"We really do need some time away from here, I think." Damola said, throwing the skillet up so that the pancake would land on the flip side. It was a golden brown and its aroma had started to fill the kitchen.
"You really should teach me that. How come I am never able to make it look that nice?" She said, making a face.
"You just sit still and let me do everything please. I don't want you stressing yourself."
He put the pancakes and waffles in a plate and grabbed the syrup from the kitchen table then he placed the plate in a tray and served it before his wife. He reached for the fridge and grabbed a pack of orange juice. She was about to eat but he stopped her immediately and took the fork from her. Then he started to feed her.
"I am starting to feel like the baby here and not a mom to be, you know." She laughed.
He smiled, looking into his wife's eyes.
"You are my number one baby." He said and planted a kiss on her lips.
She held his face in her hands, a quick thought running through her mind on how much she had missed out on his love because of the demands of her job.
"What's going on in your mind?" He asked.
She shook her head.
"Come on. I know that look." He persisted.
"I'm just sorry for everything. And I'm sorry I even ever thought of aborting your baby."
He kissed her again.
"Its alright darling. I should also have told you everything about Timi."
"From now on, no more secrets between us." She said.
He stuck out his pinky finger and she laughed, intersecting hers in response.
"Pinky swear." She laughed.
He kissed her again for the third time before he finally grabbed his hand luggage and threw it in the back seat of the taxi that was waiting at the front of their house. He was leaving for Port Harcourt for a training organized by his office and would be away for four days. Ite had started to miss him already and she had showed him how much the night before and in the early hours of the morning.
She pulled him close and hugged him again before he got into the taxi for the airport.
"Call me as soon as you get to the airport, okay." She said.
"I will. Every step of the way I will send an update."
"Okay. I love you." She hugged him two more times.
"I will be back before you know it, okay. Be careful."
She nodded and then he got into the taxi and the driver pulled out.
She walked back into the house and headed for the kitchen. The pans and pots and plates were still unwashed. She didn't feel like doing any washing so she set the kitchen alarm clock so that she could get back to the chore in about an hour. As she sat in the living room, scrolling from Channel to channel, she had to admit to herself that even if she loved being there for her husband, she missed her job. She missed the adrenaline pump of deadlines and proposals and presentations and chambers meetings. She missed that life. She didn't want to be idle. She had never seen herself as a housewife/stay-at-home mom. If she had started feeling this way already, how would she feel when the baby came?
The thought of childbirth sent some shivers down her spine. Especially as she had coincidentally left the TV On TLC and a reality show about a midwife and a woman in labour aired. What if something bad happened in the process? What if she lost her life? She rebuked the thought immediately. None of that would happen to her. Amen. She reached for her tablet and decided to do some job window-shopping as she typed in some job websites. Most of the requirements for the big companies and for top positions wanted foreign degrees and a minimum of ten years experience. As she scrolled through, she saw the name of her old Law firm; the one where she recently quit. She was surprised...it wasn't even a month yet since she resigned and they had already started placing ads for her replacement. She decided to check some blogs but soon got tired so she started to do some online window shopping.
The alarm went off in a few minutes and she hissed. It was time to do the dishes. She forced herself to get to the kitchen. Then she saw she was out of soap. She needed to get to the mall anyway so she hurried out of her night shirt and then headed to her car. The mall was twenty minutes away but she didn't feel like walking even if they said exercise was good for her and the growing baby. She turned on the engine but it didn't start. She didn't like this. Car troubles was one of the things she feared the most. And Damola wasn't home to help her out.
"Ekeng!" She called the security man. She got no response. He had probably gone off somewhere. They lived in a semi detached bungalow. Their neighbour was an old woman who was hardly ever around. Her son lived with her though and came home sometimes.
She got out of the car and opened the bonnet. She didn't know what was wrong with it. There was water and there was oil. She stood akimbo but not for long because within a split second, she felt a sharp pain at the back of her head which sent her staggering to the floor. She opened her eyes immediately and saw the attacker.
Her best friend.
Her panic increased when she realized no one was around. She tried to call for Ekeng again but that got Timi angrier.
"No one is around." Timi said, viciously.
Ite didn't know what to do. The only thing she could think of at the moment was her baby.
"Please Timi. I'm sorry...please." She cried.
"I'm sorry too, Ite. I never meant for things to be this way but..." Timi placed her hands on her head. She paced around the car for a bit. Ite saw some other bruises on her other arm. Her friend looked delusional and confused. "I tried to give you a chance to leave him but you didn't. Ite you know I am your best friend. I still am but you took Damola from me. The one man for me! I share everything with you but not the man God chose for me,"
Ite sighed, trying to think of a way out of the situation.
"I don't know what else to do to make him come back to me.I don't want to hurt you but...I'm..I'm confused..." Timi stuttered, scratching her head.
"Please don't kill me. Please Timi." Ite pleaded.
Timi opened her mouth in shock.
"Is that what you think of me? Kill? I couldn't! I just want you to get your things now and leave. Just leave. Just go, Ite! Leave! Run away! Go into exile! Yes...yes...I'd love that. No one is hurt that way. And Damola will get over you and return to me like God planned. That's the way its supposed to be." Timi said.
"Timi I can't...you need help, Timi."
Timi got angrier.
"Stop saying that!" She raised her foot and kicked Ite's thigh.
Ite tried to shield her belly.
"Please....please....I'm pregnant please!" Ite screamed.
Timi suddenly stopped kicking. And then Ite knew she should have kept her mouth shut. Out of no where, Timi found a plank and hit her best friend continously, yelling in-comprehensive words. Ite turned so that her back faced Timi but Timi continued to hit her.
"You didn't abort the baby? You wicked witch! You made me look like a fool to him!"
Then they both heard the repeated honking of a car at the gate which silenced every action. There was someone at the gate. Ite hoped for the life of her that it was Damola even if she knew that he was away at Port Harcourt. Timi tried to catch her breath. There was a smaller gate at the back of the house. She heard the friction as someone tried to unbolt it then she dropped the plank and stared at Ite in more confusion.
It was Ekeng. He hurried in and headed for the gate to let the honking car in. He stopped immediately as he saw what was happening. Timi took to her heels and ran out the same way Ekeng had run in. But what he stared at scared him the more. Oga Damola's wife was sprawled on the ground, with some blood trickling down her legs.
Twenty Months After
The rain was heavy outside and the full drops made a splash each time they hit the shut window. She focused on the roses in the bush planted and growing around the window. Inside the room was warm, but outside was cold...extremely, because of the heavy downpour.
She smiled, shaking her head in denial.
"I don't think I was wrong to have liked him." She responded.
Dr. Yvonne scribbled something in her note pad. She took off her gold rimmed glasses and looked at her patient who was now becoming like a friend to her. She did like to become friendly with her patients. She thought it helped them open up more to her. But Timilehin...she was one of a kind. Very persistent and very oriented.
"I agree with you. We have a choice to like any one we want. They do not have to like us in return." Dr. Yvonne said.
"Yes." Timi replied.
"So do you still feel depressed and do you still have those dreams? You told me at your last session that you saw a bird freed from a cage in your dream."
"I wouldn't say depressed is the word..."
"Are you lonely?"
She laughed, looking at the roses in the bush.
"I am but there is someone who doesn't make me feel lonely. A man. A friend. The one who has been helping me through this entire process."
The doctor smiled and Timi looked away. She knew her patient did not want to elaborate.
"Tell me about what God is saying to you now."
Timi shut her eyes.
"God is telling me to let myself live. And to let myself loose." She said.
"And is this the same way He spoke to you about Damola when you first met him?"
Timi had so many responses to that question but she couldn't find the words to capture them.
"Do you want me to skip the question? You have about five minutes to the end of today's session anyway." Dr. Yvonne said.
She was silent for eighty seconds of her final last minutes. Then she found her words.
"I loved him. And he did not love me the way I wanted him to. Maybe God asked me to love my neighbour and I loved my neighbour not as myself but more than myself and more than God."
The doctor nodded.
"Okay. Did you love him before God spoke to you?"
"Yes. I wanted him because I thought he had to be the one."
The time was 4.30pm. Their session was over. Dr. Yvonne hugged her and saw her off to the door as she chatted about how grateful she was for being heard and how much progress she felt she had made overtime.
She relaxed in her chair to form her detailed observations about Timilehin. Timi had been her patient for about eight months now. She had been recommended from the Private Psychiatric clinic at Abuja where she was a patient although she had been discharged but was still being put under observation and medication; majorly antipsychotics. In her opinion, this was just a young girl who had fallen in love with a handsome young man but had gradually confused the Spiritual with the emotional. She had psychologically started to think about him even in her sleep and she had presumed that had to be God speaking to her. Dr. Yvonne was also a church Minister and Counselor and she was no alien to such situations especially from some young Christian adults. Unfortunately, Timi had confused love with obsession so deep that it degenerated into a gradually growing mental illness. They still had about four more psychotherapy sessions to go before she would finally give her a clean bill of health further to subsequent observation sessions.
Ite placed the coaster on the coffee table and placed the glass of Cola on it for their guest. Damola seemed a little withdrawn.
"Honey what is it? Are you okay?" She asked, lowering her voice.
She had just put their eleven month old son to sleep. He was usually a handful when he was awake. Ite tried to make sure everyone spoke at room temperature so that the sleeping child wouldn't get up from bed.
"I just feel bad for everything. We are her friends but we can't get close to her. It's weird and saddening. I feel guilty for all this but at the same time...this is just still confusing to me. Timi always seemed fine to me." Damola responded.
He remembered the past year and how Timi had almost killed his wife and his child because of her instability. Thankfully, Ite had only sustained injuries on her thigh but the baby was intact. He remembered how Ite had begged him not to press charges against her because she needed help and he remembered how he and Ite had to get Timi's family to persuade her into getting that help. It had taken forever. Timi had continued to live in denial until one time when she nearly committed suicide and her neighbour had alerted someone.
"I know. I miss her. But I think its best if we keep away for some time." Ite said.
"I agree. Its not helpful for Timi either and I want what is best for her." Rotimi said.
"So guys, I have to go now. She should be through with her session and I need to pick her up and take her back to her sister's place." Rotimi said. He gulped his drink, stood up and hugged the couple.
"Send our love. We wish her speedy recovery." Ite said, hugging him back.
"Oh she is a lot better. I just want her to go through this process properly but trust me, Timi is very okay now. I just wish she was half as obsessed with me." Rotimi laughed. Damola and Ite also laughed.
As he pulled into the drive way at the hospital, Timi hurried towards his car.
"How was it?" He asked, getting her bag and hugging her.
"It was better than the last time. I told the therapist that I was beginning to like someone else. She thinks its great for my improvement." She smiled.
The rain was no longer heavy. Yes. Outside was still very cold unlike inside the doctor's office which was warm.
Warm enough to shield her from the shivers of the cold outside. But there outside, as she hugged Rotimi, she felt warmth within the cold.
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*Episode 9- finale Rollercoaster