Lost Years

Lost years
©  Folakemi Emem-Akpan
For five years I hid my eyes behind my hands. Figuratively. For the same five years, my sister hid away from me. Figuratively.

And for five years, a wall of silence sat between us. Literarily.

I sit in the living room of the home where we grew up together. Asides from the musty smell of an aging lumber house and the fine dust that covers the perfectly-arranged furniture, nothing has changed. Three easy armchairs, once green but now an indeterminate color. Two exclusively for Dad and Mom. Sophia and I would squeeze ourselves into the remaining one.

The mantelpiece still houses the memorabilia our parents collected over the years. Mom’s tiny china cups, Dad’s sport paraphernalia. A dozen or so picture frames. Sophia and I grinning behind candy-laden mouths in identical clothes, aged five. Expertly made-up faces the night we turned eighteen.

Memories clouding my head so terribly, so urgently it feels it would burst.

I try to sit and await her arrival, but my itchy feet carry me to the kitchen. A huge airy place that still has a dining with four chairs, four settings. It’s in this huge kitchen that Sophia and I played many a games of hide and seek. She hiding, me seeking, unconsciously playing out a role that would later define our future.

A solitary engine rolls to a stop outside. By the time I reach the entryway, its occupants have alighted.

Five years have filled out Ben. His cheeks are fuller, his black hair and eyes seemingly darker. He walks with the same self-assuredness I remember so well, his hand unconsciously grazing his chin in its customary fashion.

Beside him is a mirror image of me. When we were young and mischievous, the only person who could tell us apart was Mom.

Sophia walks slowly, uneasily and she’s helped along the pathway by Ben. Five years has not changed either of us. If anything, we seem to look more alike than we’ve ever done.

Anger wells up in me, tinged by sadness. This isn’t the way things should be. Two identical twins should not have been forced apart by a man. By Ben.

“Hello.” Ben’s voice is still as deep as ever, and I am unwillingly transported to the day I met him. Seven years ago. The day I got the call that Dad was dead, Sophia ill, and Mom distraught.

I shake away the cobwebby thoughts. “Hello Ben.” I sweep my gaze to Sophia. She nods her hello, her eyes a pool of sadness and grief.

“Thanks for calling.” Her voice is hoarse, as if she’s been crying non-stop for hours.

I turn and head for the living room. Their echoing footsteps tell me they’re following. In the living room, I sit in Dad’s armchair, Sophia in Mom’s, as if by a mutual unspoken agreement we’d agreed not to sit in the chair that used to be ours both. Ben takes our chair.

“Are you okay, Hannah?” Ben asks.

For the two years that I loved him, he’d blossomed into a caring man. And it seems that for the five years after that that Sophia’s had him, he’s become even more so.

To Ben, we were friends. Close pals and nothing more. But I’d loved him desperately, had spent countless hours rhapsodizing to Sophia. She would be my bridesmaid, then she would marry Ben’s best man. Then we would live within walking distance of each other. That didn’t stop her from accepting to marry him when he proposed. To me, the ultimate act of betrayal.

 

What I didn’t know, couldn’t have envisaged what that Sophia had loved him too, had kept quiet when I rhapsodized because she’d thought there was no way Ben was interested in any of us. In her.

“Yes, I guess.”

Mom’s death was not a surprise. Yet it came as a shock. For the past year, she’d succumbed to one illness after the other until the hospital had become a second home. I took care of her in the hospital. When she was well enough to be sent home, she went to Sophia’s and Ben’s. Somehow, through it all, my twin sister and I synchronized our movements such that we never met after the debacle of their wedding five years ago.

Until now.

“The hospital called last night. They said she slept and never woke up.” I sigh and draw in a shaky breath. “We could have met up at the hospital but they’ve already released the body to the morgue.” I can feel a thousand pinpricks underneath my eyelids. For the first time since I received the call, I allow myself to feel. The tears wash my face.

I do not see Sophia stand but I can feel her arms around me. She’s crying too. Comfort, almost long forgotten, seeps into my being, into my bones. I feel like I used to feel when we were little and I got hurt and Sophia hugged me to share my pain. I feel like I am being hugged by myself. I feel the stars and the moon and the sun shift back into their rightful places.

Somehow, I know things will be fine. Eventually.

 



27 thoughts on “Lost Years” by Folakemi Emem-Akpan (@Folakemi)

  1. @folakemi, you’ve outdone yourself. I liked this, it had a nice flow and I could feel it. Well done.

    1. @aplusn, thanks so much. happy you enjoyed it

  2. Wasn’t expecting anything less. It is just another beautiful one from Folakemi.
    More grace @Folakemi

    1. @chijy, thanks for your beautiful comment.

  3. A write that forcefully pulls you in, dragging you through a fine maze of words, unto a beautiful finish. In ‘LOST YEARS’, you will find suspense, love–and a lot more.

    1. @namdi has done it again with his beautiful review. Lol. Thanks

  4. Like they have said— Dragging you in.

    1. @vincentdepaul, thanks for your comment. Happy you enjoyed it.

  5. Lovely @ Folakemi

  6. Tres bon! @Folakemi I’m never dissappointed reading your works. I want to be like you ma’am lols

    1. @shovey, thanks for your comment, and I hope never to dissapoint. Cheers

  7. Nice piece!!! Some twin are like that sha…keep it up Ma .

    1. @majiri, indeed some twins are like that, constantly wanting the same thing. Thanks for your comment.

  8. O-Money (@Omoniyi-Adeshola)

    @folakemi,

    Hi, I like how you write, how you make words pretty, how you paint apt pictures with them.

    This story was well told. Clear, feeling, and authentic.

    In truth, this piece made me go looking for your other works, and I sure wasn’t disappointed. I’m now officially a fan.

    keep entertaining us, you are good at it.

    1. @o-money, all i can say is thank you. Happy you enjoyed. Cheers

    1. @uniquexty, thanks for your comment. And welcome to NS

  9. “LOST YEARS”
    @folakemi I have a sister who is 9 years older than I am and the gap has placed a line between our relationship. We do not speak to each other and we’ve never been close since I was 12 and she was 21. I felt a personal connection to this story. LOST years yes, will she ever get to know me? I don’t know. For now, we’re simply missing out.

    1. @ufuomaotebele, thanks for reading. Writing it also had a personal meaning to me. I have a brother who is three years older than me and a sister who is two years older. Growing up, my brother and I were extraordinarily close, my sister not so much. In fact, I didn’t really like my sister and often wished she was not a part of our family. Now that we are all grown up, my brother and I are no longer close, as we have taken radically different approaches to life, and now I am very close to my sister and love her so much. I cannot imagine my life without her now. As @praize said, sometimes you can do the reaching out, but the truth is that sometimes you reach out and are not welcome.
      I have tried to get back close to my brother, but it hasn’t worked. and like they say, it takes two to tango.
      Right now, I love my life and all the people that are in it. And I do choose with care the people that I let in. While we will look back at lost years with nostalgia, the way forward is forward. What am I saying – take the time to enjoy the people that are in your life NOW.
      Thanks. And sorry for all the ehm…preaching

  10. @ufuomaotebele You can choose to end that ‘break’ tho. . .YOU can mend the two of you, one person has to make a move first. She might be waiting, you are waiting too…why don’t you try and close that gap first? Give it an happy ending…

    Beautiful story as always @folakemi …though I must admit the ‘figuratively….figuratively….literarily’ didn’t go down with me initially. Maybe only one would have been enough…but generally I love the story. And as @namdi said, you didn’t just ‘drag’ me in, I got glued. I wanted earnestly to know if Hannah married another man other than Ben though…buh sadly you left me hanging. I love the flow too, I always love ‘your’ flow, you should make a good poet. Beautiful piece.

    Well done.

    1. @praize, thanks so much. Sorry about that figuratively and literarily stuff. You know how sometimes something sounds good to you as a writer but might not go down well with the reader. I think that’s what happened here. Cheers

      1. and i’ll like you to fill in the gap yourself. Do you think Hannah married someone else?

  11. I have a sister who am very close to, I guess because she is my only sibling and it is just a year difference between us. There are times I fear to share some things with her because she might like those things too and want them since we have many things in common even friends. But regardless of that, I still share those things with her because I want to believe she will not betray me.

    @folakemi I love this story extremely but you left me hanging… What happened at the end??

    1. @olamiotan, thanks for your comment. I sometimes leave my story open ended for the reader to draw their own conclusion. What do you think happened at the end?

  12. Really Nice and Simple, Reminds me of “half of a yellow sun”

    1. @banjidanny, thanks so much for your comment. Happy you enjoyed it.

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