Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Very Short Story: The Betrayal

“The saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies.” - Anonymous
Photo: wrecked.org
I’m in the throes of a nervous breakdown. Seun, my husband of almost 15 years, died in a plane crash a week ago, but that’s not really the cause of my breakdown. The reason I’m utterly devastated is because of the mysterious letter I received 30 minutes ago.

Combing through the letters in my mailbox, a silver envelope without any stamps caught my eyes, and upon closer inspection, the writing on it resembled Seun’s, which immediately prompted my opening the envelope. Admittedly, it was a little bizarre receiving a letter from him, especially after his death, since we communicated only via email and phone calls.

Since the letter wasn’t dated I couldn’t discern when it was written, and from the lack of stamps I knew someone had dropped it in my mailbox. But that didn’t matter at this point in time, what mattered now was the letter’s content.

As I reread the letter, I couldn’t tell if my mind was playing tricks on me or whether someone was pulling a macabre April fool’s stunt on me. It was his handwriting and his signature no doubt, but I still couldn’t accept he’d written the letter. The letter’s content was too surreal for me to take in that I opted to go out for a jog in the pouring rain.

“Perhaps by the time I return home, the letter would make more sense, or better still cease to exist.” I mused. “Maybe this is all a horrible mistake and the letter was delivered to the wrong address.”

Or maybe I was just in denial.

I wore my running shoes and left for a jog. I needed to clear my head.

An hour later I returned home to find the letter still lying on the coffee table where I had left it. It finally hit me that I wasn’t dreaming. Walking slowly to my room I retrieved my cell phone, and then walked back to the living room to read the letter once more before making a phone call.

“Hello.” A lady’s voice came through at the other end of the receiver.

“Hi Chika”, I said in an uncharacteristic tone.

“How are you doing? I was going to pass by this evening to see how you are faring”.

“Listen, I need to ask you a couple of questions, and it’s very important that you tell me the truth.”

“You sound so serious. Are you sure you’re OK?”

“Yes, I--. I mean no. I’m not OK, which is why I need you to put me out of this misery by answering my questions truthfully.”

 “Did you have an affair with my husband?”

“Oh, come on, how dare you ask me such a question?! How dare you?” Chika retorted incredulously.

“Chika, please just answer the question. Yes or No. Did you have an affair with him?” I replied impatiently, but calmly.

There was an uncomfortable pause.

Marie, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for it to happen this way…”

“Chika, please save the explanations for another day; I just need a Yes or a No.” I spat out angrily.

“Yes, I did.”

“And how long did it last?”

“Marie, please don’t do this to yourself.”

“How long did you and Seun have an affair?” I asked coldly.

“Four years.”

“Ah, so am I right to presume both of you got together after he was transferred to your branch?” There was silence as Chika tried to suppress tears.

 “Chika, please answer the question.” I prodded while trying to maintain my composure.

“Yes.”

 “Is J’onn Seun’s son?

The question seemed to hit Chika in her solar plexus.

Again, there was another long silence.

“Look Marie, I don’t think we should talk about this right now. Your husband just passed away, and
I’m not sure you’re in the right state of mind to handle all this…”

“DAMN IT, CHIKA!! ANSWER THE FUCKING QUESTION!” I hollered. “You don’t care a fig about my state of mind, so don’t even for a second pretend you do.”

Startled by my unusual reaction, Chika responded in a somber whisper.

 “Yes.”

“So answer me this, because this doesn’t make sense anymore: When you informed me that you had undergone fertility treatment, you hadn’t. It was all a scheme you and Seun hatched to conceal the true identity of the father, wasn’t it?”

Taking a deep breath, I got up from my seat and sat on the floor.

“I cannot believe this.” I repeated like a mantra, half believing my reality was only a bad dream.

“I’m so sorry, Marie.” Chika muttered over and over again. “I didn’t mean to cause you so much pain, especially not at this point in time.”

Laughing wryly, I asked if it was she who had dropped the letter in my mailbox, she said she wasn’t; then I hung up the phone.

As I sat looking down at my wedding ring, tears began cascading down my cheeks uncontrollably. How could he have done this to me? Why would they choose to betray me this way? What did I do to deserve this? I asked myself rhetorically. I did everything he asked of me and provided moral support every step of the way. When his job required him to relocate from Rwanda to Angola, I quit my seven figure salary job and position as a senior financial analyst for a multinational consulting firm just so I could go with him. And this is how he chooses to thank me? By sending a posthumous apology letter?

And to think that Chika, who had been my best friend for 25 years, was involved in such a despicable act is an incredibly bitter pill for me to swallow.

When Chika informed me she was pregnant, I was very excited for her and went about helping her pick baby names. I even tried planning a baby shower, but she vehemently dissuaded me from doing so. What’s more, I was present for the birth of her son, and when I offered for me and Seun to be J’onn’s god-parents, she declined. At the time I was miffed, but now I understand why.

Still in shock I walked to the bathroom, and peeling off my wet clothes I stepped into the shower. After drying my body, I opened the bathroom cabinet frantically looking for the Valium my doctor had prescribed four years earlier. When I didn’t find it there, I walked to the bedroom frantically searching all drawers until I found them. Although they had expired, I was determined to make them potent. I took a bottle of Brandy from the bar, filled a mug with it and walked back to the bedroom. As I sat on my bed crying inconsolably, with the mug in one hand and Valium pills in the other, I caught my reflection in the mirror.

Then the doorbell rings…