David, Julie and Diane share different spaces in one another’s lives, yet their worlds collide on an axis none of them saw coming.
My friend Tracy was already at our agreed meeting place when I arrived, sitting at a corner table, looking fresh and elegant in a sky blue trouser suit that looked like it had come from one of her stores.
While I dressed pretty smartly myself, today even my smart office suit could not disguise the harried, exhausted look in my eyes, or the faint stress lines I had started to notice of late. To her credit though, if Tracy noticed that I was looking less than my best, she gave no sign as she greeted me with a warm, broad smile.
“Diane! It’s lovely to see you again.”
“Same here; you’re looking lovely as usual,” I said with a two-cheek air kiss.
“Thank you, dear,” she said, then motioning to the free chair opposite hers: “Sit and tell me what you’ve been up to all this time; how’s the family?”
“They’re good, thanks; the kids are on holiday now, so they are turning the house upside down, and David is working as hard as usual. He’s actually away at a conference at the moment.” “That’s nice to hear; and you? How are you doing?”
I sighed and paused for a second before answering honestly: “Not so good, I’m afraid; that’s actually why I needed to see you.”
“Oh no; what’s wrong?” she asked with what appeared to be genuine concern. “The bank is going to offer me a transfer upcountry, and since I obviously can’t take it, I’m about to be out of a job. The truth is I’ve been slacking off on the work front; I had a home situation where I was without a maid for a couple of days, then Daniel was sick, and David was acting up, so I had to take some time off, and I think they just got tired of my problems,” I explained with a matter-of-fact shrug.
“Oh dear, I’m sorry; but I’m sure you can easily get another job,” she said encouragingly.
“It’s not that easy these days; there are a lot of young people out there joining the sector, and without the familial problems and obligations that us the older ones have, they are a better option for employers. Add to this the fact that the higher you go, the fewer positions there are available, and it becomes a pretty grim picture overall. Besides, I don’t want to go moving up and down with application letters - I mean, can you imagine the shame of it! I just don’t know what to do.”
David was coming out of the convenience store at the petrol station, his hands laden with two large shopping bags, when I arrived, and I hurried forward to help him with them so he could open the car.
“What’s all this?” I asked laughingly.
“Some snacks and drinks for the trip,” he explained as he retrieved the bags from me and put them in the backseat, before turning back to me and taking me in a quick hug. “It’s so good to see you; you have no idea how glad I am that you could make it.”
“So am I; I’m going to owe Mark big time for this one, but I’m so excited, I know it’s going to be worth it.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, I’ll make sure it’s worth it,” he promised confidently, a naughty twinkle in his eyes, which had me blushing.
“Well, we should get going then so you can show me,” I teased back.
“I can’t wait,” he smiled, then opened the passenger door for me and waited till I was in, to go round to his side, and minutes later, we were off.
I can’t remember the last time I was as happy as I was during that road trip to Murchison Falls national park with Julie. Her unmasked joy and awe at all the beautiful sights and landmarks reminded me of how beautiful the simple things in life really are.
I had wanted to kiss her from the minute she arrived at the petrol station looking fresh and excited, but considering where we were, I held myself back. Even though she probably did not notice it, I spent most of our lunch break staring at her lips, and once we got to the car to leave, I could not hold myself back any longer; so, I kissed her.
There was no mistaking that my growing attraction to Julie was not one-sided. We arrived at the park lodge a little after nine. The office had made my reservation, and I had made Julie’s; so, it made sense that I sign us in.
“Hi, we have reservations, David Mujuni and Julie Kiwanuka, here for the conference,” I confidently stated to the receptionist. I had used my actual name and place of employment, but changed Julie’s surname and made her place of employment the same as mine. The idea was to give the park the impression we were colleagues, while covering Julie’s tracks.
To see me take such precautions, one would think I was some sort of expert cheat, but the truth was I had never cheated on Diane. Yet here I was covering Julie’s tracks like a pro, and I knew my faithful run was coming to an end.