Sometimes, real life brings us complicated love that is just not as perfect and simple as all the fairy tales told us it would be…
Jane went through the motions. She sat through a class without being aware of what went on, only having enough consciousness to hope that the lecturer wouldn’t ask her a question. After the class, she exchanged the usual pleasantries with classmates, inwardly sighing with an acute sense of boredom and restlessness. She felt like a wild horse trapped within a fence; her free spirit yearned to express itself in an equally free way.
Jane put up with a few more boring exchanges of “pleasantries” when a voice in her head began asking a few crucial questions. What was she doing here? Why was she taking this boredom and depression as if she didn’t have a choice?
Suddenly, the proverbial silver lining was revealed, bathing Jane in its radiant glow and stunning her with the mere logic of it all .Of course! Eureka! The joy of some old dork scientist in ancient times had nothing on this feeling bubbling out of her heart. Talk about geysers and hot springs! She could literally feel her body un-slump and the beauty come back into her face. The mere thought brought her sexy back!
She couldn’t waste even a nano-second. Jane hurried out of school, using up all earthly restraint not to skip along. The word “traipse” actually came to mind! She rushed out to the motorbike park and hopped on the first one she saw, firing directions at the bike man, not caring if he charged her N1000, only intent on getting where she most wanted to be.
The ride had never seemed so long. The wind in her hair and full on her face served only to heighten her excitement and anticipation. She couldn’t wait. Could the bike be any slower?? Finally, they were almost there. Just a little more now… Yes!
She paid off the bike and walked to his door. And knocked. And heard voices. Then, “Come in”, which she obeyed, a bit tentatively. She opened the door, poked her head in. And saw Eric. And Ivy. His girlfriend.
Everything went on Pause. Four eyes looked up at her. Her energy wavered; not knowing whether to continue bubbling out or to just curl up and die. Jane, mistress of deceit that she was, held back all reaction and went into Polite/Friendly Mode.
“Hello!”, Jane ventured.
“Wassup?”, Eric offered, his eyes going from Jane to Ivy and back.
“Hi, Jane.”, Ivy attempted, also operating on Polite/Friendly Mode.
Sitting in bed with a couple was definitely awkward by anyone’s standards, so Jane took the only chair in the room.
Minutes later, Jane was still holding all emotion at bay, thinking to herself, “This is what ‘third wheel’ means.”
She watched them do and say couple-y things. Once in a while she would laugh encouragingly or pick a side, usually Ivy’s. From time to time, Ivy’s face would transform into a mask of disgust and… was that contempt? when her gaze fell on Jane. Clearly, Ivy’s Polite/Friendly Mode software wasn’t an upgraded version. Not that Ivy seemed to mind.
When Jane felt there were only two or three straws left with which to break the camel’s back, she made some funny excuse or other about having to go somewhere and finally got to say, “Bye, Ivy!” and walk out.
Eric saw her off, though she was sorely tempted to tell he and his girlfriend to piss off someplace where the sun didn’t usually shine in a nice hand basket with lovely long thorns all round the bottom. But of course, she didn’t. She couldn’t. This was Eric, and she loved him. He gave her an apologetic look and touched her arm.
“Sorry. I didn’t know she was coming.”
“No, I should be the one apologizing.”, Jane said, still doing a great job of holding it all in.
“Well, I should have called. It actually occurred to me that she might be here, or you’d be out or something…”, she trailed off into silence and they both stared at the road for a while.
He stopped a bike for her, then hugged her goodbye.
The bike couldn’t go fast enough. The wind in her hair and full on her face threatened to crack her cool exterior. Ok. More than threatened. She felt the tears on her cheeks. She wiped them off and cautioned herself to wait, just wait, we’ll soon be home. Getting down from the bike at the main road close to her house, she paid him off and began walking home. She kept her head down and hoped, for their sakes, that no one in the neighbourhood would choose this particular day of the year to provoke her.
The house was empty. She slowly got out her key and went in. No light. She went in to change, came back out and turned on the transistor radio. Nothing like a little noise to distract a body. She suddenly choked, doubling over, the pain dripping from her eyes. No! She wouldn’t cry.
The carpet looked dusty; she hadn’t had the time to sweep it before leaving in the morning. Jane went into the kitchen to get a broom, singing along to the song on the radio. She began sweeping.
Several images slammed into her head, unbidden. Herself, the outsider, looking on at Eric and Ivy. Eric and Ivy in Eric’s bed. Naked.
Jane felt herself pale. She did not know how she came to be on the floor. She touched her hand to her face and it came away wet. Tears. The images came back. She grabbed at her hair. Screamed. Choked. She sobbed violently till her neck and head hurt, then began rocking herself slowly.
She loved him, was sure he loved her too and would rather be with her than with Ivy. But in the end, it all boiled down to this. Eric and Ivy together in his room, right now doing…? Her, in an empty house, a radio blaring ignored sounds, a broom forgotten several paces away. Her, curled up on the floor, rocking the jealousy and hurt out of her system.