The night is quiet but for labored breath.
He’s on top of me, heaving and grunting, grunting and heaving, Im underneath him, silent as a corpse I lie, listening to him, watching him… for the first time I realize how much he looks like he’s suffering, how much this is and apparently has always been a struggle for him. When he falls back down beside me, his breath heavy from exhaustion, he asks as he has always done, “was that okay?” For the first time, I understand what that question really means, it is no longer attractive to me.
The house is quiet, but for a racing heart.
I walk back home after seeing Ama and Nana Kwame off at the bus stop, it is a harmattan morning, and the road is quiet and empty. I walk in the middle of the tarred road knowing there is little chance of a car coming by, listen to the birds sing from the tall trees on both sides of the road and pull my cardigan tighter round myself. From a distance I see the house, beautiful, grand, and secluded. He prefers it this way; quiet, alone, safe.
“You won’t really be alone Joan, all you have to do is walk to the bus stop, and you’ll see people, they might be few, but the place is developing fast”
He was in danger. Nkrumah’s government had been overthrown and he had been no angel of a government contractor. I loved him, I took the kids and packed the bags, I followed him.
I walk up the stairs and enter the house; I will wash first, then drive to the market, then sleep, then dinner. Ama’s clothes go into my basket, I pick Nana’s from the floor. Humming a tune I enter our room with the basket, open his wardrobe for his dirty things. I pick them off of his hangers, I smell and hug them, I love his smell. A thud, a note falls out. I bend down to take it, the telephone downstairs suddenly rings.
“Hello Joan, this is Patrick from the office, he is asleep erh?”
“Wo-“ he cuts me short
“I’m in a bit of a hurry just pass this on to him, I know how he hates interrupting his off days but I really need the Marina Institute blueprints by 12 pm today. Thanks!”
The line goes dead and I am confused, he has left for work on his off day? I stand a while, then brush it off, where is my basket? Back to work. I climb upstairs to our room for the basket and notice the paper on the floor. For some reason I am afraid even as I bend for it…it is actually a memo “Transit Paradise hotel, come early.”
My hands quiver, what is this? I swallow and slowly walk back down the stairs, my basket forgotten, Transit Paradise Hotel, we have been there before, on our anniversary, it is not far from here.
I turn off the cars engine and immediately see him. He is in a summer hut, a long distance from where I’m parked with some other men. They are drinking and laughing loudly….maybe he just didn’t want me to know, maybe he wanted the day to himself. A bus enters through the hotels gate and parks some distance infront of me, some seven teenagers, all startlingly good looking get down, they walk towards the hut.
I watch as he and his friends get up to welcome them with hugs, I watch as he kisses one on the lip, I watch as he holds his waist and says something to his friends, they all laugh, all holding unto one of the young men. I feel sick, I don’t notice my tears till I choke on them and then I scream.
The night is quiet but for questions she asks.
“Why are you staring at me?”, he enquires. My mouth is dry, I can’t bring myself to speak, I have been rehearsing all day, but I can’t speak.
“Joan…?” He interrupts my thoughts, it bursts out of my lips, “How long have you liked men?”
The room falls quiet, I wish I could see his face but the lights are out and I can’t put them on now. “I’m going to the Kitchen; please think about what I just asked.” I sit up and dig my feet into my bedroom slippers, get up and put on my morning gown, step out and close the door behind me, I never look back.
I am sitting on one of the kitchen stools, crying my heart out in the darkness when the first flash illuminates the room, closely followed by thunder. The breeze from the open window hits me and I get up rubbing my palms together to close it. My palms are still on the window when I hear a loud crash.
My feet are running up the stairs, my hands holding on to the railings, my brain tells me what I will find but I’m still not ready when I slam open the door.
He dangles in mid-air, feet struggling, fingers clasped around the noose he had made with his tie, his blue tie, I got him that tie. Some of the suitcases he piled up on the bed are kicked unto the floor as he struggles his last. I stare, frozen, and then he gives that last sigh. A long wail from inside of my throat surprises me before my legs give in. I fall to the floor and break down completely. On my knees I stare up at his dangling feet and I scream.
The night is quiet, but for escape from pain.
Outside it rains and it pours, I am drenched, we all are.
“Mummy I’m cold”
“shhh you will be alright my dear”
I hold them, one on each hand. still in our night clothes and shivering, we walk down the boulevard, illuminated by the street lights.
You won’t really be alone Joan, all you have to do is walk to the bus stop