The arrival hall of the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos was packed full with travellers. Many milled around getting food and drinks; others stood by and picked their luggage. I wheeled my pint size suitcase and walked towards the revolving doors, a smile on my face. I knew how surprised Henry would be to see me. He expected me back in three days time but I had finished my assignment earlier and was eager to rush home to the arms of my devoted husband.
The thought of the hunk of a man I had married always brought a smile to my face. Henry was the answer to many prayers as I told my friends. Those months when I groaned in prayers, crying out to God for a spouse. I found my fantasies fulfilled when he came into my life. I met him at a programme organised by my church for singles. I was one of the ushers and as usual, I put on my brightest smile as I welcomed the guests to the events. Members of the church where I worshipped often told me their day was made each time I smiled.
‘Keep smiling and one day, that award winning smile would give you a unique gift.’ My pastor’s wife had told me.
That turned out to be a prophecy.
Henry was one of the people I bestowed my smile on that day and he told me the smile stayed with him throughout the week. When we bumped into each other at Shoprite, Lagos, he was quick to refer back to it.
‘The lady with the charming smile.’ Henry said as I looked blankly at him.
‘Excuse me. Have we met before?’
‘Yes. At the Peculiar Singles Conference. You were one of the ushers and I never forgot that your sweet smile.’
‘Oh! That’s just me being myself.’ I smiled again.
‘And a very delightful you. My name is Henry. I work with Contact Advertising.’
‘Interesting. I am Florence. I also work with an advertising firm, Rosebuds Agency.’
We took a seat at a nearby restaurant and chatted endlessly about our careers. Henry seemed to have a genuine love for God and a great love for travel like I did. We had so much in common. That was the first of many dates we had and soon, we discovered an attraction for each other that we could not fight. An attraction that led us to the altar in six months time. Everyone felt he was a great catch. Everyone envied me. All except one person…………………….
‘Madam, where you dey go?
‘Cooperative Villa, Badore, Ajah.’ I told the driver as I approached the airport taxi park. We agreed on the price and the journey began. I focused on the joy of running into my husband’s arms being smothered with kisses and…………………………
A slow smile played around my lips. I read through my Facebook posts as the usual Lekki- Ajah traffic slowed down the journey home.
‘Madam we don reach oh.’ The voice of the taxi driver pulled me out of my time with the social media.
I paid him and picked my suitcase as I walked up the steps leading to my house. I let myself in with my key. I wanted to dash in and cook a meal for Henry before he returned back from work. He was due home in another one hour and I wanted him to savour the surprise.
I strode past the sitting room and into the bedroom. I threw upon the door and gulped at the sight that met my eyes. I was not sure what I had seen. Probably my eyesight had been messed up during the ride back here. That could not be………He was not supposed to be at home by this time so how could he………….? And with……….
‘Honey……………please…………’ Henry’s voice sounded like a funeral tune played in a far away land.
‘Stay away from me Henry. Just stay away…………….’ I took three steps back as I screamed as if to clear the demons that were dancing around in my head. I stumbled to the drawer in the sitting room and picked up a bunch of keys. I half walked, half ran towards the back door and opened it swiftly. As I sat in the car and started the ignition, Henry ran up to the car.
‘Honey, please wait. You cannot drive in this state.’ He pleaded with me.
I pressed the automatic button that rolled up the glass of the car. I drove in a daze, tears streaming down my eyes. I had no idea where I was going to but I knew I had to get out of that house. Out of that disgusting sight that almost blinded me. Out of the sad reality that I had a skeleton, not a marriage in the first place.
I drove on as the tears flowed on. Soon I parked my car in a driveway. I reached for the tissue box on the car dashboard and brought out a few pieces of tissue. I cleaned my tear stained eyes and tried to focus on my surroundings. That was when I realised where I was.
I had driven to the doorstep of the one person who had reservations about my marriage.
I opened the car door slowly and placed one foot on the ground. Then the other. I was not sure if I could walk on my feet again. I was so shaky. I stayed that way for a few moments before I closed the door of the car. I walked on feet that did not feel like my own and got to the front door of the house. I rang the doorbell with shaky hands. The door opened and a voice spoke.
That was all I heard because my knees buckled and I collapsed as I felt hands holding me.
I woke up in a room with lilac furnishings and a lilac bedspread. I trained my eyes on the person seated by my bedside.
‘Florence, thank God you are awake.’
‘Mummy…………….’ I said weakly.
‘Yes it’s me. Let me call him for you.’
She disappeared and returned swiftly with her husband who sat by me, worry lining his forehead.
‘Florence, you got us all so worried. What happened?
‘How long have I been here?
‘Three days. The doctor left a few minutes ago. He said you suffered an emotional shock and you need rest.’
‘Henry was here. He just left……………………………….’
‘No. Don’t let him come here. I don’t ever want to see him again.’
My host and hostess looked at each other, obviously baffled.
‘What’s wrong Florence?’ He asked.
‘Why don’t you want to see your husband?’ She asked.
‘I hate him……………………………..I don’t want to see his deceitful face……..ever again.’
I wept like a bereaved woman as they watched me. They probably wanted me to empty my emotions before they spoke.
‘Do you want to talk about it?’
I looked into the eyes of my mentor, Pastor Kelvin and his wife, Adanma and I saw sincerity as always. They had been there for me when I lost my parents and took me in as their own daughter. A couple I could always pour my heart to. Who knew everything about me, both the good and the bad and yet could love me unconditionally. And I knew I could tell them what was causing me this emotional breakdown. Reveal to them the horror I had confronted that day when I walked into my matrimonial room after I returned from my trip to Abuja………………………………….
Henry was on the bed. Our matrimonial bed, intertwined with Collins. Collins, his best man and friend since childhood. Collins whom I had taken as a brother, me being an only child. Collins whom I felt safe to discuss Henry with. Collins who often came to our house and slept over when I had to travel out of the state. Collins who was now vying for my husband’s affection with me.
I could not forget the look of sheer ecstasy on my husband’s face as Collins dug into him. The same ecstasy he experienced with me when we disturbed the night with our moans of delight. It was so unbelievable. I could retch with disgust several times over. My husband who was an example to the men of the local assembly where we worshipped. Devoted to his wife. Versed in the scriptures, Full of kind words. And yet found solace in the bosom of a man like himself.
‘How can I get that horrific image out of my head? How can I continue with this marriage after what I saw? Daddy, Mummy, how did I let myself get deceived like this? Why did I not see the signs?’
I threw these questions at my mentors as the tears flowed faster than my words. Mrs Adanma Nwosu gathered me in her arms and I held her closely. The door opened slowly and my eyes flew open at once as though I knew who was there.
‘Get out. Get out of here before I kill you with my bare hands.’ I shouted at Henry who stood by the doorway, looking like a frightened schoolboy.
‘Please forgive me Florence. I know I have hurt you. Please, give me a chance to make it up to you.’
‘Get out of here. Take him away from here before I lose my mind.’ I yelled as Pastor Kelvin walked slowly out of the room, with Henry in tow.