Effe is driving her mother’s car.
Sitting beside her is Eyram, who has a paediatrician appointment with Dr. Rupert Henderson.
Eyram casts speculative glances at her sister. Like it has been the case for so many years, and is peculiar to twins, she can feel her sister’s inner pain and torment.
Junior is strapped in his seat, comfortably attached in the backseat of the car.
Didn’t fail to notice you practically fled into the house yesterday morning, Ef. You were with Chris, right?
Effe’s mind had been racing, and her sister’s voice brings her to the present.
She shakes her head absentmindedly and looks briefly at her sister.
Huh? What did you say?
Did Chris hurt you?
No. He didn’t.
Then why do you look more hurt than before? He’s a good man, Ef. Maybe poor, maybe beneath your class, but I don’t agree with Mom. I know you have a lot on your plate, but if you think there’s a chance to be happy with him, you better take it.
Effe drives for a while without speaking. On her face is a mixture of worry and pain.
I don’t judge a man by the size of his pocket, or mind, Rammy. You know that. Just that I don’t know where to put Chris, or how to handle him. You know, when I got out of his car yesterday, I had absolutely no intention of seeing him again. That was it …over, kaput, finished.
Why? I know you were with him the other night. Was he rough, unromantic, cruel? What possibly could’ve made you decide not to see him again?
That’s the problem, Rammy. He wasn’t cruel, he wasn’t unkind. He didn’t even really want to make love to me. He wanted me to be sure, but that night I just wanted to do something different. I was tired of being the nice decent girl. The pain and bitterness Steve gave me played out, and I just wanted to be with Chris, to give myself fully for a few blissful moments, to immerse myself so deeply that I wouldn’t feel the pain in my heart. I knew I was beginning to have feelings for that man.
She stops speaking to slow down at an intersection.
Effe smiles wanly.
He made love to me like …like, I don’t know what to say, Rammy.
He hammered you good, eh?
They both laugh so loudly that tears come to Effe’s eyes. She shakes her head and looks at her sister with mock severity.
It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced, sis. And afterwards we did it so many times I practically lost count.
Damn! You? I don’t believe that! You? Miss Prim and Proper??? Damn, Chris must be good! Mind if I borrow him for a night?
Effe laughs again.
I couldn’t get enough. It’s the first time I kept having …you know …orgasms! I was ashamed, Rammy. Couldn’t believe what I was doing. I was insatiable! Me! The woman Steve always complains about, that I’m frigid! I didn’t even do half of the things I did with Chris on my wedding night!
It scared you in the morning.
They look at each other. Effe does not have to reply.
They know each other so well that Eyram can practically feel what her sister might have felt.
It did, Rammy. I was scared, I was confused, I was resentful. Because I still wanted more. I had lost absolute control. And I knew that I had to be careful. I practically know nothing about him. I met him just three weeks ago. THREE WEEKS! Can you believe that? And I knew he could really hurt me, more than any man could, more than what I felt with Steve. I wanted some time, to get myself sorted out, to get my heart to a safe haven.
And you told him that?
Effe nods and sighs miserably.
I wasn’t nice about it. I think I hurt him pretty badly, Rammy. But at that time I strongly believed I didn’t want him near me. I thought he was too bad, and I hated losing control of the situation. I just wanted to be away from him.
Eyram nods understandably.
But now you miss him.
Effe looks at her sister with sad eyes.
I miss him. I miss him bad. I more than miss him, sis. I want to give it a try, and see what happens, but although I want to, I don’t want to sleep with him again, until whatever it is sorts itself out.
Eyram lays a hand on her sister’s arm.
I know you, Ef. We’re linked tightly because we’re twins. I know for a fact that if you had not met Chris at the time you did, this issue with Steve and Elaine would’ve shattered you, maybe irreparably. I feel your inner excitement when you are with Chris. I see the inner glow he brings out in you. This is the kind of love every woman seeks, and which only a few lucky ones get. Don’t let it slip away. Pull this car over and call him now!
Effe looks sad and unhappy. She swings through the beautiful golden gates of the Eden Hospital.
I began calling him yesterday afternoon. His phone has been off. In the evening I went to the place he lives. His neighbours said he hasn’t been in the last two nights. I was very cruel to him, Rammy. And it seems I’ve driven him away.
She parks the car. Eyram reaches out and hugs her sister.
He’ll be back, Ef. Love always finds a way back.
Effe’s eyes are haunted, and sad, and deep in them lurks a certain tint of fear.
What if I’ve driven him away, for good, Rammy? What if he goes away hating me for what I’ve done to him? He’s an orphan, sis, and he doesn’t have anywhere to go. If he fades out of my life I might not see him again, because he might erroneously think of me as one of the several women in his life who just wanted him for sexual gratification.
Eyram smiles at her sister and buzzes her cheeks.
He’s sounding more and more like my type of man. Can I have him?
They both laugh.
Listen, Ef, he doesn’t sound or look like a quitter. If he fades out of your life then he is not the man I think he is. If he loves you, for real, he wouldn’t let that small setback distract him. He’ll fight for you, because you’re a gem.
Effe looks almost lost in her misery.
I hope so. I pray so. I don’t want to live the rest of my life wondering if I let the greatest love of my life slip away because of my fear.
The twin sisters get out of the car. Eyram picks her bag and Junior, and they make their way towards the hospital building.
DR. STEVE HOLLISON’S OFFICE
Steve’s office door opens, and he looks up slowly.
Jonathan Afful is standing in the doorway.
Steve gasps with shock. He has never seen Jonathan looking like this, ever.
The man’s eyes are bloodshot, and crimson, as if he has not sleep in a week.
His suit is very dishevelled, as if he had slept in them.
The inner white shirt is dirty, the collar stained with food oil. His tie is skewed, and his face spots a growth of unkempt hair.
And to make matters worse he reeks strongly of stale beer.
Steve gets up with a curse and approaches his friend.
Good heavens, Jon! What the f**k happened to you? You look like shit!
Jonathan rubs a hand on his face and looks at Steve with tortured eyes.
He ignores Steve’s outstretched hand and slumps into one of the chairs facing the gigantic oak desk.
Steve surveys his friend with incredulous eyes. Surely this cannot be the same suave, womanizer he had been with only a few days ago.
What the f**k happenened to you, man?
(in an irritated voice)
Are you going to sit down or you’re going to hover over me like a damn mother hen?
Steve hesitates for a moment. He is appalled at the drastic change in Afful.
Apart from the fact that he looks absolutely wretched, there is an unpleasant smell around him, a scent of stale beer, and he appears to have lost some weight.
Steve sits down and faces his friend, shaking his head.
You look like shit!
And you sound like a damn broken record, my paddy …
like a dumb f**king parrot! You look like shit! Damn it, Stevo, you don’t have to continue to remind me! I know damn well that I look like bloody shit, motherfucker!
Steve still stares at his friend with shock.
What the hell happened to you man?
Afful glares at his friend fiercely for a moment, and then he sighs heavily, leans back and speaks.
His voice is low, weak, almost weepy …not at all like his usual exuberant arrogant voice, and once again this shocks Steve to the bone.
I’m suffering from surprise, man. Surprise, bro.
Did you say surprise? You’re suffering from surprise?
Afful gives a manic laugh that sounds like a cough, and leans forward.
Yeah, man! Sur-fucking-prise! I married a woman, loved her, and somewhere along the line I forgot that I love her! Now, she’s out of my life, and surprise, surprise, I find myself experiencing a pain I never ever never never never ever expected! So I’m suffering from surprise …surprise that I really love Eyram to death, surprise that without her in my life I’m practically impotent, helpless and totally dejected! Surprise that I had her beside me all these years and never valued her, the mother of my son, and now I’m suffering from BIG SURPRISE because I need her back, but I can’t have her back because I messed up!
Steve steeples his arms on the desk, and puts his clamped hands to his lips.
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Eyram hasn’t been home since …since that bastard hit you?
Steve is shocked when tears appear suddenly in Afful’s eyes.
I’m suffering from surprise. Surprise Myelitis, or Surprise cancer! I took Eyram’s love for granted! I beat her, made love to other women in her presence, in our house, in our bed! I was convinced she was an object, that she’d always be my slave because her father owed Eden Inc. How was I to know that some damn taxi driver is coming on the scene who knows the sister of my boss? And suddenly I find out I don’t have any power on Eyram again. I call and call, she doesn’t pick up! I’m dying here, bro.
Steve shakes his head with shock, finding it hard to believe that this is the same Afful who has espoused the theory of the bee and the honey flower a few days ago!
To see Afful shaken up so strongly really scares Steve.
Listen, Jon. Get into the bathroom and freshen up. You indeed look horrible. I saw Effe and Eyram coming in. I checked up discreetly and realized Eyram is coming to see the paediatrician, Dr. Henderson, on appointment with your son. Freshen up, go down to the paediatrics office, and get your wife. She will definitely kick your balls in if you go out there looking like that!
(looking anxious and excited suddenly)
Eyram is here? Ok, man, why didn’t you tell me?
He gets up and heads for Steve’s office bathroom with hopeful steps.
Steve watches him with very sad and troubled eyes. When the door closes behind Afful, Steve sighs and shakes his head.
He opens a drawer on his desk and turns the photo lying in it up.
It is the photo of Effe, his favourite photo. He runs a hand slowly across the photo, and suddenly a look of pain and torture crosses his face.
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DR. RUPERT HENDERSON’S OFFICE
Eyram sits patiently and watches as Rupert expertly attends to Junior.
There are two nurses in the consulting room who had taken Junior’s weight and temperature and other statistics before Rupert took over. Rupert now avoids eye contact with Eyram as he hands Junior, who is giggling happily, to her.
He is doing very well, Eyram. You’ve taken very good care of him. You’re a wonderful mother.
Thank you, Doctor.
Their eyes meet and hold. There is a very strong chemistry between them.
Rupert knows a lot of the things that Eyram has been through. She has been talking to him on those lonely days that she needed a shoulder to cry on. He is a good man and a good listener. He had always encouraged Eyram to inform her family of the evil she had been going through and leave Afful. He had even threatened once to go to the police …and then Chris had come along and put a stop to everything. Naturally, the chemistry between them had grown to dangerous levels, but he always treated her civilly.
Once, a long time ago, when Eyram was about six months pregnant and Afful had beaten her, she had called him and met him in the public park.
He had consoled her and taken her in his arms. She had felt so comfortable in his arms. He had told her that he did not believe in extra-marital affairs and would never be unfaithful to his wife. Eyram had been sure he had felt the mutual attraction they had suddenly cultivated for each other.
She also did not believe in an adulterous relationship, and so she had never done anything to take whatever it was to another level.
They are both aware that they have been attracted to each other for a long time, but they are both committed, principled and faithful partners, and so they have not allowed that mutual feeling to be born.
It stayed hidden in both their hearts, even long after she had grown out of love with Jonathan. In a way she knows he loves his wife very much, and nothing will ever make him unfaithful to Barbara. She admires and respects that. But she still teases him once in a while. It is a game they play, a light sort of flirtation that is harmless but which each secretly enjoy. She gets up and puts Junior across her shoulder.
No. Not yet anyway. I’m going upstairs to see Effe before I leave.
Rupert stands up and rounds his desk.
Oh, yeah. There’s something I need to discuss with Effe. I’ll ride up with you if you don’t mind. Eyram smiles mischievously. She has been aware that something was worrying him.
She can feel it, just like he can feel her pains sometimes. He wants her company for a little bit longer, but without the presence of third parties.
Oh. I don’t mind at all!
When they go out the door the two nurses exchange looks and smile.
They make small talk through the reception area and enter the elevator.
There are four people already inside the elevator, forcing them to stand very close together. As the lift rises up Eyram fingers the edge of the brown envelope in her bag. She debates with herself whether to tell him what is in the envelope. He fingers the toll ticket he has found, now lying in his pocket, and wonders if he should tell her about it, and also about the sudden fears he is feeling as a result of his doubts over the fidelity of Barbara.
Barbara, his great love, his only love … suddenly he is having very strange feelings about her. He wishes he can tell Eyram. She is a good woman, a dedicated woman, a listening woman, his friend.
By the time they get to the sixth floor all the others have left the lift, and they are alone, but neither make any attempt to move back. They still remain standing close together.
The lift continues to rise. Suddenly he looks at her, and his face is holding a strange expression.
Well. Must as well get it out. You know I care a lot about you, Eyram, don’t you? She looks at him, sighs and chuckles, shaking her head at him.
Ah. It’s finally out! I know, Rupert, just as you know I have feelings for you too. Very naughty feelings, sometimes.
He looks totally startled. He looks very miserable. He runs a hand through his dark hair, tussling it.
Mmhm. Oh, Lord. But don’t worry. I’m not going to eat you up, at least not when we’re both still married.
You know I vowed to love Barbara my whole life, and that’s what I’m doing, and will continue doing. When I vow, I vow. I’ll never be unfaithful to her.
I know. You’re that different man who every woman craves for in a husband. I’m not about to make a dive for you and be the femme fatale in your life. I have no urge to seduce you! But it’s nice for a change, feeling wanted.
She reaches out and touches his right cheek gently.
You’re back with your husband, right?
Eyram looks him straight in the eye and speaks with sincerity.
I’m never going back to him.
I’m happy about that, at least.
Eyram suddenly leans closer and brushes her lips across his.
He gasps and the sudden look of desire, love and need on his face makes her laugh and shake her head.
If it had not been your vows, and my vows, I’m sure you would’ve torn off my clothes right here in this elevator!
(chuckling with genuine mirth)
I would, yes, I would’ve done that and more, you little beautiful temptress!
They laugh nervously, and just then the elevator dings and the doors slide open.
Afful and Steve have just stepped out of Steve’s office.
Afful has taken a bath, and he looks clean and presentable.
He is facing the elevator. He sees Eyram and Rupert standing so close, and the sheer look of happiness he sees on Eyram’s face cuts him to the core. It fills him with absolute jealousy, a feeling he has never felt before.
It makes him green and fills him with so much pain that he acts without thinking.
(in a booming angry voice)
Hey, get away from my wife, you fucking bastard!
He charges on them just as they emerge from the elevator, still smiling into each other’s eyes.
It takes a moment for Eyram to see the huge figure of Afful bearing down on them. Her eyes open with sudden fear, and she screams.
Nooooooo! Jon! Nooooo. It’s not what you think!
Rupert, a man who hates violence, sees the enraged husband charging at him and raises his hands defensively.
Oh, no! Mr. Afful! Don’t do this! You’re overreacting! Don’t hit me, don’t hurt me please!
Steve tries to hold Afful back, but to no avail. The screams and shouting have reached Effe, and she opens her office door and looks out.
What she sees is so shocking that she comes out and runs quickly towards her sister.
Afful sinks a fist into Rupert’s stomach and follows with a powerful left hook that floors Rupert, causing blood to flow from his nose.
Rupert crashes to the hard corridor with a grunt of pain.
Jon! Have you gone out of your senses? Look what you have done!
Afful wheels and slaps Eyram hard. She begins to fall and tries to save the baby from hitting the hard floor.
Is this why you left me, you shameless adulterous bitch?
Eyram falls down hard, and the baby flies out of her arms.
He would have fallen very badly indeed if Effe hadn’t reached them at that same moment.
Effe groans and leans forward and catches the baby.
Eyram jumps to her feet. Years of being beaten and tortured by Afful all converge to a head now.
All the beatings, atrocities and pain are working and searing through Eyram now.
She takes hold of the fire extinguisher clipped to the wall of the corridor, rips it off, turns round and smashes it on Afful’s head.
Afful screams, more with surprise than in pain.
Eyram, you hit me?
Eyram again smashes him across the face with the fire extinguisher.
Afful screams this time and falls heavily beside Rupert.
Eyram reaches into her handbag and throws the big brown envelope down at him.
I filed for divorce! This is a copy of your notice from the court!
With his face covered with blood, Afful grabs the envelope.
No, no, no! You can’t leave me, Eyram! You can’t live without me! You know that!
I left you several years ago, Mr. Jonathan Afful. You were so engrossed with yourself that you never noticed I was long gone!
Eyram reaches across and helps Rupert to his feet.
Afful bellows like a wounded beast and tears the envelope to shreds, together with the Notice of Divorce document inside, shouting and crying at the same time.
You guys better come with me!
She leads Eyram and Rupert into her office. Before she closes the door she looks across the corridor.
Afful is now on his knees, weeping pitifully.
No, no Eyram please don’t go! Please come back, honey, I love you!!
Effe’s eyes meet Steve’s.
Steve looks at her with deep pain. He ignores Afful and walks towards her.
Effe enters the office and shuts the door, cutting him off.
To be continued
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