I’m sorry I’m late, please forgive me. Thanks to all those that reached out last week. My laptop is fine and I bought a new charger. It’s just other appliances in the house that packed up because of this electrical-wiring drama. They are tearing things down, rewiring the house as I speak. Anyway, enough about me there are people out there with real problems. So, whatever you are going through, I hope you have reason to smile this week. Enjoy the latest episode of ‘Say you go Siddon’ for Here. Thank you.
Catch up on previous episodes of “Say You Will Stay” HERE
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Isio did not tell Obinna she had been discharged from the hospital. She didn’t tell him either that she was going to Ribble with Kanyin and Austin who had decided to spend the festive period with Kanyin’s family.
The last time she saw him, his neck carried his head like it was a weighty load on his neck. It was the day after she told him about the baby. The day he told her what she expected to hear. “I’m not walking away.”
When she went to see Annabel, he wasn’t there. Kelly was rearranging books and magazines on the table.
“She is asleep.” Kelly did not take her eyes off what she was doing.
Isio shifted from one foot to the other. The books and magazines were familiar to her. Annabel carried a few at a time with her when Isio first started looking after her grandmother.
“I like reading,” Annabel said when she asked her why she carried books and magazines with her everywhere. “I like to know what’s out there. Although Daddy says I’m not too young to plan for my future.” She was reading a university brochure and even though she had downloaded the online version, she said the pages of the bulky brochure were easier to read.
Kelly fussed around the books and magazines as if she knew how important they were to her daughter. Her face showed no expression when she glanced briefly at Isio before going to stand by her daughter’s bed. “She is going to be fine. James and I will look after her.”
“I’m sure you will.” She had risen from the hospital chair beside the bed. Careful to avoid looking at the girl’s puffy face. At her dry lips, the drip stand beside her and the sats monitor.
“You don’t have to worry about her. I will tell her, you came.”
“Thanks.” She had glanced at her watch. “I need to go, actually. My friend will be waiting.”
She found herself explaining quickly that her friend was waiting for her. That he was desperate to get home. This wasn’t true. Before Austin picked up her bags and took them to the lift, conversationally, he had informed her he didn’t have to go back to work.
“Do you know about our son that died?” Kelly asked.
Her mannerisms and intonations were flawless. Just like her long hair, glossy skin and oval face. It amazed her that Obinna had gone from someone as beautiful as Kelly to her. Someone who did not have scars on her body.
“He looked like his father.”
“I’m sorry about your son.” She didn’t think it was right to tell her Obinna had left nothing out about his life.
“I know, I haven’t been very nice to you. I deserve everything that is happening to my daughter.”
“No one deserves this.”
“I do,” Kelly’s eyes were focused outside. It had started to snow. Light snowflakes that melted when they hit the ground. “This is my chance to make it up to my family now.” She held her gaze firmly. “James said you lost the baby, so you know how it feels. I have lost a child. I don’t want to lose another one. Let me be a mother to Annabel.”
Perhaps it was because she was angry Obinna told Kelly about the baby or because she reduced her to someone that had taken over her family, she did not feel the need to be kind.
“I didn’t take your family from you, Kelly. You walked away.”
“I didn’t just walk away,” she appeared to be struggling not to shout. “James and his family were a pain. Don’t be fooled by the honeymoon stage. The guy is stubborn, he will only do what he wants.”
What Isio wasn’t fooled about was what the woman had not said. That she loved Obinna. Her eyes widened whenever she pronounced James. The hand on her chest spread out flatter.
“But I need to be here for our daughter. Even the doctors said she needs me.”
“It’s your time to walk away. Do the decent thing.”
“He won’t let me go. He wants us to try for another baby. So, don’t blame me. It’s nothing to do with me.” Leaving it at that, she had hurried out. Noting that Kelly’s face was no longer forcibly blank. She took brisk steps to the lift.
She picked up her American Journal of Nursing from under the table. She had planned to take it with her to Ribble. Hoping it would help her decide what route to explore with her career.
It didn’t help her. She started to think of Obinna and his family again. Annabel, especially. She was reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm when Isio started nursing her grandmother.
And whenever she left the room to check on her grandmother, she would find her stuck on the same page.
“It’s okay to be scared.” She said one afternoon, tired of seeing the girl fiddling with notepads and books. Battering her iPad. She had gone to sit with her. It had been easy because those days Annabel looked at her with friendlier eyes.
That evening, they stayed with her grandmother in her bedroom. A tame smile appeared on Annabel’s face and as she chatted with her grandmother about her father’s obsession with work, it grew wider.
That evening was the first time Isio heard her father’s voice. This was why everything from that day stayed with her.
He had called his daughter from outside the country and his voice had been thick with worry for his mother. It was assertive when he told her not to call him Mr Okadigbo.
“We are friends,” he said as their conversation continued. “My girls tell me you are wonderful, so we should definitely be friends.”
She had giggled, fidgeting with her hair and the plastic apron she wore when Mrs Okadigbo was at her weakest.
“Thanks darling. And apologies about my brother. Apologies in advance. We tried to leave him back home but no one wanted him at theirs. Even our father dodged the bullet.”
“It’s fine,” she had continued giggling, looping a plait from her head round a finger. “Mummy and your princess are so nice to me.”
“I will remind you that you said that.”
That night, in the shower she had thought of him and that voice. She wanted to meet him. She wanted to be his friend.
She was researching career options for nurses when Obinna arrived. He put the groceries and take-away chicken he bought in the kitchen. He asked about Biba, who had not come back since she left in a taxi yesterday evening. She answered in half sentences and would have continued to be fine with his presence if he didn’t pass her the engagement ring and a certificate of Aspire Development shares.
“You don’t seem to be listening,” she placed the cup she wanted to serve his drink with down and sighed. A long sigh. “Your family needs you. I’m letting you go because I’m tired.”
She left him in the kitchen. When he came out, he was holding two glass cups. One for her. It contained the cranberry juice his mother recommended. He had served himself sweet pineapple juice. He drank this whenever he came round. But it had surprised her that he bought a pack of this with her grocery shopping.
“Here sweetie,” he placed her drink on the table in front of her. “Mama said it will help you flush out everything.”
“She said she called you.”
“I got her message,” she picked at her nails. At the fuchsia nail polish that had been applied on the day of the party. It had started to peel off at the hospital.
“Ifeanyi sends his love as well.”
“I have left the ring in the kitchen. I know you are not ready to put it back on.”
“I’m not putting it back on, full stop…”
“Technically the ring belongs to you. Even if you don’t want me again. The shares are yours too.”
“I don’t want shares in your company. I don’t want shares that I didn’t buy.”
“I have left the shares’ certificate and ring in the kitchen.” He paused and stared at her like someone lost. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make things better.”
You called me a gold digger. She wanted to scream at him. You made me feel like I’m trash. Just because you lived a better life than me. Just because you come from a better background than me.
“I can’t see you anymore,” she said instead. “You have to sort your life out. I have to be a better daughter to my mother. A better sister to Lohor. I want to go back to the university…”
“You can do all that in my house.”
“Whilst your wife is coming every day to beat me up?”
“She is not my wife,” he raised his voice.
This startled her. He rarely raised his voice. He placed his cup on the table, stood up and went to stand by the window. None of them spoke for a while.
Her stomach started to hurt. She thought about the hot water bottle Kanyin brought over this morning before she left for her hospital appointment and decided to go and get it in the kitchen. She would fill it up and lie on her bed.
“You need to go, your daughter needs you.”
“You care about my daughter now, do you?”
She stared at him because she didn’t understand why he was now frowning.
“You left the hospital without even bothering to see her.” He stopped abruptly. “Okay, I get it. You are angry with me. But I don’t believe you don’t love me anymore. People don’t fall out of love like that.”
“They can.” She folded her arms across her chest.”If the love wasn’t strong in the first place.” She kept going, ignoring the expression on his face. “Maybe I was attracted to you because I needed a father figure in my life. I don’t know. All I know is, I’m not in love with you. This is not what love feels like.”
“Fine.” He stood there for a while as if he expected her to say she had changed her mind. Then like someone who had to do something, he came towards her, kissed her forehead and hurried out of the apartment.
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