Nonso tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for her friend to arrive. It was a nice, sunny day and she wished she had decided to sit outside until Sandra showed up. The rich smell of hot coffee filled her nostrils and she decided to order something while she waited. The coffeehouse hummed with energy as fellow coffee-drinkers sat at the small round tables, having conversations or busy with their iPads. She walked towards the counter and waited in line.
“I’ll have a skinny, decaf peppermint mocha”, the slender woman in front of her said.
“What size?” This from the overworked, harried barista who looked like she needed a cup of coffee herself.
Nonso waited her turn and ordered a tall, hot chocolate – none of that skinny stuff for me! She allowed herself few indulgences and Starbucks hot chocolate was one of them – even though she had to spend an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill the next day. It’s totally worth it, though, she thought as she sipped her drink.
The door swung open and she turned around for the hundredth time, hoping to see her friend’s familiar face and was indeed rewarded with the sight of Sandra hustling in, slightly out of breath. She rushed to the table where Nonso had been waiting.
“I’m so sorry, dear. I was all set to leave the house when Jimmy decided that he wanted to have fish peppersoup with his rice, instead of stew. I had to quickly rustle up something for him. Please, vex not.” Sandra explained hurriedly.
Nonso squeezed her face teasingly. “Oh, so you were late for our date because of some man, eh? Why did he choose today of all days to place a special order? Didn’t he know you had a very important meeting?”
Sandra smiled “Hmm, my dear, don’t mind him. In fact, I’ll reprimand him when I get home and ask him to call you and explain himself. Nonsense!”
They both giggled and Sandra went to the counter to order her drink. Nonso watched as she walked back with her drink in hand and a smile on her face. Sandra always seemed so at peace and content and her demeanor contrasted sharply with the internal struggle going on inside Nonso. She watched Sandra as she sipped her drink, wondering how much she could reveal. She needed to unload some of what she was carrying, but could she trust Sandra? They had known each other for a few years and had grown close during the past year. Still, she had never discussed details of her marriage with Sandra and she wondered if this was a good time to start. What would happen if…
“Penny for them.” Sandra’s voice interrupted.
Nonso started. “Oh, I’m not sure my thoughts are worth that much.”
Sandra looked at her friend for a minute and wondered what had happened to her. The first time she met Nonso, she had written her off as one of those perky, bubbly girls who thought about nothing but fashion, reality TV and money. Over time, Nonso had proven her wrong and had revealed a deeper, sensitive side to her personality. Still, she was perky and bubbly and always had a sparkle in her eye. But, in the last few months, that sparkle seemed to disappear. She knew Nonso had suffered a devastating blow a few months ago but she had hoped that time would make a difference and bring the light back to her eyes. Apparently not, she thought, as she took in her friend’s sad smile and dropped shoulders.
She reached across the table and grasped her friend’s hands. “Nonso, what’s the matter?”
Nonso took a deep breath and decided to go all in. I have nothing to lose anyway.
“I think Nnamdi and I are heading for a divorce. No, scratch that…I think I want a divorce.”
Sandra held back her surprise at Nonso’s bald statement. She had always thought Nonso and Nnamdi made a great couple – they seemed to complement each other pretty well: Nonso was bubbly, the life of the party and Nnamdi was quieter, reserved, the listener to Nonso’s talker. Still, appearances were deceptive and many couples that looked perfect on the outside were far from it behind closed doors.
“Okay…why do you want a divorce?”
Nonso sighed and looked away, avoiding Sandra’s keen gaze. She nervously twiddled her fingers and finally looked at Sandra.
“There are so many things…little things but when you put them together, it’s like ‘why stay married to this person?’ you know?”
Sandra nodded. She had witnessed quite a few failed marriages and they all started with something small that built up gradually, like a volcano waiting to erupt.
“You know what happened when…” Nonso stopped for a second and cleared her throat, trembling with emotion “…when I had the miscarriage” she continued. Sandra nodded.
“Well, he wasn’t there. He just left me to go through that by myself and he acted like it wasn’t a big deal. I mean, I know he was at work and all…but, he could have left it and come home. He should have known that I needed him.” Tears trickled down her face as she struggled to keep her composure.
“Well, what was his reason for not being there?” Sandra asked.
“Something to do with a very important meeting that had already been rescheduled twice. He was the Project Manager, so he couldn’t leave. He called me afterward, but it wasn’t the same”, Nonso waved her hand dismissively. What was a phone call compared to what she had been through?
A bitter smile curled her lips. “I always chuckle to myself when people say how kind and caring he is. If only they knew him the way I really do” Nonso scoffed.
Sandra bit her lip. She couldn’t imagine going through something like that on her own. Her husband had been present for the birth of each of their three children. She had never had a miscarriage, but if she had, she knew she would have wanted him to be there as well. Still, she knew that sometimes, things didn’t go as planned. She had seen the way Nnamdi looked at and treated his wife, and she didn’t think he would have done something like that on purpose. But, the look on Nonso’s face prevented her from saying anything in his defense.
“But, that’s not all” Nonso continued. “That was just the beginning – my first clue that he didn’t love me as much as I thought. Since then, it’s all gone downhill. There’s no intimacy with us anymore…not physically, per se, but emotionally. He comes home and just fades into his office, and I’m left to my own devices. He never does anything to help me around the house and he just spends all his free time playing on his computer or talking to his friends.”
Even as she poured out her heart, Nonso held herself tightly, as though to avoid unraveling completely. “What’s the point of being married, and living like I’m single?”
Nonso’s plaintive question cut Sandra to the heart. She knew from experience that marriages needed work to survive. She and Jimmy had their own share of arguments and misunderstandings, but in the end they always found a way to work things out. She opened her mouth to say just that but the waves of bitterness and resentment from Nonso were overwhelming. She prayed silently for wisdom. What could she say or do to stem the tide?
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Come back next week Sunday for the next installment of our new series “Dreams That Fade” and find out what happens next with Nonso and Nnamdi.
As always, thanks for reading!!