It was madness, Tim knew it but he couldn’t stop himself going or acting mad. He was outside the bank building waiting for the close of work when all the staff would start leaving and he will catch a glimpse of Nora getting into her car—if she had one—or walking out of the bank’s yard to take public transport home.
After she’d dismissed him yesterday, he’d gone back home and told himself he was forgetting about her. But it hadn’t been possible. He had spent the entire night thinking of her—thinking of their times together. He had thought of their passionate moments. Had remembered the soft bites she left on his lips when they kissed, the little growling sound she made when he touched her sensitive spots. He’d remembered and then, he’d dreamt of her all night long and had woken up with a hard-on that had sent him into relieving himself with his own hands. Something he hadn’t done in months.
The swing door opened and three staff members came through it. She wasn’t among them. Tim cast impatient eyes on his wristwatch. It was already five-forty pm. He’d been waiting forty minutes now. Actually forty-three minutes… how sick!
The door came open again and this time, she strolled through it, chatting with the light skinned lady who manned the desk closest to her. They both walked around to the side of the bank building.
She had a car. Tim walked casually into the store he’d been standing beside. He stopped at the front desk and began to make pointless inquiries as he kept the side of his eyes out the open doorway and on the street. After about two minutes, the crimson-red Volkswagen Jetta glided through the gates and she was in it.
“Thank you.” Tim said to the receptionist, cutting off whatever she was saying.
He marched out of the store and jogged to his car. He got inside, started the car and pulled into the street. There were two cars between them. He didn’t mind. It was better if he wasn’t directly behind her. His heartbeat had started to thud and his palms felt clammy against the steering wheel. He was nervous. Tim cussed under his breath. What the heck was he doing? And why the heck was he doing it?
No response came to his self-posed questions. And he didn’t want any.
The trafficator of the Toyota Corolla Ascent directly in front of him started to blink. Tim slowed down for it to cut off the road. His nervousness spiked as there was just the pint-sized Audi between them now. They braked at the traffic light. She adjusted her rear-view mirror and ran a brush through her hair. Then she reset the mirror and lifted her phone. Her right hand started to move rapidly across the keypad and then it stopped and dropped back the phone. The yellow traffic-light came on, horns blared off with it and at the flicker of the green light, they all started to move again.
They barely moved two hundred metres and she sent her left trafficator blinking. She cut off the road into a fast food eatery. Tim did the same. He kept his eyes on her as he pulled up his Ford Escape behind the vehicle two rows from where she was parked. He watched as she got down, pulled out her handbag and walked into the eatery.
He blew out a long, hitching breath and then pulled open his glove-compartment and drew out the check-napkin. He wiped off his still clammy palms, returned the napkin and shut the compartment. He inhaled and forced calm and composure back into himself.
Nora tipped the doorman and strode through the glass door. She had her pack of jellof rice and barbecued chicken in hand and was already looking forward to doing justice to it. She just wasn’t in the mood to cook. She was too tired to. And though there was egusi soup in her freezer, she wasn’t in the mood for eba either.
She was already at her car when she had the calmly-voiced call. Nora turned and instantly her eyes widened. What the heck was he doing there?
Tim strolled towards her. “Hello.” He greeted as he stopped beside her. “Evening.”
Nora was too shocked… and irritated, to bother with the greeting. “What are you doing here? Did you follow me here?”
“It’s a public eatery, Nora. Anyone can be here at any time.” Tim said mildly.
“True. Enjoy your dinner then.” Nora turned and yanked open her car door.
Tim slipped his hands into his pockets. He was suddenly feeling back in control. “I’m not here for dinner. Besides, I consider it a little too early for dinner. I prefer my supper sevenish, remember?”
“I don’t.” She did. And Nora so hated that her mind quickly made that recollection once he said it. She straightened up and turned again to glare at him. “I don’t know what you think you are up to, Tim. But whatever it is, I am not interested.”
“I miss you.”
Nora hissed at the confession. “Don’t be stupid!” She insulted, incensed.
“I am not.” Tim pulled his hands from his pockets and took a step closer. Only the car door separated them now. Her perfume became more distinct. The wispy, faint fragrance wafted over his nostrils. “Nice scent. I like it.”
“Thanks but no thanks.”
Tim chuckled. “I always liked your quick fiery nature. But seriously, I can’t stop thinking about you… about us.”
“What about me are you thinking about?” Anger spiralled inside of her. “What about us are you thinking about, eh? Are you thinking about the brutal way you dumped me and left for the UK? Are you thinking about the piteous way I begged and begged for you not to break things off between us even though you were leaving the country? Is that what you are thinking about, Tim?”
“No, those are not what I’m thinking about.” Tim could feel the venom of her fury and it told him she too hadn’t forgotten. Like him, she couldn’t forget. “What I am thinking about—what I can’t seem to forget is how we were with each other. What we meant to each other. How we loved each other with everything we had.”
“Bullshit!” Nora spat. “Absolute bullshit, Timothy. You’re just like every bloody asshole man out there. You think that you can treat a woman the way you please and still come back to have another go at her. This is not about love. My God, you never even loved me!”
“I cared a lot about you and above all, I had… still have, an unquenchable need for you.”
“Liar!” Nora hated him. Hated him for making her remember. Hated him for making her wish that his lies weren’t lies, even now. “You are a bloody liar! You cared for me yet you left me the way you did? You think I am gullible enough to believe that crappy tale?”
“Your wounded pride and still furious mind refuse to believe but your heart… deep in your heart, you recognise the truth.” He reached for her hand. “You see the truth in my eyes, Nora. I still care about you. I still want you. I still need you.”
“You must be a joker!” Nora wrenched free her hand. “You must be a joker, Tim. What the heck are you doing? I thought you are engaged to be married, huh? What about your Sharon, does she know you’re here stalking after your ex? The ex you cruelly dumped?”
Tim felt the quick burst of shame. “No, she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know that I can’t seem to forget my ex. She doesn’t know that for the last three days and nights, I can’t seem to think of anything else… anyone else except my ex whom I foolishly dumped.” He looked into her eyes. “Sharon doesn’t know that all I can think about now is you, Nora. She doesn’t know that at this moment all I want now is you. She doesn’t know because I can’t tell her. I can’t tell her the truth that I still have incomprehensible feelings for my ex.”
Nora gaped at him. Shock and bewilderment clashed against one another inside of her. Doubt reared its head to the forefront. “Stop this nonsense now, Tim.” She reproved, and hated that her voice quavered. “What is this game you’re playing? What are you after? Are you trying to destroy me… to destroy my life completely?”
“No, Nora. I am not looking to destroy you or even to destroy myself. I just can’t help my feelings and I seem incapable of denying them.” Tim let out a self-deprecating laugh. “I guess I must be a joke after all. A joke who wants back something he tossed aside of his own accord.” He shook his head. “If only you knew how much my body burns for you. How much I yearn for you. If only I can have you back. If only we can turn back the hand of time.”
“You can’t!” Nora was horrified. Horrified because for the briefest second her heart wished with him that the hand of time could be turned back. “You can’t turn back the hand of time and you most definitely can’t have me back! You made your choice, now live with it.”
Tim blinked, nodded. “I guess I’ll have to. I made my choice, I must live with it.” He slid his hands back into his pockets again as he stepped back. “I’m sorry for hurting you the way I did, Nora. I am sorry for cruelly leaving you and not caring at the time, how much I was hurting you. I am sorry I never gave us the chance to arrive at the pinnacle of our relationship. I am sorry that I am here now begging you…” He inhaled and shook his head. “Don’t even know what I am begging for. I… well, I guess I should go.”
“You should.” Nora agreed. “And you should forget about me. It is over… forever.”
He nodded, told himself to move, yet couldn’t move. “I— may I have your number please?” He rushed on when she let out a low hiss. “I know I shouldn’t ask for it. I know it’s best if we don’t communicate. But why shouldn’t we? We are not enemies… and I know you’ve said we are not friends either. I get that. I get it but I can’t help my desire, my need to hear your voice; to talk with you. I just have all these feelings and— please, let me have your number, Nora. All I just want is a tiny link to you. A little something. Please?”
Don’t give it to him! But Nora hesitated. She looked into his eyes. Saw the soft, pleading expression. She saw the emotions that said they couldn’t neither be understood nor be explained. She saw the open desire in his eyes. She had seen it before, countless times, and so recognised it. She capitulated to it—as she had done countless times in the past.
“Fine. I’ll give you my number. But just know that nothing can ever again be between us. It is over for us and we have both got new people in our lives now.” She reached for the phone he passed her and entered in one of her mobile numbers. Then handed back the phone. “I don’t know what you are hoping for, Tim, but we are finished with each other and that is just the way things are now.”
“Sometimes we think we are finished with someone but we are only beginning. I think life is trying to teach me that.” Tim slipped his phone into his pocket, “Thanks for listening and for being kind enough to give me your number. I’ll let you get home now. And Nora, I think Benny is a lucky man.”
And without another word, he turned and Nora watched him get into his SUV, then he waved before pulling out of the eatery’s parking lot. Exhaling, she too got into her car and drove off.
Just as she got inside her apartment, her phone beeped. Nora picked it and saw the text message from a non-recorded number. She knew instantly that it was Tim. Her heartbeat thudded as she opened the message— I am sorry I hurt you. Forgive me. Know I still want you… will probably die wanting you. Goodnight, Nora.
She reread the message and then clicked the delete button. Why did Timothy Kalio have to come back into her life? Dear Lord, why? And why did her heart feel like it wanted to remember the things that she had long buried and learned to forget?
Why did she succumb and give him her number? Nora exhaled and moving her suddenly weary feet, slogged towards her bedroom. Somewhere inside of her, she sensed she had opened the doorway to a can of cankerworms.