(Continued from last issue)
David and Diane have been married for years; then there is Julie, the young secretary whose axis collides with the couple’s in ways none of them saw coming.
David sent me a text the following afternoon, confirming that he would be passing by that evening, and although I had already been expecting him, his confirmatory message increased the pressure on my preparations for his arrival.
Knowing how much he appreciated a good meal, I planned to cook a literal buffet with a chicken curry, rice, a vegetable stew, matooke, salad and greens. In addition to the cooking, the flat was a mess and needed to be cleaned from top to bottom if it were to pass David’s critical eye.
After my flare-up with Sandra the previous evening, I was not prepared to ask for her help; so, I was running around, trying to multi-task through the chores, while keeping Junior happy for most of the day.
Thankfully, by the time David sent a text at five thirty saying he was leaving the office and on his way, everything was done and all that was left was for me to jump into the bathroom, freshen up and change before he arrived.
It had always been important to me to not just have the apartment perfect when he came by, but to have myself looking fresh and pretty for him too. I knew that many women stopped paying attention to their appearance once they had gotten the man, and I was determined that I would not make that mistake.
Although I certainly had not gone out of my way to ‘trap’ David, he took good care of Junior and I, and I knew I would be a fool not to do everything I could to keep him. For me, that meant keeping the apartment spic and span, so it would be a place he wanted to come to; keeping myself looking my best, so that he remained attracted to me; making his time at the apartment as pleasurable as I could.
So far, I appeared to be succeeding. I intended to keep it that way.
The first thing that hit me when I walked into the apartment that evening was the aroma of something spicy and delicious wafting out of the kitchen.
“This place smells incredible,” I greeted Julie with a kiss as she came into the living room.
“I hope you’re hungry, I made your favourites,” she smiled.
“What’s the occasion?”
“Nothing; I just missed you and wanted to cook you something nice.”
“If this is what happens when you miss me, I should make you miss me more,” I laughed teasingly.
The truth, however, was that this was what every man wanted to walk into at the end of a long day at work – the aroma of a good meal being prepared, and the welcoming warmth of a beautiful woman happy to see you.
Unbidden, the thought came to mind that her warm welcome was in stark contrast to Diane’s cold, icy one.
“Come and sit down; food is ready, but if you like, I could get you some juice or coffee first.”
“A cup of coffee sounds good, thanks; I’ll just go wash my hands first,” I excused myself and headed for the bedroom, while Julie moved on to the kitchen.
I returned to the living room as she came back with the coffee, and setting down the tray, she sat down beside me. We chatted casually about our days for a while, until Junior who had been napping woke up, and I took over his care while Julie went to the kitchen to serve dinner.
I had not seen Sandra around, and when I asked Julie about her, she dismissively answered that she was in her room in a tone that suggested there was some friction between the sisters.
Not wanting to pry, I let the matter drop; tension between relatives was a given when they spent too long in each other’s homes, which was why it was just as well that Diane’s mother was returning to her own home today.
Dinner was a feast; Julie had gone over and above with the cooking to the point where I began to suspect she had something up her sleeve that she was buttering me up for; a request of some sort, but by a little after nine when I stood up to leave, she had not raised anything and I was ashamed of my earlier suspicions.
It was yet again another reminder of the stark differences between her and Diane; Diane always seemed to have an ulterior motive for anything she did, while Julie had proven time and again that she did not, and her selflessness and eagerness to please were definitely two of her most attractive traits.
After the fiasco at dinner, David and I did not speak for the rest of the night. Daniel was the most sensitive of our children, and he was deeply upset not just by his father’s reaction to him, but the resultant argument between David and myself; so, I stayed with him trying to comfort and reassure him until he fell asleep.
When I returned to our room, David was asleep - or pretending to be – and the next morning, he left before I got up. Other than Daniel, the other person particularly disturbed by the argument between David and I, was my mother.
David had just left for work when she came and knocked at our bedroom door; I knew she had come to discuss my fight with David which I was not particularly in the mood to do, but I, nonetheless, sighed and called for her to come in.
“How was your night?” she began innocently.
“Good; I was worried you and David were going to continue your argument up here,” she got straight to it.
I did not respond to that; so, she went on:
“You know, it’s normal for couples to disagree and argue, but you should never do so in front of the children. They are kids and they don’t need the pressure of your adult problems.”
“If you know, then why did you do it? Moreover, you did it to contradict David in front of his son! As parents you should always present a united front to your children.”
“So, in other words, you think it was my fault!” I retorted defensively.
“I didn’t say that; David might have been wrong, but you should have told him that when you were alone with him, not with the kids there.”
“Fine, noted! Now, can we drop it?”
“I was just trying to give you some advice.”
“When I need some, I’ll ask,” I snapped back.
She inhaled sharply at my rude response and for a moment was too shocked to say anything, but then gathering herself, answered: “Alright, next time I’ll keep my thoughts to myself and not say anything.”
I knew I should apologize. It was the right thing to do, but I was a grown woman who was too old to be lectured by her mother, so instead I nodded curtly: “Thank you; I’ll appreciate that.”
Her eyes narrowed, and without another word, she turned on her heel and walked out of the room.