By Omari Jackson
Amanda Jones’s eyes filled with tears as she turned the situation in her mind. How in the world did it turn out to be that way? How could Killen not realize the misunderstanding in their relationship?
Relationship? The thought only made her feel uncomfortable, but then why not. It had begun as a mere friendship, a church brother. He had indicated his interest in her, which was true. But then Amanda realized she had never made her position clearer to him, and now it had come to a point where her relationship she had been building in the United States seemed to be now brought into question.
Anger continued to well up in her, but then she realized she must deal with it, step by step. Nonetheless, her bleeding heart was not making the situation easier for her. But then, what else could she do? She had discussed the situation with a couple of friends, and all had considered the situation from a perspective that now made sense to Amanda.
But then, what could be responsible?
Her cell phone jingled to life, and placing the receiver to ears, muttered, as if she was feeling some pain in her gut.
“Hello.” She could not believe her own voice, shrinking, and she gave a deep breath after that, when the voice at the other end sounded as if it was mocking at her with a low “High.” She wanted to scream; it was the second time he was calling. The sound of his voice appeared to torment her, telling her she was guilty as charged.
In Omro’s earlier call from the United States, she had lifted her right hand and wiped a tear that was threatening to fall from her eyes; he wanted to know about the man who had left the strange message, on his phone, requesting, and begging him to discontinue his relationship with Amanda.
“You can continue to help her in the story writing,” he quoted Killen, “but letters of love and things like you should stop, for God’s sake.” He even claimed when he called on Killen later, he had again pleaded with him, and revealed how much he loved Amanda.
“I’m a man like yourself,” Omro had quoted Killen, “how can you treat me like that?”
Now Omro was on the line and his voice was mocking at her; and it was clear to Amanda that the man she had proclaimed to the world to be in love, had believed a stranger like Killen, and was now questioning her motive. He wanted to also know why Killen was holding him responsible for what seemed to be the end of their relationship.
“He explained too much about me,” the voice said, with halting indifference, “I’m not sure I know what is happening here.”
Her voice had failed to put up an effective defense the first time. And it was like that the second time. Her eyes then stared at the empty wall in her apartment in this French city of Lyons, and she knew she must say something otherwise he would accept her silence as her guilt and weakness, and it would confirm his fear that something fishy had been going on, all the time she was professing her love to him.
Turning her face in gradual movement to her right, her eyes settled on the alarm clock on her center table, and as the second hand moved with its tick, tick, tick noise, her heart synchronized with the movement of the clock and her eyes watched the time-maker with ease. How she envied the alarm clock, and how she wished she could change the current situation to suit it.
“You need to trust me,” she finally found her voice, declaring in all its hollowness, “at least you must trust me, for I know the man to be a liar, for though he wanted me, I never agreed and did not make a commitment to him.”
Omro’s voice had shot back with some fierceness, declaring, “How come the man could call me with information that should be between us?” That was what she found distasting; for she had confided in Killen to indicate her openness to a man she loved, with all her heart. But now he had used it as a means to her undoing, it was a test of her faith!
But whether she realized it or not, she began to sniff, believing that as sincere as she was to him, tears of sincerity could be able to prove her innocence, and now unable to find her defense, tears came to her assistance, in apparent defense of innocence. But did he believe her? It was a question she was not prepared to answer.
“There is no need for that,” Omro said, apparently in shock in regret, “all I want to know is how come this man insists he is in love with you and…” His voice trailed off, and that gave Amanda some relief to examine the situation carefully.
But she knew she must speak and somehow clear her name.
She said, “I have no desire to cheat if that‘s what you’re thinking about.”
“Why then,” he said, “should this man be so involved in your business, even telling me what you told him while he was on a trip to London?”
There was an element in his argument that seemed to make sense, but she knew had no basis of fact. She reasoned along the lines of her fiancée that no one who would show a legitimate concern in your affairs, if there was nothing concrete going on between you both. “But the truth is there’s nothing going on here,” she thought. She wished she could demand him to place every confidence in her, for there were some men, as far she was concerned, who would stop at nothing to hurt someone they had been unable to win their love. And this was what was happening here!
“I blame myself for that,” she said later as a consolation, judging from the reasonable manner her fiancée was handling the situation so far. She had hoped for a show of support from him, she said, “here I am in my room sleeping, but someone is claiming I’m his beloved; does it make any sense?” The answer might not have taken Omro by surprise, and she might have realized that he had too much understanding of such things in life to be worried about it. It could be a situation of some magnitude but from his reactions, he seemed to take it very well, despite her violent reaction at the moment.
Amanda’s present case was having a telling effect on her, all because she had long come to realize the danger some people had on others. In all her life, men had always been her friends, since in her own experience women always involved in gossip. She never liked that. However, the men she had befriended had always had the courage to make advances on her. And it was similar in this case.
This situation had worried her but she had not considered it as something to discourage until Killen had shown what a brute she could be. All she wanted with him was to remain a platonic friend, not anything romantic.
Now she was learning about the dangers of allowing herself too much in the affairs of men. She could not admit, in any shade or color, that she had done anything wrong, just that she trusted some men too much, and it was a lesson learned the hard way.
But Killen’s bravery to call her fiancée from France to the United States was something that told her volumes about what a love-struck victim could do to advance an objective they might have known was long lost.
It was a betrayal of her trust, in which she was responsible for its occurrence, and now she must know better.
Amanda Jones realized the magnitude of the situation and it was apparent that she had expected the worst. Seven months ago she had come in contact with Omro, and from their discussions they seemed to have been made for each other.
That was why she had not stopped expressing her heartfelt gratitude to a relationship that she had considered worthy of sacrificing for. And she had always told Omro about it. Consider, even a day before the unfortunate phone call, she had sent him an email message:
I don’t mean to play with your feelings, or emotions, for I am sincere in my declaration that I am in love from the bottom of my heart. It may sound odd that as a woman I am acting a little bit strange, but as you may realize what I said to you about my past but unsuccessful relationships, I am not careful to love the person my heart has accepted as the darling in my life. Having I told you you’re a special person? Having I confided in you you’re the love of my life?
Hence I am sure you will, and if you can put all my confessions together, you will know that I am speaking the truth from the bottom of my heart. I may have done something wrong to someone but I am not going to say it may be because of that I have had some hard experiences with the other sex, for I am a human and I must fight my own battle to fit in what society wants me, and what I want for myself.
If, and here I must insist on your right to consider that, if you can find in all my confessions a way to love me more that I had imagined, please Omro do it with all your heart. I say this because I will never consider any idea to hurt you, like what you have already endured in a previous relationship that I am aware of. Till our love blossoms to the end of completion, give me cause to smile, for your love is more than anything I have ever experienced.
Now that she thought about her message to him, a smile came to the corner of her mouth, and out of the gloom she found a way to have some hope. And his reaction? She was still hopeful when she pulled out an email message, and turned to read the reply she had received a day after she had written the above communication, and which was sent to him.
The wonders of love are strange in many places but I am sure you have heard it being said that when the heart decides, there can be no turning back. I made the above statement to mean that your love, your caring and your constant reminders have all convinced me of your sincerity in this relationship.
It’s true, when you said I have been holding up my feelings, and not wanting to release them, for fear of being hurt again. I already told you about my recent relationship and how I had hoped for the best, but it turned out that the young woman involved was more of a viper than a lover. I am not in anyway trying to condemn her, since I know that vengeance is the Lord’s and I will wait patiently till the Lord carries out His work, for I know that the Lord’s patience is rather long that unless one repents and correct a wrong done, vengeance may come in the end, but slowly. I am not bothered at all of the Lord’s patience for I am aware that maybe that relationship was a testing ground and now see what I am having from you.
I am not saying I am a perfect creature, for I’m a son of Adam with all the foolishness that come with our own imperfections and that’s why I think we should be more careful in our expectations so that whenever you come to know the kind of person I am, you may, to some extent, find yourself not discouraged in any way.
I am sure of your sincerity and hence I am glad that you are the kind of person you are and I appreciate your sense of direction, but then why can I not be that? As far as love is concerned, please rest assured that I have it for you, and so please give me the chance to end here, while thinking of you every day.
May the God of heaven bless your heart to continue to understand the wonders of love.
She had read his letter over and over again, and she felt he had also read her letter several times. Now that she was thinking about this, and remembering someone who she described as a secret admirer, and who was so love-struck that he could get her fiancée’s phone number and communicated negative news about her, was, she thought, an attempt by the devil to destroy what had been built in seven months.
Since the phone had ended abruptly, she could not feel that her fiancée was satisfied with her explanation. Now the day was far spent, and darkness had enshrouded the city of Lyons, and therefore she could not go out to get a phone card to call him back, she would do that the next morning, and maybe she could find out his final decision. She could not even imagine that Omro would call off their relationship, but again she knew men enough to imagine what they would do in such a circumstance.
The room temperature was normal but she was feeling chilly. She knew it was due to the anxiety on the current situation. Resting her head on her bed, she stared moodily in the ceiling. “What do you have for me?” her heart kept asking the ceiling, and her breathing became hard. “Am I having a fit, and if not then what is happening to me?” There were lots of questions on her mind, but she could not find any possible answer to them.
It had been four hours now since their conversation ended abruptly, and he had not called back. She had not been able to close her eyes to have any sleep. It was pure torture, and she would as well deal with it. There was a part of her that was refusing to accept that Killen had messed up her life for now.
“I’ll not let him destroy me,” she assured herself, but could not prevent the flood of tears to her rescue. “This is the time to fight back.”
The meeting was brief but her friends did not play it lightly. Diane was twenty five, with a light on her face. She looked athletic and very understanding when she heard the story, and what Killen had done up to this time. Jocelyn, though barely twenty three, was filled with anger, and her only request was for Amanda to seek redress at the local police station.
“People like that,” she said, seething with anger, “deserve to be punished.”
“I’ve thought about it,” Amanda said with emphasis, now that her friends were rallying to her support, “I never felt humiliated in all my life.”
“Have you told him the truth?” said Jocelyn, with her head up, “your fiancée should be a nice one to make sense of the current fiasco.”
Amanda did not respond with any swiftness, and simply regarded her friends, who all relaxed in her room watching an African Movie. Her mind centered on the movie and wondered if what was happening to her could not be made into a similar movie.
It could be an interesting thing to watch since she felt there could be a lesson there. What would be the story? “A love-struck man invades his secret admirer’s privacy and turns her fiancée against her, only to discover that their love is love-everlasting?” She laughed at the idea. Now her mind returned to her friends, and said, “I managed to speak with my fiancée but his reaction was somehow mature but I don’t know.”
“Did he say anything at all?” Diane said, with outstretched hands, “I mean was he angry?”
“Well,” Jocelyn said, “we can speak with him if you want us?”
Amanda moved towards the center table, munching on pop-corn, and then said, “There is no need for that, I think I can deal with him.”
“You should be careful,” Diane, her plump body which was filled in the chair, said, “I wish it were to happen to me so that I can send some of these bumps to the police.”
“Me, too,” Jocelyn said, “there should be no force in this thing, and I think you should tell him so that he can understand what he has done.”
“From what my fiancée said,” Amanda said, her eyes moving from one friend to another, “he feels I should take it easy so I will take it lightly for now.”
Amanda could deal with the situation as her fiancée had told her to, but what was his final position on their relationship? He did not say because his phone call had gone dead last night, and he had not called, which did not mean that he had ended their relationship.
Usually they had called each other during the night hours, which would be morning hours in France, and late in Atlanta in the United States. She was waiting to call him and then at the time she would know what was happening to their union.
She had of course felt some uneasiness at the thought of finding out from her fiancée if he was done with the situation and how, for she informed him with all sincerity that she was not involved in anything that could cause their relationship to end in disappointment. But did he believe her? Though he did not indicate the status of their relationship, just some reassurances and questions, Amanda felt it would be good that she left it just like that till she called again.
Now her friends had joined in her defense, and she felt good inside. The African movie had run its course, but she had not seen any of it, and could not remember any of the scenes. She was a normal person, right?
At the end of her friends’ visit, they all assured her of their support and reminded her that they would be willing to speak with her fiancée, about her innocence if the need arose.
“I really thank you for all your support,” she told them, before they left her, to moan over her misfortune.
A soft intonation of profound sorrow had gained control of Amanda Jones and there was nothing much to do to regain her composure. Difficult as it seemed, she would make the best use of her situation.
She remembered several years ago, when she was moved by the affections of her ex-husband, and which propelled her into marriage. She was then at the tender age of nineteen, and initially the man had dotted on her, calling her ‘sweetie and darling.’
It was a romantic period of life, and she did not know that a man who claimed you were a golden egg could turn around swiftly and brand you as an undesirable. In the beginning love was in her eyes, and the man had shown it to her.
Amanda thought she was on top of the world till her first child was born, and the rest belonged to history. Now, remembering these thoughts made her think twice about her affairs with men. It had been three days now since her secret admirer had sent devastating information to her fiancée in the United States, and she had been afraid that that message, though untrue, could send her current relationship crashing to the ground.
Though the relationship had survived into its third day, she still feared the worst. Her fiancée, Omro had not open up, and like his fashion, had kept his cool, only urging her to live with her experience.
“But these men,” she said to herself in her apartment house, overlooking the seine river in beautiful Lyons, “they are a strange kind of beings.” She could relate to that. It was true her present predicament was as a result of one man’s determination to see her suffer, and then what had her lovely fiancée done in all this?
He had normally asked questions, of which she did not have any problem with. Just that she had wanted him to share more concern, and even being bold to tell the other man to shut up and have a life.
Wiping tears from her face, she resettled herself on the sofa and turned on the tv set. The news, which was one of her major interests, had no appeal to her anymore. Food had become sour, tasteless, and her appetite for food had deserted her.
She sauntered towards the bathroom, and at the large mirror on the wall, stared at her image. “This is me,” she thought, “why am I suffering because of love?” She did not have any answer for it but then she remembered her earlier resolve not to allow the current situation to swallow her, and then she combed her hair with her hands, and straightened herself up.
Now she was seeing Amanda Jones in the mirror. Though her eyes had lost their vitality in her face, as a result of the three days of tears, she could admit her eyes were however like those of angels. They sat proportionately in their sockets, and her hair dangled on her shoulders. Her lips were red and the eye lashes slept at their natural borders.
She consoled herself, “What good man will not love these?”
Why should a woman of such natural beauty moan when others were having peaceful sleep every night?
Then she thought about Tom, the ex-husband who never was. She had simply loved for love, and after her son was born, Tom had gone ahead and had had two more children that he brought home for her to raise. For several nights afterwards, after Tom got a job at a funeral home, he would stay away from the family, and she would cry with her children. Didn’t she survive that humiliation?
“Since I survived that one,” she said, with apparent triumph in her voice, “I will, with the Lord’s help, survive anything.”
With that promise she was prepared now to face her demons, and ready to live a life of promise.
A solemn glee possessed her mind when the text message came. She could not believe her luck, but it was true. The strangeness of the message did not surprise her, for she had known of her innocence and God had proven her right to the end.
“As far as I am concerned you’re history, and I have a wife that I cherish so much. What am I doing with you, Bitch….”
She could not believe her luck. True, he was calling her names and had painfully called her a ‘bitch,’ but as far as she was concerned his violent reaction had indicated that he was a man in need of redemption. Killen had been going to the same church with her, and now he was cussing her, and saying all kinds of things about her.
What happened to the Christian unity? Had she not seen this man in church, crying out his heart out to Christ? What happened to his sense of Christian unity? She was obviously angry at his action, when she read the text message, but now she was feeling sorry for him, and then she remembered the admonition in Scripture that when a brother or sister is suffering or is sick, elders must come together and offer prayers, and with the oil, the God of heaven may return what was missing and the brother or sister would be well again.
Now that’s what she considered the current situation. Of course, Killen had sent a second text message and the message was also unfavorable to her. As a Christian she would consider the insults as refuse on the account of the Christ, whose sacrifice had redeemed mankind from the bondage of sickness and death.
The night was cold, but she was not feeling it. She sensed some inner excitement, for she had received the evidence that could clear her bad name, since men being the queer type of people, they are not often prepared to accept a woman’s declaration of innocence as a fact.
Though the time was far spent, she was feeling rather better. Her mind was filled with what she would say to her fiancée, and then she decided to forward the messages to him in the United States.
That’s exactly what she did.
For her, she would remain committed to her service to God, and continue to pray for those whose human weakness makes them behave as if there is no way to get help.
Beneath the cold glare of the desolate night she could hear the voice of her fiancée. And this time there was no mockery in it.
“Did you send me those messages?”
She listened for a while before answering, “I did simply forward them to you.”
“Oh,” he said, “why did he send such messages?”
“I wish I know,” she said, “I told you he was planning to destroy me and thank God it did not work.”
“I think he needs help.”
“This is a man that goes to the same church with you. This is the man, who should be treating others as he wants to be treated, and yet he has gone over his head and doing quite the opposite and this is where I don’t understand.”
“I sent him a response,” she said, “thanking him for the text messages that stand as a memorial to clear my name and honor.”
“This is strange,” he said, “I believe he has a distorted view of a relationship, for it is not a wise thing to do to insult another because you repulsed his advances. This is pure insane.”
“I thank God that I am vindicated,” she said, “I feel honored and excited.”
Her reaction did not elicit the kind of excitement that she had anticipated but she was filled with a sense of vindication. His voice was now louder, and it appeared to her that he received the reaction with a firm belief of her innocence.
Though he was not saying it, and she could not detect it from his voice, she was more than glad that he did not have any negative opinion about her and what she was doing in France. It gave her a sense of elation, and contentment.
A tumult of vehement feeling held her attention as she watched in amazement on how far the situation had gone. The whole episode did not seem to her something deserving, but since Killen had exposed his irresponsible behavior, she could live and deal with it.
Now there could be no time rather than now for her to find a way to rejoice, if rejoicing was something she needed to do. But, had not the past couple of hours provided too much stress for her? Did she not find the entire situation distasteful? Should she not realize the unfair nature of the affair?
She wished she could put the experience behind her, and even behind him. But, doing so would mean something else.
Then a tumultuous rush of sensations filled her mind and she watched herself, and thought about things that were not necessarily to be considered.
“At least I’m doing fine,” she said to herself, and moved towards the large mirror in the room. She gazed at her shadow, her herself, and attempted a weak smile.
“I will not let this destroy my happiness,” she said, “whatever the outcome is I know my innocence.” The consolation did her some good, for in the next moment, she felt some peace within herself.
“At least,” she said, throwing her head back, and gazing at her action in the mirror, “I’m doing fine.” By now the time was far spent and feeling exhausted, decided to let the world alone to chase its own burdens.
The radio on her center table hummed audibly and she moved closer and tuned it a little louder. She did not forget that her room-mate, across to the other part of the room, slept soundly.
“What a day,” she said, her spirit reawakening, and her heart filling with ecstasy, “what a day!”
It had surprised her that she had allowed the situation with Killen to control her emotions, but what else could she have done?
“I’ll not let it,” she said, her eyes weary, with sleep. She did not know what happened afterwards, for true it was that her soul was willing, but the body sadly was weak.
Though waking up after a couple of hours, she felt a vague and wistful melancholy and her heart appeared broken. It could be nothing, but the adrenaline flush was great that she could only feel her heart thumping. This could not be happening, she thought.
Then she saw the situation clear now.
It was the morning after the final confession, and she seemed to be on the top of her world, and grimacing, she moved towards her apartment house, and when her eyes fell on the recliner, she found herself smiling, but could not determine the cause.
So when her cell phone shrilled to life, she could understand her expectation and she was ready. Instantly, she scooped it with the effectiveness of a soldier at war.
“Hello,” she could hear his voice in elation, and her voice, answer, broke off.
“Hello,” she managed to say at last, “is everything clear now?” Her question echoed back at her, and she could hear her own breath rising up and down, like she had been running a hundred yards to pick up the phone.
“Yes,” was the answer from the other end, “I knew the truth all along but I was making sure that nothing surprised me in the end.”
“But at least,” she said, “you could have shown me some solidarity.” Her request even surprised her, and she decided not to pursue that angle since it was apparent that the evidence had vindicated her.
“I know from a fact,” her fiancée continued, “that whatever happened, you allowed it to happen.”
“I may have,” she countered, “but you should put some trust in me to the very end.”
“But,” he said, “that’s exactly what I did.” That answer held her breath in check and she uttered a deep breath of satisfaction. She could deal with that, and then she heard him say:
“I trust in your sincerity, “Amanda, and therefore I will be meeting you with a promise…”
“A promise?” she interrupted him, “you’re kidding, right?”
Then he said, “Wait a minute.”
She waited on the line in what seemed like an eternity, before she heard his voice, “I will always love you, Amanda.” The echo of his voice brought tears to her eyes, as she responded, “And never shall I deceive you in anyway.”
Her palpitating heart felt at home when her fiancée said, “I’ll be seeing you in France.”
The phone went dead, and while wondering the meaning of his abrupt end, her cell phone came to life again, and when she turned to check it, the text message read: “My flight will be arriving on Tuesday morning.” The calendar on her wall indicated he would be arriving in seventy two hours.
She mopped the tears of joy from her face, and her radiant smile filled her with gladness. In the end, it was a victory she had fought hard to win. The dream of her fiancée’s visit held her with awe, and expectation, for shedding tears of her innocence was the best thing that ever happened to her.