“We had a blissful marriage, or at least I thought we did. I was wrong. As sure as death, I hope she regrets her actions, but that boat has long sailed. I am at my happy place,” he managed a weak smile. He gulped down the remaining fruit juice in his glass, then placed it on the round table before us. His phone rang. He looked at the screen, shock written all over his face. “I am sorry Steve.”
 
Sniffing out stories is one of the hardest jobs to do. But where there is a smell of any, it is my job as a writer to find a way of bringing it to life. I find gatherings an easy target to get a story. I’ll be in a room full of people, but I’ll take my time to observe my environment before making my move. For instance, the engagement party I was invited to. I knew I had to come out of the event with a story. A story for you.

I had never seen so many flowers in my life, albeit I am not a flower kind of person. If someone wants to gift me, I wouldn’t want flowers because of their temporary life. Flowers are among the most beautiful of God’s creation to behold. They don’t struggle to show off their splendour. They just bloom and let humans admire them. If you thought roses were pretty, then you are yet to be dazzled by sunflowers or lilies. I like sunflowers because you’ll notice them from a far off; big, bright yellow, stunning flowers. Sunflowers like to show off, which makes it easier for bees to kiss them.

Nature’s beauty dumbfounded me. Flowers everywhere; along path walks, tables adorned with a bouquet. So were the restrooms. The man who was about to propose clearly spared no effort in making the hall he had hired at a hotel look as gorgeous as it did. Dimmed lights overhead, petals on the floor, soft music to create the romantic ambience and a screen at the front with a slideshow of the couple’s journey over the years- two years.

I had just arrived 20 minutes before time because I didn’t want to find guests seated then draw any attention. I am a behind the scene’s kind of person. A waiter met me at the door and ushered me to the first table by the window on the right side of the hall. Shortly after I was seated, three other guests walked in and joined me at the table. They set the tables for four people each. At that first table was a gentleman and a couple and, of course, myself.

“How do you know the couple?” the gentleman who was solo asked me perhaps because the couple next to him were busy chatting.

“The lady is my friend.”

He told me he and the lady were friends since childhood and have remained friends to date. That revelation marvelled me because very few people keep their childhood friendships. Not that anyone blames anyone because life happens and people grow apart. But not for Steve. Yes, the guy’s name was Steve. We kept chatting as we waited for other guests to arrive.

Steve told me that our mutual friend, Wanja, helped him through a tough season in his life. My attention was drawn. If there was a story there, I would get it.

“In a nutshell, I had given up on ever finding love again but she sat me down at my lowest moment in life and told me I may have been my first wife’s poison but I may be another woman’s meat.”

Let me unpack that nutshell for you because, after the event, Steve was kind enough to share briefly that sad part of his life. I had to, of course, marinate him to talk because, as I found out, he was a man of very few words. We started off with stories of our mutual friend, then slowly by slowly got him to share about his story if he was ok with sharing obviously. He had a lot underneath his cool demeanour.

Steve met his wife a couple of years back. They dated for about one year, then got married. Two years into their marriage, he lost his job. A well-paying job at that. You know how office politics can impede one’s growth in their career or, even worse, lead to their termination? Someone had forged his signature to have some money transferred to some bank account no one knew of. They did this to eliminate Steve.

They suspended him to ‘pave way’ for an investigation into the matter. As the company did its ‘investigation,’ Steve also embarked on a parallel one. He could never dig out exactly who had planned to fix him, but he knew it was an inside job. A job that was well done to get him out of the way of becoming the next CEO. So, out of frustration, he let go of the matter. He would have preferred to get fired than to see his downfall staged as it was.

A month after the incident, they fired him, and because the company had not served a notice of termination, they paid him three months’ salary in lieu of his service. It was a bitter pill for him to swallow, but he had to. He didn’t have the energy or resources to fight the powerful people who took him under. He instead looked for other opportunities. Five months of searching, but nothing came his way. That’s when his wife started acting up. Her husband’s lack of a job agitated her, and she had another baby on the way. At first, Steve thought her hormones were all over the place because of the pregnancy pregnant.

The nagging and pressure to get a job became worse after his wife delivered their second child. One abrupt morning, Steve had gone out for his morning run. As he came back, he met a man at the stairs of their apartment carrying two suitcases. He stopped and gave him the way. He did not know that the suitcases were his wife’s. When he got to his house, his wife met him at the door with a handbag in one hand and another small luggage bag in another.

When he asked her where she was going because she didn’t have their then six-month-old baby in her arms, she blasted at him. She said she was done being the man and wife of their family. And with that, she was out of the door leaving behind their one and a half-year-old and six-month-old kids with their father.

Steve had never cried so much in his life. He didn’t know where or how to start. Steve begged her not to leave, but she would hear none of it. He went inside the house. At least she had prepared breakfast, and they had stocked the fridge with food. The kids were still asleep. He sat on the floor and contemplated his next move. He had no job and his wife had left him with their kids. A beep interrupted his thoughts. It was a text message from his wife. Steve read the message, put his phone on the floor and laid down. He wanted to die. Steve didn’t feel like a man enough. He felt worthless, broken.

He closed his eyes and sobbed like his one-year-old when he threw tantrums or wanted attention. There are different sobs; happy, sad, or bitter. Steve’s sobs had nothing to do with joy but unexplainable pain. He wept. Maybe not like Jesus, but he did. He needed to call someone. But who?

The story continues…

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