I felt my phone buzz somewhere underneath the covers.
I did not bother to reach for it. It was most likely my mother or my best friend, Ure, and I did not want to speak to either.
I did not want to speak to anyone.
It was not that I did not feel like talking; on the contrary, I was on the brink of seeing a psychotherapist because of how much I wanted to talk. I just could not talk to anyone I knew because they would not understand.
My mother, proud as she was, would scold me and ask if the world was coming to an end because things did not work out with one man. She would go on to remind me that I was descended from the proud Ndubuike family, and that Ndubuike women never cried over men; instead, it was the other way around.
Then there was Ure. If I had not given her a play-by-play as things were happening, perhaps it would have been easy to talk to her. As it was, she would likely alternate between “but you said you did more than he did” and “I don’t think the two of you were on the same page.” Neither of which I cared to hear at the moment.
Although she would be correct on both counts, but not in the way that she thought.
I met Murphy on a particularly busy day at work. The director had called us into an impromptu meeting because he wanted us to meet the auditors. Naturally I groaned because auditors meant unending requests for documents and reports.
I tuned out almost immediately I sat down. I had more pressing matters to deal with, like how to deliver on my goals, than to listen to a group of nuisances in suits introduce themselves and politely tell us how they were going to be a menace to us for half a year.
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by an eruption of laughter. I asked the person beside me what was said and he said the auditor who had the floor was named after the famous American comedian, Eddie Murphy. Apparently his father was a fan.
I turned my attention to him but he had moved on to a speech about expecting our support. I almost scoffed; it was merely an icebreaker after all. A good one, but an icebreaker nonetheless.
The next time I saw him, he had come over to let me know that he needed a report. I looked up at him, a blank but borderline bored expression on my face as I said “send me an e-mail and I will reply.” He started to say something else but I cut him off. “Let me guess, you need it like yesterday right? Well, sorry, because if you really did, you should have told me three or more days ago. So, I will get it to you within 48 working hours and not a second sooner!”
I expected a protest. I was ready for a protest. Instead he smiled at me and said “48 working hours is just fine, thank you” and walked away.
Needless to say, I was surprised. The feeling of surprise was quickly replaced by a feeling of shame. It also did not help that the report he was asking for would take all of 1 minute to generate.
Seconds later, I got a very polite e-mail from him requesting the report. My guilt knew no bounds at this point so I quickly ran the report and e-mailed it to him then walked over with the intent to apologise and let him know I had sent it.
He was bent over some papers when I told him I had sent the report. He replied that he had seen it without looking up at me. I felt I deserved the cold reaction so I turned to walk away, but he added “I was planning to send a reply saying I would not accept it until the 48-hour mark.” It was a response meant to make me smile but I felt even worse. I had been undeservedly rude to him and here he was, making what could have been a very embarrassing moment, lighter.
And that was it. That was how he won me over. After light conversation, I left the conference room that day with a fond admiration of him.
For a long time we never did more than light chit chats whenever we ran into each other. It was all professional but with every chat, I grew more and more attracted to him. I would never have made the first move of course, so I just crushed on him from a distance.
As it turned out, he had a crush on me too. He asked me on a date to the movies and after that, we were inseparable. I had never felt that way about anybody. He had become the air I breathed and my body literally ached when we were away from each other. It was magical and not of this world and somehow, I knew I would be spending the rest of my life with him.
That all came to an abrupt end the day I saw him cozying up to another woman.
I could have walked away; perhaps that would have saved me some embarrassment, but I was so hurt I could not even control my own actions. I confronted him there and then; expecting him to fall to his knees in apology. He merely looked up at me; and with a calm that could freeze water, asked “did I ever ask you out?”
I blinked in confusion. What sort of question was that? We were in a relationship and he was acting like we were not.
He repeated the question and added “think about it. Did I ever once ask you out?”
The world stopped as I flashed back through every single encounter we had.
The first time was a friday night and I was exhausted from work. It had been a long week and all I wanted to do was unwind. I ran into him in the parking lot and after the usual pleasantries, he asked me where I was headed. I said I was going to the movies and he asked to tag along because he needed to unwind as well. He technically had not asked me out on a date.
On another Friday, he heard me ordering food for the weekend and yabbed me for it. I yabbed him right back, saying I did not think he could cook for himself. He said he could, and I asked him to prove it so he came over to my place and cooked for me. Technically, not a date as well.
Another Friday, I offered to return the favour. Technically that was not a date either.
He gave me a ride home one evening when I was having car problems and we stopped somewhere for drinks. It still was not a date.
The first time we kissed, it was I who leaned in. He kissed me back, and hungrily too, but I leaned in first.
The first time we made love, I urged him on. He even asked if I was sure and I said “yes”. All the other times after that, I damned near jumped him.
Every time we hung out, it was either prompted by me or situational; and because I was blinded by love, I did not see it.
I never saw it.
The skilled bastard had ensured that he dangled the carrot long and often enough that I was constantly reaching for it but never got it. For all intents and purposes, it looked like I threw myself at him.
As I stood there, my heart breaking into a million pieces as realisation dawned on me, I had to admit that he was a genius. The devil incarnate himself, but genius nonetheless.
I do not recall how I got home that day, but I have not left my bed ever since.
I know he does not deserve my tears but my heart is broken, and there is little I can do to keep them from falling. I know however, that I will heal. I also know I will move on but for now, I just want to be left alone.