Hi lovelies. How have you been? I know. I know it’s been a long while. And I have no excuse, honestly. Please forgive me. And take this as an end of year gift. From me to you with lots of love❤️.
If you are a newbie, welcome to the family and thanks for joining. Glad to have you here with us. Kindly start reading the story from the beginning. If you’re an old fan, welcome back, and let’s finish hard! If you probably missed out on the previous episode, well here you go. Enjoy!
Sitting straight-faced and attentive through a Computer Appreciation lecture is one of the most tedious tasks I’ve had to endure ever since I began first year of Nursing School in KNUST. Trust me, just sitting through the lecture with open eyes alone, and not listening necessarily, is an achievement. Goodness! And to make matters worse is the fact that it is the last lecture on the Monday schedule; held from 2:00 to 4:00pm. I hardly ever listen to anything the lecturer says. Today for instance, I’m fidgeting with my phone, scrolling through pictures in my gallery, just to keep myself awake. Georgina—who is sitting next to me—is busily replying texts on WhatsApp. I turn to look around and most of my mates are either on their phones, too, or have their heads down on their desks. Bernice, the girl seated at my front, releases a tired yawn and hisses, causing those around her to chortle. The lecturer is standing at the far front where I can only see him if I sit upright without bending my back or resting my elbows on the desk. But I am so tired. It amazes me how just sitting all day, listening to people come talk and go, can be so physically exhausting.
I keep scrolling lazily through the pictures till I come across one particular photo of Will and I—a selfie taken at a wedding. We’re smiling very nicely in the picture. We seem happy. We were happy, actually. My smile is bold, widening my carefully lipsticked mouth while his is calm, almost as if shy to show itself. I swipe to the next photo—a screenshot of Berla Mundi from Instagram—then swipe back to the previous one. For a long time, I stare at the chocolate face, smiling gently at me through the phone and think, ‘I miss you.’
It’s been fifteen days now, since myself, with your family and some other well-wishers escorted you to the airport, your place of departure. Where we hugged each other for so long it felt almost awkward with our family and friends closely watching. I know you didn’t want to let go and neither did I. But I watched you wave at me, at us, one last time before climbing into that airplane that took you out of my sight. Since then, I think of you everyday and see you waving still. I see you among all those many people at the airport, walking towards the plane that will carry you out of my sight for a very long time. Back then, I honestly wished to follow you. My lips wanted to beg you to stay, and not leave. But how could I? When I was the one who encouraged you to follow your dreams, after all.
You said you’d call immediately you settled. I’ve been waiting. But when I’m with your mom, I try not to show it. Every time I visit her—which is almost every Saturday because she would call me to come even if I don’t go—I barely stop myself from asking if she’s heard from you. She likes to assure me, for some reason, as though she knows I need to hear it, as though she can read my despairing mind. I mostly smile and nod when she talks about you, but really, I’m not as calm as I portray. When I’m lying in bed at night, I get so many silly thoughts. I’ve got all these “what-if” scenarios playing round in my head like scenes from a movie I’ve watched multiple times. What if you’ve already met some London beauty who’s willing to offer you everything and not hold back like me? Surely, you’d take that right? I wonder about the many beautiful women you will encounter everyday in the UK and it makes me restless. I stand in the mirror for hours looking myself up and down to see if I stand a chance against them. Till I realize how silly I’m being. My mind plays tricks on me all the time; tells me you’ve forgotten me already; tells me you’re probably chilling with some new friends. Then seconds later, I rebuke myself and remember it’s not even been a month yet so I must relax. I’ve stopped expecting your call, or should I say, that’s the lie I feed my brain to allow me some comfort.
I was an idiot to deny something I knew would happen soon enough. Why I thought I wouldn’t miss you is even strange to me. But I guess that’s just how we, humans, like to humour ourselves. Saying it to myself while you were here allowed me to think it was possible, that you’d leave, and I wouldn’t think a thing of it, as though your vivid presence in my life for these past months had been nothing more than a mere passing. Ugh. Poor me. I feel so regretful now and if I could see you or hear from you, I would tell you just how much I miss you, how much I love you, and how much I want to be–
The sudden clutter of chairs and desks smashing against one another, the cacophonous rising of many voices speaking together, at once, drags me back to the lecture hall. I lift my shoulders in an attempt to sit up and that’s when Georgina sees the picture of Will and I splayed over my phone’s screen.
She clears her throat dramatically before saying, ‘Thinking about the UK bae again huh?’
I dash her a sharp look and push my chair backwards in order to stand.
‘Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll call soon okay?,’ she says over my shoulder, in a soothing tone that annoys me. As though I were in some kind of visceral pain for which she needed to soothe me with her sweet, gentle voice.
‘I’m not worried!,’ I reply a bit too curtly, heading for the exit, wondering why I’m getting visibly irritated.
‘Of course you are, Fafa. It’s written all over your face. You really miss him, and it’s okay to admit it.’
‘Never said I didn’t. There’s a difference between missing and worrying.’
‘Ah, well. Okay oo,’ Gina says, giving up. ‘Whatever you say madam.’
We’re on our way home, and I’m wondering if I have just fed myself another lie, if I truly am not worried. We trudge quietly along the route from SMS (School of Medical Sciences) to the New Pharmacy Block to the Social Science Department. Then we walk past the Bush Canteen adjacent the CCB auditorium to the Ayeduase Gate where we pick the car that will get us home. I see cars lined up in slow-moving traffic. This is caused by the drivers of the commercial vehicles who occasionally stop to pick up passengers—mostly the university students—before moving on for another to repeat the routine. I’m imagining just how annoying this must be for the private car owners.
Getting a car after class isn’t as stressful as the mornings. It could get stressful sometimes but more often than not, there are always enough cars around waiting to pick up passengers. Georgina waves at some girl on the opposite side of the road where a woman sits, turning over her roasted plantains on fire, saying she is her church member. Just then, a red Nissan with a conductor shouting, ‘Kotei, Kotei, wobɛkɔ anaa’ pulls up at our front. Georgina and I hop in.
Exhausted by the time I get home, I hurl my handbag unto the couch and dash to the restroom to pee. I come back inside and fling myself onto the sofa. My nostrils detect by a tantalizing smell emanating from the kitchen as my ears accommodate the occasional shuffling of feet in there. I drag myself to the kitchen and poke my head inside. My mom turns to look at me with a disapproving glance.
‘Good day Mama,’ I say, grinning.
‘Good day dearest. How was school today?,’ she asks, turning back to face her meal.
‘It was fine,’ I mumble, adding softly, ‘Ugh, I’m so tired.’
‘Then get some rest. This will take a while before it’s ready,’ Mom replies.
‘What are you cooking?’ I ask.
‘You can’t tell?’
‘I smell cabbage stew,’ I drone, with one eye closed.
‘With what? Yam?’
‘Yes,’ Mom says, while straining to open a big-sized can of Ena Pa mackerel.
Upon returning to the living room, I grab my bag and shuffle to the bedroom.
After taking off my school clothes and putting on some home clothes, I’m about to switch on my internet data when I see the missed call from Pamela that says she called ten minutes ago. I call her back and we chitchat, discussing school among other matters. She tells me about her school, Mampong Nursing Training College, and how the place is treating her. We share our excitements about how both of us are, after all, going to become nurses. Then she goes on to update me on the developments between her and her new boyfriend, Zack. She asks about Will and when I tell her I haven’t heard from him yet, she sighs. I quickly add that he is probably settling down; ‘You know, new environment and all’ and immediately afterwards, hate myself for saying that. I didn’t need to make excuses for Will. But even after Pam tells me she hopes I would hear from him soon, an unease settles on me.
After the call, I lie on my bed and my mind is obstinately full of him. The more I try to pry it away, the more it wills itself towards him. I get up, bring out all the paintings he gave me before leaving and splay them on my bed. I sit staring at the painting of myself, but only, I don’t see myself; I see Will. I see him working busily at it, brush in hand, slops of paint splattered on the floor of his room, his brows furrowed in concentration, sometimes relaxing before forming back into deeper lines. I remember watching him work on the other paintings he gave me, aside the one of myself. The one of the beautiful yellow and blue bird nesting on a twig in the middle of nowhere, the one of the woman in a bright-green sweater, wearing shimmering green eyeshadow, with large brown eyes and a beautiful Afro lunging skyward. In the painting, she’s biting her lower lip a little, which gives her a kind of innocent yet seductive look. I remember him teasing that the woman looked like me, that’s why he was gifting it to me. I had denied, saying, there was no resemblance and that she was way prettier. And I remember his vigorous shaking of his head, saying he totally disagreed. I’m smiling but I also want to cry because all these memories make me miss him more.
I leave everything there and collapse on the floor, deserting the bed. The floor feels cold against my skin. Again my wanders to thoughts of him. I think of how all the fights we ever had, ended with me winning because he let me. How he would smile casually at my sarcasm and say in low, sweet tones that I could be crazy sometimes. I miss being there for him, and seeing him hang on to my every word, as though his life depended on it.
In the weeks prior to his leaving, I saw how hard he tried to get me to acknowledge my feelings for him at least. I wonder now why it had been so hard to admit anyway. It’s not like I did not know how he felt about me. I guess, after my experience with Cudjoe, the whole long distance thing just scared and disinterested me. Now, I wish I’d given it a chance. Who knows? It could have worked. We could have found a way. But I let my fears and doubts get in the way and now here I am, barely able to keep sane. Sigh. I sit up, my back against the foot of the bed and wrap my arms around my body.
Mom’s figure appears in the doorway. She’s asking if I want to eat now. I tell her to go ahead and that I’ll have mine later. The clock on the wall strikes six-thirty in the evening. Getting up, I realize just how much time has elapsed with me sitting here, thinking.
I’m about exiting the room when I hear my phone buzz. One look at the number and my heart leaps. That’s definitely an international number. Could it be…? I’m staring at my screen, feeling cupcakes of butterflies jumping around happily in my tummy, uncertain whether to answer or not. If I answer too quickly, my desperation will show, and I don’t want him to notice that I’ve been anxious. I can already envision my disappointment should it be someone different. But I doubt that; the probability of that is quite low. As I’m standing there, contemplating, the buzzing ends and the silence of my room returns with a gushing stillness. I plop on my bed and face-palm my forehead. I can’t believe I’ve been waiting for this call every single day of the last two weeks of my life and it finally comes through and what do I do? I don’t pick? Wow Fafa, why?
I wipe my sweaty fingers on my thighs and mumble to myself how silly I feel right now. I’m looking at my phone’s screen, still lit, with the missed-call sign staring blankly back at me and begin to shake my head. I decide to wait for the second call. After five minutes of waiting, I begin to panic. What if he never calls again? I’m still in panic mode, when the second call comes through, ten minutes later. I leap for my phone and press the call-receive button before it could even ring.
‘Hello,’ I say, into the phone, trying to calm my nerves. I’m clutching my chest because my heart is beating so fast and I don’t know why.
I hear his raspy breathing before his ‘Hello, pretty’ said in that soft, gentle voice of his.
‘How have you been doing?,’ he adds.
‘Good. Just okay,’ I say, still trying to sound as calm and as unbothered as I can. ‘What of you?’
‘Missing you. I’ve been missing you, a lot,’ he replies, ‘I just wanted you to know that.’
Although I can’t see his face, I can feel his smile. I can almost see his lips contorting into that charming, familiar smile I know.
‘Then why did you take so long to call? Was that on purpose? Perhaps, a punishment?’ I blurt out.
He chuckles. ‘You being angry like this kinda gives me an advantage, you know. But it was not on purpose neither was it a punishment. If I had my way, I’d have called you the very first day. Hell, I’d have carried you with me on that plane that day, and you know it. Sorry for not calling earlier dear.’
I’m breathing heavily now, smiling and blushing. Tears are filling my eyes because I wish I could see him and hug him once again. But I can’t because he’s so faraway now. But there is one last option.
‘I’ll wait,’ I say, after being quiet for a while.
‘You will?,’ he says, sounding surprised. ‘It’s going to be a long time Fafa. And we’re not sure of anything. I don’t think it’s a good idea.’
‘Yeah, I know. Three years is a bit long but I want to. If only you want me to.’
‘Aren’t you scared anymore?,’ he asks.
‘I still am, to be honest. But I want to try, even though I don’t know how this is going to turn out. I want to, at least, give us a chance. Just to avoid any regrets.’
‘I love you, Fafa. And when I come back, I promise, I’m gonna marry you,’ he says, his voice firm and assuring.
Lying on the edge of my bed, my phone burning my ears, my heart thudding loudly and excitedly, I wish that the three years would pass quickly. I’m afraid but I’m also excited for this new phase of our relationship. I trust Will to come back to me as promised.
So with a smile, I whisper slowly into the phone, ‘I love you too, Will. Come back soon. Your bride is waiting.’
Yaayyy! You made it to the end of this long series. I’m glad you came on this journey with me. The ride has been slow and bumpy but I’m thankful for your patience and time. Hope to bring you the next short story series soon. I don’t know how soon that will be but we will definitely be back.
Anyways, let me know what your thoughts on the story. What do think of the ending? (I struggle with endings! Sigh!)What are your thoughts on Fafa’s and Will’s decision. Do you think they can make it work? What are the odds of a long distance relationship being successful? Does the story deserve a sequel? Anything, tell me what’s on your mind.😁
Thanks for reading once again.
Happy end of year🎉 (who’s excited for 2021?😌🎉)
Stay safe, stay well & see you soon.