If Michael had ever regretted anything, it was leaving Judith. His heart was heavy and the image of Judith could not leave his mind. For a moment there, he felt like a villain in a movie. His whole life’s chapter played right before him. Nobody deserved to go through what he had made Judith go through. He let out a sigh and slid back into the seat. Maybe Judith would understand his actions one day, he thought. By the time the black Mercedes pulled through the lobby, it was already late in the afternoon. He had not had anything to eat since he had walked out of the little food point joint. His stomach was already beginning to complain but appetite had eluded him.
“You wanna grab something to eat?” David asked lowering the driver’s window.
“No, you go ahead. I am not feeling all that hungry.”
“Come on man. How long will you mope over this woman? Deep down you know it was the right thing to do. It was rather now or later. You did the right thing.”
There was some truth in what he said but he could not bring himself to accept that. The woman had been so good to him. Their relationship had been perfect and despite her being married he had fallen in love with her over and over again.
“Come on man, let’s go.” David poked him on the side.
“Told you I’m not hungry Dave. Just let me be.”
“Okay, as you say mister. Soon you will see my point. I’ll bring you pork ribs though just in case you change your mind,” he said and winked at him.
Michael looked at him – with the kind of look you give to someone who won’t leave you alone. David was always the fun one in the group. He lived his life for today and today only. His mantra in life was always, to enjoy what you have today as you look forward to tomorrow which had worked out for him for so long. They had been friends ever since they were young. Both born in England to parents who were determined to give their kids another nationality, the two had grown up close together simply because their parents went way back. Their parents had been friends for so long and finally business partners.
The two would strike a friendship that would weather the test of time. Though so different, they were the best of friends. While David lived a care-free life and had not had any serious relationship despite being thirty one, Michael was the opposite. He believed in the sanctity of marriage and looked forward to tying the knot one day. He had always thought that the woman who would walk down the aisle to take the vows with him would be Judith. But as it was at the moment, that dream had crashed and burned just like so many other dreams of his.
His mind raced back to that moment. Leaving Judith like that was the hardest thing he had had to do. But though he refused to accept it, his crazy best friend had a point. His life at the moment was too complicated to go through another complicated puzzle. He remembered the bus driving off and Judith looking behind expecting to see him again. He had wanted to run after her, but deep down he knew he had to let her go. It was the only way she would get to enjoy her life, even she would do it without him.
Where was she at the moment? Where had she gone? What about the baby? He buried his face in his hands and wept silently for his lover. For the love of his life and probably the best thing to ever happen to his miserable life. He wept for the pain he had put her through. He cursed the tides that had brought them together with the illusion that they would have something so beautiful, only to be torn apart so suddenly. He cursed destiny and wished that he would just fall off the face of the earth and disappear. He cursed Ronald for creating such a miserable life for the woman he loved.
There was a soft knock on the window. He was startled and looked up. A young woman probably in her twenties, holding a baby leaned over as she made gestures for him to lower the window. He did that hesitantly.
“I couldn’t help but look at you. Are you okay? You seem so depressed,” He looked at her as if what she had said had just vaporized into the thin air. Since when was it wrong for a man to sit by himself and ponder about life? Why do people have to be so nosy?
He had been crying, which was an uncommon thing for him. As if a gun man was holding a gun to his head, he quickly wiped the tears off his face and looked at her trying his best to fake a smile.
“I’m okay miss, don’t worry about me.”
“No you are not. I could hear you weeping from three blocks away.”
Of course she was exaggerating but there was something reassuring about having another human being understand what he was going through. He felt the urge to pour out his heart to this stranger but controlled himself.
“As I said am okay miss. Don’t mind me. Just had dust get into my eyes.”
She looked at him squinting her eyes as if comprehending something so important then at the small suitcase at the back seat then back at him.
“Hmmm…must be a woman. Otherwise you wouldn’t be so worked up right now. Honey, if you love her, I don’t see why you should not be with her.” She said rubbing his chin like he was a little boy being bribed to take his veges.
He was getting annoyed and this time it showed on his face. She retreated, holding tight to the baby as if a tycoon was about to sweep it off her arms.
“I’m so sorry – meddling again in other people’s affairs, aren’t I? Am sorry carry on,” With that she walked away and took a seat at the far corner and started nursing her baby as if nothing had transpired. He felt sorry for her. Poor woman. She was just being nice. He unlocked the door and went and sat opposite her. She pretended that she had not seen him and carried on breastfeeding the kid.
“You are right, why else would a man be so depressed if not for the love of a woman?”
“I knew it! Do you wanna talk about it?”
Michael shrugged his shoulders. He wanted to talk to her. He desired so much to have another person besides David listen to him. She was a stranger he had just met but he felt close to her, like he could trust her. Before he knew it, she already knew every aspect and twists in his life.
“That’s some messed up stuff you’ve gotten yourself into. Recovering from this will take time. I can only imagine what Judith is going through. She must be devastated and may never love again. Why are you men so horrible at times?”
He knew she had a point. He had been so cruel to her when all she had done was love him. She may never forgive him. He just hoped against hope that she was alright. That she had found her way back to Ronald where she would be taken care of.
They talked for a while with the woman who introduced herself as Sophie. By the time they were done, he felt at ease, like a heavy load had been lifted off him. David came back carrying with him a black paper bag with Michael’s food.
“I should go now Sophie. Thanks so much for taking time to listen to me go on and on about my troubles. Hope to see you some time.” With that he gave her a firm handshake and walked to the car.
“Just don’t forget what I told you. Being a man doesn’t take doing macho things.” She shouted back as the car was driving off.
“What was that all about?” David asked when he had settled in.
“Nothing just got me a new friend.” David said without looking at him.
“You smooth criminal.” They both laughed.
It was late in the evening when they arrived. The streets were deserted with only a few people walking here and there. Young couples stood in corners of buildings wasting the evening away. The night was particularly cold for that time of the year. The house stood at the far end of the street. Dim light from the security light illuminated their path as they made their way into the house.
David knocked softly and they could hear steps coming towards the door. It opened and there she was, with a baby carefully clutched on her hip. Her jaw fell in surprise as she hugged Michael, like two people who had been separated for decades.
His arms were still on his side and for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to put his arms around her.
“See I brought your husband back home, where he belongs,” David said.
Meg’s eyes were watering. She had been waiting for this moment for so long and had probably dreamt about it most of the nights.
“Thank you David. I don’t know how I could ever repay you for this kindness.”
“Don’t worry Meg. Michael is my friend and I wouldn’t want him to end up on the wrong path just because of one mistake. Just go on and build your family the way God intended.”
Michael had not said anything all this time. Judith was so much engraved in his mind that it was difficult to shake off the feeling that he had betrayed her. Meg was so excited that she kept hugging him from time to time. He looked into her eyes. He had loved her once and she had given him two beautiful children but Judith stole his heart. However all things put into consideration, he knew he had a duty to his family. He could not allow his two children to grow up without their father the way he did. Everybody who had told him that getting involved with Judith was a mistake had a point and he regretted leading her on and dumping her when she had put her hopes and dreams in his hands. He wished he could go back to that moment and not notice her – not fall in love with her.
But Sophie was right, no matter what, he would make it up to Judith. He owed her an explanation at least. But where was she? Would she even talk to him, if she laid her eyes on him? He took the baby from Meg and bolted the door. Time would tell but for now, he was home.
In case you are still not caught up, check out A Time To Love (Chapter 3)
Written by Lillyanne Gathoni