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John and Cindy walked into the coffee shop arm-in-arm. One look at them, and you’d know you had seen lovebirds. Cindy had her right arm...

John and Cindy walked into the coffee shop arm-in-arm. One look at them, and you’d know you had seen lovebirds. Cindy had her right arm around his neck, while her mouth whispered endlessly into his ears. He beamed with radiant smiles with his left hand firmly planted around her curvaceous waist. The glass doors swiveled delightfully to usher them into the shop. Mary watched from behind the counter. She felt a thunderous wave of stabbing pains descend mercilessly on her as she watched them happily step into the shop and towards her. “Hi Mary, good to see you. How is life?” John asked pleasantly. “I am fine John. It is good to see you too,” Mary answered. She fought to keep the war raging inside her quiet. A superficial smile hugged the lines of her face with the tenacity of a crocodile biting down hard on a prey. If Cindy had noticed Mary, she did not show it. She was preoccupied with John, and she held onto him with gusto.

“I saw your brother last night. He is doing really well on his job. By the way, this is my girlfriend, Cindy,” John explained. “Nice to meet you Cindy,” Mary said stretching forth her hand for a handshake as John said, “Cindy, this is Mary.” Cindy finally offered Mary a rather cold stare. She seemed unwilling to shake hands with her. Out of courtesy, she stretched forth her hand languidly and took Mary’s hand in hers. “Nice to meet you too,” she said dispassionately. “You mind sending the menu over there for us please,” she said to Mary with a hint of thinly veiled sarcasm. Mary nodded her head affirmatively out of duty. Everything in her was crying for a war…a raging war on Cindy. She thought of flying over the counter and landing a head butt on Cindy’s head with devastating accuracy, but she could not bring herself to do it. “It is really good to see you Mary,” John reiterated, perhaps not knowing what else to say as they headed for a table by the window.

The sun permeated the glass window with the impunity of royalty. “Just what I needed…a good dose of sunshine,” Cindy said as they sat down. “By the way, I think she is still in love with you,” she added, referring to Mary who dated John in secondary school. “No she’s not,” John insisted. “You know I am right. You are just denying it out of arrogance. She is still in love with you!” “I think she is over me Cindy. It has been years now since we broke up.” “And so what? For some people, love never dies. It has not died for her as far as I am concerned. I can hear it in her voice when she speaks to you, and her face speaks even louder. Her hands are probably shaking. I don’t know why you wanted us to come here…your ex-girlfriend is still in love with you John!” Cindy said matter-of-factly.

“What is it Mary?” Jessica asked. She found Marry with her hands to her face as she tried to hold back the tears that were raining down her face. She sniffed and wiped desperately but the tears were eagerly matching down like a determined cavalcade of soldiers proceeding strategically towards an enemy line. “Please can you take these menus to the guy and girl over there? I am in a bad state right now. I will explain later.” Jessica obliged her and did as she asked. “Is everything okay?” Cindy asked Jessica. “Sure, how do you mean?” “The other girl we spoke to was going to serve us, all of a sudden, she sent you. I hope she is not upset?” “Oh no! She is busy with something at the back,” Jessica lied, sensing that something was going on. Quickly John and Cindy placed their orders, and Jessica returned to the back to get their orders served.

“I am really sorry about that,” Mary said after Jessica had served them. “Is that the guy you once told me about? The one that you used to date?” Mary nodded. “You still love him?” “Yes,” she said as fresh tears circled her eyes. “Come here,” Jessica said as she hugged her. “I have tried to forget him all these years, but no matter what I do, I find myself still in love with him. My heart runs amok each time I set my eyes on him, and my throat goes dry. I…I…I just want to forget him and carry on with my life, but…but I still crave him. My knees become weak when I see him. I am sure he can hear the beats of my poor heart that run from pillar to post whenever we meet. What do I do…I have tried, but I just can’t stop loving him.” “You have to let this go Mary. He left you for another girl and he has had several other girls since then. He has simply forgotten you. Let it go my dear.” “I wish it was easy. I want to but I can’t. At the same time, I am torn apart by the fact that….that he thinks I am…I am on the small side. You know, not tall enough. He left me for Ngozika in secondary school because…she is taller than I am and now he comes badging into the shop with another girl. I wish I could hate him…forget him….let go of this terrible feeling inside.”

Jessica’s phone rang. It was her husband who needed to see her urgently. “Don’t leave me here Jess. Please, don’t leave me here. I don’t have the strength in me to walk up to them to collect the money for their orders.” “You can do it Mary. I have to go see my husband. He says it is urgent. Come on girl, show some strength and courage,” Jessica said as she ran out of the shop. “We are leaving. Could you bring us our bill please,” Cindy shouted. Mary lifted the bill from the till. Her hands shook. She looked at herself in the mirror and said, “Stop this Mary. God please, take this feeling away.” She could hear the rumbling in her stomach as she walked up to them. Her knees creaked and wobbled. Cindy stared at her sardonically. She leaned over and gave John a robust peck on the cheek while Mary looked on. John fumbled in his pocket in search of his wallet. Mary’s knees responded with a squeaky noise. Her hands were akin to that of someone with Parkinson’s disease as she stretched to collect money from John.

As she walked away, Cindy smiled snidely. Mary’s leg felt heavy. She could barely lift them. Cindy’s hands journeyed all over John’s neck, chest and shoulders with unrestricted fervor. Her smiles soon turned into a taunting laughter as though she was saying, “He is mine now!” John had gone on to do well for himself in real estate. He owned prime property in the area and had been involved in some of the biggest property deals of late. His brand new BMW sat majestically in front of the shop, glowing with zest under the stare of the sun. As they walked out of the shop, Mary looked on with a torturous feeling of relief and renewed broken heartedness.    Story continues...

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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