I couldn’t believe he had finally done it. To tell you that I did not see it coming would be a lie. I had seen it coming from a mile away. In fact, I had seen it coming so clearly that it might as well have been a marathon runner in an elephant costume jogging towards me from the day we met. We were now at the finish line. What was confusing to me, as I am sure it is now to you, is why, even though I had seen it coming, it revealed itself to me as such a shock. My brain refused to believe my ears. As soon as he let those words escape from behind his frequently lying lips, my breathing stopped. He was talking but I was no longer listening. The world began to move in slow motion and whatever followed was a mime sound-tracked by the heavy rain and the ‘what would you like’s of the busy two star restaurant. I watched his lips part and re-unite as he spoke, so rapid that saliva began to collect at each corner of his mouth. He was talking quickly and his mouth was wrinkling on each side from tension. This was what he looked like whenever he was trying to explain himself to me – you wouldn’t believe how often an occurrence this was.
In the three years that we had been ‘together’, note that the word ‘together’ is enclosed in quotation marks, I had walked out on him a total of eight times. On eight separate and contrasting occasions, I had packed my bags, flicked my wrist and stylishly slammed the door in his face. And, on those eight separate and contrasting occasions, after a week of living on his own, he would call my phone crying so hard that I could hear teardrops dripping on the tiled floor of our apartment. He would say the three magic words that he knew my ears could not refuse; I miss you.
What was so unique about this occasion however, was that this time it appeared to be him who was placing his hand gently on the small of my back, in a gentlemanly way, and guiding me out of the front door of his life. Ironic that he had suddenly become a gentleman when he knew it was no longer required of him.
There was a lump gathering in my throat, climbing its way up to the back of my tongue. “The wedding is in September,” he said, his eyes fixed on the laminate wood table, “In Nigeria.” He began to treat his words carefully opening and closing his mouth as if he were a baby being force fed the last spoon of his vegetables. He talked as if there was a lump in his own throat, as if he had a right to be more upset than I was. I remained calm.
“The traditional or the church wedding?”
“The traditional.” His eyes still anchored to the table.
“You’ve met her family?”
“Yes.” He looked up at me as he spoke now. The red hanging light above our table reflected on the rim of his glasses; he looked like a devil. He continued “I’ve been meaning to tell you. Everything is confirmed. I’ve –” he hesitated “I’ve been to her village with my mother. We’ve given her family gifts.”
Everything was confirmed. Confirmed. After three years of sharing a bed on and off with this man, it was finally confirmed to me that he was a liar, a storyteller. I began to question whether any of the words that had danced so gracefully out of his mouth since the day we met were non-fiction.  I took my eyes up to the Chinese lantern hanging above his head; if there was anything I wanted in that moment, it was for a supernatural force, maybe God, to wither the chord that it hung onto so that it would drop on his head and send his afro bursting into tongues of flame.
I wasn’t even sure that God existed anymore. Was it not God that I prayed to so frequently against the strange women that tormented our relationship? Was it not the same ‘God’ who gave me the strength to stand my ground against the little enemies that would begin their sentences with ‘I come to you as a woman…’ whenever I posted a picture of the two of us on Instagram? So was it not then this same god, who after leading me over valley and mountain with this man, brought me to the final chamber on the final level, and slid open the doors only to reveal that there was one final flaming giant that I had to defeat before I could finish the game and have peace of mind? The problem here was that the level of my strength was low, I was sick and tired.
“So you brought me here, me, to this–” the lump in my throat had made its way forward “this dump of a Chinese restaurant to tell me that you are getting married. To someone else?” This was a scene pirated from the horror stories told by aunties and mothers about wicked men, the kind that resembled dogs. Was it real? Was my own boyfriend telling me that he had successfully orchestrated a relationship behind my back and was planning to carry it on until death did him part?
“Bim, you haven’t come back to the apartment for weeks” he said.
“Oh, Okay I see.” I had more to say but I didn’t say it, I wanted to see the discomfort crawling all over his body. He deserved to be as uncomfortable as I was. There were more lumps where the first one came from; they were forming a queue in my throat.
“I thought we were on the same page Bim, I thought you didn’t want this anymore.” I laughed dangerously at this; I was adopting his way of being a devil. It wasn’t just that we weren’t on the same page, apparently we were reading completely different books.
“We were on a break. Do you know what a break is?” I said, the dangerous laughter performing pirouettes on the tip of my tongue. He remained silent. I suspect it was because unlike the other occasions on which I had questioned his commitment to our sham of a relationship, this time there was no excuse. He couldn’t hide it from me that he was getting married to someone else because I would see the pictures on Facebook in September and these pictures would circulate until December. He would eventually change his relationship status to ‘married to’ and if he respected her more than he did me, he would tag her in the post for the world to see. I guess he thought it at least courteous to make it known to me before that time.
When my mother and father, my favourite aunty, my brother, my best friend and many others, had told me that I was getting too old to put up with his nonsense, I had told them that love was a marathon and not a sprint. If they were present in that moment to watch our painful exchange from outside the rain painted window beside me, some would laugh, most would cry, and all would press their mouths down at the corners in a way that showed they had told me so.

I didn’t listen to whatever he said after that. I stood up, downed half of my cola, and dashed the rest in his sorry face. Whether love was a marathon, a sprint, a steady jog on a treadmill, or even  a bloody triathlon, this was the very last time a man would trip me over unlawfully before I got to my finish line.

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