Her memories of him always gripped her throat until she choked on the bursts of pain that flowed from her heart to her lips. At those times she’d wished she didn’t burn up all his pictures when he left her, she wanted to burn them again after sprinkling Cameroon pepper on his still form so he’d writhe in agony wherever he was and if he was with her, maybe the pain would scorch her too.
When he first left her, she cried daily, calling his name and phone, begging him to fill her arms again. At first he laughed at her when she called, his voice swollen with something that reminded her of pride. Sometimes she heard her laughter in the background, she longed for ten minutes alone with her and a pair of pliers strong enough to uproot her brown and scattered teeth, maybe he would be so disgusted by the witch that he’d run back to her. He soon started ignoring her calls and eventually blocked her number. She wept and made up silly revenge plots while her friends and family watched her closely and prayed for her. He never called, not once. She immersed herself in work, making more sacrifices than anyone and had the scars and plaques and hefty account balance to prove it.
But years were born and they died, with each one rolling her heart in a new layer of bitterness. News of him still percolated into her life, they were still together, he still laughed at everything she said just as he’d done when he first met her but she’d been too secure in his love to realise how dangerous that was. Their house was still quiet even though they’d filled it with art from far flung places and redecorated every quarter, it was just as quiet as hers.
Then she spotted two grey hairs, one at her temple, the other near her nape. She sighed and got her scissors, taking care to cut off only the offenders. She saw five more, two weeks later, she’d turned thirty nine the previous day and it had been seven years since her husband and the witch walked out of her living room with linked arms.
She played Jimmy Cliff’s Wild World on replay loop on her car’s mp3 player as she drove to the fertility clinic. Minutes later, the cracked voice singing Wild World in the car startled her. It saddened her that she’d let her voice die, that she didn’t know her own voice anymore. She dabbed at the tears collecting at the edges of her eyes and blew her nose with the pink handkerchief a prophet had given her in the past that would help bring him home, two years had passed and her husband was still married to the devil’s chief priestess.
Walking into the clinic was difficult, her legs felt like concrete boulders and her heart seemed to be playing a rock song as she walked into the doctor’s office. Her mouth dried when she saw him, even though they’d spoken five times on the phone and each phone call lasted at least twenty minutes as he reassured her that their sperm donors were all healthy, intelligent and kind men. He hummed Lagbaja’s Cool Temper while he reviewed her scan results and hormonal profile.
“We will start the first cycle next week”. He said just before squeezing her shoulder gently.
She smiled and nodded while she continued to battle doubt.
When her period didn’t show up for business after two months, she gingerly bought pregnancy test strips. She danced after each one changed from one line to two, then she called her sisters to tell them the news.
She’d barely began to show when she abandoned all her clothes for maternity gowns. People stopped her on the road to rejoice with her while she saw her story on certain gossip blogs and on social media.
She was drinking a mango and pineapple smoothie when her phone rang. His voice crackled with animosity on the phone as he launched into a tirade about her morals and accused her of faking the pregnancy.
“You’re so very funny”, she snorted as she cut into his diatribe. “You left me- the barren idiot, hooked up with Queen who would give birth to your football team. You did this nearly eight years ago and you have the brazen effrontery to call me and say dust about my morals? Get the fuck off my phone, you expired piece of shit”
She ended the call, switched off her phone, settled deeper in her chair, sipped her smoothie and said a prayer of thanksgiving. In a room across town, her ex-husband buried his face in his hands and sobbed, with the test result his wife threw at him just before she left with all her possessions, still on his lap.