Icy chill swept up Amara’s spine, leaving goosebumps in their wake as her saucer-large eyes stared at Kelvin. She opened her mouth wordlessly with nothing coming out but her audible gasps as her heart raced beyond control. Days back, she would have attributed the racing to attraction, but now, fear ruled her mind, body and soul. She surely couldn’t have heard him correctly right? Oh no, she was either hallucinating or she had truly gone insane.
Kelvin’s face was drawn tight against his bones, making him look very much his age as his eyes tried hard, unsuccessfully to look into hers. “Ara… I am… sorry… Please forgive me Ara, I never meant to hurt you… Never! All I ever wanted was your happiness” Kelvin looked on the verge of tears, something that she had never seen before, but all Amara could do was gap at him like an alien. Or was he an alien?
Amara’s eyes blurred. It seemed like she was about to faint… her heart was racing beyond control, but still, she could not draw her eyes away from Kelvin, neither could she close her mouth. The words flashed on and on in her head till she was sure she would go insane. My son. My son! My son?
Her eyes blurred the more and her knees weakened drastically. Kelvin instantly stretched his hand to stable her but Amara jumped away like Kelvin was infected with a chronic case of Ebola. Kelvin recoiled, his eyes registering how much that had hurt him as he dropped his arm back to his side. Amara continued to take backward steps until her back finally hit the wall, her eyes never leaving Kelvin’s wavering ones. She lifted her hand shakily and pointed at Kelvin’s head. “You… you…” she croaked out.
“I am so… so sorry” he pleaded
“Shut up! Shut up!” She suddenly screamed, grabbing her head in pain as severe headache sent her head into serious pain. A bit quietly. “Just shut up” she looked around weirdly, looking like she was searching for something. “Are you trying…” she laughed crazily. “Oh God!” She shook her head, then finally looked at Kelvin, whose eyes were clouded with tears. “Are you telling me now that my child is alive? My son is alive?” She shrieked.
Kelvin couldn’t gather the decency to answer, and to Amara, silence was more than enough answer. Her eyes slid slowly to the floor. “Wow” she breathed, staring intently at the floor as tears slid unnoticed down her cheeks. “Wow” she gasped again.
“I only wanted you both to be happy Ara… please believe me… I never meant to hurt you”
“Wow” she breathed again as her body dragged down the wall, falling in a heap on the tiled floor. Her breasts ached fiercely, reminding her sharply of that period… that time years back when her breasts had ached severely, milk dripping ceaselessly from them with no child to feed. The pain and tears had been so much… so unbearable… so maddening. Her brain flashed back and she remembered that fateful day years back when she had woken up on the hospital bed with the pain that accompanied post-labour. The pain had been excruciating, telling her vividly, just how much she ached to see the reward of her painful labour… But Kelvin had been there! Kelvin had presented his deceitful face. She had thought at the time that he was the most caring person on the planet, little did she know that he had actually been laughing at her pain. Laughing at her sorrow. Her tears fell and fell, dampening the front of her top. “You have been laughing at me” she gasped out as the reality dawned on her like the rays of an exposed sun in her face.
Kelvin crouched low before her instantly. “No love! I only wanted what was best for you” his voice shook terribly but Amara was beyond noticing. She wasn’t even listening to him. “You always lamented about carrying a product of incest. I was scared that you would come to hate the child if he stayed with you. Please believe me. Please Ara.…” he raised his hand shakily, daring to touch Amara’s knee.
Amara’s hand flashed out immediately he touched her, connecting with his cheek soundly, and then, she couldn’t stop herself. “Don’t … don’t … don’t … don’t touch me” she yelled, punctuating each word with a slap, swinging her two arms until it ached terribly. She shot to her feet in a flash. Kelvin made no attempt to stop her rage, seeming ready to take whatever punishment she lashed on him.
“How dare you Kelvin?” She cried, tears rushing down her cheeks. “I trusted you!” She exclaimed. “I trusted you! Even more than I trusted myself. But you stabbed me. Just like everyone else in my life, you brought me nothing but pain. And to think you did it so smoothly, without a trace” she yelled, bewildered. “Oh my God! I am such a fool” she laughed shortly in a choked manner, her eyes dashing about the apartment, not seeing anything but her lingering feelings of pain… of betrayal… “I come to you anytime I am hurt, not knowing that you were making fun of me”
“No Amara, I never did, I would never do such a thing”
Amara returned her eyes to his sharply, glaring at him. She was oblivious to the tears which had slipped out of his eyes. She was oblivious to the pure sincerity in his face and the raw pain he was feeling. She was oblivious to everything but the pain that engulfed her senses. The ache of the breasts which were deprived of the responsibility of feeding her child. The ache in her heart which announced loudly that she had again given her heart to the wrong man; that she had again given her love to a monster. She wanted to hit Kelvin so badly, her body shook from the effort it took to restrain herself, but more than anything, she wanted to hit herself. She wanted to hit herself until she woke up to the reality that this was all a terribly bad dream.
“Please hit me” Kelvin pleaded as she clenched her fists. “Hit me as much as you like because God knows I deserve it. I totally deserve it” he said. “But please… don’t hate me Ara… please”
Amara swallowed hard. “It is rather late to ask me that” she dropped. “I already hate you! The more I look at you, I hate you.” Amara registered the deep hurt that flashed and rested on his features. She took her eyes away and ran the back of her palm against her wet cheeks. “Where is my son?” She croaked out.
“He is not here” Kelvin’s voice sounded distant and lost, but at the moment, she couldn’t even bring herself to care.
“I want my son” she yelled at him. “I need my son right away or I swear I would have you locked in prison for what you did. Where is he?” She screamed, grabbing Kelvin’s shirt and shaking him with all her might, barely managing to even sway him.
“He is with someone. I would bring him to you”
Amara turned on her heels and marched out of the apartment. Kelvin followed in her wake. Weirdly, heavy rain had started outside. “You can’t drive in this. Please stay” Kelvin pleaded gently but Amara was already in the rain, walking fast like the devil himself was behind her. And maybe he was!
Despite the short distance between the building and her car, Amara was soaking wet when she got to her car. She opened the door nevertheless and was about to enter when Kelvin pulled her back against his also drenched form. “You can’t drive like this Ara… if you must go, let me drive you home”
Amara glared up at him, the rain biting at her face. “Get your filthy hands off me now, Kelvin” she gritted out and shoved him away with all her might. She jumped into the car and slammed the door, instantly locking it. Her fingers shook, both from cold and fury as she tried hard to put the key in its hole. After seconds of missing the target, she finally put the key where it should go and started the car. Kelvin looked shattered as he stood by the car in the rain, watching helplessly. Amara gripped the steering like a vise and reversed, blaring the horn wildly until the gateman jumped out of his house to open the gate. As she drove out, she turned her teary eyes back to the house for the last time, and there he was – the one who had stabbed her in the heart – still standing there in the rain, watching her leave.
Amara slid out of the car so slowly, feeling boneless. The rain still poured heavily and she leaned against her car tiredly as the rain washed over her. The day was already bright around her but it made no sense to her. Finally, she dragged her drenched semi-limp body away from the car walked stiffly inside her apartment. Her cold apartment added to the chill she felt deep in her bones. She walked into her bedroom, like someone operating under the direction of a remote control and started removing her wet and dirty clothes. She left them in a heap on the floor and walked into the bathroom almost lifelessly as her wet feet made patches on the tiled floor.
She entered the tub and sat down, opening the shower which she knew would produce hot water. The shower washed over her almost like the rain falling outside, only thing one was hot, slowly extracting the chill she had gathered. She shivered, despite the hot water, drew her knees to her chest and held it firmly with her linked hands. She cried anew, her salty tears mixing with the constant flow of hot water. She didn’t know just how long she sat there. Minutes? Hours? Or maybe days! All she knew was that her limbs refused to get her out of there. Finally, when the hot water reserve got exhausted and cool ordinary water started pouring, she pushed to her feet numbly and shut the shower.
She didn’t bother toweling herself dry, she climbed into bed, dripping and all and pulled the thick blanket over her nude form. Settling her head on the pillow, she cried and cried until sleep eventually claimed her.
Kelvin ran on the treadmill, increasing his speed at a maddening pace. He wanted to forget! Just forget! He ran and ran and ran even more. He had never wished himself dead more than he did now. The look of betrayal and hurt he had seen do vividly in Amara’s eyes would definitely hunt him for the rest of his miserable years. He ran faster! He had wanted to save her from pain, instead, he had given her double of that pain. He ran faster! And all for what? If what Alex had said was correct, the child even isn’t a product of incest! He had given Amara pain for nothing. Nothing! His legs flashed out in a blurr as he raced even faster, his still-drenched clothes splashing water in all directions.
And Sam? How would he let him go? Over the years, Kelvin had grown so attached to Sam, he felt like his biological father. It didn’t help, knowing that Sam obviously saw him as his father. Sam had been his only consolation, all those years he had been searching for Amara. Sam had been his happiness. He had done everything within his power to ensure that Sam never hated the absence of his mother. He had told him good stories about Amara and that they would see each other soon. But now, he had to give Sam up, because he knew without a doubt that Amara wouldn’t want Kelvin involved in their lives after this and he definitely deserved it.
Exhaustion ate at Kelvin’s bones as he ran, the treadmill on top speed. Finally, he slowed it down till it came to a stop. His ragged breathing made his chest heave wildly. He ached all over, but not just from exhaustion. The idea that he had to let go of Sam forever hurt beyond reason; but beyond that, immeasurable pain engulfed around him when he realised that he would have to let go of Amara. He would have to give her the happiness he had deprived her, even if it meant… vanishing from her life forever.
It was already past eleven and Tega was beside herself with worry. Amara was not showing up, neither was she picking up her calls. She smiled at yet another person. “I am sorry sir, perhaps you could come back later, I can’t reach Miss Peters”. The man had been seated for over twenty minutes, and he wasn’t even the third person she had discarded. The man murmured something and stood up. “I promise to give you a call when she arrives, I am so sorry for the delay” Tega hastily added. The man nodded and left.
“Where are you boss?” She growled as she diaked Amara’s number the 67th time. The head of PR poked her worried head. “Have you been able to reach her?” She asked.
Tega shook her head. “I don’t know what is going on. Can you please help me out here, I should probably go to her house to see if everything is okay” she told Aminat.
Aminat nodded. “Yes, we are all getting worried. She never comes late. Maybe I should go, I don’t have much to do”
“What is going on?”
Tega lifted her head to see Maxwell approaching, with a frown. It had to be the first time Tega saw a frown on his handsome face. “Is everything alright?” Tega hesitated. “It is OK, please tell me what is going on”
Tega sighed. “Actually, it is Ara… I mean, Miss Ara, we haven’t seen her at all today and I have called her endlessly, she isn’t picking up. We are all so worried now.”
Max’s frown deepened drastically.
“I am going to her house now, to check if she is there. Oh God, I hope nothing happened to her” she breathed worriedly.
“It is fine. I would go to her place. You can stay here” Max answered.
“No sir, I would go with you. You might need my help or something” Tega insisted.
“Yes sir, she should go with you” Aminat said, then faced Tega. “I would take over your desk here, please call immediately you find out anything.”
Max finally nodded and turned instantly. Tega grabbed her phone and followed Max instantly, dialing Amara’s number as she went.
…to be continued