Love for Me
Stephanie Odili
Illustration of hand over chest

Love for Me

Stephanie Odili

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  • Fiction
Narrated by

Winston had a habit of waking me up without words. Two mornings ago, I awoke to the aroma of mid-toasted bread with corned beef and fried eggs. It was enough sensation for my brain, and in no time I was awake. Yesterday morning, it was the curtains. From my closed eyes, fetus-shaped sleep position, and lucidness, I felt the heavens open its door before me, or so I thought. It turned out to be Winston waking me up with the beautiful morning sunlight. This morning, I think it was the sex. But I do not recall, my mother’s horn had made more of an impact on me. I remember the sound of that horn so vividly; I think it’s impossible to erase memories from twenty-four years of your life so quickly. Like Winston, my mother had found a way to wake me up with no words. Stretching was a luxury, and so was drinking water. None of my morning rituals could be completed because of how anxious her horn made me. We never got along. She hated my guts, the idea that I was a defiant adult who would disobey her and date the kind of man she could not stand—people who were not earning 6 figures. I thought her impossible; constantly craving and obsessing over the need to control me. I moved out of her house after twenty four years, just two weeks ago really. She had somehow found me here. I hurried to the closet and grabbed the longest robe I could find. Winston was in the kitchen— probably preparing one of his non verbal alarms—but I rushed past him and towards the door. I opened it and saw my mother standing behind with the most disappointed face. Her moon shaped eyes, ever bold and glistering was now nothing more than a black stone found in an earthquake rubble. She looked worn out, like someone who had lost a war.

“Morning mama. What are you doing here?” I broke the four second silence, hoping it’ll end the long stares and internal judgements. She attempted to speak, and instead, broke down into tears. I wish I’d never asked her that question. I meant it as a thing of wonder, and not because I didn't want her here. I really didn't want her here, but I didn't want her to know or feel that. Winston by now was approaching the door. I could hear his loud flip flop steps, steadily increasing as he drew closer. I quickly came outside of the house and shut him in, hoping he’ll see from the window that this wasn't a guest who’d like to see him.

“Why are you doing this to me Sam? Do you have no more regards for me?” She said amidst sobs.

‘Mum, it’s too early for this. I left your home to be away from this. How have you found me, and the first thing you do is nag me? Come on mum” I replied slowly yet sternly.

No one said another word for what seemed like minutes. Then Winston opened the door, greeting my mum. Thinking he’d know better than to come outside, I was shocked to see that this might have been a better plan. My mum immediately stopped crying and presented him with a face of coldness.

“Sam, meet me in the car, I want to show you something.”

Winston kissed my cheek and walked in, the kiss drove my mum quicker to the car and I stood on the porch wondering when there might be peace.

My mum opened the door for me, and as I sat, she started the car immediately, looking ahead and laying down the rules of our conversation.

“I won’t take you too far away, I just want to show you something, we’ll have a little discussion and I’ll bring you back. You do not need to say anything if you don’t have anything nice to say. Just listen.”

I guess she meant she didn't want me saying anything at all, because when I tried to answer, she turned in the opposite direction, and raised her palm up, as if to shut me up. She drove to a park nearby and parked opposite the local food shack where visitors bought food if they didn't pack any. She pointed at it and began her story.

“You see that man and his wife, they work very hard each day to make a couple dollars which they use to pay the rent, eat and train their only child through college."

“That man and I were blindly in love with each other many, many years ago”. She said after a few seconds of silence. I was utterly astonished.

“We were so full of it, unable to listen to anyone or anything. My father was a legislator, and my mother a professor, yet, I fell in love with a college dropout who had fleeting dreams of having a restaurant franchise as big as KFCs. In my eyes, he was everything, and we were going to make life our own. I’d sneak out of my room at night and go to his house a few blocks away, and we’d make love like there was no tomorrow. Until one day my father found out and had him arrested. My life was torn apart. Nothing would ever be the same for me again until I met your dad.”

At this point, my mum is sobbing again and I want to hold her. I see that she needs to be consoled, but we’ve never hugged, at least not since graduation. So, I sat facing her, as she talked through her teeth. Wiping her tears and fiddling with her wedding ring.

“I love your father, God knows I do. I know you see us and think we don’t care for each other but we do. I imagine daily what my life would have been with this man, had I eloped with him and gotten married. And now I see it. I’ll be washing plates after customers in a very small park shack. But your father has given you and I everything we could ever need. And this is my fear for you Samantha. Do not be carried away by love that you make a mistake. I want you to think about tomorrow before making a decision. I love you Sam, and I know you’re an adult now, but please, do your children a favour by giving them a good life. Marry someone you love, but make sure it's worth your while forever. I’ll take you home now. I have a long drive back to the house. Your father’s siblings are coming over today.”

The drive home was very quiet. Neither of us spoke any words to each other. When she dropped me in front of Winston’s house, she didn't come down with me. I figured she was being herself, always avoiding goodbyes.

“Thank you mum for sharing that personal story with me, I never knew all about that. Winston loves me, he’s comfortable and he has dreams for his and our lives. I am not making a mistake mum, trust me.”

She forced a smile and drove away. I wondered whether I should have told her that Winston and I were already engaged.

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Stephanie Odili

Stephanie is a professional writer and editor.

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