Night comes with its own perils and it is not a thing of joy to have someone aggravate your worries with suspense. Abuja is enough to trouble you all night. You are firm in your opinion that suspense is only valuable in fiction and even then, it is not something you are terribly fond of. You would much rather see a story grow organically than have a writer spring a trick on you or torture you with twists and turns. You can see how people like it though, how people are addicted to suspense- it is everywhere you turn, even shitty game shows make you wait until after an annoying commercial break to tell you if someone has the correct answer or not.
‘I need to discuss something with you,’ she had said, and added after a short pause, ‘when I come back from Lagos tomorrow.’
You remember telling her not to do this, not to tell you she had something to tell you unless she was ready to say it.
‘It messes me up,’ you told her, ‘I end up tossing and turning and wondering what it is all night.’
This time though you are sure it is something serious. You rack your head to think of anything you might have done wrong secretly. You scroll through your phone, wondering if she has seen a text message from your friend Ruth who calls you ‘my darling before the rest’ or from Pearl your ex-girlfriend whose drunken texts are always preceded by, ‘we were right for each other’.
None of them has texted you recently.
As you roll over, restless, hearing each tick of the clock like a church bell in your ear, you wonder if anything is worse than suspense.
When she walks in, you tease her about her two bags and handbag and listen as she explains why she needed all the items she took for a one-day trip to Lagos. The smaller bag for toiletries and underwear. The bigger one for clothes shoes and documents. The handbag because, well, she cannot go anywhere without a handbag.
She sighs and talks about how empty-headed the old members of the board of her company are. Especially the Board Chair who wouldn’t stop looking at her cleavage. He has a face like a bean seed, she says. You both laugh. You are waiting for her to settle down, stop talking about her trip and give you an opening.
She has just finished brushing her teeth when you ask what it is that she needed to talk about. She sits on the bed and asks you to sit.
‘Are you sure you want to talk about this now?’ she asks.
‘Of course,’ you reply trying not to sound too irritated.
She takes a deep breath.
‘Look, I understand if you react badly to this.’
Just say it goddamnit! you think.
‘Four months ago, two weeks after we had gotten back together again, I saw this guy. We had had a fling before and he was at a networking meeting and we had drinks and…’
Your throat is suddenly dry and it is painful when you try to swallow. You ask the only two questions that matter to you: ‘Are you still seeing the ex-presidents son?’ and ‘Why are you telling me now?’
She tells you she needed to start clean with you and get this off her chest. She says it happened only once and she has even taken him off her Facebook and Blackberry Messenger.
You sigh. You want to tell her that you really don’t care if she slept with some guy she no longer talks to. You want to ask her what value she thinks this has for you and tell her how selfish this sudden belated act of confession is. She may have gotten this thing off her chest, but she has dumped it on yours.
You shrug and say, ‘what’s past is past.’
Tears leave her eyes and travel down her face. She looks in your eyes for reservations. You mean it: what is truly past, should be left in the past. She hugs you, squeezing your chest which is now bloated with her sins.
She falls asleep on your chest, lighter after her confession. It is the confession and not the act - this is why she will lose you.