“Okay, so hypothetically speaking, do you think the priestess-princess actually loved the prince in the story?” Ci-Ci asked during lunch.
I looked up from my phone and gazed at her. “Why do you ask?”
“Well we know the prince was whipped for her but it wasn’t confirmed whether she actually reciprocated his feelings.” She explained.
“That’s because the story was narrated from the mermaid’s point of view even though it was written in the third person.” I reminded her. “The mermaid never interacted with the priestess-princess and much like the sea witch, she was a catalyst.”
“Yes and I agree but think outside the box. Think outside of the perspective of the mermaid. Do you think the priestess-princess actually had feelings for the prince?”
I put my phone down and pondered on the question. “I mean…she married him in the end. That should say something.”
“But how do we know that she married him out of love. Just because she married the guy doesn’t mean that she married him out of love. Marrying him could have been convenient on her part.”
I furrowed my eyebrows. “Explain.”
“Okay so I have this theory that she married him out convenience.”
“Well it was an arranged marriage which was meant to be beneficial to the kingdoms she and the prince were from.”
“Yes but even though it was beneficial to her kingdom, it was also beneficial to her because she was paired off to someone she actually met.” She reasoned. “Can you imagine how terrifying it is being told by your parents that you’re marrying a nigga you don’t know and have never met for business, political and social benefits for both families?
“But what about the people who are forcefully tied into the marriage. They don’t know each other; they don’t know what the other person is capable of and that’s scary AF.” She explained. “The fact that the priestess-princess knew the prince beforehand was relieving for her. She didn’t have to worry about doing anything to please him because she had the assurance that he was going to take care of her and treat her well. Of course she was going to do the same but she didn’t have to love him back – maybe she did along the way. Who knows?”
“So what you’re saying is…” I said.
“The marriage was pretty much one sided in my opinion.”
My eyebrows flew up as I pursed my lips. i have to give it to her, she was making sense and brought up some good points too, I thought. Her theory was interesting.
My phone rang twice. I looked at it and saw that I had six messages from Maren.
I know this is the 15th time I’m apologising but
I’ll say it anyway. I’m sorry for pushing you into
sorting things out with Matthew. I was trying to help but
I only made things worse and I’m sorry
Please forgive me 🥺
It’s been two weeks already and I think I’ve
been punished enough 🥺
I let out a sigh after reading the messages. I hadn’t been talking to her after the incident with Matthew. I didn’t feel ready to talk to her just yet.
“Who that?” Ci-Ci asked.
“My best friend. She just checking in on me.” I answered.
“Are you going to the text her back?”
I grimaced my face gesticulating that I had mixed feelings about texting her. “Things aren’t exactly peachy between us.”
“What happened?” she asked.
“Just a small smile we got into.” I answered dismissively, shutting my phone off and putting it aside.
“Doesn’t sound like it was a ‘small fight’ if you’re avoiding her, sis.”
I sighed. “She was trying to help me with something personal but it backfired and I got mad. As much as I appreciate the effort, I don’t really like her being in my business.”
“Did she apologise?”
“Then you should let her make things right with you instead of shutting her out.” Ci-Ci reasoned. “Keeping doing that and you’re putting your friendship at risk and you don’t want that.”
I looked back at my phone and bit my lip contemplatively. There was some truth behind her words. As much as I was mad at Maren, I didn’t want to lose her as a friend.
I took my phone and typed in my reply.
It’s okay, Mare
I’ve been having a rough couple of weeks.
If you wanna talk or hangout, you can drop by our favourite
place if you’re free.
“So how’s school been?” Maren asked.
“Alright. There’s a lot of work to be done but it’s nothing I can’t handle.” I answered. “Plus, I took your advice and made some friends.”
“Aw.” She said, wiping away her fake tears. “My Honey Bee is making friends. That puts me at ease.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Are they nice?” she asked.
“They’re alright. Two of them are as wild as you whilst the other is pretty chill and not much of a talker but they’re nice people.”
“I hope you’re not planning on replacing me.”
“Don’t worry. You still have a special place in my heart, Mare-Bear.” I smiled. “Besides, I miss you.”
She gave me a sad smile, reaching for my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I know. I really wish all this work and my dissertation didn’t take too much of my time.” She sighed, rolling her eyes. “But I have to pass to graduate ang get my degree. Not to forget I need to complete my mentorship with Matthew.”
I pressed my lips into a thin line until something popped in my mind at the mention of Matthew. “You and Matthew are close right?” I asked.
She arched an eyebrow at my question. “We are but not on a deep and personal level. He is an open person though.”
“Is open about everything going on in his life?”
“No, he may be open but he’s selectively open, if that makes sense.” She explained. “He opens up about anything he deems necessary and appropriate or when he feels the need to vent out to me since I’m a good listener and can easily pick on people’s moods.”
“Okay…did he ever talk about someone called Lenore?”
As soon as that question left my mouth, the atmosphere became grave and tense. Maren’s upbeat mood turned dark in a matter of minutes and the hard and deadpanned look on her face scared me.
“What do you know about her?” she asked with firmness in her tone.
“N-not much. He only mentioned her when we last talked but not much was said about her and I didn’t want to pry.”
I could tell that she could tell that I was lying and saw that there was more to why I even asked about the person in question, but she chose not to question it. “She was a model at Queens. She and Matthew worked together on a lot of projects before her contract expired.” She said, leaning back on her seat and crossed her arms to her chest. “That was about two years ago when I had started my mentorship, but they were still in touch after she left Queens.”
“What was the nature of their relationship?”
“I was supposed to be strictly professional but one thing led to the other and – BOOM – they were a couple.” She said then muttered, “If we could even call them one.”
I arched an eyebrow.
“They were intimate but their relationship had no label and that was an obvious red flag I picked along with many other of course.”
“Well, she’s older than him, she was about to enter into her thirties while he was twenty five when their affair started. So I’m guessing she must already be in her thirties now.”
My face contorted into confusion. “How is that a bad thing? They’re both adults.”
“Yes, but you do know that there are some cons to dating older women right? Especially when the guy involved doesn’t have the emotional maturity to handle that type of relationship.” She told me. “It is nice dating a woman who’s independent, who knows what she wants and has some experience but the danger that comes with it is the clash of conflicting personalities and the power dynamic within the relationship. This was the case with their relationship.
“That and because I didn’t trust her.” She added.
“Because she gave off this vibe that she was hiding something and had some ulterior motives and that did not sit right with me. Even he could see it – but nope – he still continued his affair with her despite my warnings and next thing you know the heifer just disappears without a word.”
I knew someone who never opened up about her problems regardless of gibing her assurances that I’d always be there for only for her to just disappear and not tell me why. My chest clenched as I swallowed the lump in my throat.
“He loved her.” She said. “He gave his all into that relationship despite their differences and clashing personalities. He’s a realistic optimist while she’s a holistic pessimist. He always sees the good in the bad and makes sure he makes it that way. She sees things for what they are. If she sees something hopeless, she quickly moves on.
“He stayed despite how toxic their relationship got because he had hope that things were going to work out. So much for that.” She drank her tea. “He was broken and devasted after she left. He became detached and distant.”
“Is that why you asked if I noticed anything off about his behaviour that time?”
“I had a feeling but I initially assumed it was because they had another argument. Her leaving came as a surprise to me and though I don’t appreciate her leaving without a word, I’m glad that heifer left. He does not need her toxic ass in his life, period.”
“Whoa…” I said breathlessly. There’s no doubt that what Maren had told me was a lot to unpack but that was just the abridged version of what happened. The person who had the full story was Matthew.
“He is okay now, right?” I asked. “I mean, his mood was improving and making progress at least a little.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that, Honey Bee. Just because he’s fine and making progress doesn’t me that he forgot and moved on. He may have healed but the scar is still there.” She told me. “For all I know, he might not be over her.”