The day dawned on a tired Naomi who was rubbing her eyes moments after hitting the snooze button on her alarm clock. She stretched in her silk nightdress which revealed her perfectly anchored bosom and ample contours, yawning simultaneously. Her minute frame made the bed appear unusually big although the seven by seven foot bed was not particularly small. Her sleepy eyes rested on the empty pillow beside her. She picked up the pillow unconsciously, pushed it against her nose and inhaled deeply of John’s musky cologne. She felt a warm bolt of longing cascade through her. Her body ached with longing and she loathed the state it put her in. It made her tense which meant she was less tolerant a mother, less patient a driver and more edgy a boss at the work place, not to mention the insomnia which left her drained of her amiable off-beat sense of humour that greatly aided in making her striking facial features more gentle.
“Ha, although it wasn’t anything two red bulls wouldn’t solve” She mused at the thought.
Just then her alarm went off again, startling her, this time drawing her from her thoughts. Now fully wakened, she slapped the off button. She picked up a bottle of Jonnie Walker which sat on her bedside table that was a tot shy from empty and drained the sour contents into her mouth. She winced as the fluid molested her gullet after which she looked at the bottle disapprovingly before giving a long sigh. She had hoped the whisky would knock her out the previous night but all it did was send her to a restless sleep that was punctuated with nightmarish dreams that eventually robbed her of the much need rest she had sought from the alcohol. She hopped out of her bed and found the bath-tub filled two-thirds with steaming warm water bubbling with her bath oils. Judy the house help was a pearl at her job; given her ability to learn quickly coupled with a high school education which made her a witty planner- a quality that Naomi herself had admired throughout Judy’s stay till her discovery two weeks earlier that her husband had been wiring a large amount of money from their joint account to an account in Judy’s name every month. All that was going to change though based on a sprint on that information she had fell upon. It dampened her moods to have to take this bath alone, John always made bath time an activity to look forward, despite his recent disinterest in lovemaking.
A hasty breakfast later, Naomi started the engine of her Toyota Prius. Her son Joshua sat in the seat opposite hers looking prim and perfect in his freshly starched uniform, oblivious of his environment, absorbed in his game boy. The skinny boy looked awfully independent. Naomi found herself toying with the idea of sending the eight-year old to boarding school although Joshua was her source of inspiration and it pained her that he was growing too independent. He hardly noticed it when she kissed him good morning these days. She dismissed the thought quickly and swung the vehicle into gear. The July cold stung her face as she lowered her window and stuck out her head as she reversed and eased onto the road that snaked through the picturesque collection of houses that made up Wanga Estate. The epitome of suburbia as Naomi once knew it held no appeal; everything was in shades of grey. She was too absorbed in her thoughts to notice the signature teardrop headlamps of a Porsche pull into her driveway from her rear-view mirror. John was home.
Two cans of red bull later, Naomi sat in her office on the fifteenth floor of Plaza building. On her desk was a pair of new passports. She and her son’s new identities were ready. A draft of her resignation letter rested on her desk, she would print it herself she decided, she was taking no chances. She called her bank to confirm that her money had been transferred to the new account. It was done. Next she called the airline and booked tickets. She worked with efficiency with the caffeine in her system being of invaluable help to counter the fatigue that plagued her body. She called Joshua’s school to confirm his transfer from the school, she was thankful the head teacher was not keen on questioning the move. The hours flew by and Naomi didn’t realize it till the clock struck 3 p.m. She left the office in mid-haste, duffle bag in hand containing her presently most valued possessions. She had planned to make a discreet exodus and clearing her desk would have been a downright giveaway. Once out of the building, she threw her Prius into gear and eased into the swelling evening traffic, she intended to pick her son up from school and lie that they were going to meet John at the airport, that way; she figured he would be more cooperative. It was an ends justifying the means case. She was glad John’s flight was not due till two in the morning. That meant plenty of time to make her departure without raising the suspicions of her rather nosy neighbours. Naomi could not recall the last time she was this happy about a delay in John’s arrival time. In fact it had never happened.
* * *
Meanwhile back at home John couldn’t fathom what he was hearing. He sat on his favourite chair in his sitting room; he was presently unaware of the muffled sobs from Judy, who sat directly opposite him.
“I am so sorry,” she said for the umpteenth time amidst violent sobs that shook her bosom precariously.
John broke from his trance-like state, walked to the seat opposite his; he held the girl’s face in his hands and spoke in a voice so calm even he thought it sounded foreign.
“Go ready her suitcases like she asked you to. I’ll handle the rest.” She obediently made exit leaving him to his troubled thoughts.
John was exhausted; he sank back into his seat. He knew that Naomi was unhappy but he had clearly underestimated the degree of her misery. He felt guilty for being unavailable but greater was the feeling that he had been robbed of his time. Time- that he invested in making her feel secure, accommodating Joshua as his very own and most of all agreeing with her decision not to have any more children, a decision that his mother openly condemned.
His mind reeled back to the time he first met Naomi. He had been working as a researcher for an environmental organization on disease hazard assessment, in a remote refugee camp in the arid Northern Kenya. It greatly stressed him because he had assumed he was getting an administration position when he signed up for the job. Naomi was present as she worked for one of the National dailies. She had come across as too laid back a reporter until he found out she held an editorial position. He didn’t realize it then but he had been intimidated by her perfect blend of beauty and brains, which was why he had kept their relationship professional for eight out of the ten weeks they worked together. It intrigued him- the graceful way she handled the adverse climate, the all-male team of journalists that worked under her and the flirtation and sexual innuendo that came her way. Naomi was an enigma and John knew he had to have her. She ran like a freshly oiled machine and john being a grease monkey, clearly understood the dynamics of oiling.
He would have heard a car ease into the driveway had he been less immersed in his thoughts.
* * *
Naomi who was presently engrossed in typing a text message on her phone did not notice the presence of her husband’s car through the partially open garage door. Joshua banged the door of his mother’s car shut and zoomed past her into the house through the front door.
“Dad!” the boy wailed in ecstasy.
Naomi, now at the doorstep, stopped dead on her tracks just in time to see John’s figure silhouette from the kitchen, a suitcase in one hand and her son on the other. For a moment she felt light-headed and she feared her knees couldn’t support her.
“Hi dear, welcome home,” John said cordially. He wore a smirk on his face as he offered his hand for her to shake. John was a great fan of ambience so she went along and hugged him to maintain the forced civility act.
“I can explain everything,” Naomi volunteered in a voice a decibel higher than a whisper.
“No, I think I am the one who has got explaining to do.” He led the way to the dining room where Judy dutifully relieved him of Joshua who was perched on him sucking on a sweet. The child did not protest.
“I know that you’ve planned on leaving the country. It is not something that I agree to but I have to accept thus I assure you that I do not intend to try changing your course. I know that you’ve been unhappy for the last five months partly because I have somewhat neglected my conjugal duties. It is because I recently underwent vasectomy owing to the fact that we weren’t intending on having any children. I also realised the contraception pills were causing you too much trouble.” John swallowed hard allowing Naomi to absorb the news.
“But why didn’t you just tell me?” Naomi asked him placing a sweaty palm on his forearm. He made a gesture as if asking her not to interrupt and gently placed her arm on the table.
“The day I bought my Porsche, I took it for a test-drive on a dirt road in the outskirts of town. I was doing about a hundred and sixty when what had appeared to be a bush half a kilometer off turned out to be an elderly lady carrying firewood. She attempted crossing the road and I hit her despite my efforts to brake. I feared she’d died on impact but she lost her ability to walk instead owing to a spinal injury. I kept in touch with the lady who turned out to be really pleasant a character. I learnt about her orphaned niece with whom she had lived with for a year. I offered the girl a job as a house help and sent her auntie to a nursing home. The large amount of money I’ve been transferring to an account in an account in Judy’s name is to cover for the nursing home. I wonder whether it occurred to you that I wouldn’t have used that account if I was transferring funds for a sinister motive.” This time he allowed a tear to drop freely down his left cheek. He did not bother wiping it.
“I fear that I may have wasted valuable time with you, but greater is my fear for Joshua who I’m emotionally invested in- he has an alcoholic mother who is bent on making not only her life miserable but also for those that love her. Clearly Naomi, allowing you into my life was by far the worst decision I have made. Keeping secrets from you has proven worse though, because I unwittingly walked into a battle field. However, you drew first blood in a war of vague cause. The thing you should have known about love is, unlike war there are no winners or losers, just broken down wrecks like you.”
* * *
As Naomi boarded British airways flight, bound for Malawi, she knew for certain that she had not only lost her Nationality but the opportunity of a life time with a man who genuinely had her interests at heart, she prayed for redemption from whatever curse that befell awful human beings such as herself.