Heartbreak on A Tuesday
I move through the darkness with a familiarity that one walks through a house they've lived in for years except, I have come to realize, this isn’t my home. I am packing a small suitcase and filling it with whatever I think is mine. I move quietly, but not quiet enough as Ofure slowly sits up in the bed, her hair messy over her face, a black satin bonnet scrunched up beside her pillow. “What time is it?” she asks, groggily
“6ish” I answer, barely looking up at her as I toss a blouse into the suitcase.
She falls back to the bed, “Ok be quick, my mom gets here a-”
I cut her off. “ Yes Yes, at 7. I will be out of your hair well before then”. My voice is rancid with anger but I can’t know for sure if she takes note of it as her breath slows back into slumber.
Falling in love with Ofure was never the plan but when the world came crashing down around me, there she was holding everything back up. When life was beautiful and filled with laughter she had been there laughing beside me. Ofure had invaded all my memories and unfortunately, my heart as well.
I was attracted to and had dated men before her but now I was unsure if i could ever go back to a man or frankly even another woman. She was to be my one. She has to be. Right? The thought that I would feel such blazing love and exchange it for anything else was beyond my grasp.
In the year after Ofure had stopped denying that us having sex (multiple times) was just a mistake and there was something there, she confided in me that she had never been attracted to men. But that admitting she was gay wasn’t an option for her either.
That was 12 years ago.
I had fallen in love with someone who could never truly be mine. It was I who accepted the job of my dreams across the globe and quit after 3 months because being away from Ofure was torture. It was I who went to parties as “Ofure’s friend, Jacqueline” among people who seemed conveniently oblivious to the possibility that I was more than her friend.
And now, Ofure’s mother is visiting from Port-Harcourt with her siblings and here I am packing my bags. I will be at a hotel for the 3 weeks they are here. Ofure tells me, last night, there’s nothing she can do about it. “ I live in a one bedroom apartment babe, what do you expect me to tell them. You know i love you”
“Actually, I don’t! We’ve been together for 12 years Ofu, 12 years. This is crazy”
“Its not easy for me…like it is for you” she is pacing across the living room. Even though I am angry I can’t help but watch as her her eyes glisten or watch how the curve of her mouth softens with sadness or how her legs stretch out beautifully in front of her.
She is a masterpiece
“What do you mean?!!” I yell, “ Easy for me? I’m Nigerian too. My father, who I freaking adore doesn’t even talk to me anymore. Because, because of YOU”
“It..its different” She stammers. “You grew up here, you are different”. I give up on our futile and redundant conversation and walk into the bathroom, slamming the door behind me . Here we were again, of course! I was “different”, with my bohemian hair, the nose piercing and tattoos. I am sure she would love to believe that I had been the one to complicate her life. But then again it wasn’t I who reached for a kiss that night and it wasn’t I who kept coming over for the night. It wasn’t I who said I love you first. I fall to the floor crying, I can hear her breathing by the other side of the door. She doesn’t say anything. Hours later we go to bed, in silence, like nothing had happened.
“I am heading out” I say, as i zip up my luggage. I knot my jacket around my waist. “You should get up and clean or whatever”.
She slips out of bed and moves to kiss me. I step back, looking her dead in the eyes “Ofure, I can’t keep doing this”
She nods, “I know, I know”. I stay silent and make for the door. I know i’ll be back in exactly 3 weeks. I also know that one day she’ll tell me she is getting married to a man and that time I would have no choice but to leave for real. I turn around and look at the love of my life; my best decision and my worst nightmare. My chest feels tight and I can barely breathe. I have to remind myself to take in deep breaths.
I leave our, her home at 6:50 am on a Tuesday morning lying to myself that right now she is the love of my life and I am the love of hers.
But as my father once told me that summer when 14 and stupid I drove his car around the neighborhood, back when he loved me and the mere mention of my name didn’t light an angry fire in his soul. “Jackie Jackie, Chai, I am not angry at you o!” he pulls me into a playful embrace, “I don’t even know why you bother my dear, you’ve never been a good liar”.