BISI – THE OTHER WOMAN EPISODE 19
By Jon Doe
Papers lay strewn covering every inch of the table. Namdi sat at his chair, two fingers rubbing his temple in an attempt to stave an impending headache. The fire marshals report on the fire had come in that morning. After slogging through pages of bureaucratic nonsense he had seen the definitive conclusion. An electrical outlet had been the spark.
It had been a busy day. Between ordering the mahogany door to replace the current front entrance of their home and fielding the many many well wishes of his co-workers, he found little time to relax. How they had found out about his condition left him perplexed. At first he suspected his father in law but it just wasn’t the style of the man. Pushing the thought aside, he fiddled with the controls at his desk to increase the opacity of the floor to ceiling windows that covered one wall of his office. His goal, to let in some natural light to brighten the stifling atmosphere. Rather than sunlight he was greeted with a city at night.
Surprised Namdi reached for his phone to confirm what nature had already stated. In a hurry he packed his things. Ignoring the papers still scattered on his desk he made his way out the office, his thumb in a flurry of motion as he ordered an uber. Closing the door to his office he noticed the quiet of an empty building floor. Being last in the office had not happened in ages. It was at that moment he realized he would not want to give up this life. Walking to the elevator his thoughts returned to Zainab and their morning together. Reaching into his pocket he brought out the ribbon she had stuffed into it, his fingers holding onto it tightly. She was probably at home now waiting for him. With a ding the elevator doors opened. It was not empty.
In front of Namdi was one who had ceased to be a stranger. In her hands was a pair of shoes he was familiar with. They were his, forgotten in a time when his mind had buckled. There were no words spoken, merely an exchange of a gaze that held in it more information than speech could contain. A connection brought into existence only through the union of two bodies in carnal bliss.
Bisi swept past him, a storm of fragrance lingering in her wake. She did not look back, an underlying tacit agreement thick in the air, leaving a trail for him to follow.
Namdi stood there in front of the open elevator knowing he only needed to take a step forward into its open maw. With a ding the doors began to close. It was salvation he both wanted to grasp and needed to let slip away. The allure of the forbidden fruit having too strong a hold for one to step from. The mind rationalizes to fulfill one’s desires. In his fingers the ribbon remained firmly clasped as he followed the fragrance to his office.
Within, she set herself before the glass; staring out into the city, her reflection faint and as beautiful as the physical specimen she was. An untamed forest of hair stood up, adding a wildness to her. A wildness he had both seen and experienced. Much of her smooth caramel colored back and shoulders lay bare thanks to the purple halterneck she wore. He saw no strap running horizontally along her back. Namdi remained at the door quietly watching, his shoes now resting on a stack of papers that had temporarily lost all significance. Her apple bottom remained covered by a black miniskirt reaching her mid thigh leaving the rest of her toned legs for the gods to see.
“The city is gorgeous at night.”
“I thought so too my first night here.”
“You should come look.”
Namdi hesitated, then slowly walked up beside her, an arms length between them. Together they looked out into the city unable to hear the sounds. Lights twinkled to rival those in the skies above. A long line of red stretched for miles over the water in the distance, commuters stuck in traffic as they raced home to empty or loving homes. The city beat a steady rhythm unlike the hearts within the two who watched from their lofty perch between the earth and the heavens.
“Met your wife today.”
Namdi’s soul shook, a million thoughts a second racing through his mind.
“She is even prettier in person. You never told me her name.”
A sudden insignificant detail suddenly held meaning beyond compare. From his fingers, the ribbon fluttered to land unnoticed on the floor.
“Zainab, her name is Zainab.”
Bittersweet, a paradox widely accepted. Namdi understood it more as his wife’s name slid from his lips in the presence of his, this other woman… Even now he did not know who she truly was. What he could not deny is the connection that existed between them. Had what felt like half a life time truly been less than a week? Namdi questioned, his eyes still trained on the city beyond the clear windows.
Beside his still figure Bisi’s lips moved, silently mouthing the name she just heard. Her eyes closed, her heart steadying.
“It suits her. Have you told her?”
“I think she knows.”
Quiet, stifling and heavy, it held Namdi’s heart in its cold grip. He did not fight it, his spirit seeking penance for the hunger he knew still grew in his soul.
He asked her with his gaze still on the city lights, an answer not forthcoming. Her hand reached for her tummy instead, a far off look in her eye. The same palm left and pressed against the transparent cold glass.
“If you had to choose between us and her…”
Namdi reached out to Bisi, stopping mid way, his arm visibly shaking before it fell back to his side. Words failed him. There was no change in Bisi, her mind fully focused on the seed deep within the reflection before her. It was like the words she spoke had never been said. A chasm grew between them as one awoke from a dream of pleasure and nightmare intertwined.
Making his way to his desk, Namdi grabbed his shoe off the table. The heel had left a muddy print right on the Shagari logo stamped on a document outlining possible payouts for the fire. The brown colored the black and white symbol of a closed fist with the pinky extended. It always reminded him of the times he would make a promise as a child.
“What did you see that night?”
“I’m not sure, it was too dark to tell.”
“Whatever you remember could be helpful.”
“I thought I saw someone… but it could have been the shadows playing tricks.”
“Fire marshal said there was no foul play.”
“Then I guess I saw nothing.”
To Namdi it seemed she wanted to say more. Reaching across the desk, he hit a button dimming the lights, a hope she finds comfort in the anonymity of darkness. The twinkling glow looked more vibrant. He waited, once again glancing at her outline. On her lithe neck he saw the glint of a thin chain.
“It looked like she was running away.”
“You mean ‘he’ was running away.”
“No, it was a woman. Or a man with long hair. I’m not sure, I had just woken up, I could smell…”
Her voice faltered. Still she only looked out into the city, refusing to turn around, held by the gentle cover of darkness.
“I lost my mother in a fire.”
Silent tears rolled down her cheeks, the mismatched memories of a child freshly unearthed in her mind. Her hand reached for the pendant hidden beside her heart.
“If only I hadn’t…”
Two strong arms wrapped around her waist from behind. Turning from the city she faced Namdi, sobbing onto his shoulder.
“I too lost my mom when I wasn’t grown. She died in a hospital.”
His teeth clenched when he thought of the night he had lost her. As she heard him, her heart ached for him; understanding the pain of loss making them kindred spirits.
“He only needed to pay for the operation. The stingy b******. I vowed from that day I would not live a life lacking…”
He did not say his last words loud enough for Bisi to hear. Pulling away from his embrace she wiped the tears threatening to still fall. From her pocket she brought out a card and pressed it into the palm of his hand.
“In case you change your mind, you can find me there.”
Her finger reached up pressing against Namdi’s lips stopping whatever words he was about to say. Planting a kiss on his cheek she walked out of his life for a time.
To be continued