By Akuchidinma Raymonda M.
When she got tired of crying on the sofa, she sluggishly changed into a flowered jumpsuit, left her apartment and walked down to the bus stop, where she took a cab to the beach. The well illuminated beach teemed with people, finding it an ideal place to celebrate a day of romantic love. She sat down on a cane chair wide enough to contain two persons, which she found under a curved coconut tree.
A couple kissing passionately under a canopy caught her gaze. Repressing a sigh, she looked away. Nothing had prepared her for a break up on a Valentine’s Day. Looking up at the starry sky, she wondered if she would ever heal from the heartbreak and if she did, she knew she might forever remain immune to love.
Earlier, she had planned the events for the evening, just to show him how much she cherished him; a romantic dinner at a celebrity restaurant, two hours at the cinema, an hour at the beach and a steamy night at a five-star hotel. She had left the office earlier for the airport to pick him up. At the airport, the sight of the descending plane, heightened her excitement.
She quickly made her way, through the crowd in the arrival hall, where she had been patiently waiting. When she spotted him, her heart skipped a beat. She waved at him. He had barely spared her a smile, when someone whizzed past her.
“Sweetheart!” Screamed the pregnant woman, whom she could as well have ignored.
To her astonishment, she threw her arms around his neck and they held each other for what seemed like an eternity, before he stepped back to kiss her on the forehead. When their gazes met over the head of the petite woman, she saw the silent plea in his eyes and knew at once, that she had lost him forever.
Leaning forward, she cupped her head in her hands. Her only imaginations were of him, caressing the petite woman on a sofa, in a candle lit bedroom. This sent a shiver down her spine. She wondered why she always fell for demons in white robes. Her phone rang. She reluctantly picked it up on the fifth ring.
“Nkem, we need to talk.” She recognized his husky voice.
“Ekene, you should know we don’t need goodbyes to walk away.” She ended the call.
Trying not to relive the beautiful moments they once shared, she got up and walked towards the sea beckoning her. She winced when the soles of her feet hit the cold water. Neither the soothing sounds of the clashing waves nor the beautiful white creases they made on the sea could ease her pains. She stood there relishing the idea of committing suicide.
“It hurts so much.” She whispered.
When her crave for life outweighed the urge to drown, she returned to the cane chair, only to find a stranger sitting at the other end of it. Too tired to search for another seat, she went and sat down quietly, keeping a distance from him. As she flicked through her phone gallery, tears like rain drops fell on the phone screen.
“Did you lose someone dear to you?” His sonorous voice sliced through the silence.
She ignored him even though she was tempted to share her grief with someone.
“It is a beautiful night. Don’t waste it crying over things you can never change.” He returned his attention to his phone.
As if she had been waiting for a cue, her shoulders convulsed with sobs. Spent from crying, she leaned back to stare at the receding tides.
“I always love the wrong men.” She sniffed.
He handed her a bottle of water which she reluctantly took.
“I always fall for women who take my love for granted.” He added.
Silence ensued, each lost in their own thoughts.
“True love doesn’t exist.” She broke the silence.
“It does. Just that people like us don’t have cupids hovering above us.” He adjusted, so he could look at her.
What type of man would hurt a woman on a day like this? He wondered. He had also suffered the same fate but had moved on, hoping that someday his scars would be healed by a stronger love. He couldn’t help pitying her so he decided to share his experience, with the hope that she would find some consolation in his story.
“Is it too late to make up?” She turned to look at him.
“Last night, I got her wedding invitation…” He choked with emotion.
“Aww…” She gasped.
“I doubt if I can ever love again.” He heaved a sigh.
The gloomy look on his handsome face tore at her heart. She thought of how to put a faint smile on his face. Without a second thought, she said the only three lines she could remember from a novel she read as a teenager.
“Hide not your emotions
For gracefully a rare love rides
And you it will surely find.”
“Strangely, your words just warmed my heart. Are you a poet?”
“No.” She answered with a grin.
For the first time that night, he noticed how beautiful she was. Ignoring the warning bells ringing in his head and giving in to the desire to derive peace of mind from a genuine smile, he said the only fourteen words which his heart could muster.
“Hold my hands
Let’s walk together
And feel these sands
If not forever.”
She looked at his outstretched hand and smiled. She knew that if there was any way to salvage their ruined Valentine’s Day, it was to take the hand of this stranger whose love life was also a mess as hers and enjoy the rest of the evening at least.
To her, it was neither love nor attraction, rather an escape from herself. So she slipped her slender fingers into his larger ones which curled around hers. With their shoulders an inch apart, they walked along the beach and forever, they never let go.
Akuchidinma Raymonda M. is a Microbiologist from Nigeria with a passionate interest in fiction writing. To read her full bio among those of other Writers, who have previously submitted their works to the blog, click on the “WRITERS FEATURED” page at the top.