El’Dorado

By July 18, 2017Short Stories

On the table was a bottle of champagne and two champagne flutes, their clothes laid strewn on the floor. Their moans could be heard from a long way off, cries of passion and joy escaped through the window. When they were done, he held her tightly and kissed her forehead.
“Marry me”
“What?” She was laughing
“Seriously, marry me”
“April fool”
“I’m serious, Jennifer. I want to be with you” he got up slightly and rested on his elbow “I know today is our anniversary of not dating but just think about it”
“Well, jokes on you. If you had a ring, I’ll totally say yes”
“Well, well, well. For real?”
” Well… I know it was on impulse so yeah” she had that devilish grin smile he’d fallen in love with..
“Hold on” he kissed her nose and got off the bed
She watched him with playfulness that turned into confusion as he brought out a little black box from his suit pocket
“What is that, Kevin?”
“Your ring, future Mrs Henshaw”
She stared wide-eyed him like a deer caught in the headlights
He took her hands and slipped the ring in, it was a perfect fit.
“It fits” was all she could say
“I had it fitted with measurements from one of your rings”
“Wow”
“Yeah, I’ve been walking around with this thing in my pocket for weeks now, waiting for the right moment to tell you. What’s better than our nonversary”
“It’s beautiful, Kevin” she admired the ring
“Thank you.” He heaved a sigh of relief “I was so worried. I kept thinking you weren’t going to say yes, I was so scared…” She half-listened to him go on and on as her mind drifted off…

It had all began on her birthday, she was having a quiet day when her phone rang. It was Funmi, her best friend from college
“Hey hey”
“Happy birthday darling, I can’t believe I almost forgot” Funmi said
“Thank God you didn’t. This is the one of the only two times we talk all year”
“I’m sorry, we should change that though”
“I know, right? How’s work?”
“Boring” she let out a yawn for emphasis and laughed
“How’s your boyfriend?”
“He’s okay hon, do you have one now?”
“Not yet, and I’m not interested in getting any”
“You are just saying that because no one is interested in you”
“You are just stupid” but she was laughing
“Hold on one second” Jennifer could hear her talking to a man in the background
“Is that Onos?”
“No, it’s a friend. By the way, I think you will both be good together” Funmi said
“It’s not that bad please, i can find my own man”
“Shut up and talk to him my friend” Funmi scolded playfully
Before Jennifer could protest, she heard a male voice come on the line
“Good evening”
“Good evening” she was unconsciously shaking her head
“I’m Kevin, you?”
“I’m Jennifer. I hear we will be good together”
He laughed “so I heard, it’s nice meeting you”

They talked for a bit but she didn’t know if she wanted to pursue it. She and Funmi haven’t been close for the past four years, they’d all grown up, so had their taste in men. It was her birthday anyway, and she was known for making stupid decisions on or around her birthday, why make another one consciously this time? Funmi came back on the line and asked her if she wanted to push it, and she said no. So how were they there at that time, with her staring at a ring on her finger like it was the mark of the beast?

Some months after her birthday, she’d received a message from an unknown number. It was a simple “Hey, Jennifer”. The simplicity of the message made her feel a familiarity with the sender, she normally would wait till morning since it was past midnight, but she’d replied “hey, you”. The response had taken her aback, “why are you up late? Are you munching on something?” She stared at the chips in her hand and was stunned. Few people knew about her late night kitchen trips, so this was quite suspicious. From then, they’d developed an easy friendship. He’d made it clear from the next day that he wanted something more, he was so sure, always so sure. She on the other hand wasn’t.
Three days after they met was April fool’s day and she’d asked for his help to prank her friends, and he was only too glad to help. She told her friends they were an item, her friends hung out with them both just to lend credibility to the story, and they fell in love with him. He was the perfect boyfriend and she wished from somewhere deep in her heart that she could let herself go and date him. She wasn’t the relationship type, all she really wanted was someone to be with. They had the conversation over and over again and it always ended the same
“It’s been four months since we started dating and…”
“Kevin we aren’t dating”
“I’ve told you that as far as I’m concerned, we started dating from april 1st. It might have ended for you when you said “April fool” to your friends but to me, it didn’t end”
She stared at him blankly “how does it feel being in a relationship with yourself?”
“Well, you travelled all the way from Abuja to spend the weekend with me, didn’t you? I’d say it’s going pretty well” he laughed at his humor until he saw her face “damn it, it was just a joke”
“We aren’t dating”
“Fine, we aren’t dating. Haven’t been dating for the past four months”
“Thank you”
“Can’t wait for us to date though”
“Argghhh can you not?” She got up from the couch and went into his room, shutting the door behind her.
She’d cool off after some minutes. He’d bring her food, or a snack to munch on and they’d cuddle up in bed. This was the only argument they ever had, she felt it was because they weren’t dating that it was so easy to let things go. Why ruin that in the stupid name of being in a relationship, this way, no one was invested. Just as she thought, he opened the door some minutes later bearing gifts. He sat on the single chair stuffing his face
“Dude I bought that”
“I only share with my girlfriends, sorry”
“I’ll date you for ice cream” and they both laughed
She got up and sat on his legs “you know you mean a lot to me, don’t you?”
“But not enough to date me”
“I just don’t want a name on it”
“I won’t hurt you, trust me”
“I’ll make you as happy as I can, but I won’t do it because you are my boyfriend. I want to do it because you are stupid and I like you”
“Makes some weird sense, I guess. As long as I can smash whenever I want”
“This is why I always say you don’t have sense” but she was laughing. She hugged him, and kissed his forehead
“This one you are kissing my forehead, don’t come and fall in love Aunty”
“Well, you won’t be the worst choice I’ve made” but she knew he was right, so she got up “what’s for dinner?”

Now she was staring at her hand, like it was the plague. She’d allowed him spoil her this “none anniversary”, just to indulge him. She had no idea he was going to take it this far.
“You are still not ready, right?” He was staring at her with those intuitive eyes of his
“Kevin, I’m just stunned”
“I know you jenny, your mind has worked out all the angles within the first few seconds. You look like a deer caught in headlights”
She started laughing “I actually thought the exact same thing about five minutes ago. Sorry, it’s not joke time yet”
“Now you are ranting, because you don’t know what to say and you don’t want to hurt me”
“What can I say? You know me too well”
“It’s still not enough to convince you to be with me” he got up from the bed
“Kevin, I didn’t say that”
“Am I not good enough? I don’t get it”
“You are perfect” she walked to him
“But you are not ready” she didn’t reply “are you fucking serious?”
“Calm down Kevin and please stop cussing”
“Stop telling me what to do. You aren’t my mother or my girlfriend and it’s halfway certain, you won’t be my wife”
“Kevin please don’t say something you’ll regret”
“Really? Like what? What Jennifer? You are going to say no anyway?”
“Now you are helping me make up my mind?”
“No, I’m helping you say what you are too scared to say because you think you’ll hurt me. Well, fuck that, I’m tired of being hurt and smiling like it’s nothing”
“Well, fine then, why don’t I make it easy for you? I told you we weren’t dating but …”
“But what? What? I still fell in love with you? You are fucking amazing, who wouldn’t?”
“Thank you”
“You are equal parts stupid too”
She shook her head
“You are so stupid, you can’t see love even when it’s staring at you in the face”
“You love me doesn’t mean I have to love you back”
“You are in love with me, whether you admit it to yourself or not. It doesn’t get better than this, babe. Not for me, not for you”
“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?”
“You are 29! Do you understand? You’ll be 30 and I’ll be 33 in a few months, do you realise that?”
“Oh Mr Birth Certificate, I totally forgot my own age. Kindly remind me some more” she threw back at him sarcastically “now I’m supposed to marry you out of fear of being an old maid?”
“He’s not coming. I am him. You keep saying you’ll know him when you see him but he’s been with you for two whole years and you still couldn’t see”
“I need to be sure”
“What else do you want me to do? I moved my life from Lagos down to Abuja for you, and as much as I hate it here, you know there’s no where else I’d rather be because you are here”
“Sacrifices like this is what I don’t want, I didn’t ask you for it. I tried to dissuade you from doing it..”
“It’s what people do when they are in love, stupid, they make sacrifices to keep their loved ones happy. What you are looking for is a myth, El’dorado, a place of gold. It doesn’t exist. It doesn’t get better than this, Jennifer. Don’t push me away, babe. Let me love you better, please”
“I need some time”
“I need you to make your decision now, I’m sorry”
“Now you are being selfish”
“I’ve been selfless for two years. Faithful to a woman who won’t even admit she’s mine. I’ve earned my right to be selfish, so choose, me or what you think freedom means”
“I have to go, I’m sorry” she dressed up and walked out..

BY LOTA CHUKWU