A DINNER WITH YOU
We sat on the high citadel, love engulfing us round about, candles lit, soft melodic music playing and taking us a little closer to heaven. The soft darkness, with the glimmer of sparkly white light told us how far we had come. We sat beside each other, eyes fixed and blazing white teeth that could hardly close. If I could have added an additional name to my parent-given name it would have been grin, Sharon Newman Grin. This was the most romantic evening ever. The spot light was on us. Heart thundering, stomach crunching, I could see the glitter in his eyes, the words caught in his throat as he struggled to voice them out. The waiter walked with the vintage wine I had ordered. My eyes most definitely wasn’t fixated on him, there was something much better that was the object of my gaze. He took my hands in his, and my heart thundered loudly, a thousand miles per heart beat. He still had this effect on me and I always wondered why. Why it had to be so perfect with him. Indeed I was glad that it was. He rubbed the back of my hands gently as he whispered, “will you…” and that was all of the question I heard.
I sat in the beautiful darkness of the inviting cold night, dumbfounded as I beheld the sweet tragedy that was unfolding before my eyes. If January 11, had announced its presence as the biggest day in my life, I would have laughed it to scorn. For here I sat side by side by my beloved, looking him in the eye, feeling the closeness and knowing that the time was now. His tuxedo and tie was absolutely breathtaking. My breath was taken away as we sat in the Palace lounge restaurant exclusively reserved for us. I was mesmerized as I recalled the take off of our relationship.
We were both young. We both had nothing; just a couple of sweet words to tell each other ever so often. At age 22 and 25, both jobless graduates, the idea of being together was as awful as the idea of chewing ‘garri’ and water to bed. After years of endless struggles, we finally saw a gleam of light open as Joey got his first employment in a multinational company. Soon after, things seemed to be turning around. My miracle worker began unfolding boxes of surprises like Father Christmas to us. Joey was promoted as the organizing officer and all our enemies were beginning to envy us.
Sitting beside him, I still remembered the endless prophecies of friends of mine spilling doom about Joey and me. I remember too well, how Miss Korkor, the apartment owner used to harass us for hostel money and the countless times we had to sneak in to the hostel when midnight struck to avoid her.
Now at age 29, being laughed at, about being the oldest spinster in town with many suitors at my doorstep, I’m glad I let it all pass for this moment. This moment when I longed to say the word “yes”.
Joey paused in the middle of his sentence to sip some wine. “1983”, the wine date read. I smiled. I watched how he gently corked open the wine bottle and gently filled my wine glass with that expensive aroma. I smiled as I took my glass and so did he also. We smiled as we clasped our wine glasses together with the word “cheers”.
He opened his mouth to talk and at the same time he choked upon the wine. He swallowed hard and tried again, yet he still coughed. Over and over again, he coughed. I waited for him to stop. For him to continue with the question but he coughed persistently. I panicked.
“Are you ok, love”? I queried.
He nodded but the cough continued. I got up, moved to his side, placed my hand at his back and begun to pat him but he still coughed; this time with traces of blood. I got scared. I wondered why he was coughing. I almost took to my heels to fetch for help but he held me, he whispered, helplessly and tiredly,
“I—want— to—- –finish—– my—- question.”
“What is wrong Joey” I pleaded, wanting to know the sudden change of event,
I could barely hear his last consonant. Christ! Hot sweat begun to break on my forehead.
“Please help me” I silently prayed.
He still coughed. I let go of his hand, I searched around for the waiter, but realized he had left post. The place had been specially booked for privacy. I searched for our phones but realized we had left it in the car.
“Let’s leave our phones in the car for no disturbances” he said.
I rushed to the door like a mad man but froze as he spoke my name and fell flat on the floor. I rushed to his side with the speed of lightening, touching his nearly cold forehead. I froze and whispered.
“You will be fine. You must be fine, Joey please, get up ”
I pleaded, I wailed, yet he remain cold. How I got to the street, I cannot remember. How I got up after being knocked down by a car, it remains a mystery to me. All I remember was Joey in a car on his way to the hospital.
I sat in the beautiful darkness of the inviting cold night as I stared at the cold lifeless body beaming with a smile at me. I sat on the floor, dejected hoping he would come lift me up like he always did, dance around with me, and promise me like he always did that we would be together forever. I heard the whisper of the doctor “cardiac arrest” but still stared on. It played like a repetitive tune of a song that I never wanted to end in my ears. It didn’t make sense. Nothing did. I stared at my Joey and refused to sway my eyes, no! Not for a second. I could not bear to break the connection, not now, not when we had finally come so close to having it all, not when I was to have him to myself, especially not when the “forever vows” haven’t been said. I slapped myself endlessly but felt nothing. I felt dead.
My heart broke as they lowered him in the casket with his favorite tuxedo on. My heart broke, as I couldn’t bring myself to lay his favorite tulip flower over his grave. My heart broke when I couldn’t shout It out to this mourners how much I loved this man or hated him for doing this to me. My heart is still breaking even as I write this knowing the separation of my spirit and body, a death caused too soon by the promise of a happy ever after.
When all I felt was despair, with no means of repair watching the moon fade like night in my face. If I could turn back the hands of time to repeat that special moment, I won’t hold back saying “yes”. A dinner with you once again my love is what I will still ask for in a thousand years.
By Adu Gertrude