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Fidelity

A short story about unraveling.

Enitan entered the brownstone and set the grocery bags down by her feet. She recalled her baby boy’s sweet face, and the farewell kiss she had planted on his cheek. This brought her the calm she needed to glide through the pitch black living room into the dining room where her husband sat at the mahogany table. Those broad shoulders. That thick, black hair. No wonder he thought he was the king of the world. 

She glanced at the Benin bronzes on either side of her, flanking the dining room entry way. It didn't matter that she would be denigrating her ancestors, she needed noise. Her open palm swiftly thrust down the first statue from its marble post, clanging loudly against the maple floor. Kunle jumped out of his seat at the head of the table. He turned around to face her just as she knocked down the second statue. He jumped back.

         What are you–” Kunle stopped when her straightened index finger and calm eyes gave him pause.

         “You have five seconds to tell me the truth,” she whispered, eyeing the crystals in the cabinet near him.

         “Or what?” He replied coldly. “You’ll–”

         The hair of a second that it took for her to reach the cabinet was enough to smash her fist through the glass, breaking five thousand dollars worth of crystal instantaneously.

         “Tell me the truth,” she whispered.

There was horror on his face, but his voice was firm. “If you don’t calm down, one of us will die tonight and one of us will go to jail.”

“Do your best, Kunle.” She gazed into his eyes calmly. “Do your best. I’ve given my son a long kiss tonight, and I am ready for whatever you want to bring.” She gripped another crystal bowl where it sat in the cabinet. Her hand was covered in blood, their faces inches apart.

Kunle silently prayed that she wouldn’t break this one. He recalled the ice cold Saturday morning when he had found it at the flea market, years before they’d met. The dealer said it was a nineteenth century original, and Kunle knew he could get at least a thousand for it at auction.

Okun o ki n ho ruru ka wa ruru. He grabbed her free arm. “You’re going to hurt yourself,” he said evenly.

She closed her eyes. The women he had slept with began to parade themselves across her mind. The downstairs neighbor, with her condescending tone. His protégé who had always been unfriendly to Enitan. Five of his clients with their own husbands who always looked so uncomfortable when Enitan was around. When she opened her eyes, the crystal bowl was flying across the room into the bay windows. Kunle was gone. There was a gash in her arm, but she couldn’t feel a thing. “Tell me the truth!” she screamed.

Kunle came back into the room with a gauze and began to remove pieces of glass from her arm as he wrapped it up.

         “Don’t touch me,” she whispered.

He continued to wrap her arm until he was finished, careful not to allow any blood to drip on her hand-dyed silk dress.

“You need to leave,” she said.

         “This is my house.”

         “I don’t care.”

         Kunle sat back down at the dining table, reclining. Enitan remained frozen, in the same position she was in when the crystal went flying. “You are the devil,” she stated crisply. “God’s wrath is going to destroy you.” She reached into her pocket, placing unfolded papers onto the table. “These are my test results.”

         Kunle looked over at the papers, and up at Enitan. He slowly walked his hand over and picked them up. He looked over the results and set the papers back onto the table. “You will be ok.” He looked at the tinctures and roots in his herb cupboard on the other side of the table. “We will put you on a strict regimen. I’ll get you the herbs that Dr. Habi uses. You’ll be fine. Six months and the virus will be gone.”

         Tears began to stream down her face. A flood wanted to overcome her and have her sobbing in place. But she would not have him see her that weak. Is that what you used? she wanted to ask him. But it wasn’t worth it. She wanted to tell him that he was the only one she’d been with since they’d met. Ask how she could have fallen for such a monster. But it wasn’t worth it. He wouldn’t care. The cold steel in her pocket was the only thing that might move him. There were no herbs for a bullet in the brain.

         She pointed the gun at him.

         “The only thing I want from you is your absence. Alive or dead, I will have it.”

 

Lolade Siyonbola
Lolade is an author, techie and serial entrepreneur. She is an MA candidate at Yale University where she is pursuing research on immigration, cultural identity and social health.
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