Brian was just getting back from the immigration department. He had gone to apply for a passport but there was some slight delay and so he was asked to wait at least for a week or so. He was of course disappointed, wanted to get out of the country as soon as possible. He just wanted to get far away from everything and everyone that had made his life miserable, especially her ex girlfriend, Julia.
He paid up the bodaboda rider who had brought him with a one thousand note and asked him to keep the change after the guy started complaining of not having loose money with him. Under normal circumstances he wouldn’t but since he was the new millionaire in town, everyone wanted a piece of him, and further more he was exhausted and didn’t feel like waiting for the guy to go around asking for loose money from the nearby shops.
But an idea hit him, though too late, of paying via M-pesa. Is what people do nowadays, paying through the mobile money platform. He turned to call the bodaboda man back only to see his bike negotiating the corner at the end of the block. The guy of cause knew all along, or probably even had loose money, just wanted to leech him off some few shillings.
With much difficulty he trudged up the staircase — the problem with living in apartments with no elevators — to get to his apartment only to find Julia sitting on top of the plastic water drum by his front door.
He’s not quite surprised since she had been calling and texting like a lunatic since after news of his winning the jackpot started spreading to all corners of the country and beyond like Savanna grassland fire. With the bitter way they had ended their relationship, he didn’t want anything to do with her anymore. He had promised himself never to get in contact with her ever again. But now she was there, smiling like a queen’s maid.
“So you no longer leave your door keys where we used to?” Julia asked as soon as he saw Brian’s head popping up the stairs to the floor. She then continued after Brian didn’t respond, without noticing — or maybe pretended not to — the disgust written all over his face.
“Don’t tell me you nowadays go around with your house keys!”
Brian got to his door but instead of opening it, stepped back and leaned on the balcony rail. Fixed his gaze far away beyond the overlooking street. A lot of emotions that he didn’t know how to address were rushing through his mind, making him feel nauseated. He wasn’t sure if he was sick or if it was her sight that disgusted him. He felt churning in his stomach, wanted to throw up. Felt like throwing up on her.
After deeply inhaling, he turned to Julia who by then had come off the drum and was now standing close to him, sweetly smiling you will think she never left.
“Hi Julia!” He greeted her.
“Hi Brian!” She greeted back, moving closer with open arms. He coldly accepted the embrace, maybe only out of courtesy or for the old times sake, but shortly after pulled away.
“What are you doing here?” Brian asked her. She looked away, her smile starting to gradually fade away. She moved a step back towards the other end of the small balcony. She looked like a cornered gazelle. Her eyes started shinning like morning dew on grass after being struck by the first sun rays. Tears were forming in her eyes and only God knows how he hated watching adults cry. It send chills down his spine leaving him in a panic. Unfortunately he had no extra handkerchief or even tissue paper at hand, so he let it pass.
She still looked beautiful, Brian couldn’t dispute that. Only a few inches shorter than him, there she stood in her black pair of stilettos, probably new. Her hair was well braided and smelling of nice fragments and she wore her favorite perfume, the one she knew he liked. The dangling blue earrings looked exactly like the ones he had bought her in Naivasha town on their last trip together. The white blouse under a brown jacket and on top of a navy blue pair of jeans made her look irresistible. She looked gorgeous, he had to admit but he was not ready to tell her so. He was in no mood for compliments. He just wanted her to be gone.
“Are you not going to invite me in, babe!” She said, her smile creeping back.
“No way! You should leave! And to be clear, I’m not your babe!” Brian shouted, pointing towards the stairs with his left hand.
He furiously went towards where she stood and she panicked, quickly moved away like she thought he was charging at her. Maybe she thought he was going to ruffle her out, which wasn’t the case. Yes, Brian was extremely mad at her and wanted her out of his presence but would never stoop that low, to the extent of laying his hands on her, on a woman.
He bent over the water drum and slightly tilted it with little effort — he was a strong young man with well formed muscles — and with his free hand pulled a lonely key from under the drum. Got up and went to open the door.
He didn’t close it after him. Maybe he was in dilemma, not sure whether to invite her in or not. But by leaving the door wide open after him, was like he wanted her to invite herself in and she didn’t disappoint him.
After entering, Brian threw himself on the couch, kicked off his sneakers and then with one foot, slowly moved aside his laptop from the table to create room for his tired feet. He was careful not to tip over the dirty milk glass that dangerously stood at the edge of the table with flies excitedly hovering over the brim. He just wanted to close his eyes and for a moment disappear into a world unknown. But there was no way he was going to do that, not with her there.
Shortly after he heard her violently making her way in, complaining about the current state of the house, how untidy it was and how bad it smelled. She went over to the window, behind his couch and opened it after carefully pushing aside the curtains to avoid the dust from dirtying her.
“You still haven’t fixed this latch!” She complained.
“By the way what are you still doing in this ugly apartment, thought with all that money you would’ve moved to a better apartment, or better still bought a house!” She continued poking him without even posing.
“In fact when you didn’t pick up my calls or even replied back to any one of my texts, I thought you had already moved, maybe out of the country. And that’s why I came…”
“I see!” Brian mumbled, interrupting her.
“I know you won’t believe me but I came here to check on you because I still care about you!” She continued in a voice loud enough you will think they were arguing. He said nothing, just took a deep sigh and closed his eyes. She went over to the old fridge and found a bottle of soda, came with it with two glasses. Blew dust from one and poured the drink in both glasses, pushing one towards him.
“You are right Julia, I don’t believe you,” Started Brian, shifting over the couch trying to make himself comfortable. “You left me like I had the deadly Ebola virus, blaming me for all your problems in the world while I had been good to you. I did everything I could to make you happy.” He paused before continuing.
“You know after you had left, I started blaming myself for not doing enough to keep you, but then I saw you with that Egyptian guy you kept telling me was your boss!” Brian remarked, tears starting to form in his eyes. She had pricked a still raw wound, and it was painful. He had promised himself never to cry over her ever again, but now she was here again, making him break his own promise. He looked broken.
Julia broke down too, started blowing her nose with a milky white handkerchief. He moved to the couch Brian was sitting on, all the time saying sorry.
“Please forgive me babe! I don’t know what came over me. It’s you I’ve always loved…” Cried Julia, holding tight to Brian’s left hand. He pushed her away and sprung to his feet.
“Do you know how much you hurt me? Do you remember the number of times I begged you to come back?” Brian was to the point of exploding. He was always a calm person but with a fiery temper when provoked.
“I know I hurt you! You loved me but I took it all for granted. You’ve had my back since back in highschool and I left you for a man I barely knew.” She said kneeling in front of him. Warm tears dropping on his socked feet.
“I was blinded by his money and the expensive gifts he bought me, forgetting money is not everything. Last week he beat me up for a very flimsy reason, I reported him to the police and he got deported back to his country.” Said Julia.
“And is that supposed to make me feel better!” Growled back Brian.
“No Brian,” She snapped back. “I know there’s nothing I can do or say that will make all the pain I’ve caused you go away. I wish I could take it all back but I can’t. I’m only here, kneeling before you to beg for your forgiveness and ask for another chance to make up for my mistakes.” She said.
Brian couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He didn’t know whether to hate her more or what. And she had the audacity to ask him to take her back! All the anger left him and all that took over was just pity. She looked pathetic on that floor.
Since winning that money — over two hundred million Kenya shillings — everyone had been on his ass. Both friends and foes alike, family — distant cousins as well. Folks he had never heard of before in his life all trying to get in touch with him. Girls stalking him everywhere, he no longer even checked his social media accounts. He was forced to change his phone number so as to have a peace of mind, and probably the reason Julia couldn’t reach him on his old number.
“You called me a loser! Said I will fail. I hadn’t even graduated then, didn’t deserve all that!”
Brian couldn’t help reminding her that. It hurt him so much. It broke his heart even more. Just because she had found a rich guy, didn’t mean she could go around insulting him. It wasn’t right. And through it all Brian never said a single bad thing about her. He always replied nicely to all her provoking text messages. He told her sorry. Sorry for not being the guy she wanted. He was a prayerful guy too, prayed to God to give him strength to move on with his life and God heard him.
Brian now had money and he could go anywhere he wanted to go. He could have almost any girl he wanted. He now had the opportunity to follow through his dreams and change his life forever. He didn’t need her! At least not a treacherous girl. He had forgiven her, he told her that, but he wasn’t ready to take her back into his life. He just couldn’t trust her, not anymore plus the timing was just off. He had plans, plans that she wasn’t part of. But still he didn’t know what to do with her. Julia was now coiled on his couch shaking like she was under epilepsy attack.