[I’m typing this story as I go, on my phone and directly on blog…meaning it’s gonna have a lot of flaws. It’s as raw as it gets, but after so many people have written to me saying they miss my ‘short’ stories, I figured I could cook a quick one up for you for your weekend entertainment. 😊]
William Mwanza was born exactly five minutes past midnight. He would later come to tell the girl he deeply loved that he deserved it. She would ask him what he meant by it but in that moment, he would not have the courage to speak life into a gruesome reality he would much rather pretend didn’t exist.
But he didn’t know, that the stars already knew all his secrets.
Joyce Chama was sixteen years old when twenty-two year old Victor Mwanza crawled into her tent at a youth summer camp organized by their church and had sex with her. Nine months later, Victor junior was born, a handsome baby who would later ask all his friends to call him William instead.
Joyce had found herself wife to the only son of the city mayor. It was most definitely an upgrade for a girl from a community whose existence could not even be recognized by Google maps. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Victor. As far as the young man was concerned, the universe had dealt him a hard hand by forcing him to marry below his rank and taste just so he could avoid jail and protect his father’s budding political career.
Later, three major events would come to pass that would define the life of William Mwanza. The third one had just stepped into his home office on the third floor of his Meanwood mansion in Chamba Valley. Standing at six feet two, she was dressed in a clean-cut figure hugging maroon jumpsuit that accentuated every curve on her body to the delight of any warm blooded mammal who had the fortune of gazing upon a goddess. Long curly hair parted at the center evenly cascaded down on either side of her face, reachinging all the way down to her elbows.
“Miranda,” William was on his feet before his brain could fully process the agility of his muscles. His cozy leather chair danced on its wheels and rolled all the way to the back, hitting the wall with a little thud. Embarrassed, the forty year old could only wish that it didn’t show on his face. He was better off placing a bet on a unicorn at the racetracks.
But luck surprisingly did appear to be on his side because Miranda was smiling at him. Why was she smiling at him? He couldn’t help wondering. She hated his guts.
No, it couldn’t be. She must be laughing at him, at his foolishness and his cowardice. It wouldn’t be the case for any other woman, but this was Miranda. Only she knew what one point something million Zambians didn’t know about their local MP.
“Are you alright?” Miranda asked, giving him a sweeping look.
He was right, there was a hint of laughter in her voice. She was looking from him to the chair behind him, amusement registering all over her face. But there was something else about her demeanor. It was her eyes. There was no malice there, and he had once seen it there and the image had engraved itself on both his mind and heart. No, she wasn’t mocking him.
William threw a quick glance at the poor chair limping against the wall before turning his gaze back at her. Like a bad habit, he smiled at her. At six foot five, he looked almost like a giant standing in front of her. Miranda had always been on the skinny side. Broad shoulders above a visibly well defined chest, William had deliberately left three of dress shirt buttons undone. He was clearly no stranger to the gym, and he took pride in that.
“You look well,” she said, her gaze unashamedly pinned on the bulging muscles straining against his shirt fabric. William’s smile widened, a thought creeping to his mind: time had not changed some things.
“Thank you, I was gonna say the same about you but you’ve beaten me to it.”
“It’s nice to know that I can still beat you after so many years,” she said.
She meant it as a joke, and they both knew it. Except, her joke was laced in a hard truth they both knew she was there to confront. “Please, sit,” he motioned to the chair in front of his huge mahogany desk. It somehow fit perfectly with the renaissance themed office decor.
Miranda sat, placing her small handbag on the side of the table. She watched closely as William rescued his chair and settled himself behind the desk. There was nothing ordinary about the man in front of her. The years had clearly been good to her old friend. He finally owned the environment in which he was born. He was no longer an outcast. She wanted to be proud of him. And maybe she was.
“You look nervous,” she observed. William immediately stopped turning his chair from side to side and sat up straight.
He cleared his throat. “How can I not be, Miranda?” He asked. “I haven’t heard from you in twenty years and then you call me out of the blue requesting a meeting? You said some pretty awful things to me when we parted, not that I didn’t deserve them, but, I thought I would never ever see you again.”
“Don’t you want to see me? Should I leave?”
“No!” He almost screamed the word. “I don’t want you to leave. I’m happy to see you.”
“You’re happy to see me, but you wonder about my motives for being here, right?”
“Whatever your motivés are for seeking my audience, I’m sure they’re well-intentioned.”
“I heard you’re in the running for president. I have always wanted to be a first Lady.” She had a poker face on, making it hard for William to tell if she was joking or not. But she must have forgotten something, he knew her better.
“You and I both know you would much rather be the president than anyone’s first Lady,” he said matter-of-factly. “And we both know that if we went toe to toe in the elections, you would wipe me out.”
“Of course I would,” she said with feigned smugness. “Fortunately for you, I’m not into politics, well, I wasn’t, until I heard about your presidential bid. Someone is digging into your past Will, and they happened upon me.”
William shifted in his chair. “What do you mean they happened upon you?”
“Our past Will, the things that happened at the mayor’s residence. Or have you forgotten about that?” He didn’t miss her accusing tone. She still held a grudge, and who could blame her? It’s one thing to realize the man you were ready to sacrifice your own life for would never do the same for you. It’s another to discover he already had your replacement all through your relationship. She had needed him, the same way he needed her, but for someone like him, he had no long term need for someone like her. She was only good for a moment.
“I’m not ashamed of my friendship with you back then,” he said.
“Friendship?” She was disgusted by his choice of words. She stood up. William followed suit. Miranda reached for her bag just as William made his way around the table to her. She was heading for the door by the time he got to her. He blocked her exit. “Please, don’t go,” he pleaded. He had regretted the word the moment it slipped his lips. He had unwittingly proven her assertion right.
For years William had dreamt of the day when he would see Miranda again. He knew it was a futile dream, a mere fantasy. She had vowed never to have anything to do with him again. Miranda never uttered any word she did not mean. He had believed her. So when she called him a week before to schedule this meeting, he had been over the moon in both excitement and anxiety. Could it be possible that she too had never forgotten him? Did she regret giving up on him? Was this the second chance they both deserved? But she was leaving, leaving his life again. He was not about to let that happen again.
“Get out of my way Junior.” That was not a good sign. This particular woman addressing him by his father’s name was a direct blow to the head. She knew exactly what it would do, and she was not sorry for the hurt she was giving. She meant every blow, and he deserved it. For how was he to argue against a fact he himself had only just proven a few seconds ago?
“What do you want me to say Miranda? I’m a fool, a coward! I’ve always known that. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say what I said. I meant well. I am not ashamed of our relationship, not anymore. God knows I’m a fool for admitting this out loud but I’ve never stopped loving you, not even when I convinced myself that I shouldn’t love after how you ended things. And that’s never gonna change. I love you. You’ll always be the one for me.”
She wasn’t buying any of his crap. He could see it on her face. She had heard those words before. “I didn’t come here to reminisce about the past. I’m the stupid one, the fool. I don’t know what I was thinking. You’re still the same man you were back then. But I’m not that naive little girl any more William. I’m done throwing myself under the bus just to save you. This time around, you gonna have to man up and face the coming storm on your own, but keep this in mind, whatever you do, do not let down our son. He deserves better than this.”
She shoved her way past him but William grabbed her by the shoulder and forced her to turn back around. “Our son? What do you mean our son?”
Miranda chuckled. “You’re kidding me right now, right? Because he’s out of sight, then he’s out out mind, huh? Is that how it is for you?”
“What do you mean? You’re not making any sense Miranda.”
“If by kidding you mean the existence of the nineteen year old boy waiting for me at home who I have raised alone all these years, then yeah, I’m kidding Honorable Mwanza.”
“You told me you had an abortion!”
“An abortion? When in hell did I tell you that?”
“The letter, the last letter you wrote to me before you disappeared.”
“I never wrote you any letter Will. What are you talking about?”
In that moment he knew. Everything he had believed the past twenty years had all been a lie. His mother had lied to him. He should have known better. He shouldn’t have trusted her. Miranda was right, he truly was the worst, a coward.
“That look, it’s your mother, isn’t it?” Miranda said. She should have know the woman would have played her usual tricks. And it worked. “I was gonna ask how she can do this to you but then I remembered it’s exactly who she is. I never had an abortion Will. Our son will be turning twenty in September. The NDFP is digging into his paternity and soon the tabloids will be filled with stories about how you impregnated a poor girl and dumped her for the rich daughter of a millionaire to boost your father’s political ambitions and secure your future ambitions. I will not let anyone drag my innocent son into your politics. I expect you to sort out this mess before it hurts him.”
“Just hold on a second here Miranda,” William said. “Can’t you allow me a moment to process this bombshell you just dropped on me, please. I don’t care about politics right now!”
“Since when do you not care about politics?” She asked but did not wait for a response as she continued. “All your life you’ve done nothing but use people to gain a political advantage. You did it back then as a mayor’s son and you’re still doing it now as a Member of Parliament. I know you William. You don’t care about anyone else.”
“And face it, the only reason you easily believed whatever nonsense your mother threw at you about my pregnancy is because you needed to believe it. It worked in your favor. So it didn’t matter whether it was a lie or not, it was something you needed to believe in that moment and you managed to convince yourself of it since.”
“You think if I knew I had a son that I would not have wanted him!? Gosh Miranda, do you really think me such a monster?”
“I don’t think you want me to answer that question.”
“I might be the worst lover you’ve ever had but even you should know that I would never use my own kids like that.”
He had gotten to her with that statement, which was why she kept quiet, allowing his words to replay in her head. He was right. William Mwanza might be his father’s son and a lot of other things, but he was not a terrible father. She had seen him with his daughter from his marriage to his ex-wife, the heiress. Despite being a public figure, his little girl had been shielded from public scrutiny as best as they could given the environment. The look in William’s eyes when he played with her and was captured by some stranger with a camera lurking in the bushes was different from the one his father had when he was a mayor. Back then everything had been staged, including Senior’s love for his wife and son.
“You claim I should have known better, that you would have never gotten rid of our baby, but how come you didn’t know that I would have done right by you and our son? You never gave me a chance. You believed whatever you wanted to believe because, just like me, it was easier for you to hate me than to give me a chance to let you down.”
“I know you desperately want to believe that but do you even hear yourself?” She said. “Done right by me? Do those words sound like the words of a man in-love? I didn’t want your pity Will. I was not going to subject my child to what your parents subjected you to. Both of us weren’t ready for a kid then, but you more than me. The only thing you wanted back then was to please your father, to gain his approve.
“More than anything in the world, you needed him to acknowledge you. You would have done anything in the world to achieve that, including forsaking the woman who had stood by you through thick and thin to marry the one your father approved of. That’s why I never gave you the benefit of a doubt. I knew you might try to do the right thing, but I also knew you would live to regret it for the rest of your life. And who do you think was going to pay the price for that? Our son.”
She was right, William mused to himself. This was all his fault. Had he not spent all his childhood and young adulthood desperately pining for his father’s acknowledgement, he would not have missed out on twenty years of his son’s life. He thought the universe had finally aligned itself in his favor after the passing of his father ten years ago, but clearly, it had not. Here he was yet again, at a crossroad.
“Tell me what I’m supposed to do and I’ll do it, but please, don’t keep my son away from me,” William pleaded.
“I don’t want to interfere with your politics,” she said. “So get your team to come up with a plan that will ensure the protection of my son from your enemies at all cost. I want to know that his safety comes before your political ambitions. I will not allow anyone, your enemies or your allies to use my son to gain leverage for you or against you.”
William kept nodding, he needed her to trust that he would never deliberately put their son in harms way. He was determined to do whatever it took to make things right. He needed his son and he needed to win back Miranda’s trust.
“And William,” Miranda continued, “if anything happens to me or my son, the whole world will come to know exactly what a naked ten year old me was doing in bed with your father. And it won’t be for the heinous reason we all know. I still have that tape. I will cast the spotlight on you and your mother because I can’t make a dead man pay for his crimes, but I can make his enablers pay.”
This was not an ultimatum she was giving him. This was a threat. William had always known his journey to Plot 1 was never going to be an easy one. He just never imagined that the woman he had hoped would be on his right hand side would resurface to become his biggest obstacle. The truth on that tape was the second biggest event that had defined his life, so much so that it eventually cost him the love of his life.
Outside William’s office, lurking in the dark just a few feet away from the door, and slightly hidden by an adjucent wall was a short fat man. He appeared to be in his sixties thanks to a shiny head with a severely receding hairline saved from absolute baldness by a few surviving gray strands. He was typing a message on his phone:
We finally have him.
A creepy smile illuminated by the light from the phone lit up his face as he hit the Send button.
Don’t forget to leave a comment below so I know who’s reading with me and what you think about the story as it unveils. ⬇️🎤