The self implicative question brewed an uncomfortable silence that lingered for few seconds. He stood, gawking at me with his lips trembling with a mischievous smile. I wondered if my decision to embark on that quest was again, a wrong one.
“So there is ‘us’?” He scoffed, stepping towards me in gloat. “I thought you said…”
“Alright stop please!” I hushed him. “I don’ know what you are thinking right now but there is no ‘us’. I just want to know what you told Eric about our past relationship.”
“Oh!” He softly bellowed. “For the second time you made it clear there is no us.” He walked to his seat, sat down with his eyes all on me. He is dejected and disappointed. He wanted love, the love we shared years ago. He wanted to reignite it but I wasn’t ready for it, or maybe I would never be. All I wanted was to lead a simple straight life, find a girl who loves me and love her back. Build a reputable relationship and make my parents proud. I flapped my eyes and he bowed down, hands on file as he ransacked them pretending to be busy. I stood watching and waiting patiently for him to answer my question, but it was obvious he was not going to. I coughed; he squinted at me and continued his feigned busyness.
“Ahmed I am still here.” I called placing my hands on the table. “And I am not leaving till you answer my question. What did you tell Eric about us?”
“You know, I am a human Thony.” He closed the file and looked straight into my eyes. “I have feelings, I have emotions, and I can get hurt when someone who my emotions run wild for see me as just an object, an end to a means and…”
“What are you talking about?” I confusedly interjected. I didn’t know what he was thinking but I sure was not in the mood for anything other than a truthful explanatory speech on whatever conversation he had with Eric. “Look, I don’t have time for your…”
“Exactly your problem!” He yelled. His eyes were red and his face crinkled. His teeth clenched to his lips as rage took him hostage. He stood, his eyes in mine, he let his tongue loose. “You never have time for me or anything that concerns me. You said leave, I left. Years later I returned, only to bump into you in what seemed an awkward situation which I helped you cover. And after that, you just left, walked right out of the hospital like nothing happened. I waited patiently for you to come by and say at least thank you for helping your friends but you never came. I ran into you in an eatery weeks back and all you could think was how I wanted to take over a girl who obviously you have not told anything about. And now here you are, not to thank me for the granted favours, but to ask for another one.” He halted. His breath was fully maximized as he peered at me, piercing my heart. I felt guilt, selfish and unappreciative for avoiding him.
“Is it fair?” His voice was very calm, the rage in his eyes gone and his stare replaced with love and care. “I know what we have is wrong but guess what? So is hate! Hate is also wrong Thony, very wrong. Your hatred for me is breaking me, you have to…”
“Stop!” I quickly intoned, struggling to halt the river in my eyes which was hurriedly preparing to flow. My heart was broken as every of his word pounced on me like an arrow. He was right, I should have come back to thank him; he did help with the cover story of Joy’s attack. I couldn’t stop thinking how much of an ingrate I was.
“You are right. I should have come to say thank you, I should have checked back on you, go for a lunch or something, have a proper catch up with you, but I was scared. When my parents moved into a new estate, I thought I would never see you again. I was happy that I am finally going to start all over without a constant reminder of my past. So when I saw you here, I freaked out. I didn’t know what to do so I did the only thing I could think of.”
“Hate and avoid me? That can’t be the only thing your head thought of.”
“I don’t hate you Ahmed. I will never hate you, but this thing we have, whatever it was, it’s gone now. It is in the past and being close to you is only…”
He made an angry scoff as he slumped into his chair, glanced at me and chuckled. “So when you saw me you think I got a job here to force you back into my arms?”
I was dumbfounded. That thought actually crossed my mind, in fact it was the only thing in my mind, it was the reason I decided to steer clear from him. I didn’t see the reason why he would choose a school clinic over many big hospitals in Lagos. I knew the family; his father was very rich, ready to do anything for his children’s comfort. So I couldn’t stop thinking he declined his father’s offer to search for me. I looked at him and our gaze met, I looked away, guilty and remorseful.
“Common Thony!” He called disappointedly. He knew from the look on my face that what he said was exactly what I was thinking. He motioned to talk and then restrained himself. It was like his words got lost in his speech organ. He swallowed hard, looked at me again and smiled. “You are ridiculously cute.” He said amidst his lovely smile that passed a large amount of charm to me.
Affirmatively I responded to his smile. “Alright Ahmed, I am sorry. I am very sorry. I should have come back to say thank you. My bad, I messed up and I’m sorry.” I intoned.
“I understand why you did what you did.” He replied standing up. “I mean you practically compelled me to forget you existed. So I understand why you freaked out.” He added as he walked towards a shelf by his right hand side and searched through the piles of numbered files. “So how is our friend? Hope she is taking her drugs?”
“Actually I don’t know.” I wrinkled my face wishing he never asked that question. He noticed the awkwardness of my answer and quickly turned. “What do you mean you don’t know? Isn’t she like your best friend’s girlfriend?”
“Can we not talk about this right now, please?” I knew what those questions would lead to and I was not ready to blow Eric’s trumpet yet. He will eventually find out she was a product of a one night stand, or maybe he wouldn’t, but whatever be the case, I wouldn’t want my name to be a mediator to it. “Please, I’d rather we have some catch up on what life was like in UK and…” I abruptly paused like I was stung by an insect. He gave me a confusing stare that begged for an answer. “Did you actually mean it when you said you are married or were you joking?” I asked. I knew I heard him one time say it or something related to it but I was not listening, and now that we have decided to have a normal lost-best-friend-catch up, I might as well make that a source of distracting conversation from whatever nostalgic topic he would want to bring up.
“You were not listening.” He smiled. “I get it. Yes I am married; with one kid, a boy. I met the mother in UK and we did our court weeding.”
“Wow!” I yelled hitting his back. I was very happy, very excited and joyous. My gay friend married with a kid and that means there is hope for me. “This is the greatest news I have ever heard since this year. Congrats man. I am really happy for you.” I ranted on till I notice the off look on his face as he froze with a file in his hand. He must be wondering how foolish I was to think he’d actually get married after soberly assuring me years back that he has never been sexually attracted to opposite sex right from teenage years. I gave him a ‘what is wrong’ look but he was too lost to decode it. I waved my hands in front of him calling his name. He startled and inhaled pretty hard as he briskly faced the shelf and fidgeted his hands on the stack of files.
“Ahmed!” I called. He didn’t respond. “Ahmed what is the problem? Is it something I said?” He still remained mute. I thought for a while and slowly moved towards him, my hand on his back I called him again. “You can talk to me Ahmed, we are catching up, remember. So just tell me whatever it is.”
He slowly turned towards me and for some seconds I was glued to my position by the tears docking in his eyes. I watched his piteous face soften, ready to shoot off the water in the eyes. For some seconds, I realized how much I loved him, fought, lied and pretended just for us to be together. I realized his handsome soft heart and how loving he was; reason I fell for him. Lost in his seductive tearful charms, like in a trance I stretched my hand and rubbed his cheeks gently. Our eyes locked in ecstasy bringing our face even closer than it was. I could feel his breath and I knew he was feeling mine. His breath was so fresh, like a chocolate mixed with vanilla. I inhaled; it into my lungs and it permeated into my blood circulating all through my veins. I was lost, he was lost and the next step I took his lips was locked in mine. It took me seconds to pull off the drowsiness and jump back into reality. I stepped back quickly and he did same.
“I am sorry about that.” He muttered as he gave me a show of his back. “You shouldn’t have come that closer.”
“It’s okay.” I replied, my hands in my pocked as I picked out my white handkerchief and scrubbed my lips like one would do a burnt pot. “So, how is your family?” I threw in immediately changing the topic.
He sighed as he walked back to his seat and sat down. “The thing is, I am actually married yet it wouldn’t be wrong to say…”
He was interrupted by a knock on the door. We startled, glanced at the door in unison. I glanced back at him and he signaled I open the door. I walked to the door and opened it.
“Eric?” I yelled. “What are you doing here?” I stuttered in confusion. I knew why he came and it was not a good thing for me. Ahmed was yet to tell me what he discussed with him and with Eric’s presence; I knew that information was gone.
“I could ask you same.” Eric replied as he walked in. “Good afternoon Doctor.”
“Yeah, Eric, how are you?” Ahmed replied uncomfortably.
“I am not fine actually.” Eric replied. “I have question for you concerning my girl’s treatment and I would want you to be very sincere with me.”
“Okay.”Ahmed answered as he glanced at me. I could feel his confusion, fear and shock.
A knock on the door shut Eric up sending another round of jitters down our spine.
Suddenly the door opened. “Hey doc, the nurse said you are in here so…” Amanda walked in shocked as we were to see her.
…the story continues…