“Hey Babe, how’re you? Have you knocked off?” Cynthia asked.
I checked the time and it was ten minutes past 5 O’clock.
“Nah, I should knock off in a bit. You nko?”
“I’m just about to head out. I got dragged into a last-minute meeting that was thankfully short.”
“Good stuff. I’ll let you know when I leave the office. What will you be having for dinner?” I asked her.
“I honestly don’t know,” there was weariness in her voice. “It depends on how I feel when I get home. This week has been stressful.”
“Pele. Sha eat something, and let me know when you get home.”
“Okay, babe. Meanwhile, when are you back?”
I spent the last few weeks wondering if I was being punished for going on leave.
Our client base was growing at work and with it the volume of work that needed doing. In addition, two of my colleagues scheduled their leave to coincide with the weekend I was supposed to go home so I had to stay back in PH for six weeks.
For two weeks now my conversations with Cynthia were incomplete without a question about when I could come home. She understood that I had no control over my absence, but it didn’t stop her asking.
I sat there massaging my temple, looking at my computer and not seeing anything.
“Soon babe,” I said. “I should know for sure by tomorrow.”
“Alright babe, let me know as soon as you know. I love you.”
“So you tell me.”
“You’re out of control.”
We both laughed and I hung up, thinking about how I couldn’t even tell her I was back from work before other details poured out of my mouth.
I stretched my neck and massaged it, and then got up from the floor with a grunt.
I went the kitchen to check that everything was fine: the rice was cooking nicely, the sauce simmered on the stove and turkey was grilling in the oven. I walked to the fridge to check the wines – there was a bottle of white and one of rose. As I shut the door I felt a twinge of guilt.
When was the last time I cooked for Cynthia? I should do so more often.
I was beginning to worry that I had gone through all this for nothing when I heard a car pull up outside. I went to look out the window, my heart racing. She had come. My heart raced even faster.
I looked round and wondered if I overdid it. The house was in darkness and in one corner I had laid out a blanket with a LED lamp in the middle providing the only light. Further away in the shadows was a bottle of massage oil, a folded towel and my Bluetooth speaker.
I decided it was too late to change anything when I heard the key turn in the lock. I heard the familiar creak of the hinge I always said I would oil. I was standing behind the by the time it swung fully open, and I stepped out from behind it to catch the hand I knew would be reaching for the light switch.
Cynthia yelped and ducked.
“Hey babe,” I said grinning and fell on my knees to join her on the floor at the entrance where she was still trying to collect herself.
“I hate you Bobo,” she finally managed.
I gathered her into my arms and kissed her hair.
After dinner and the massage she clearly needed, I lay down with her on the towel.
“I wanted badly to surprise you and that was why I rushed you off the phone then. I was afraid I might say something to give me away.”
“I’m just happy you are home,” she said.
“Me too,” and I meant it.
“But what if I had come home with my boyfriend?”
“I would have excused you and gone out. Shebi I was the one that wasn’t supposed to be home?” I said. “But then I would call and tell you I was on my way home, and then you would have to discharge him.”
“You’re not a serious somebody.” She rolled off the towel.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
She didn’t respond and I just lay there watching her leave and liking what I saw.
She came back and sat down beside me. It took me a few seconds to realise she was holding something out to me. I looked from the sachet in her hand to her face. I didn’t need to take it to realise what it was. I sat up.
“Are you… you mean… is this… when did…”
“Yup, it is. I am… we are pregnant. I did the pee stick test on Monday, and the blood test yesterday.”
“And you didn’t tell me?” I asked
“You’re not the only one who can keep a secret.”
“I love you.”