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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - at a bar in Cleveland, Ohio, addressed by her native Igbo name, She ate Nigerian food, wore Nigerian outfits, born of an Igbo father and an Urhobo mother, with glasses of apple juice and beer, Cleveland, an old friend from high school, The cognitive part of his brain, officially end my relationship with him.

“I don’t know what I am going to do, Evelyn,” Mgbechi complained.  “If you are not happy, you might as well end the relationship,” Evelyn suggested. “Truly, I am not happy. I have not been happy in a while. I thought things would improve, but they have gotten worse.” Mgbechi lamented. The volume of the music went up a few notches, forcing them to raise their voices. They were at a bar in Cleveland, Ohio. They had taken a cubicle at a spot they had thought was far enough from the stage to keep some of the noise out, but they had been wrong. There were the two of them, Brendan, Evelyn’s boyfriend and Marcus, Mbgechi’s boyfriend. Marcus and Brendan had gone to get themselves and the girls a refill.

Mgbechi could see Marcus standing by the bar discussing with Brendan, who listened attentively with his ears angled towards Marcus’s mouth because of the loud music. “I fell hard for him,” she said to Evelyn. “I guess I still love him but I know the relationship is far too toxic for my liking. It is time for me to go.” Mgbechi was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio to Nigerian parents. They visited Nigeria almost every other year. Nigeria had grown on her over the years. She would go even when her parents could not make it. She ate Nigerian food, wore Nigerian outfits, and insisted on being addressed by her native Igbo name, Mgbechikwere (which means God’s will comes to pass when He decrees it), while relegating her English name, Jessica to the backbench.

Her parents were very thrilled when she brought Marcus home. Marcus was of Nigerian extraction too, born of an Igbo father and an Urhobo mother. At first, everything looked great. With time, she began to notice the dark side to Marcus. “What is the problem actually,” asked Evelyn. “That is, if you don’t mind me asking.” She and Evelyn had been friends since they were four years old, having grown up on the same street on the south side of Cleveland. If she was not white, one would have thought she and Mbgechi were sisters because of how close they were. “His temper is scary, Evelyn. I am afraid he is going to kill me one of these days. He is very jealous. When I say hi to any guy at all, he flies into a maddening rage. When I am around him, I feel like I am walking on eggshells. I can’t tell when he is going to lose it and attack me.” “Has he ever laid his hands on you?” Evelyn asked. Her eyes were wide open with disbelief. She was not the type to stand and watch while a guy roughed her best friend up. “Not really,” Mbgechi answered, unconvincingly. “Both your tone and your entire body language suggest he has actually laid his hands on you. What are you doing, Mgbechi? You cannot stick with a guy that actually beats you up. Real men don’t do that you know?” 

Evelyn was enraged. She and Mgbechi were protective of each other. “He was physical once, but he apologized. Anyways, I have decided to end the relationship,” Mgbechi explained. “But the fact that you are asking me means you are afraid he will not take it lightly, right?” “I don’t think he will, but I am not going to be bullied into staying with him. I have to end this.” “Yes, you have to. You should talk to you parents about this. I am here for you MG,” Evelyn assured her. She had called her MG for short since they were kids. They switched the topic as soon as they saw the boys returning to the cubicle with glasses of apple juice and beer. They hung at the bar for another hour or so and then decided to head home. Evelyn and Mgbechi had just returned to Cleveland to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with their families. Mgbechi lived in Cincinnati where she worked for biotechnology conglomerate, while Evelyn lived in Chicago. Brendan was in Cleveland for the first time to meet Evelyn’s parents. Marcus worked for a finance company in Cleveland. “I think I have to call it a night now,” Mgbechi said. “Me too,” Evelyn added. “I guess that means I have to go too,” Brendan said because he was staying over at Evelyn’s parents’ house for the weekend.

As they walked to the exit, Mgbechi bumped into an old friend of hers and Evelyn’s, Daryl. They had all gone to the same secondary school. “Look at you MG,” Daryl said. “You look fabulous. And you too Evelyn. Do you still live in town?” “Oh no, just visiting my parents,” Mgbechi said. “Me too,” added Evelyn. As they reminisced on old times when they were in secondary school, Brendan stepped outside to wait for Evelyn in the car. They had rented a car for the weekend. Marcus stood by the door watching them cautiously like a mother hawk watching over her young chicks. Mgbechi kept hoping he would step away and allow them to catch up with an old friend, but he stood there like a statue, gazing at them with unfailing intensity.

His eyes barely blinked. “We will be with you in a moment, Marcus. Daryl here is an old pal from high school,” Evelyn said to him jovially in an attempt to get him of Mgbechi’s back for the moment. Grudgingly, he shuffled into the cold outside. A few moments later, the girls came outside. “Who was that?!” He yelled at Mbgechi. “Daryl is an old friend from high school, Marcus,” Evelyn answered before Mgbechi could say a word. “I was not asking you, wise girl,” Marcus replied sardonically. “And you have no right to yell at my friend like that strong man!” She shot back at him. “I will see you tomorrow,” Marcus said to Mgbechi. He hopped on his motor bike, and rode away at a frightening speed without putting his helmet on.

He and Mgbechi were both bike enthusiasts. She still kept her bike from the years past in her parents’ garage. She had ridden to the bar on it while Marcus rode alone on his own bike. “He is gonna kill himself if he keeps riding like that,” Mgbechi said to Evelyn. “I don’t care. If he wants, he can ram his bike into a brick wall! Call me tomorrow, okay? You should have that chat with him. You don’t need this. It is awful that he treats you this way.” Evelyn walked angrily to their rented car and drove off. Mgbechi rode home. She tried to put a smile on her face when she met her parents in the living room.

They were watching CNN news when she walked in. They all sat in the living room and chatted late into the morning, including Mgbechi’s sister Chidimma and brother Kaosisochukwu. Mgbechi was woken up by a call about 3:00 am. Marcus had collided into a truck earlier that night. He was riding at high speed when his bike skidded out of control and collided with an oncoming truck, equally on high speed. It was like a fly pounding into an elephant and bouncing off; crashing into the ground with broken wings and a punctured belly. Marcus was severely wounded, living him with a permanent brain damage.

Mgbechi and her parents dashed to the hospital as soon as they could. They stayed there until morning with Marcus’s parents. By morning, Evelyn stopped by. Marcus was in a deep pain, but the worst aspect of the situation was his brain damage. In the following days, he lay in bed like a child. Saliva drooled endlessly out of his mouth, and phlegm oozed sluggishly from his nose. His eyes dangled and wandered aimlessly from east to west. He barely said anything coherent. He had to be fed food, water, his medication and other fluids; bathed, and clothed as well. He had become a child, literally; and he would never change, according to the doctors. He hardly recognized anyone. Most of his emotions died on the night of the accident. Like a dedicated friend, Mgbechi visited him every day. She took a long unpaid leave of absence from work to look after him. She took turns with Marcus’s mother to bath, cloth, feed and watch him. When he was discharged from hospital, she continued the same routine at home in his parents’ house.

He would lie in bed, hardly aware of whom she was. Mgbechi would look at the stranger; the child lying in bed and tears would stream down her face. “Hi Marcus! Do you recognize me?” She’d ask him. He would look at her, smile childishly and clap his hands meaninglessly. “Marcus, I am your girlfriend MG,” she would add, but nothing really captured his attention. The cognitive part of his brain had become almost irreparably damaged.

Mgbechi would hold her face in her hands and cry. She’d wipe her tears and look at him again with more tears streaming down. She would sit beside him on the bed; hold his hand and stroking it gently. She would bring pictures of the two of them together and some with their friends and show them to him. “This is Evelyn, my best friend. This is Daryl, my friend from high school. He was the one you got mad about on the night of the accident. This is Caitlyn. You have met her before…remember?” She wanted to defy medicine and science altogether. She hoped that somehow, there was something…someone left in there that would connect with her.

“Do you remember her?” She probed further as Marcus stared aimlessly at her. His eyes danced in all directions. He would open his mouth as though he had something to say, only for a slimy stream of saliva to gush out. She would wipe the saliva, go to the next room, lock herself in and cry. One afternoon, Marcus’s mother knocked on the door while she was crying in the room. “I know you are there Mgbechi. Please let me in,” she implored her. Mgbechi opened the door. Her eyes were red from prolonged crying. She hugged her and asked her to sit down. “I appreciate everything you have done for us MG. I know Marcus may not know what is going on but somehow, I like to believe that there is something in him that is thankful too. You have to go now. You are young and you still have your whole life ahead of you. You should go back to work and let us carry this burden. It is ours and not yours. Don’t think that we would be angry or that we would judge you if you left. You should carry on with your life, my daughter,” she urged her.

“I don’t know how to deal with the guilt. I feel like I would be letting him down if I left now. Like I am letting you and your family down too. He needs me now!” Mgbechi explained. “No, you have done enough. Are you going to keep at this for how long? You have a job to go back to. You have to let go. There is nothing left to save of the relationship. You have gone as far as you can. Please let go now!” When she got home that night, her parents told her the same thing as well as her siblings, and Evelyn, whom she talked to over the phone every day. “You are not a bad person MG. We all know that. I am sure if Marcus could say anything coherent, he’d ask you to leave now too,” Evelyn explained over the phone.

“Besides, you were going to leave him anyway. You had already made up your mind that night that it was over between the two of you. You are not turning your back on him. You have gone as far as you can go,” she pressed on. “But I didn’t get to tell him that. I did not officially end my relationship with him, so I feel like I owe him something.” “No you don’t MG. In case you are feeling guilty about the accident, it was not your fault. I was there. You did not drive him off in a mad rage. He chose to get angry over nothing and rode off like a thunderbolt traversing the skies. Let go, MG. You have a life of your own to think of,” Evelyn explained.

Despite what everyone told her, she still struggled with the idea of walking away from Marcus. She could not find the strength to do it. One afternoon, she got a call from her boss telling her that if she was not back at work in a week, she should consider herself fired. Yet, she could not find the courage to walk away. The next morning, she was taking care of Marcus. He fed him apple juice after his meal of yam and stew with fresh fish. One piece at a time, she made sure he had them all. She cleaned his mouth and nose afterwards. Then, she sat on the bed beside him, looking at him. She wanted to make things right again; to make him well. “It’s okayyy,” he mumbled. She turned swiftly and stared at him. “What did you say Marcus?” She asked excitedly.

Finally he had uttered a word since the accident. She bent over his mouth in a desperate attempt to hear him better. Her hands shook and her heart slammed against her rib cage with sheer force. “G-o n-o-w M-M-G,” he managed to say. His words were broken up. She had to think for a moment to make sense of what he had said. “I should go now?” She asked, staring intently at him. “Ye…ye-s,” he muttered. She stared at him through an ocean of tears. “If you understand me Marcus, blink your eyes for YES and keep them wide open for NO,” she said still crying. She took a paper towel and wiped her face and then wiped his mouth and nostrils with a towel. “Is it okay with you if I go?” She asked. Marcus blinked. More tears tore through her eyes descending her face like a flood breaching a dam.

“You will not be angry with me?” She asked. He blinked categorically again. “You see, I still loved you despite everything. That guy on the night of the accident, there was nothing between us. He is just a friend from high school. Do you understand?” He blinked yet again. “I am sorry for what happened to you. I would fix you if I had the powers. If I had one wish in the world now to ask for, it would be to make you whole again. I always loved you. Do you understand?” Another blink took over Marcus’s eyes for a moment. When he opened his eyes this time, there were specks of tear around them. Then, he made another difficult attempt at talking. “G-o MG! It okay,” he muttered barely making a full sentence.

Mgbechi held his hand for a moment and then she left them. She propped him up on the bed so she could hug him. She placed a pillow behind him for support and then wrapped her arms around him. “I will always be back to check on you Marc. I will never forget you. I will always love you, okay? I am very sorry for what happened to you, but only God knows why. He still loves you I believe, even though that may not make sense right now. Please don’t forget that.” She let go of him and looked him in the face and asked, “Do you understand me?” He blinked. She hugged him again. “I will see you soon. You are in safe hands with your mom. I will return to Cincinnati tomorrow.” He managed to move his hands to her waist in an attempt to hug her back. She noticed, so she raised his hands and wrapped them around her upper body while her hands held him. “Thanks for your understanding,” she added.

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - at a bar in Cleveland, Ohio, addressed by her native Igbo name, She ate Nigerian food, wore Nigerian outfits, born of an Igbo father and an Urhobo mother, with glasses of apple juice and beer, Cleveland, an old friend from high school, The cognitive part of his brain, officially end my relationship with him.
Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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