Following the unbelievable turn of events at home, which my son Tammy helped me know about, it would surprise no one that all I had for Stefi when she returned from shopping with Hadley and Dick was a cold stare. I nailed her with a stabbing glare from the time she walked into the living room and as she walked to the kitchen to put away some bags of groceries she had purchased. It was nothing new that she said no word to me on her return. I did not care one bit. My attention was shifted to Dick and Hadley. I expected a hug from them, but got none. This was totally new to me. Had Stefi told them something else that resulted in that? This was a question that chimed in my head. Maybe, I thought. What could stop her from telling them more? Another question popped up in my mind and stood there like a rock. Nothing, I thought again.
“Hello Dad,” Dick had said to me from a distance. He managed to wave at me before following his Mom to the kitchen.
“Hi, Dick,” I had managed to say to my son whose behaviour was displeasing to me and whom I could not blame for it though, going by what I had learned from Tammy. “Did you enjoy going to the stores?” I further asked Dick who was more interested in following her Mom than answering me.
“Yes,” he said.
Though Hadley acted differently than Dick, it still fell short of what I was used to and had expected, which was getting a hug.
“Mom bought me a new story book,” she had stood by the door that led into the living room and had said to me.
“Good for you, Hadley,” I responded. “I’m sure you like it.”
“Yes,” she answered without even looking at my face.
“Mom,” she called, and was soon headed in the direction of the kitchen. Wow! Both Hadley and Dick had dealt me a blow without even knowing it. I was shocked, but not confused as to whether something was amiss somewhere or not.
It was unusual for my kids to return from any outing and not come to give me a hug. Though I had managed to keep a smile on my face during my brief conversations with Dick and Hadley, but deep down, I was quite uncomfortable and not alarmed because of what Tammy had told me. Stefi walked back into the living room where I was seated on a couch, as noisy voices of our children wafted in from our bedroom. Stefi was headed for the exit. It seemed to me she had forgotten something in her car and was going to get it. And once again all I could do was pin my angry stare on her moving figure. It was a sneering stare quite pregnant with a question that was, how dare you, Stefi, how dare you try to turn my children against me? And if eyes could inflict scratches and bruises, Stefi would have received them from mine that evening. I was right. Stefi came back into the living room with another bag of groceries. That I was in the living room was the last thing she would care to know. She walked past me and back to the kitchen like the man she would rightly call her husband and father of her kids had no more breath in him. And that was the inspiration I needed to rise to the fact that I had something I needed to do. The cold silence that had existed between Stefi and I had to come to an end somehow. And suddenly I felt a deep strong urge that ragged like an angry bull, an urge to tear down that invisible wall that held us from talking to each other. There had to be a stop to this, I beamed with determination. I was not going to beg Stefi and say I miss you, so please talk to me. No! That was nowhere near being the reason I had to talk to Stefi. It was also far from the manner I had planned to talk to her.
When and how I had planned to do what I had in mind to the ‘Berlin wall’ between Stefi and I, was the very reason I had little or no sleep that Sunday night. Once in bed, and as Stefi and the kids slept peacefully, I tossed and turned from side to side, as my mind, so heavy with chores, worked so hard like an actor reading and rehearsing a script, which was what I had planned to do. Little wonder I was all yawning and felt drained of energy when the youthful Monday morning arrived. I called Wack to call in that I was a little bit sick and would not be coming to work. I had lied, but had not totally lied because I was sick from being low in the sort of energy required to make furniture out of raw wood in any efficient way. I saw Stefi throw a glance at me that said you despicable big liar. Eyes on their own can’t hurt a fly, so I didn’t give a damn about her stare or what else it might have said about my phone call. Stefi went ahead to get our kids readied for kindergarten school, which they had started to attend. Stefi was soon off and away to driving the kids to school. And all I wanted to do was wait for her to return to present me with an atmosphere that lacked our kid’s presence, one in which I had planned to execute my plan. I could not wait for her to return.
If determination could be as solid as a rock, then I must have had one so impervious to any thoughts that tried to convince me not to wait for Stefi to return. It’s totally unnecessary, some thoughts had invaded my head. What’s the point? They continued. Forget about it. Go to work. Everything is fine.
“No!” I exclaimed my response like my speaking thoughts were human, and I could hear the resulting echo of my voice meander through the bedroom. “Everything is not fine,” I further said.
How could everything ever be fine when you have refused to listen? These were the words I heard. At first I thought they were in my head and had come from my thoughts. How wrong I was. It took me a fraction of a second to realize their source. I was irritated that my uninvited guest, one I could not see, had come again. The voice.
“What do you want this time?” I sneered my response.
It fills me with pain that you have to keep going through all these torture.
“Whatever I do and all you call torture are none of your business,” I lashed out, sat up and got out of bed. I began to walk around the bedroom, being mad at the Voice for coming and for coming at a time I considered so wrong because I wanted nothing to get in the way of my plans for Stefi.
You don’t have to keep stressing and straining this way. Your life doesn’t have to be tough and full of pain. You need to come with me.
“You stay away from me, okay?” I spoke back angrily. “You are the last thing I want around me now. This is no time for all those nonsense you like to say.”
I bring you love already made for us and you call that nonsense?
“That’s what it is. That’s what you’re. That’s what you talk.”
Come with me, Jan. You don’t deserve all these pain and worries. The Voice said to me in a loving tone that almost made me laugh because of how ridiculous I thought it was that some invisible person or spirit or whatever, was somewhere I could not fathom, and was fully immersed in love obsession with me.
You need to come. True love awaits us.
“I’m a very busy man,” I replied. “I have something in my mind I need to do. I don’t need distractions like you. Please go away.”
Busy getting worried about all that is going on in your life right now? You don’t deserve it, Jan.
“I am worried because you won’t leave me alone. Just leave me alone. Just go!”
You think I’m your worries?
I’m nothing but your true love waiting for you.
I had had it. I was in no further mood to have some invisibles profess some stupid and sick love for me.
“Shut up and vanish!” Anger made me yell.
I can vanish. I can’t stay away and I’ll still be waiting for you, Jan. We belong together.
Unable to stand the Voice and its irritating presence, I stormed off the bedroom like that was going to stop it from reaching me. My destination was the living room. I sensed the Voice had gone back to wherever it liked to come from. I looked at the wall clock in the living room, and the time was nine in the morning. I could not believe that two hours had passed since Stefi left home to drive the kids to school. Could she have somehow figured out the content of my plan and had decided to stay away to further frustrate me? I thought.
No, said the Voice I thought was gone. She’s smart, Jan. She knows how to prove her point. She knows where she doesn’t belong. She is not like you who can’t see where you belong.
“This is my home. I have a family. That’s where I belong,” I said to the Voice.
No, Jan. You’ve got nothing. No kids. No Family. Stop deluding yourself. There’s nothing in this for you.
“Don’t even go there,” I said, not wanting to hear any more from the Voice, of what I considered nonsense. The Voice was going to say further words, but had to stop because a sound started coming from the door that led into the living room where I stood. The door was opening and I knew without a doubt that it was Stefi who was about to come in. She was speaking with someone unknown to me on her cell phone, and was laughing as she opened the door. “So nice of you,” I heard her say. “Take care of yourself,” she further said. “I will, bye,” she concluded and took her Apple cell phone off her left ear. She got in and shut the door. Paying no attention to me, she began to walk past me, and once again, like I was not even there.
“You know what?” I said and followed her. “It doesn’t matter that we don’t talk. What matters is that I’ve got words for you.” Stefi stopped walking, turned and gave me a ’who’s this piece of shit kind of look.
“It had better not be nonsense,” she said, her voice calm, as an expression I could not exactly call a smile or a frown stood on her face. Her eyes dared me to speak. I got angry.
“You had better stop the nonsense you do in here,” I fired back.
“Don’t even think you can succeed in messing up my day,” Stefi said, turned and began to walk away. I followed her.
“You’ve got something coming if you’re thinking I’m out of my mind,” I said.
“All bunch of crap! That’s all you know how to say,” Stefi said.
“I now know how you go about trying to make my home hellish for me. What are you going to gain from that?”
“There you go again,” Stefi lashed out at me while still walking away. I kept following her like she was the honey and I being the bear who could not resist the allure of honey. “Still making no sense whatsoever,” she went on to say. “Your imagination running wild and telling you things that are absolutely ridiculous.”
“I’m not out of my mind, Stefi. I know what’s been going on. I know what you’ve been doing.”
“Do I look like I have time to entertain figments of your crazy imagination? That’s good riddance.”
“That would be good riddance. All the good riddance in the world because you’re so guilty of biting me behind my back.”
“Guilty of what? You’re the only one who doesn’t see you’re always out of your mind.”
“Stop pretending! Admit it! Why did you do that?”
“I hope this is not about making more babies because I have said I’m not interested and that is it.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
“And what is it that’s getting you all worked up this time?” Stefi asked me as we got to the bedroom.”
“You know what you’re doing. And now you know that I know about it, you want to act like you’re this innocent little girl that only knows how to do no harm and that I’m the one freaking out because I’m always out of my mind.”
“So what is it your crazy mind has told you this time about me?” Stefi demanded. “Spill it, Jan. Spill it and let the ears of the walls of this room join me in hearing how once again you’ve lost touch with reality.”
“What did I do to deserve what you’re doing, Stefi? Do you hate me that much that….”
“That I did what?”
“Why are you turning my kids against me? That’s what you do!”
“Your kids?” Stefi queried with a sneering look on her face, a look that looked like a big New York billboard, advertising why I should stop referring to Hadley, Dick and Tammy as my kids.
“Yes, my kids, our kids,” I replied. “Why are you turning them against me?”
Stefi giggled, suddenly got quiet after I had spoken. I found this surprising and intriguing. I had expected her to fire back at me in quick denial. She did not do that. She looked me in the eye instead. She was calm as she did this. She put some distance between us, got to the bed, sat on it for a while and went to the wardrobes and began to take off her clothes. I could not see her naked. What? She changed her clothes in manner I thought was weird, like she was in the presence of a complete stranger, in the presence of a man who had no bit of any business being her husband, like I, her husband, had not ever seen her naked at all. What the hell was going on was made to be clear at the end of this story journey. So hang on tight. Stefi’s silence was an attitude I thought was designed to break me down and stop me from prodding her further. It was like I had not even asked any question that deserved any answers. If Stefi’s answer to my question was going to be silence, I on my part was not going to let up. It was game on.