oscar-worthy.

Author’s note

Just for the record, I might have mentioned someone who rants about how beardless they are. That’s not me. That’s Kinyua. His beard came through though. So don’t give him a hard time. Anyway, his birthday was this past weekend. Go visit him in his two-bedroom palace on http://thegaps.co.ke. I’m sure you’ll be comfy there. 

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Too long a letter

I hate funerals. I always have, for obvious reasons. They have this eerie aura of despondency that engulfs you. The mood is always heavy with emotion. While some weep for the deceased, others celebrate. After all, a funeral is also a weddingor is it the other way round? Sometimes, you really don’t know how to react. I find myself inclining towards the latter in most instances. I’ve never had any remote association with the dead. The closest I did come was my father’s funeral, but since he spent most of his days with his beer goggles on, I felt no sort of remorse whatsoever. I vividly remember declining to give a eulogy because the dead certainly cannot hear.

But this one feels different. It feels strange. To be honest, I really don’t know what I’m feeling. This is your funeral. You were great, really. You were the best thing that had happened to me in my life. I had never thought I could ever love someone so deeply. Never! Sparks had flown endlessly from our very first meeting. Your departure had not made the slightest difference in my love for you. I stare at my reflection in the mirror as I tighten my tie. Is this love that I feel? I mean, that would solve everything, wouldn’t it? But it can’t be. Love is meant to be pleasant. Is it heartbreak then? Yes! Surely it has to be. I’ve heard about it though but never actually felt it. That arduous feeling you get deep in your stomach. I read somewhere that it means that the butterflies are slowly dying.

As the occasion demands, I have worn a black suit. My white shirt is half-crisp and half-crumpled, but the thought of wearing my suit jacket for the entirety of the day brings me relief. You would have had some words with me for wearing a shirt in that state. You had perfection engraved in your blood. I smile faintly as memories of our first meeting come to mind.

****

“Excuse me, Sorry to bother you. I saw you from across the…”

“Staring!” She said sternly, as she looked up from the book she was reading. ‘A Storm of Swords’ by George R.R Martin.

“I’m sorry?”

“You were staring at me.”

“You saw me?”

“Yes I did.” She said amidst a short laugh. “You even spilled some of that juice you were drinking because you forgot how small the table is.”

“You noticed that?” I laugh too as I take a seat at her table. “I’m Frankie by the way.” I stretch my hand across the table to shake her hand. She introduced herself as Lucy-which was short for Lucille.  “I see you’re a Game of Thrones fan.”

“I’d rather consider myself a fan of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ book series,”she says amidst a stifled laugh, “But yes, an avid fan.”

“How far have you reached in the book?”

“Tyrion’s trial has just ended.”

“Ah! That is one of my best scenes. Peter Dinklage really lets you feel the emotion.”

“I haven’t watched that episode yet sadly. But you really get to feel it too while reading.”

“Wouldn’t it be much easier to watch the series?”

“I get that quite a lot.” She smiles faintly. ”I’m usually reluctant to watch the series before I read the books, because I get to test my imagination and picture the emotion the characters would show at that moment. ”

“That’s really awesome. I should try that.”

“Yes you should. I mean, don’t we have the liberty to make our life more interesting than it already is. I do believe that our imagination is the key to that. That’s why I really admire any writer’s imagination.  The books they write keep us in that trance and we get to build the characters in our mind or even imagine them as ourselves.” 

****

You see? SPARKS!! That was six months ago. It seems a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Well, the drive to the church seemed to last much longer. I’m staring at your picture which sits upon your coffin. You have that Mona Lisa half-smile that I endlessly told you was so radiant that it cast me under your spell. You have that significantly conspicuous dimple on your left cheek. Remember how you grew insecure about it? I do. Every time you’d laugh, that ugly laugh, it would sink far much deeper into your cheek. You had that very smile even in your last breath.

A crowd of people have arrived to pay their respects to you. I can’t help but smile at the thought that you had touched so many lives. It’s no surprise. Most of them have eyes wet as pansy petals in the rain. Your old boss is giving his eulogy now. I really hope he’s genuine about it, considering you ignored his advances. Judging from the crowd’s applause, they seem convinced. Otherwise, it would be a speech worthy of an Academy Award. I scan across the room looking for other potential nominees. I find no success. Your mother and sister are here too. They are handling the situation well, surprisingly. They seem to be doing much better than me apparently. In fact, your mum has just smiled at me. A smile of encouragement I presume. I return the gesture.

I’m next in line to speak. I really wonder if I’ll be able to stand, let alone speak coherently. Thoughts race through my mind. I fear I may forget to say some parts of my rehearsed eulogy. You never really say every single word to a rehearsed speech. Ideas emerge so profoundly in the middle of your monologue and you may opt to discard a joke or two for their insensitivity. Or you may decide to chip in a series of quotes because you want to impress your crush in the crowd with your fabricated intelligence. Some ideas are flowing into my mind and it’s starting to overwhelm me.

I once believed that the dead don’t hear. But this time I really wish you do. I miss you. I haven’t said it expressly just yet. But yes, I really do. My eyes are welled up with tears screaming not to flow. That feeling I mentioned earlier, the one so profound in my stomach? I’ve figured out what it is. It’s regret clothed in sorrow. I feel betrayed. You don’t get to die. You don’t get to leave me in this dreaded world, surrounded by these prevaricators. Let’s face it! None of these people here really knew you. None of them got to experience you up close. None of them even visited you in hospital. They didn’t even send a damn card. They are happy you’re gone. A chance to write off your character in their stories, they call it. And yet they raise a glass to your honour.

I’m heartbroken. You were in remission for Christ’s sake. Isn’t it funny how someone else’s disaster can leave us hurt or devastated? Something which isn’t even remotely associated with your physical anatomy but it constantly perturbs your senses? All of a sudden you become sleepless and you start hallucinating.  Just the other day I saw you at that ice cream parlour in town, the one you loved so much…Sno’ Cream, is it? Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go get ice cream without you. Besides, I might not even have been there.  I guess what I’m trying to say within my endless tête-à-tête is that I love you. I should have said it while you were still breathing. I would have said it once I gave you the ring I bought the day you died. I could give excuses for all those missed opportunities…argue that I was waiting for right time…but it never came, did it?

****

I’m heading up to the podium now. Let’s hope the lump in my throat disappears before I start to speak. Fingers crossed.

The Protagonist; Part II

It’s Clive. He greets me with his trademark smile. It’s hard not to notice his upper left canine which looks more of an incisor.

“Are you going to answer that?”

He pauses for a second before accepting the call. “Can I come in now?”

“Yeah, sure”

He steps forward and embraces me amidst laughter. The embrace lasts for about seven seconds. I can feel his aftershave faintly pierce my nostrils. He finally stops, takes a few steps back and observes his watch

“We have to get going. You’re getting married in under one and a half hours.”

I frown. Don’t I know that? I mutter silently.

“We have to be there in time for you to…” He stops suddenly when he sees a lighter and an open pack of cigarettes lying on the living room table. One cigarette is peering out of its pack.

“Have you been smoking?”

“I thought about it.” I say timidly, like a baby afraid of punishment.

“I see the wedding day jitters have got the best of you. How are you feeling?”

I ponder this question carefully as I retreat into the living room. I look back at Clive and note the look of concern in his eyes. For the first time I also notice he’s shaven-sporting a full number-one cut on his head while his beard remained untouched. I inspect his outfit. He’s wearing a tailored charcoal-grey suit, similar to mine. His white shirt is however more crisp, which makes his black tie completely stand out. Any objective opinion would undoubtedly render him the groom and not me.

“It’s not jitters. Trust me. It’s just that I’ve never felt so neutral in my life.”

“You’ll be alright.” He says with a warm smile spread across his face. It’s reassuring. “Don’t worry yourself too much.” I smile back, trying to show some conviction.

We stand in comfortable silence for a little while. I glance at my watch. It’s about an hour to go till the wedding. I break the ensuing silence.

“We should go now, don’t you think?”

“Yes we should.” Clive says, also glancing at his watch.

I walk hurriedly to the door but Clive stops me. He ties the top button of my shirt and tightens my tie. He takes a few steps back and inspects me keenly from head to toe, with a frown on his face. He takes out the white rose boutonniere from the left lapel of his suit jacket and pins it on mine. He steps back again, and this time smiles widely at his work.

“Now we can go.”

“What about yours?”

“I have an extra one in the car. I’ll have time to fix mine before the ceremony. You won’t.”

He makes a good point. We hurry out but I stop when I see a limo parked in the compound. Clive continues walking hurriedly.

“It seems some people have leapt higher up the social ladder.” I joke.

“Yeah you!!” Clive says as he opens the passenger door for me.

******

The first person I meet at the church is my mother. It seems like she had been standing there a while, probably to meet her son, I don’t know. I smile at the prevailing thought. My mother smiles back; oblivious of my thoughts, and reaches in for a hug. I wrap her in my arms tightly, as if holding on for dear life, and think about how much I love her. She tightens her grip too. We finally let go of each other. She then looks at me. I could tell how happy she was, proud that she can finally see her only son get married. There is something about her face; it was glowing, akin to a Beemer’s headlights at high beam. She licks the tip of her thumb and rubs the corner of my mouth and for the first time in my life I don’t feel embarrassed that she’s done that.

The bride’s relatives who have arrived begin to convene a few metres away. I kiss my mother on the cheek and I go meet them. I overhear my mother thanking Clive for being such an elder brother to me. I was born three hours before him. I want to shout. But I don’t. For some reason I don’t dispute that statement whatsoever. He was always there for me in my toughest times and had a knack for giving good advice. Perhaps this is why the decision to appoint a best man was a no brainer. A piercing laugh from one of the women in that group interrupts my thoughts.

I greet them. Most of them are people I have never seen before in my life. They’re dressed in such a flamboyant fashion. The odour of their extravagance was telling; trickling down from their colourful dresses and imported shoes to their sophisticated handshakes. Behind them, the last of the guests are making their way into the church.

I feel a tap on my shoulder, turn and see that it’s Clive. He pulls me into a hug that gives an eerie sense of farewell. He takes out his boutonniere and pins it on his suit jacket. Does it look okay?. He asks. I reach in and touch it; making a pretense of attempting to fix it. I nod my head after surveying it for a few more seconds.

“Well, that’s your cue.”

I immediately wrap my head around his words. I tug at the lapels of my suit jacket, turn and walk towards the church with Clive close behind. I stop at its entrance and I do a superhero pose, something I’ve seen happen on a TV show. Apparently if you do that before a really hard task, you will perform immeasurably better. Clive walks up and asks what I’m doing. He laughs and tells me I have to stop watching Grey’s Anatomy. I disagree. It’s one of the best. I tell him.

Heads turn as I make my way down the aisle. I walk somewhat unsteadily, like a blind man feeling his way as I try to keep pace with the slow music. The knot in my stomach gets tighter with each single step. The faces in the crowd encompass strangers and long lost friends and relatives. The faces on the cupboard in my living room are brought to life again. They came after all. I mutter silently. Some memories absent in my mind until that point in time reappear. I turn my head and focus on the wooden podium at the centre of the stage. I glance again at the congregation; this time subconsciously, and notice the heads still turning, like I’m a gust of wind blowing through a field of corn. I heave a huge sigh of relief when I finally reach the altar.

The vicar is there. He is as dark as pitch. His head is bald as an egg and shiny as the dewy star of dawn. One could use it as a mirror. I joke, silently. He’s wearing half-moon spectacles that make him look more of a judge than a vicar. I stand there motionless, with my hand in my pockets. I smile faintly, exposing a small part of my teeth for those interested in flash photography. There is a sudden scourge of whispers as heads turn more than they did for me.

The bride approaches the altar as the string orchestra behind me plays the Canon. I watch her as she calculates her steps diligently, as if she was playing a game of chess. Her dress is as white as the moon’s flame. The atmosphere around the church has now changed. The knot that had by now become loose in my stomach is now lodged in my throat. She’s soon adjacent to me at the altar. She’s stands there silent, like a little statuesque figure. Sweat breaks on my forehead as my knees become weak, much weaker than they were a few hours ago. The vicar smiles and delivers the all familiar opening statement.

“Dearly beloved…” he begins. Dearly beloved? I analyse the words. What does that even mean? Is he saying he is in love with the congregation? Is the congregation in love with us? That’s stupid. What am I even saying? I look at Anita. The calmness she had shown earlier had begun to wane and a sense of nervousness had ensued. Her fingers are twitching slightly. I reach my hand out to ease her. She’s trembling softly, like a shivering squirrel on a pine-tree branch. I hear the fading voice of the vicar. He’s asking whether anyone has a valid objection to our marriage. A voice deep within me is eager to respond, akin to primary school children shouting ‘Teacher’ repeatedly when they know the answer to a question. It’s that voice from earlier on in the day. It loses patience and begins to speak, and much to my astonishment, is as convincing as ever.

“I have a reason, because marriage is such a leap in the dark.”

“I have a reason, because I want to stay the same for donkey’s years. I want to stay in the past. I want to be left alone, to hang out with my friends at football matches and bars and argue about who has the best FPL team.”

“I have a reason, because I am stupid generally. I don’t know how to be happy let alone make someone else happy.”

“I have a reason, because I am impulsive and have a knack for being overconfident at the wrongest of times. That’s what has led me to this funeral, with someone who is just as lost and frightened as me.”

“I have a reason, because quite frankly, I am scared as sh….”

In those few seconds I feel as if I’ve lost all speech. I turn to look at the congregation. I spot my mother at the front row. She’s elated and can’t stop smiling. I turn back to the woman in front of me. Her smile has reappeared. It’s dazzling white, like snow in sunshine. I realise at that very moment that I wouldn’t love her differently if I did decide to walk out at that moment. I realise that that inner voice will never be heard, not because it would provide a dramatic end to this funeral, but because I realise marriage is what happens when you realise life is bigger than you. I realise that I want all this to be over, not because the tide of events is too strong; okay maybe that could be a reason, but because, but because, but because, I do want to marry her.

The vicar smiles and asks me, “James Ndiritu, do you take this woman as your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I do.” I say, in a matter of seconds, with an absolute conviction that amazes me.

Anita says the same. The vicar delivers his verdict, pronouncing us man and wife. I take her veil off. Her eyes are shining, just like the way they do in the movies. I lean in to kiss her. She kisses back rapidly. She’s regained her acuity from before, as she walked down the aisle. She whispers that she loves me. I say the same to her. A deep dimple appears on her left cheek as she stares at her ring. I realise at that moment that, I am reborn.

******

Or at least I think I am.

The Protagonist; Part I

I’m lying on my bed, alone in the house, staring hard at the ceiling. I haven’t had a shred of sleep the entire night.   I’m tensed; probably even on the cusp of a panic attack. I know. That may too much of an exaggeration. Maybe I’m just nervous. Do people who are about to get married feel this way? I sit up, in a bid to ease the tension in my stomach. The sound of the alarm clock tears up the pin-drop silence in the room and rips me away from my avalanche of thoughts. It’s 7.30 a.m. I stare at the digital clock long enough to see it turn one more minute.

I look outside. The day is breaking unusually fast. The wedding is at midday. I get out of bed and draw the curtains. The sky is clear with not a cloud in sight. It’s a typical Saturday morning. I make my way to the bathroom and catch a glimpse of myself walking past my bedroom mirror. I stop and stare at myself for a while. I look like a damn zombie. My skin is pale and my eyelids look heavy.  I run my hand through my unkempt hair and rub my eyes. I walk towards the mirror and examine my face carefully; much like the way Barry Allen looks for clues. I notice this small pimple at the edge of my nose. ‘How long has that been there?’ I wonder. I stand there motionless for a while, my eyes, now turned red, stare back. I step backwards a few steps and observe myself a bit more. I take off my vest and look back at the camera. My body still looks good. I’m neither too fat nor too thin. I turn and look at the mirror sideways ‘Well my abs are a little bit concealed behind a small layer of fat but at least the latter isn’t protruding,’ I lie to myself.

I head into the bathroom and turn on the shower. The water is nerve-wincingly hot. The room fills up with steam as I stand there staring at myself in the bathroom mirror watching it become moist. I suddenly laugh, or maybe it was more of a chuckle-a nervy one. I look like those people in movies who go to the bathroom when they’re severely hammered and right before they do something stupid. But I was exactly in that position. Well, maybe not the former but that latter part made a whole lot of sense. I mean, isn’t getting married a stupid decision?

“Will I be the same person after today? Do people change when they get married? Are you ever the same after today? Look at Vic. It’s like his wife puts him on a leash. I don’t want to be on a leash. It’s scary. The future’s scary.  I wish we could stay in the past. The present? That’s a worse option.”

I step into the shower. I wince in pain when the hot water makes contact with my skin. My body finally gets used to the heat and I’m soon done. I fill my palm with shaving cream and smear it across my face and whittle away at the foam, carefully until my face is clean. I look at myself in the mirror just to make sure it’s all gone. I splash water on my face and wipe it clean. I make my way out of the bathroom and head towards my closet. Carefully I lay out my clothes, which apparently are all new.

“Everything in life has its own perception. The way you view something really influences how think, feel or talk about it. A failed interview can be what leads you to your destined career.  An injury makes you cut lines. In this case however, a wedding can also be a funeral. But what exactly are we mourning? The bachelor life? Game nights? Frankly, I think you mourn yourself. You become new. You die and get born again. To be reborn, you have to die.”

I’m used to putting on suits. Besides, my profession requires it. Rather, I require it. I always felt putting on a suit would make me stand out from my peers at the workplace, not because they didn’t wear them but because I looked mind-boggling great in them. Those were Barbra’s words, not mine. Barbra’s my mum. She’s a gem. She told me those words twelve years ago and I took it to be my lifetime slogan. I look in the mirror as I fix my tie. I take the pocket square and neatly place it in my coat’s breast pocket. I stare at my image in the mirror. ‘I kinda look like James Bond,’ I tell myself. ‘That’s a little too much, don’t you think?’’ my conscience rebuts. 

I’m not sure exactly what to do nest. It’s well over two and a half hours to the wedding. I begin to walk around the house, examining it like I’m about to buy it. I feel the weight of my body on my weak knees as I walk. My mind slowly drifts off and images of Anita start to pop up. What will she be wearing? Is she having second thoughts like me? How will she look like under that veil? Someone somewhere may be planning to sabotage this whole ceremony.

I turn on my phone and connect it to my Bluetooth speaker. I scroll through my playlist and pick out Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto album and play it. Hopefully Chris Martin would drain all these thoughts from my head. The whole house was soon reverberating softly to ‘Paradise.’

I still continue with my random walk around the house, still feeling the weakness in my knees. I come across a cupboard decorated with pictures. Most of them were with my mum. The majority of the remaining percentage was with Clive, my best friend who is my best man today. The rest were just random relatives who rarely visited and a class picture taken in my last year of high school. Out of all these people I was sure only two would be at my wedding. My mum and Clive. The rest? I didn’t have much expectation.

I come across a picture of Clive and I. We must have just cleared high school. The camera had just captured the right moment as we cannonballed into the pool. We looked so happy. The whole setting looked beautiful. The sun garnished the surface of the pool while every single stranger that had appeared in the photograph was smiling.  I suddenly wish I was back at that moment. That would be nice. I wouldn’t have to deal with this right now. I notice for the first time there’s a man in the pool trying to swim away underneath Clive. I wonder if he really got away. It’s funny when you notice something completely new in something you’ve seen numerous times.  The phone rings but I don’t answer it.

“I really don’t think I can do this. Am I wrong to be hesitant?”

I make my way to the couch and slump on to it. I glance at my watch. It’s two hours to the wedding. I rest my head on the couch and look at the ceiling. I feel awful when I think of my current state. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I feel the urge for a cigarette.

“Everyone is susceptible to emotion. That’s what makes them human. I’m human. I’m smart, I’m stupid, I hope, I despair, I’m confident, I’m timid. I watch football – not soccer. I drink porridge – not eat it. I sleep when I drink coffee and I think Rick and Morty is the best thing ever created.”

A part of me wants to get married today. But it lacks the guts to go and do so. It’s not too late though. All this could be finished in one phone call. The shame could last for a while but end eventually. Of course my mum would be disappointed me for the remainder of my life, but it will soon diminish.

“Decisions, decisions. Everything would be so much easier if things just happened. It would spare us the trouble of making choices.”

I move towards my phone and disconnect it from the speaker. At this moment, the whole playlist is over and I hardly listened to it. I wonder who to call. It would be brutal to call Anita. It would be heartless to call my mother. I loosen up my tie and untie the top button of my shirt. I dial up Clive’s number.

The doorbell rings and makes me frolic. I walk towards the door and open it.

The Perfect Sunset

It’s 5.45 p.m. You sit there watching the sun descend in a somewhat spectacular fashion. “Well that’s beautiful.” you say aloud, at least loud enough so that you hear it. The sky is filled with an array of colours spread across it and its sheer beauty has enchanted you. You love watching sunsets. There’s something about it that makes you feel relaxed. That the day, however bad it was, was finally over, and you could finally be hopeful for the next day. You look outside and begin to notice that you’ll soon be the only one in this parking lot, but it doesn’t bother you. You adjust your posture and tilt the car seat slowly back. And slowly your mind drifts off and her face emerges in your subconscious. You try to suppress it but it slowly resurfaces again. This time, it’s vivid, much clearer than before. It’s like she is standing right in front of you. You notice that dimple on her left cheek that never disappears and those freckles on her face that she is very insecure about. You see her hair, as black as volcanic glass, complemented by the dark colour of her eyes. Her eyes, dammit! It is at that very moment you realise you love her. You remember your first encounter with her. She was planning to move into the neighbourhood and was looking for a house, and you, as the great estate agent you claim to be, rose to the occasion. You stalled getting her one just to spend time with her because you were too shy to ask her to have dinner with you. But she was too smart to notice what you were doing and she asked you out instead. As evocative as the first date was, the only thing you remember is that smile she pulled off throughout it. You blink twice and you’re back in the parking lot.

It’s getting darker now. You tilt your seat forward and place your hands on the wheel. You look out the window to see an empty parking lot dimly illuminated. You remember you didn’t get her a house but she moved into yours instead. You smile when that thought crosses your mind and refuses to leave. A feeling of triumph envelopes you as you put on your earphones and slowly drive away.

Such Serenity

“Sir, kindly fill this form and have a seat.”

Andy searched for a pen on his body before he realised that he didn’t have one. He reached for the pen attached to the reception desk and nervously filled in his details.

“First time huh?”

Andy looked up from the form and his eyes met with the receptionist’s warm smile. “What a pretty smile,” he thought. He nodded his head and returned the gesture, but not so convincingly. He handed the form to the receptionist who was patiently waiting for him to finish.

“When can I go in and see her?”

“Sir, you can’t go in right now but we’ll inform you when she’s ready.”

Andy nodded his head and walked towards the seats in the waiting lounge. He sat adjacent to an elderly man who looked well in his sixties. He was asleep with his walking stick firmly in his hands. He looked at the wall-clock. The time was two-thirty in the morning. He swore the clock’s ticking was all he could hear at that particular moment, apart from the old man’s snoring. But he wouldn’t let that bother him tonight.

He reclined into his seat as the events of that night began raced through his mind. He was awoken by Judy uttering the words “It’s coming” and that didn’t need any elaboration. They were at the hospital within minutes and she had been rushed into the labour ward close to four hours ago. He was excited but at the same time tensed. He had been asked to leave when she had lost consciousness while in the ward. He hadn’t been told of her condition and it was killing him.

“It does get easier, you know?”

Andy looked up, searching for the origin of those words. It was the elderly man sitting in front of him.

“What?”

“The wait. I’ve been there. It’s so easy to lose your head. The longer she’s in there, the more exasperated you’ll be. Don’t worry. I’m sure she’s fine.”

“Thanks for the advice.” Andy couldn’t help but smile at the old man’s advice. He actually felt better for a moment.

“Excuse me Sir!” Andy turned round to the nurse standing next to him.

“I’m sorry, but there have been some complications…”

“Complications? What do you mean? Just stop these medical terms and tell me what has happened to her.”

“She passed out and we had to resort to a C-Section. We are doing all we can to ensure her condition stabilises. I assure you she’ll be alright.”

He slumped onto his seat. He hadn’t thought about calling Judy’s mom until that moment. He picked up his phone and dialled.

He hadn’t realised it but he was soon pacing vigorously around the room. At that time Judy’s mom and several of the couple’s friends had arrived at the hospital. He finally sat down and buried his face deep into his palms. He could feel the sweat build up on his palms as the lyrics of ‘Lose Yourself’ popped up in his head. He smiled faintly at the coincidence that that very song was what led him to meet Judy in the first place. They rapped that whole song on their first encounter seven years ago. She had come out of a bad relationship while he was that rebound that turned into a clean score. The perfect match!

 

“Andrew Kinyua!”

He immediately stood when he heard his name. He hurried towards the nurse that called out his name. She led him to a room and closed the door behind her. He tried to read her face but nothing was forthcoming. His breathing was getting intense.

“It’s done?” He asked, in a squeaky voice. He cleared his throat immediately after; embarrassed he was capable of producing such a sound.

“Uhm…yes it is, but…”

“But what?”  The smile that had formed on his face quickly disappeared once ‘but’ was uttered.

“You’re going to have to sit down for this.”

“I think I’m better standing up”

“I insist!”

Andy sat down and rubbed his palms on his jeans.

“There were complications…”

That word again.

“We put her on life support but she wasn’t responsive.”

“Wait, what are you talking about? Life support?”

He knew that word. No way! Her life was being supported? Why? Wasn’t she just here for the baby?

The nurse’s voice was fading. She was relentlessly trying to explain something about a failed resuscitation. He stood up abruptly and asked her in a slow but sharp tone.

“What are you saying?”

“She didn’t make it Andrew, but the baby did. I’m so sorry”

He slumped back onto the chair. For the next few minutes, he thought about nothing while he stared vacuously across the room. A thought crossed his mind. He had to see her. He stormed out of the room and walked down the hall. He could see his mother-in-law at a distance, resisting consoling from those around her.  At least somebody did what I didn’t have the guts to do. He said to himself.

He stared at her lifeless body. Her face was still lit up by that smile that made him fall in love with her in the first place.

He walked out of the room amidst wailing from his mother-in-law and a few of his female friends. He knew if he stayed in that room a minute longer he would also cry. He didn’t want that. He passed by the nursery and stared at his daughter for a while. She was soundly asleep despite all the crying that was going on around her. “Such serenity” He whispered beneath the tears that fell from his eyes. He stood there, staring for a little while longer.

 

Rainy Mission

The rain poured hard. Mark glared outside from his car window as he lit up a cigarette. “It’s going to be a long night,” he said, loud enough for a half-asleep Jon to hear.

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“More reason for me to sleep. I don’t even know why I’m here.”

“You’re here for the moral support. Plus if need be, a getaway driver,” Mark replied as he puffed out a cloud of smoke that sent his friend into a spiral of coughs.

“Blow the other way dammit!”

“Sorry,” Mark apologised, as he opened the window slightly.

He turned his head to look at his ex-girlfriend’s house through the car’s side-mirror. He had sat there for the past two hours waiting for Nancy to come home, well not her really,but his daughter, Michelle. He often came to the same spot and watched her through the dining room window. Some would call it stalking. But he always convinced himself it wasn’t. “I’m watching over her,” he always told himself and anyone who dared confront him about it. He loved listening to her infectious laughter. It was his assurance that she was happy. Today was different though. It was Michelle’s 15th birthday and he vowed that he would get something for her. That restraining order was going to restrain itself today!”

He opened the the glove box and pulled out a wrapped-up gift with a picture of him and his daughter attached to it. He placed his finger on her face as he tried to pick out her best features using the dimly-lit street light.

“You got her a gift?” Jon asked, finally stopping the flurry of thoughts. He grabbed the gift from Mark’s hand before he even answer.

“When was this taken?”

“Right before I went to jail.”

“Damn! Dude, you had the perfect family back then. I was rooting for you guys, you know?”

“Don’t start! You realise she doesn’t want anything to do with me right now.” Mark said, letting out a nervy laugh. “I just have to see her though, face-to-face.”

“You still have that restraining order, which you’ve already violated. You sure you know what you’re doing?”

Just before he could answer, a white Range Rover raced through the narrow road and parked carefully before the pathway that led to the house.

“They’re here.”

“When did they get a Range?” Jon asked.

“About six months ago.”

“It’s not your first time going all Huck on them, right?”

“I’m surprised they haven’t noticed yet.” Mark said with a cocky voice.

He watched as his daughter and Nancy disembarked from the vehicle. Michelle’s was in full view of the street light. She wore a white dress that ended just below her knees. She wore red heels that complemented the red jacket that hugged her body.“Kerry Washington has nothing on her,” he thought.
Almost in instinct, Jon blurted out, “Dude, your daughter looks like Kerry Washington.”

“Naah bro! Mark replied,” Kerry Washington here, Michelle here,” he said while he gestured with his right hand above his left trying his best Harvey Specter impression.

They entered the the house amidst hearty laughter. He waited for them to close the door for him to make his move. The rain had dwindled a bit. As soon as they closed the door behind them, he stepped out of the car and walked stealthily to the door. He made sure the sensory light doesn’t get triggered while avoiding the puddles of water the rain had caused. He crossed a large shadow a tree had created from the moonlight. He swore he couldn’t see himself at that point. He finally reached the door with everything going to plan. He reached for the door bell but his hand stopped half-way, almost automatically. His outstretched finger curved up similar to a provoked millipede and slowly his hand came down.

“This is harder than I thought,”he said to himself as he let out a heavy sigh, not of relief. This was something else. He was tensed but at the same time determined to fulfil the mission of seeing his daughter face to face after ten years. The thought of more court visits in the times to come then started to fill up his mind plus he was in his final days of probation didn’t want to ruin that. He knew Nancy was the cause of all this mayhem in his mind, but that didn’t matter to him. All that mattered at that moment was Michelle.

He lifted up his hand again to press the doorbell, this time more determined than before. He had made his decision. He pressed the doorbell and waited.

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Michelle opened the door to a gift-box left on the doorstep. She picked it up and immediately her face beamed. She looked around as if to look for the bearer of the gift but her efforts proved futile.

He stood there in the darkness directly in-front of the door. He was surprised she didn’t notice the dark figure in the tree’s shadow. She had spent a brief moment staring unknowingly at him when she had looked into the dark.Her reaction when she saw the picture attached seemed like she had expected it. She had smiled too. That moment was everything to him. He had fulfilled his mission.

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He turned round and looked as far as his eyes could see in the dark night as it slowly started to rain. He slowly disappeared into the dark.