Fiction

CRUX | part one

Doctors! I hate doctors. All of them. It was one of them that broke the bond of my marriage. Since the night we returned from the doctor’s office two weeks ago, our home has become a cave of sorrows following the bombshell the doctor dropped on my husband.

“Mr Cornelius, you cannot father a child….”
And the doctor had gone on and on explaining the medical intricacies but one thing remained frozen in our minds: Cornelius’ impotence. I nearly rocked in my seat. Tears dropped from my eyes for all these long years of cries and prayers. It is final. Fate had decided to punish me that I cannot have a child from the man I loved.

That night, Cornelius did not come home and the day after, and when he finally returned, he looked unkempt. His breath reeked of alcohol. The buttons on his shirt were all gone. His tie hung loose around his neck. He was an image of a dead man. That night, the food I set on the table was left untouched and the nights after it. Life became double pain. He was hurting, but could he not see that I was hurting even more?

***

The next day, I invited our pastor to counsel us. Cornelius was all smiles while the pastor was around, but as soon as the pastor left, two hot slaps landed on my cheeks. He jerked me up from the black couch in our living room.
Why? he bellowed. Why are you screaming my shame to the world?”
In the speed of a second, he reached for the wine bottle from which the pastor had drunk and smashed it on the tiled floor. The loud crash echoed in the room. The red grape wine flowed across the floor. Fear clogged in my throat. Cornelius crumbled on the floor upon the lumpy particles of broken glass. His sobs filled me with agony as I crawled to him and folded his bloody frame in my arms. My hands roamed through his long Afro hair. Without words we bonded, healing our wounds in the bliss of darkness.

As dawn crept in on us, Cornelius awoke a changed man. His smiles became my sanity. It was almost like old times. He would take me to the cinemas, the beach and everywhere he deemed fit. It was almost like a second honeymoon only that this time, my husband would not make love to me… Even when I stood naked before him, his response was:
To what end, Lydia? with pain burning in his gaze as I scurried away in shame like a drenched rabbit.

***

Three days later, our bond began to mend. We were beginning to find a way to live with each other. He called from his office and asked that I prepare his special meal for dinner.
Hope lit in my eyes. Even as I prepared the fried rice and chicken, my happy humming flooded the entire kitchen.
As the clock announced 7PM, I peered through the window with joy as he drove into the compound. I was wearing my favorite red gown, the one with a slit up to my knee. The dinner table was set. The aroma of the food hung in the air. He entered. Our hug mingled with affectionate greetings. We soon settled on the table. The candle flickered on our faces.

His eyes were heavy, I could tell. Something was in his mind. Hope rose within me. Finally, he will accept the option of adoption. He began to squirm on his seat, his gaze burning into mine.
We will have our child, he said. His voice held a promise.

I almost jumped out of the seat, hope burning in my eyes.
“How, darling….?” I whispered as hope rose to my chest. Miracles happen, I believe.

“Lydia,” he said, his hand reaching for mine. “You will lay with my brother.”

Written by Chioma Ngaikedi.

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