Two weeks had past since Ted and Sibu’s passionate kiss. Ted had expected her to avoid him at all cost after that but Sibu surprised him by doing the opposite; she had become friendlier than usual and talked a lot…she talked about everything except what happened that day.
Fearing that he might scare her away if he pressured her any further, Ted laid back and patiently waited for her. She still had a lot more months remaining of her stay in the country. Eventually, she was going to have to talk to him about it. He hoped that when that time came, it would be by her initiative and that it would be something worth waiting for.
Fortunately for Ted, he didn’t have to wait that long.
Ted had stayed up in his study working on one of the biggest cases he had been assigned that year when he heard little Jake calling out his name. He sounded desperate and Ted suspected he was crying too. That night he had been in a very bad mood so his mother had suggested that they sleep together instead of Ted’s room where they usually slept together.
Ted quickly ran up the stairs and found Jacob standing outside his bedroom.
“What’s wrong little man?” Ted got down on one knee and quizzed the crying boy.
“It’s mum,” he said in between sobs. “She is crying in her sleep and she wont wake up…no matter how much I shake her.”
Ted was up on his feet and running to Sibu’s room.
He found her sweating and turning and tossing in pain in her sleep.
“No…no…no…no,” she kept saying, her whole body convulsing in what appeared to Ted to be either pain or fear.
“Sibu, Sibu,” Ted kept calling out her name whilst shaking her.
She finally jolted up and was wide awake, but still writhing in pain against Ted’s embrace. He tightened his hold around her and kept repeating soothing words to her to calm her down.
“Are you okay mum?” Jacob’s little voice asked. It was only then when her son spoke that Sibu realized he was in the room and immediately, she calmed down. She then moved to hold her son in her arms instead.
“I am okay my love,” she assured him, stroking his hair as she tried to soothe him. “I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just having a bad dream. Don’t be scared, okay? Mummy is very sorry.”
“I am sorry I couldn’t protect you from the monster mummy.” Little Jacob told his mother as he returned her hug.
“You did my son, of course you did,” Sibu said. “I got completely better the moment I laid eyes on you.”
“I did?” he asked with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.
“Yes you did.” Sibu released him from the embrace and held him away from her before planting a kiss on his forehead. “I love you so much my baby,” she said and then hugged him again.
“I love you too mum,” Jacob replied.
And holding him slightly away from her she said, “Why don’t you go to Uncle Ted’s room for a little bit while I talk to him about something?”
Jacob turned to look at Ted. “You won’t take long, right?” the five year old asked his potential step-father.
“No I won’t buddy,” Ted stroked his hair playfully.
Both Sibu and Ted watched as Jacob disappeared from the room. Ted got up and went to sit next to her.
“What’s going on with you Sibu?” he asked her. “Jake told me you’ve been having these nightmares quite a lot these past two weeks. What scared you this much and keeps you awake?” Rather than look around the room for something to use, Ted took off his vest instead and used it to wipe away the sweat covering her whole face.
“You asked me last time why I can’t remarry,” Sibu said, her voice a little slowed and pained from the horrors she had just been fighting. “This,” she was pointing to her wet hair. “This is the reason I don’t have the luxury to date anyone.”
Ted looked confused. “What do you mean by that?”
“The nightmares always start whenever I do something that makes me really happy. I saw a shrink once and she told me it’s a psychological issue…that I let my fears take over because of the guilt I’ve been holding on to.”
“What guilt Sibu?” Ted asked.
Sibu had lived with Martin for years but she had never gotten the strength to open up to him. Before, it had been because of his weak health, she had given the excuse that her problems might only add more pressure to him. And then later it was because she feared he would not be able to understand. He was not the type of person to deal with such great emotional issues. He had told her numerous times that he was not a touchy-feely kind of guy so how was he ever going to understand such complex feelings that she too could not understand even though they were happening to her?
But with Ted, she did not need to think twice. She was not sure whether it was the look in his eyes or the warmth of his embrace every time he held her in his arms…but with him she felt safe…she wanted to open up to him. For the first time in her life, Sibu felt like relying on someone, and so she confided in Ted.
“I was about fourteen years old when I lost my mother.” She started. “My aunt says I killed her…. According to her, I used to be very stubborn and wild. She says I gave my mother a lot of pain. I don’t know if it’s true or not since I can’t remember much from around that period of time. I lost my memory immediately after the accident.”
“Accident?” Ted asked.
Sibu nodded, “Yes, I was told that my mother was killed in an accident while she was chasing me with some boy I was fooling around with. My aunt says I was so infatuated with that boy who was older than me that on the day my mother died, we were planning on running away together but she caught us…and…and…” she shut her eyes and sighed heavily, tears welling up in her eyes. Ted moved even closer to her and held her hand while she narrated.
“We were at the bus stop that day with my boyfriend, desperately trying to get away from my mother who was chasing us. I was the the first one to step foot on the bus but before my boyfriend could get on, my mother had caught him and was pulling him and hitting him, trying to keep him from following me.
“In anger, I stormed out of the bus and pushed my mother away from him but there was a car coming from the other direction and it went over my mother, killing her instantly.”
It wasn’t the kind of story Ted had been expecting to hear. When she had first mentioned killing her mother, he had thought it was metaphorical…and not so literal.
He was petrified.
Sibu was watching him the whole time. “You are afraid of me now, aren’t you? Suddenly, I am this strange women you wish you had never met isn’t it?” She was saying the words with a smile on her face but the tears in her eyes told a whole different story.
Wasn’t that the same look she had never wanted to see in Martin’s eyes if he ever discovered the truth? Had he known the truth, she would have never had a chance with him. He had liked her because he thought she was different…innocent, he had told her. There was completely nothing innocent about her life.
Immediately, she regretted having opened up to Ted. Now she was going to lose the one person she thought she could count on without being judged.
With a grim expression on his face, Ted asked, “Did the police ever get involved?”
“They did,” Sibu replied. “My aunt said that she convinced them that it was my boyfriend that had pushed my mother. Many times I tried to get her to tell me which jail he is serving in but she says she has no idea where they took him. She warned me never to go searching because it might draw attention to me and that would be a problem for her because she had lied to protect me. But why do you ask?”
“Because I don’t buy any of it,” Ted spoke with such conviction it caught Sibu by surprise. That was not the reaction she had been expecting.
“You don’t believe it happened like that or you just don’t want to believe that the woman you like killed her own mother so she could run away with her older boyfriend?”
Ted was now up on his feet, Sibu could hear his mind thinking and making mental calculations. He was pacing back and forth, his face slightly tilted with his middle finger tapping the center of his forehead like he always did whenever he was working on a very hard case.
And suddenly, he moved closer to the bed and knelt down before her, taking her hands into his. “Sibu, don’t you know yourself?” he asked her.
“Huh?” Was all Sibu could say in return, wondering where this was going.
“When I first met you, I remember thinking how different you were from girls your age. I was greatly impressed by how well grounded and mature you seemed. I was not the only one in that room that day who had been impressed.”
“What has that got to do with what I just told you Ted?” Sibu asked, visibly confused by what was going on.
Ted was shaking his head slowly, a dampened and irritating look playing on his face. How could Sibu not have seen through something so obvious? He wanted to lash out at her for being so gullible but managed to keep his cool about him. Taking a deep breath, he swallowed hard and heaved heavily;
“I do not think you did any of the things your aunt said you did,” he said.
She flashed him a puzzled look. He had not expected less.
“I am saying that your aunt must have taken advantage of your loss of memory and lied to you about what happened that day,” he explained.
“Why would my aunt make up such a big lie? What would she gain from making me believe that… I had killed my own mother?” Even before she had finished the sentence, she grasped exactly what Ted was trying to say to her.
“No, it can’t be….” she was trying to convince herself more than she needed to convince him. “She can’t be that cruel,” she was slowly shaking her head in horror.
“One time when I was fifteen, she even dragged me to the place where the accident had taken place and dared me to ask anyone working around there about what had transpired. I was so petrified I couldn’t dare ask anyone. I was so afraid of what I might hear. Why would she risk taking me there if she knew those people might tell me the truth if they saw something?”
“Because she knew from the very beginning that you would not ask,” Ted said. “You were young and naive and she played you to your fears. Everything you know about that day is according to what she told you. Do you think that if we go to the police right now they would have records of that accident?”
Sibu was looking at him wearily, every muscle in her body gripped in terror. “Are you saying that there was no accident?” she asked. “I don’t think that’s something she would have made up. I know she is an evil person, but I don’t think she would go to such extremes to lie to me about how my mother died. This is her sister we are talking about after all. I really want to believe everything you are telling me…but this is just too good to be true…it’s just too easy.
“I have lived with this guilt for so many years,” Sibu lamented. “…and not once did I bother to question my aunt because it didn’t seem possible that she could fabricate details of her own sister’s death. You should see her, she really hates me and holds me responsible for what happened. There is no way someone can dislike another person that much based off something they made up…there’s just no way.”
“You never questioned anything because you never spoke to anyone about it,” Ted provided.
“I never did,” Sibu said in a whispered voice, a faraway expression on her face and with tears falling from her eyes.
Why had she never questioned anything? Her thoughts went back to all those times she had had conversations with Aunt Tafadzwa over her mother’s death. Now that she thought about it, her aunt had every reason to lie to her…she just didn’t know why she would feel justified in tormenting her own niece in the most cruel way possible.
Seeing her like that broke Ted’s heart. He brought her into his arms and held her there tightly. He wanted to take the pain away from her and shoulder it in her stead.
As if a sudden thought had occurred to her, Sibu tilted her body away from Ted’s and looked at him with a tear stained face. “If that’s not how my mother died, how then did she die?” she asked.
“That’s what we need to find out. If my suspicions are correct, it means your aunt had something to do with the actual death of your mother and she forced you to take responsibility because she needed to shift the blame from herself. Did you ever find out what sort of people you used to hang out with before the accident?”
“There was no one for me to ask,” Sibu answered. “My aunt moved us to a whole new neighborhood immediately after my mother’s death. I have no recollection whatsoever of who used to be my friend.”
Ted was wrapped up in deep thought as he mulled over what Sibu had just told him. He got up from the bed and went to stand by the window. He pulled the curtain half way and opened the window so he could feel some fresh air over his face.
Sibu remained seated on the bed looking at his back.
“What are you thinking about?” She asked him.
Ted slowly turned to face her. “I want to know the truth Sibu,” he said. “I wont believe for a second that you are capable of doing what your aunt claims you did.”
“What if I had really been that sort of person Ted,” her voice was heavy with worry and fear. “One of the reasons I stopped myself from asking any more questions is because I was scared of finding out the truth…then it would be like experiencing everything all over again. What if I only changed out of guilt for what I had done? Maybe…maybe I subconsciously know what I did and I changed my personality because of regret. I was a teenager…anything is possible.”
Ted was busy shaking his head the whole time she was talking. “No way, that’s not possible.” He insisted. “You mentioned seeing a psychiatrist earlier,”
Sibu nodded. “I saw one behind Martin’s back.”
“Did she ever try to help you regain your memory?”
“She wanted to…but I was too scared to try. I wanted the nightmares to go away so I thought she could help me without me having to remember what happened…but it didn’t work.”
Ted then moved back to the bed and sat on the edge, one leg crossed over the other. “Your nightmares,” he said. “What do you see in your dreams?”
“There’s one main one that comes every now and then,” she explained. “But then every once in a while I have one that’s so confusing. My age changes in these nightmares, sometimes I am young, about five, sometimes ten, and sometimes I am fourteen years old. One minute I am standing alone on this dirty street in the middle of nowhere…it’s like a neighborhood somewhere but it’s so dark I can’t see clearly,”
she had her eyes shut as she tried to recall the elements of her dreams.
“There are these funny sounds around, they are scary but every time I turn to look I find nothing. I always feel like something huge and heavy is coming to grab on to me and right before it does, a woman appears out of nowhere and holds me by the hand. The scary thing instantly disappears and I am not scared anymore.
“I cannot make out the woman’s face. I am looking up and trying to see her face but there is so much light from somewhere out of nowhere that I can’t make out her face. But just as I am starting to feel comfortable and safe, the woman suddenly disappears and I find myself standing in a whole different street.
“Unlike the street before, this one is clean but instead of a neighborhood, this one is on a highway. Cars are moving in all directions. Next thing I know one moment, they all suddenly disappear and the day changes into night and I am still standing all alone in that same spot rooted to the ground. I cannot move, literally. There’s a car heading towards me with a full beam on and the driver accelerates the closer he gets…or she gets to me. I can feel the ground below me suddenly start to crack but I cannot move because I am scared….”
Sibu is writhing in fear as she talks and there’s sweat on her forehead now. Ted reaches out to her and places his hands on her shoulders.
“I am here with you Sibu,” he says to her softly, pressing his hands deeper into her skin so she can feel his presence. “You are safe,” he assures her. “I am right here.”
Sibu managed to calm down and she continues, “The ground is about to open wide open and I am trying to reach out for something but there is nothing there. I am crying and praying for someone to help me but no one comes. Just as the car is about to run me over, I wake up.” And she opened her eyes in stark relief, her breathing high and heavy.
Ted moved his hands so he can hold hers and then he says to her, “And you always wake up just before the car hits you?”
“Yes…when there is no one there to wake me up, I struggle in that same spot for a long time and the car somehow never hits me until I succeed in waking myself up right before it comes.”
“What did your shrink say could be the meaning of the dream?”
“Fear…she said there is something I must be scared of in my life…or that it might have something to do with what I cannot remember. I never told her about the accident so I figured she must be right. It has something to do with the accident. She couldn’t give me a proper diagnosis because I wouldn’t open up to her about everything.”
“What do you think about trying again?” Ted suggested.
“Therapy?” Sibu asked. “You want me to remember what happened that day?” There was fear in her eyes. “I don’t know Ted….”
“I understand why you might be scared Sibu,” Ted was saying. “But I am here with you now. You are not alone. And I told you before, I don’t care what you think you did in your past. I promise I wont let you get hurt while we try to find out what really happened. I need you to trust me. Can you do that for me…for us Sibu?” he pleaded.
Sibu reluctantly nodded.
“Thank you,” Ted said, grabbing her into a hug. “I am going to be with you throughout this ordeal. Just trust me and let me take care of everything.”
“What are you planning to do” Sibu was suddenly feeling hopeful.
“I am going to get a few days off work and travel to Lusaka.”
“Shouldn’t we go together?”
“I don’t think it’s necessary right now. I just want to confirm with the police first if there’s any record of that accident and then I will go to that bus station and your old neighborhood as well. I am sure there will be one person there who at least remembers something.”
“How are you going to manage to do all that alone?” She asked.
Ted was smiling at her bemusedly. “Are you that worried about me?” he asked. “Now you are not afraid to show your feelings ey. I have a couple of people I trust that can take care of certain things. Don’t worry about it.”
In response, Sibu wrapped her arms around him from behind.
That gesture on her part almost brought tears to Ted’s eyes. He patted her hand lightly before resting his head on her arms from the front.
They stayed like that for a while.
* * *
Ted stood back in his perfectly fitting grey Armani suit outside Aunt tafadzwa’s shop while the woman baptized him in a full body scan, her eyes excitedly dancing about in their sockets.
“How may I help you young man?” She put on her angelic smile reserved only for such moments. She was making mental calculations of her daughter’s wedding theme. The potential groom looked more than ready to wait for her daughter on the other end of the aisle.
“I would like to have a word with you in private ma’am,” Ted said to the under dressed woman. She might have lost weight everywhere else but her stomach still seemed to be having issues against her. Ted had to consciously do everything possible to keep his gaze from looking down at the layers of stretch marks popping out from under her tight blouse.
With her hopes still high, Aunt Tafadzwa smiled and said, “let us go in and talk,” she gestured towards the inside of her shop.
Ted followed her behind.
“Are you here about my daughter Tammy?” She finally blurted out once they were inside, unable to keep the excitement to herself any longer. She had always wanted her daughter to find a good and intelligent looking man like this one instead of those vagabonds she kept hanging out with.
“Your daughter?” Ted asked, “I am afraid I do not know your daughter ma’am.”
Aunt Tafadzwa’s face expanded. “If you are not here about my daughter, then why are you here?” She quizzed him.
“I am here to talk to you about your niece, Sibusiswe,” he informed her nonchalantly.
Aunt tafadzwa stood up in a huff. “Sibu is not here,” she hissed. “She traveled to South Africa. You should leave now, I am a very busy woman.” She went to stand by the door to see him off.
Unfortunately for her, Ted remained seated, a smirk on his face. “I already know where Sibu is,” he told the angry woman. “As a matter of fact, I left her at my house in Cape Town.”
“Then why are you here?” She roared.
“I thought it would be polite for me to talk to the only guardian of the woman I intend to marry…I thought we could get to know each other slowly.”
Aunt Tafadzwa folded her arms and glared at Ted in disbelief. “You want to marry Sibu? Are you kidding me? Why would a fine young man like you want to get married to a divorcee with a child?”
“Is there a law somewhere against that?” Ted asked. “I thought she was your niece, shouldn’t you be a little more supportive?”
“I see what’s going on here?” Aunt Tafadzwa was saying. “So she told you a few lies about me that’s why you came her with such an attitude isn’t it? If you have nothing better to talk to me about, I suggest you leave right now.”
“Something better?” Ted pretended to be mulling over her words. “How about we talk about the supposed accident that killed Sibu’s mother? Does that sound like a better topic?”
Aunt Tafadzwa was a ball of fear. She was stiff from fear. “Why would you want to talk about something like that?” Her voice was shaking terribly.
Ted got up and buried his hands in his pocket, a bemused smile on his face. “I just told you, I am her fiance. I intend to know every little thing about my future wife, especially the things that keep her awake at night.”
“If you don’t leave….”
“Why are you suddenly getting all worked up?” Ted said as he watched the woman break into a sweat. “Sibu told me everything about what you told her…about how her mother died.”
Aunt Tafadzwa froze.
“She told you? Sibu told you?” She didn’t believe him. “There is no way Sibu could have talked to you about something like that.”
“Oh my, but she did,” Ted said with a grin on his face. “She told me about the boyfriend she was with while she supposedly pushed her mother to her death. She told me about how you dragged her to the place of the accident and how you kept her from talking to anyone about it.”
Aunt Tafadzwa could feel the walls around her crumbling. She was shaking from her very roots.
“I think you should sit down,” Ted advised, using his leg to point towards the chair she had been sitting on.
“I need you to leave,” she said for the umpteenth time. “I am not feeling so well.” She was holding her hand to her forehead. “I always get like this whenever talk of my sister is brought up. Why cant you let the poor soul rest in peace?”
Ted wanted to laugh out loud at her audacity and her little performance but instead he said, “I am not leaving this place until I tell you what I came here for. For years Sibu has killed herself over the guilt of what you made her believe was the truth.”
“I did not make her believe anything, I told her the truth!” she yelled. “She is just an ungrateful selfish wench out to make me seem like a bad person just because I made her pay for what she did to my sister.”
“And what exactly did she do?” Ted asked. “Give up this act because I already know the truth. I came all the way here to find out the truth and I did. There is nothing you can say that will ever convince anyone that Sibu had anything to do with her mother’s death.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” was what Aut Tafadzwa said with her mouth but her body was shaking so badly she had to seat down.
Ted was looking down at her with a frown on his face. “You should be ashamed of yourself for using your fourteen year old niece like that,” he rebuked her. “Don’t you have no soul? How can you be so wicked towards your own sister’s daughter? You killed your sister due to your own selfishness and pinned the death on her only daughter. Are you even human?”
“I never meant to kill her!” Aunt Tafadzwa yelled. “It was that brat…I wanted to get rid of that brat but Miriam was so foolish she jumped in and sacrificed herself.” She cried. “My sister was beautiful and smart. A lot of men wanted to marry her but she kept turning them down because of that stupid girl. I just wanted her to get married to a rich man so that the family can get out of poverty.
“I was a single mother with two children that were starving and yet my own sister could not sacrifice herself to marry a man willing to take care of all of us because she needed to set a good example for her precious daughter. The man was not even that old, a twenty-seven years age different isn’t such a big deal when a man has so much money as Mr Ngulube did. I had to do something about it! It was the only way for us all to survive.”
Ted couldn’t believe what he was hearing. After all these years, there was no sign of remorse from Sibu’s aunt.
He was baffled. “And you thought pushing her daughter in front of a car was the right thing to do to force her to marry some rich old man just so you and your children can live in comfort? Don’t you see anything wrong with that kind of reasoning?”
Aunt Tafadzwa was growling under her breath. “I knew what I was doing was wrong but what could a mother do? I had to look out for my own children’s interests. That bastard child of hers wasn’t even supposed to be born. I tried so many times to get Miriam to abort but she just wouldn’t listen. At least my children were born in marriage even though their father turned out to be a useless man. That father of Sibu was a nobody back then. He is busy prancing around like a rich man these days after ruining my sister’s life. He will die not knowing he had a daughter. That’s what he deserves for ruining my sisters life.”
“Sibu’s father is alive?” Ted asked in disbelief.
Aunt Tafadzwa froze when she realized her blunder. She had been so wrapped up in her hate that she let that information slip.
“No…you heard wrong, that’s not what I said.” She stammered. “Since we don’t know where he is, I was just talking hypothetically.”
“Sibu thinks that her father is dead!” Ted shouted.
“That’s what she tells people because she doesn’t want to admit that he didn’t want her. She knows very well that he is alive somewhere.”
“You just said that he will die not knowing he had a daughter because that’s what he deserves for ruining your sister’s life…yes, I remember everything,” Ted said upon seeing the shocked expression on her face. “It’s a weakness of mine…others think its a gift but I tend to remember everything I hear and see. You made Sibu believe that her father had rejected her when he has no idea she even exists?”
“It was the only way to keep her from searching for him. She had to keep working to feed my family. It was her fault after all that the sister who was supposed to be taking care of me died trying to save her. Well, she saved her and so she had to take my sister’s place. I had to make her useful. I couldn’t afford to have her running around the country searching for a useless man.”
“And when you discovered he was doing fine now, why didn’t you tell Sibu or him? I don’t doubt Sibu could have left you to suffer while she lived in luxury with her father?”
The woman scoffed. “That might might have risen from the flames but he is not all that. Martin’s family had way more money than anyone else.”
“So you forced her to get married to Martin for money?” That was a revelation Ted had not been expecting to hear.
Aunt Tafadzwa had a triumphant smirk on her face. “Umhu,” she said. “You thought your future wife was some innocent woman being abused, right? But she married Martin out of greed, I never forced her. In exchange for a few certain monetary benefits, she agreed to Marry Martin and when she was done with him, she dumped him like a hot potato.”
“You are sick,” Ted was looking her disgustingly. “You are kidding yourself if you think I am going to believe the crap coming out of your mouth.”
“Ask her yourself. Since she tells you everything, I don’t doubt she will tell you the truth.”
“I didn’t come here to listen to you badmouth my woman,” Ted snapped. “Before I tell you why I came here, I need you to tell me where to find Sibu’s father.”
“And why would I do such a foolish thing? How am I possibly to benefit from giving away such vital information?”
“Because at some point in that twisted mind of your, you are going to have to face the fact that you are an evil person that needs to repent. Sibu did not ask to be born. She was just a kid that was unfortunate enough to have you as an aunt. Just because your children were not born out of wedlock does not make them better than those that weren’t. What gives you the right to decide something like that?”
“I am not guilty of anything because I did everything in my power to ensure that my children were well taken care of. that’s what a mother does.”
“You bring shame to every woman out there who’s a mother. You took that same right from your own sister when you decided it was okay to throw her only daughter in front of a moving car. You should pray that nothing like that ever happens to your own children. Whether you don’t tell me or not, I will find out where Sibu’s father is and I will let him decide what happens to you.”
“Are you going to tell Sibu about what we talked about?” She called out to him from behind.
Ted stopped and with his back still to her he said, “Of course I will. She deserves to know the truth. It’s been a long time coming.”
Aunt Tafadzwa’s face was riddled with fear for the first time that day. She might have managed to manipulate her niece all those years but it was only because she had allowed her out of guilty, but now that the truth was out in the open, she shuddered at the thought of what she might do to her and her children to exert her revenge.
Sibu was the kind of person to do exactly that.
When Ted returned to Cape Town, he sat Sibu down and told her everything he had discovered back home. He had never before seen a woman break down in tears and cry as much as Sibu did that day.
To watch the woman he had come to consider as one of the strongest women break down and crumble right in front of him, Ted failed to hold back his own tears. He would have paid any price to transfer her pain to himself. That’s how much he loved her.
While Jacob was sleeping alone in Ted’s room, Ted held Sibu in his arms until she finally cried herself to sleep. Not wanting to leave her side, he stayed with her all through the night until Jacob came to join them in the early hours of the morning. Ted motioned for him to stay quite, moved to the side and called the little man to sleep between him and his mother.
“Is mum not feeling well?” Jacob whispered in Ted’s ear.
“Yes, but she will feel better when she wakes up in the morning so don’t disturb her. Let’s all sleep quietly.
“Are you going to sleep here with us?” Jacob asked.
“You don’t want me to?” he asked the five year old.
“I want you to sleep here,” Jacob whispered back. “You are the only one who can chase away the monsters when they attack mum in her sleep. I don’t want you to go.”
Ted smiled and ruffled his hand through Jake’s hair. “That’s my boy,” he said.
Six months later, little Jacob was to open the door to his father while his mother and Ted were cuddled up on the sofa watching TV.
“Mum, dad is here!” Jacob announced excitedly to the room.
At first Martin could not see anyone is sight since the two of them were hidden by the back of the huge sofa they were sleeping on until they both looked up when the announcement was made.
“What the hell?” Martin said upon seeing the two of them appearing cozy from behind the sofa. “Are the two of you….” his face was turning green from furry but before he could burst out, Sibu got up from the sofa and ran towards her son who was laboring with the bundles of toys his father had brought for him.
“How about we move these to your play room my love so you can play with them while your father and I talk?” She picked up most of them and carried them to the playroom with an excited Jacob closely following her behind, oblivious to the storm brewing between the two men engaged in a face off behind them.
“I see you haven’t forgotten where my house is,” Ted greeted his old friend. “It would have been nice if you had called first instead of popping up unannounced. You could have saved yourself a lot of embarrassment.”
Martin walked over to where Ted was now standing. “What did you do to convince a level-headed woman like Sibu to do something this crazy?”
“I would think that I was old enough to make my own decisions,” Sibu said when she joined them. “Aren’t you going to sit down?” She nonchalantly asked Martin as she sat down herself.
Martin sat down without incident, choosing to sit as far away from Ted as possible.
“Are the two of you cuddling and making out in front of my son?” Martin asked.
“Jacob is old enough to understand what’s going on so don’t drag him into this,” Sibu said.
“I shouldn’t drag him when the two of you are busy doing God knows what right in front of him? I thought you were smarter than that Sibu.” He snapped.
“Spare me the insults Martin. I did not do anything morally questionable in front of my son. Why don’t you just tell us what’s really making you upset instead of using Jacob so shamelessly.”
“I asked you Sibu…I begged you not to….” Martin lamented.
Sibu could tell he was really hurting from the discovery. She never wanted him to find out in such a manner. She had planned on telling him everything once they returned home. How was she to know he would just pop up at the door unannounced like that?
“I am sorry Martin,” Sibu said.
“Why should you apologize to him Sibu?” Ted shouted from where he was seated. “You don’t need to explain anything to your ex-husband about who you are dating when he has already set up home with some skunk from God knows where.”
“Hey you better watch your language man,” Martin warned from his other end. “Veronica might be a lot of things but she is still the mother of my second child.”
“Set your priorities straight man,” Ted said and got up to head upstairs.
“Where do you think you are running to?” Martin had run after him and pulled him back by the collar.
“What do you want me to do?” Martin asked Ted who was now facing him. “Tell me what you want from me so that you can leave my wife alone Ted.” He said in a pleading tone. “I know things between us haven’t been good in a very long time but you and I used to be friends man. How could you do this to me?”
“I did not do anything to you Martin,” Ted countered. “When will you get it through your head that Sibu is not your wife anymore and that you are never getting back together?”
Sibu remained seated in spot while the two men exchanged words. She had her head hanging between her legs and kept rocking her body back and forth as if to shut out their voices.
“You might think that you’ve won now just because she’s living under your roof but I can promise you that I will get her back no matter what it takes.”
Sibu could not take it anymore. She got up and quietly walked out of the house, the two men oblivious to the fact that she was no longer in the room.
“Do you even love Sibu or you just want her back just to fulfill some idea in your head because you failed to make her stay the first time around?”
Martin landed a punch across Ted’s face. Instead of retaliating, Ted had this smirk on his face. “If there was no child in the house, I would have taken you out right now but I have an example to set for my son.”
“Your son?” Martin was burning in rage. “How about having your own children instead of claiming another mans. Or is that too hard for you to do Ted? Is that why you’ve remained a bachelor all these years?”
“Don’t flatter yourself Martin,” Ted fired back. “I can easily make arrangements to make a baby right now because there is a woman in this room that wants me. That’s more than can be said for you?” Ted was looking to where Sibu had been seated but his eyes widened in surprise when he couldn’t find her.
“Where did she go?” Ted said, mostly to himself than to Martin.
“How should I know,” Martin muttered. “Isn’t this supposed to be your house?” His eyes searched around the place.
“If you are going to behave like this every time you come here, I hope today will be the last time you will show up at my house,” Ted said sternly.
“You really think you are all that don’t you?” Martin glared at his former best friend. “I was once married to that woman before and I can make it happen again. We have a child together for that matter. Even you should know that there are just certain bonds that cannot be broken.”
Ted scoffed at him. “If that bond was that strong, the two of you should have never divorced in the first place…and she certainly wouldn’t have told me that I am the only man to have ever made her feel safe and happy.”
That seemed to soak Martin up wet. “Sibu told you that?” He regretted the question the moment it came out.
“Did you even know the woman you had married? You had a woman like that right next to you yet you never even noticed the scars on her heart. And you keep calling yourself her husband…I would be ashamed if I were you.” And with that, he stormed off to his room.
“You can play in Jacob’s room for as long as you like,” Ted shouted as he took the stairs to his room.
Martin could not get himself to move. He remained where Ted had left him and drifted off in his thoughts as Ted’s words echoed from every corner of his mind.
You had a woman like that right next to you yet you never even noticed the scars on her heart. And yet you keep calling yourself her husband…I would be ashamed if I were you.
What did he mean by that? Martin wondered.