Wednesday, 1 February 2012
The Second Coming
The bedroom curtains were open.
Naa Abia did not know how long she lay there until sunlight flooded the room. Through the open window she could see the blue sky, mocking in its brilliance; she could make out the sound of children walking to school, of travellers in a hurry to get to the stations, their shoes click-clacking on the pavement with a rhythmic beat that immensely irritated her. But she heard it all faintly, as though from a great distance.
It was a beautiful morning. The sun's rays cast a playful shadow through the haphazardly parted curtains, but it was in stark contrast to the despair that overwhelmed her and brought tears to her eyes.
She heard the bedroom door creak inwards. Moses was home.
She wanted to turn and smile a greeting, to ask if he wanted breakfast. But she felt a heaviness weighing her down, pinning her so that the very thought exhausted her. She shrunk into the bed more.
It was hard. Seeing him brought it all back with a vividness that gripped her heart tightly until, gasping and heaving with the pain of it, she thought she might die altogether.
Naa Abia remembered well; sitting, waiting, listening for the sound of the doorbell – but it was only in the instant she saw the look on Moses' face that she knew all there was to know.
'Baby…' It had almost been an anguished, agonising plea. The pain on his face was indescribable.
Her body went rigid with shock. And then abruptly she turned and wordlessly climbed the stairs to their bedroom. She was trying to remember how many clean underwear Moses had. She hadn't had a chance to sort out the laundry since arriving from a work trip in Geneva that morning.
When she reached the bedroom, she opened the drawers and took out fresh underwear and laid them on the bed. She remembered pausing to look down at them. She remembered the sun. She remembered it casting a warm glow on those Calvin Klein trunks. They were gloriously white.
There was a lump in her throat, but her eyes remained tearless.
'Moses –' She whispered brokenly.
But he was there, folding her powerfully, gently, in his arms with aching tenderness, and she knew she had her husband back. She felt the energy vibrating between them with an overpowering force that neither could fight against.
He released her and locked the door. She stumbled towards him as he came to her and softly kissed the tears that had been silently falling. And then with a softness that belied the white-hot grievous rage coursing through them, he held her and slowly began to make love to her.
It seemed the obvious natural thing to do. It was their passionate, unbridled attempt to defy death by celebrating life.
Max was dead. Their beautiful little son had fallen to his death at school.
She felt a pain so intense that for a while she was incapable of imagining life without it.
Afterwards, she began to cry. Deep, wracking sobs shook her as she wept for the seven year old boy they would never see grow; for the impudent coal eyes that could go from mischievous to teary in one cutely manipulating blink; the gummy smile that had the power to melt her heart as soon as it was switched on. She wept for his three year old sister, Rosie, who in one knife-twisting moment had lost the big brother she hero-worshipped…
The tears fell till she thought there would be none. And still there was more. But Moses was there, her best friend and rock.
She'd had an unsettling feeling. There had been a pressing need to be home with her babies, so that by the time morning came, she'd already decided to fly out of Geneva and be home in time to say bye before their father whisked them off to school.
She'd dismissed her fears after speaking to them the night before. But the next morning she'd sat uneasily in the work conference. Until half past eight, when, unable to bear it any longer, she'd shot through the crowd of attendees networking over coffee, breathless and gripped with a sense of impending pain.
And suddenly, without knowing why, she was running for a taxi; running into the airport as fast as her legs could carry her. She was running through the security checkpoint, and the official was asking her to take her laptop out of her bag, and she was looking at him with fearful eyes that were already filling with tears and she was begging, 'Please hurry up, I've got to get home to my baby…'
She wasn't to know that at that very moment, Moses was being called to the school…
So much mischief, so much charm, so much intelligence – all obliterated in one heart-wrenching swoop. Naa Abia was lost; caught up in a terrible abyss of suffocating, inconsolable grief, gripped by visions of a slow, torturous suicide.
The door closed quietly as she heard his soft footfalls approaching the bed.
'Baby, are you awake?'
She felt the bed tilt a little as he sat down heavily, and gently placed a kiss on the side of her neck. He slipped a hand under the covers and gave her shoulder a warm squeeze.
Naa Abia sniffled. 'Yes…' She paused, unable to keep the tremor out of her voice. 'Did Rosie get in alright?'
Moses regarded her with understanding eyes. 'She's fine.' He took her hand in his. 'Listen to me – 'He began
'Shh…' Naa Abia nodded. It had been nine weeks and two days.
The days immediately after had been a blur. Moses wanted to hold her and console her, but Naa Abia had withdrawn to her room. His sister, Aba, had temporarily moved in with them to manage the household, but it was in shambles. The relatives and friends who visited moved in a daze of unbelief, as mindless as lost sheep. And Moses, caught in his own private hell, was shattered by this new evidence that without Naa Abia the house fell apart.
He sat Rosie on his laps and told her how her brother had gone up to heaven to watch over her. Even now he felt the corners of his lips lift in a bittersweet smile at her response: 'Okay, Pappy. Chocolate!' she'd opened her palms, revealing a mushed up chocolate bar which she proffered up generously. He kissed the top of her head. She was too young to understand.
Naa Abia turned and faced him. He met her searching eyes and held it.
'Thank you,' she whispered at last. And then almost girlishly she said, 'I've something to tell you...'
He held her hand tighter. 'I know. I know.' He said softly, 'It's extraordinary. I wonder when – '
'The day Max died. It's the only date that makes sense.'
He leaned down and kissed her slowly, exactly how he wanted to. She teased him sweetly, shyly, with her tongue, and he was reminded of the woman he had fallen for eight years ago. She had a strong streak of modesty and a natural enthusiasm for closeness, but there was a certain reluctance to let herself go, in a way that intoxicated him.
She broke off the kiss, and regarded him with playful, suspicious eyes. 'How did you know?'
His smile was enigmatic. 'I know your body quite well, m'lady,' he deadpanned.
I seem to have missed again this month, but it's probably down to grief and stress. The other day I had the oddest craving for beer and ginger. It used to be one of the weirder cravings I had when I was pregnant with Max and Rosie…
And then two days later: I'm pregnant!
It had been such a lucky find, that journal under the bed. But it was probably not a good idea to mention it now...
Moses looked at his wife and smiled.