Time. A lot of it had gone by. If only there was a time machine that could go back to a year ago. I still couldn’t believe it was almost a year now. It seemed so short yet so precious. If I could relive it all over again, I would up to the umpteenth time. We only had a few more days together. The familiar feeling that I always got just before he left was tugging at the pit of my tummy. I wanted to either turn back time or lengthen my 24-hour days to 72-hour days at least for the next week or so. Wishes though…
I kept stealing glances at him as he placed the orders for the twins’ birthday at KFC. He looked so cute as he barked orders left, right and center but with a lot of humility. I noticed the cashier’s sheepish smile and grinned. Initially, when we first got together I would get pissed at ladies eyeing him but over a period of three years now, believe me when I say I just shrug it off. I mean, who wouldn’t want a hot plate of tall, dark and attractive? Haha
As soon as he finished making the orders we walked to the booth at the back of the hotel. We were really early, we had like an hour to kill before the twins got here with their mother and friends. He sat on the opposite side and looked up at me then cupped my face in his palms and placed a kiss on my forehead. I intertwined my legs with his under the table and opened my eyes to find him smiling at me. This was intentional; he’d wanted us to be here early so that we could get some time for ourselves. He knew I hated the ‘we need to talk’ dates. They always ended in arguments and for this remaining time I just wanted to make beautiful memories I could hold on to for the next year.
“Delia, can we talk for a minute as we wait on mum and the twins?” He asked with a little doubt in his voice. “Sure, what is it about Matt?” I probed.
I knew exactly what he wanted to say but I wanted to hear him say it. He was worried about us. This time round he was going for a really long time and he was scared it would take a toll on us. I couldn’t agree more; it was going to take a toll on us majorly. I was more of a ‘presence’ type of girl; I didn’t know how to work with distance. I had no idea how we would get through this.
“Delia, tell me what you’re thinking. I want to know what you think about this then we can make decisions.” He said. My thoughts were so blunt, he definitely didn’t want to hear my thoughts on the subject. There was this part of me that kept trying to convince me to call it off and avoid putting myself through the self-torture. My gut had a different view on things. I’d actually thought about it for a while now but I just hadn’t gotten around to weighing my options. No, I’d actually weighed the options, I was just scared of the outcome.
“Matt, we both know what happens after this and I don’t think it’s a good idea to make choices because we are scared of reality. We only have two options, move on or deep sea dive but either way, it won’t be easy.” I suddenly replied with no filter. He was lost for words and he directed his gaze to the table. He untwined his legs and kind of sunk into the chair. It felt like I’d stabbed him right in the chest. Guilt creeped in and I uttered almost silently, “I’m sorry but you wanted to hear my thoughts.”
After a weirdly long silence, he looked at me and feigned a smile. “Is there a part of you that could at least try and take the deep sea dive?” He asked. Oh yes, there was but that was the problem. This part had no actual bearing on my decisions. I wish I had something substantial to say to him. He searched my face for some hope and it seemed hopeless. All this while I kept thinking, ‘maybe I could just try and see where it goes’.
“Aunty Delia,” shouted the twins from the door running towards me. I smiled back and stood up in anticipation. Matt seemed disappointed that they were already here but he quickly regained his composure when they began to disturb him with questions. His mother walked in and saw us. She had a soft smile on her face. “Hello dear,” she said as she pulled me in for a hug.
His family had quickly accepted my presence in his life and I’d felt so much at home in their company. Perhaps it was why Matt felt like the future was worth considering. Don’t get me wrong, I would very much want to consider the future but I just wasn’t sure it was the kind of decision I could make at 21. I mean, girls my age were worried about lipstick color and huge bootys while here I was deciding whether to make an emotional sacrifice for my three year old relationship or move on and find love somewhere along the way. Damn! I hate complicated.
Once everyone was gathered at the booths we had booked, the chicken baskets were brought with some wings, burgers and fries. Marlisa was seated on my lap the whole time and she engaged me in small talk about her dolls. Melissa on the other hand, was really going down on the drumsticks and fries. She was a foodie that one. For the next hour or so, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and Matt seemed to have forgotten about the ‘talk’. He was so happy that his sisters were enjoying their small party. He smiled at them from time and even shot me a few. This was his happy place, family! I wanted him to be happy but tagging me along as a shadow for the next year or so abroad was not the way. And he knew that but he was so focused on the future that he didn’t see the challenges the present brought. Unfortunately, this was the kind of break up where you have to break up with the dude’s family too. Was I ready for that? I wasn’t, or maybe I was but could they handle it? Could he handle it? Or maybe the right question here was, could I handle it?
I hated having to make the decision. I’d looked forward to dating and pictured every little detail of my relationship in my ‘alone’ time ever since my peers started going out. All the guys who hit on me were either too lame or too proud. I needed a balance; like I needed someone who could make me laugh till I sprawled on the floor but also someone who could place my mind at work. Matt was the perfect balance. His looks and excellent articulation of the queen’s language came with the package. Man was I grateful to have met someone who could see beyond the skirt! Fortunately or unfortunately like everyone else on the planet he came with baggage and he made sure he tied me down. I mean his mother would call me if they didn’t see me for a week and his little twin sisters called me ‘Aunty’. Damn, I was really deep.
I stole a quick glance at him and signaled him to walk outside with me. He had a really confused look on his face: the one you get when you don’t know what the verdict is. Heck, I was the judge in this case but I didn’t even know the verdict I was going to give. All I could think was, ‘Lord, please don’t let me hurt his pretty soul.’
“Hey, you have that look,” I said. “What look? The one I always have before I leave the country. Yeah, sure. I got that.” He kind of barked. I had no option, I laid it all bare. The look on his face constantly changed that I got to a point where I almost let out a small scream. Every organ in my body screamed a different thing and here I was listening to my gut and in the process breaking the heart of the only guy who’d actually been perfect or rather tried to be.
He stared me down for a long minute and then whispered into my ear, “Your loss!” He walked away with his hands in his pockets and a very sad shrug. Melissa waved at me at the window and I waved back with a fake smile then I turned around and began walking away trying to fight the tears that were stubbornly stinging my eyes. In a little under thirty seconds I’d ruined the sanest part of my life. I thought to myself, “WTF had I just done? Fuck my gut, I wasn’t going to break the hearts of a whole family. I can’t walk away from three amazing years!” But no, I kept moving in the opposite direction amidst the “Where are you going Aunty?” and “We are cutting the cake Aunty”. Guess my legs didn’t get the memo…