Jane saw her husband Tobias step out of a taxi and frowned. The taxi should have parked on their cobbled driveway. It was a busy road, and he wasn’t a very careful person.
Tobias jumped when a red Audi swerved past him and lost his footing. Fortunately, he landed on the grass on their side of the road. There was a screech of tyres as the car came to a halt. A woman with long red hair ran towards her husband. Jane leaned on the railing of the balcony to observe but couldn’t see anything because of the woman bent over him. The red-haired woman stood up with a hand on her hip and the other making circles in the air.
Jane twisted her mouth, the woman was taking too long and she couldn’t make out who she was from the balcony. Agitated, she pressed the bell forcefully and the maid ran towards her, stopping with a shrill sound produced by her white plimsolls on the marble floor.
“Ma’am,” the maid said under her breath.
“Quickly, go and find out who that woman is.” Jane said, pointing in the direction of her husband’s fall.
A few moments later Tobias was at the door.
“Are you alright?” he asked when he saw the maid slide down the banister. She brushed passed him. He shrugged. He hung his coat in the cloak room and loosened his tie as he trotted up the stairs. As soon as he got into his bedroom, he picked up the remote control to turn on the TV and called out to his wife simultaneously. He increased the volume of the TV and then pressed the information button of the sky remote control, laughing, and threw it on the bed.
Carry on up the jungle, yeah! He picked up the remote control again and pressed the record button before going to the balcony to search for his wife. While unbuttoned his shirt he followed his wife’s gaze, but only saw a little boy on skates with a dog galloping after him. Smiling, he nuzzled his wife’s neck and said, “You are positively agog about something.”
The maid reappeared, looking a little dishevelled and trying to catch her breath. Jane signalled her to say nothing.
“Is there anything else you need, Ma’am?” The maid asked, almost failing to hide her contempt.
“No, that will be all. You may retire for the night.”
She nodded. “Good night, Sir, Ma’am.”
“Good night, Felicity.” Tobias muttered, nodding absentmindedly.
Jane waved her away.
“How was your day?” Jane asked Tobias once she heard the slam of the door downstairs.
“Really? Because you sound like you are bursting to tell me something,” she said a little too eagerly, not looking at him and deftly wrapping herself with a blanket.
“I got a new project which will set us up for a long time and knock down all our bills.” Blah blah blah…
She had zoned out. She was still keen on finding out who the woman was and why she had been hovering over him. Who was that bitch? Who was she? WHO WAS THAT WOMAN FOR GOODNESS’ SAKE? “Who was that red-head?”
He arched his brow, wearing a mischievous smile.
“Who was that woman?”
“Oh! That was Belinda.”
Jane’s eyes looked like they were going to pop out of their sockets and he laughed.
She gritted her teeth and pulled her afro until it hurt. Her nemesis and he seemed to be taking the piss. The girl red-haired who had made her a spectacle throughout sixth form?
The girl who had put peanuts in her scrambled egg so that she would be a mess of herself on her hen night. Being allergic, her face was the double its size like a misshaped Irish potato. That same girl that tied the belt of her dress to a curtain on her first meeting with Tobias’ parents, and laughed at her when she tripped and fell, taking the curtain down with her and exposing Elton, her soon-to-be mother-in-law’s twin in a compromising position with the hired bartender. His stoic wife has since not spoken to her.
What did she want this time? To ridicule her because she was in now in a wheelchair?
Tobias was woken by a whistling sound which was followed by a crashing sound. He only raced down the stairs when he realized his wife wasn’t beside him. She was by the sink and there were shards of ceramic and glass around her feet but she wasn’t wounded, unfortunately. Leaning on the wall, he crossed his arms, pondering the wisdom of assisting her. Then he caught a glimpse of an empty bottle of Moet et Chandon lying on the counter. He moved closer and saw more bottles.
He grimaced and scrubbed his face. This is the fifteenth bottle in one week. If she keeps this up there’ll be nothing left of my overpriced and timid wine cellar.
He looked down at her, turned her around to face him. She was sobbing and smelled of alcohol. Her hands were shaking when he took them in his. He drew her into an embrace, wiping her already red and puffy face and said, “You can’t go on like this, you know. It’s gonna’ be alright.”
She shoved him off. “Leave me alone!”
“Well, I can’t!”
“Fuck off!” she yelled, running into his shin as she reversed her wheelchair.
“Jane…” he gritted his teeth.
“Just go and meet her. You think I don’t know about you and Belinda? Just because I’m in a wheelchair you’ve decided to go gallivanting …”
“Gallivanting?” he asked, astounded, still rubbing his shin. It wasn’t the first time she had accused him of cheating on her. In the past, three years ago to be almost precise, she would often come to the office unannounced to catch him out. It was little wonder that she never made a scene. But since the accident a year and four months ago, it has become a petition. He was getting rather sick of it.
“You’ve been cheating on me.”
He let out an exasperated sigh with outstretched arms. “Come on, love …”
“Love? Love? You must think I’m stupid. Those women’s cheap perfumes escort you home every day.” She rolled her chair to the sitting room, unscrewed the lid of a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels and took a swig.
“Love…” she scoffed and then rolled her chair towards the stair case. She hit it several times, trying to set her chair right in front of the stairs. She gave him a long condescending look. “You can at least help me up the stairs.”
Startled by his voice, she turned her head to face him.
“I have had enough of your childish outbursts of bad temper. Why don’t you pour your anger into something more useful, like being my wife or getting out of that fucking chair, rather than blame the world for your….” he exhaled heavily as he stroked his tousled hair back in place. “For the past year plus you’ve been a roller coaster of emotions. It baffles me that you still have tears to spare. I’m tired of these fights, for goodness’ sake!”
She said nothing but only started sulking.
He shook his head. “Fine. Let’s get one thing straight, though. I’m not having an affair.” He paused for a while. “Now, let me just take you -.”
“Don’t touch me.” She shrieked like something hot had scalded her. He ignored her and carried her upstairs.
Two hours later, they were back in the kitchen where he made toast and omelettes; except in his own there were chives. He watched her eye the jar of raspberry juice that was a few inches above her. She started fidgeting and gave him a slanted look. He looked back at his food before she could catch him watching.
She was sure he wasn’t looking but carried it off the counter successfully. Placing it between her thighs, she wheeled herself into the space created for her at the dining table. As soon as they finished eating, the bell rang and he threw down his napkin, picked up his briefcase and went to answer the door, but not before she blew him a perfunctory kiss.
“Hi!” her nurse and maid chorused and Jane gritted her teeth in reply – they served to remind her of her predicament.
Tobias was fidgeting with a pencil when the ringing phone pierced through his thoughts. He picked it up.
“Dr. Manning, you’ve got a call on line three.”
“Patch it through.” A clicking sound followed. “Hello?”
“Please don’t cut this call. I need to speak with you urgently.”
“What do you want, Belinda?” he asked with contempt.
“I need your help.”
“You haven’t answered my question.”
“And I haven’t got all day,” he said, toying with his tie. He could tell she was fondling with tendrils of her curly hair and he smiled. She always did that when she was thinking of what to say. He wasn’t sure of what he felt for her. Initially, he thought it was a crush, but it felt more like an obsession. She wasn’t hot, but she had grey eyes with specks of violet in them. He loved those eyes and had at one time wished all girls had them. It wouldn’t hurt to meet for coffee, would it?
“Please, can we meet?” she asked.
There was a brief silence.
“Dinner, say eight o’clock?
Yeah right! “Lunch.”
“There’s new restaurant on Nelson Street.”
He could tell she was smiling. Going to a new restaurant with another woman? In this little town? Fat chance!
“Prego will do.” He turned his right hand to see the time. “In an hour.”
Readjusting his tie he waited impatiently for a few clients checking his watch for the umpteenth time within the same minute.
Two hours later he went to Prego. He had taken a secluded spot in the second room of the restaurant. He was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable because it looked like a romantic setting. He wouldn’t want Belinda, or anyone else that may know him, to get the wrong idea.
He was tapping away on his phone and only glanced up when he heard a chair scrape the floor.
“Hi! Sorry I’m late.” Belinda said as she hung her jacket behind the chair. She slid into her chair dramatically. She wasn’t making much of an effort to hide her flirtation from onlookers. She crossed her legs and turned sideways so that most of her thighs were exposed. Her pale white skin glistened. Tobias wondered what it would feel like touching her skin. He cleared his throat and gulped half of the water. He sighed, glad that he didn’t embarrass himself by choking.
She smiled and looked at him provocatively, leaning forward so the low-cut V of her dress revealed a lot of her chest. It beckoned him in a way he couldn’t quite describe. He drained the rest of his water. The water wasn’t doing him much good – he needed something stronger, then the waiter appeared with the menu. His relief was short-lived as he felt something brush his groin. He nearly jumped out of his skin.
It was only when it was time to place their orders that she realized that his jaws were slack and his pupils dilated. He couldn’t even look at her.
She looks stunning. Braces are gone. She had changed the way she wore her hair. The surgeon had given her a good nose.
The V-neck dress she wore wasn’t sitting well with the lower part of his body. He had forgotten how much he enjoyed listening to Belinda. Unlike the monotonous ramblings of his wife she always had something interesting to talk about. He remembered the first day they had met. He was in detention and was called out to meet his personal tutor. She was studying to be a teacher and was working part time as a private tutor.
Time flew by as they reminisced. The manager had to tap Tobias’ shoulder to let them know the restaurant was closing for the day. Fortunately his last meeting was just before lunch so he decided to walk her to her house so they could talk. He deftly avoided discussions concerning his wife each time Belinda tried to bring it up.
“Why don’t you come in?”
No, no, no! Get out of here like right now! “I need something to soothe my headache,” he said remorsefully.
Belinda beamed. “Sure you do. Come in.” She waltzed into the house gesturing to his left and walked to the end of the corridor.
They drank some more wine and she massaged his feet until he was really light headed. He tried to get up but was a little drowsy. He frowned and shook his head. He couldn’t drive in this state. He’d have to call a taxi. It didn’t look like she kept Yellow Pages around. The house was relatively simple, save the chandelier that matched the table lamps in the sitting room and the 72-inch TV.
Ten minutes later she handed him a glass of water and two caplets. He swallowed the pills, gulping the water noisily, and apologized. “Do you have a taxi number I can call?”
“Of course!” She bent down and deftly unbuckled his belt and undid his zip.
He reluctantly shoved her away. “Excuse me.” I have to leave. Any minute longer I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. He tried to get up and plopped back on the sofa, holding his head. “Belinda, the taxi number. Please,” he said, a little irritated.
“I never told you what I needed help with. I feel so silly now.” She said and quickly sat on him, wiggling around.
He got up and staggered, everything in his sight was hazy. As he looked down at her, his vision cleared. She was completely naked. He frowned. He knew he had to leave, but he couldn’t will himself to follow his head. His manhood, his head and his heart each throbbed to a different frequency but the first seemed to be the only one he understood. The headache doubled. He sat back down, giving in.
He massaged his forehead to sooth the headache. He frowned, wondering why his clothes were suddenly very soft, the sensation he was having was very warm and strange. Belinda slowly climbed on top of him and swallowed him up in her warmth. He sighed, relaxed and enjoyed the flow until his legs became numb. When it was over, he felt relief then anger and then guilt. He asked her where her bathroom and went to it, but when he saw only female sanitary items he walked out of the room. He tucked his shirt in and zipped up quickly, trying to think.
Overwhelmed with guilt, he picked up his jacket which he didn’t remember taking off. He didn’t even remember taking off his shoes or his tie. He searched his pockets for his car keys. He had to leave now because his manhood had started to throb again. He half-limped to his car and reclined his chair.
He looked at the time. It was eleven p.m. He never stayed out late without informing his wife, and never this late. He had to think of the perfect excuse. He was already overcome by her incessant nagging and didn’t wish for an increment in that department. He checked his phone and saw fifteen missed calls. He didn’t need to see her name to know who the caller was. What he needed was a perfect excuse.
He knew what to do.
He fastened his seatbelt and ignited the engine. He was about to drive off when he heard a screech of tyres. He apologized, but the person was too concerned with swearing at him to notice.
He vied into Bridge Street. When he got to the end of street he parked his car near the park. He looked surreptitiously around and saw nobody, then walked across the park to the stream and drenched himself in it. He threw off his coat and rolled on the muddy bank, tore his shirt, then rushed back to his coat and removed the wads of twenty pound notes and coins from his wallet and shoved them into his coat pocket. The wallet was dry, he noticed, so he went back to the water to soak it.
He pondered for a few minutes then took out the SIM and erased his information from the phone before tossing it to the other end of the park. He pinched himself and literarily walked into the bench, punched him face.
He walked back to his car and drove home. When he got out of his car, he staggered and limped, shielding his face with his hands when he saw his neighbour. He increased his pace until she was inside her house. He continued the pretence until he got into his house.
When he got his door, he inhaled deeply a few times before opening the door. As he walked in he didn’t see his wife. She would have waited up for him so she could give him a piece of her mind. Assuming she was in bed, he walked to their room on tiptoes.
As soon as Jane set eyes on her husband she knew something was different about him. Overwhelmed with the strange feeling that her greatest fear had been made manifest, she bit her lower lip and blinked back tears.
It was the first time she had smelled a woman’s perfume on him, he was sodden in it. It was the first time in their marriage that he didn’t nuzzle and kiss her neck. The first time he didn’t call out her name before he turned on the TV. She knew it wasn’t work. He never brought it home. Even when they were almost bankrupt he didn’t bring it home.
Jane inhaled deeply. She switched on the light and feigned shock on seeing her husband. She stretched out of the wheelchair but Felicity was quick to force her back into it, then rushed out to get her crutches.
Jane waited for Felicity to leave and locked the door.
Picking up her cane Jane waited a few minutes before joining her husband in the bathroom. They were now even and it would not happen again. She didn’t probe him. She just nursed his wounds and was quiet the rest of the night.
For the past five years that they’ve been together, he had never known her to be this quiet. He couldn’t sleep, he had a feeling that she had found out. Jane and Belinda didn’t like each other. What if Belinda had told on him? He had not need to take Belinda home. He didn’t even need to go into her house, headache or no headache. He looked at her, wondering how he was going to explain himself.
It was ten o’clock but his alarm didn’t go off that morning. He felt the sun of his face, pulled the pillow from under his head to cover his face. He had promised to add blinds to the window; he’d better add it to his list of things to do. He felt something between his thighs.
It was wet and warm and he didn’t want it to stop. He winced when he felt a pinch on his manhood.
A little startled, he threw the covers off, to see his wife’s head bobbing up and down. Looking into her eyes as she took him in her mouth, he knew their relationship had turned blissful.