Posted in Contemporary, Life commentary, Short story

Not anymore

Not anymore

© Folakemi Emem-Akpan

 

I stepped into the cool foyer, relieved to be home after a very long day of negotiations and tantrums. I could hear the faint whisper of a TV set, the dull roar of a toilet flushing, and Melinda’s snores.

 

These were the sounds of home, the sounds that I loved so much it made my heart ache. In the living room, George was multitasking as usual, watching the TV, facebooking, doing his homework. He waved to me from his seat and went back to his chores.

 

My heart froze inside of me, like it did every night. There was a time he’d be flying across the room, a time when he would entwine his skinny arms around my neck and pepper my face with sweet little kisses. Not anymore.

 

In the hallway, I cracked open the door to Melinda’s room. She was fast asleep, curled in the fetal position, her mouth slightly open, the room awash with the pings and pongs of her snoring. There was a time she’d stay awake till I returned from work, her hair smelling of fruity shampoo, her mouth of toothpaste. The smell of girly innocence. Not anymore.

 

In our room, my wife came out of the bathroom when she heard the door. Her face was scrubbed clean of make-up, her hair pulled back into a ponytail, her body in a modest nightie. In the past, she would be wearing fresh make-up, would be wearing a see-through negligee, would be waiting with a chilled glass of wine. Not anymore.

 

The sad truth I had to live with was that it was all my fault.

 

“Hi there.” Betsy reached up on her tippy toes and planted a chaste kiss on my cheek. I wanted to hold her close, to lose myself in her, to be one with her as before. Instead, I replied with a hi of my own and dropped my suitcase on the floor. As I loosened my tie, she told me my dinner was sitting in the oven, could she warm it up for me?

 

Betsy still did all the things a wife should, only that they were now empty chores. She cooked, she cleaned, she listened when I spoke, and we still had a sex life albeit a sporadic one. Everything was there. Everything but joy.

 

I couldn’t remember when the process started, but it must have been when I got the promotion three years ago. I was working hard, then harder, then hardest than I had ever done in my lifetime. Motivated by thoughts of being able to provide my family with all that they desired, I took on more responsibility than I was assigned, got home later and later, was too tired to sit up with my children, too tired to listen to them, too tired to appreciate Betsy, too tired to be a family man.

 

They tried really hard. The children were extra careful not to fray my already frayed nerves, Betsy gave me rub-downs to ease the tension in my back and forearms. I receded further and further into myself.

 

They got the message. The children found lives separate from their father’s, my wife’s bubble laugher finally faded into nothingness. I buried myself up to the neck in work.

 

The food was served, the water was poured. Betsy slipped under the covers, her back unconsciously turned to me. I ate slowly, not because I was savouring the meal but because my mind was a whirlpool of thoughts. I wished I could turn back time. Yes I would still have taken the promotion. But no, I wouldn’t have allowed my job to consume me. I wouldn’t have pushed my family away. I wouldn’t have.

 

I cleared the plate without even tasting its content, washed the plate and tray with warm water, finally climbed into bed beside my wife.

 

Even though she was asleep, I held her and promised that I would change things.

 

She did not hear me. And perhaps she wouldn’t have cared.

Author:

A Christian striving for perfection, a writer, a wife, a mother, a reader; passionate about life and family.

13 thoughts on “Not anymore

  1. It’s actually my FIRST TIME here (on your page). I stumbled on it somehow but I like it and I’m attracted to your CREATIVITY. Well done!
    I hope to READ more of your letters later, I hope to LEARN from you and I hope to SEE you soon.
    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The ambition to make ends meet has always, in one way or the other, birthed some sort of disconnection in the family cycle of bliss, and this disconnection in turn births out empty hearts yet filled to the brim and sinking with dryness and sadness.

    A beautiful read as always.

    Like

  3. This is the life style of most family, we need wisdom to balance the home & career. God will help us to do the needful.
    More grace to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmmm, this is the life style of most family. We need wisdom to balance the home & career. God will help us to do the needful.

    Like

  5. Yeah!couples must really work to balance love,relationship and career,though with the trend of things,its the survival of the fittest,but one can still make it happen.Good one ma’am, more inspirations.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hmm. This story captures the current and general state of things in many families across the globe. People within a family are drifted apart as they frenzily try to raise or meet a high standard of living. The ensuing disconnection and estrangement have now become the norm, with children growing up not knowing a family can be a place of warmth, joy, laughter, fun and happiness. They believe these are realities only in movies and books.

    We all must be awakened to what we are missing and then make that conscious choice to say “NOT ANYMORE” and then act accordingly.

    Like

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