Kimberly parked her 2016 Range Rover Sports car and stepped out of the car barefoot. She was parked in a corner of the Third Mainland Bridge, and she stared at the long stretch of road before her unseeingly. She automatically pressed the car control to lock the car even though the safety of her car was the last thing on her mind.
The night was windy but she didn’t feel the chilliness of the air around her as she began to walk blindly. Cars whizzed past her with some eagle eyed passersby noticing the well-dressed woman walking alone on the lonely bridge. The cars were moving too fast for anyone to take notice that she had no shoes on and that there was an unseeing stagger to her gait. Unconsciously, she was walking close to the edge of the bridge, her hand trailing the railings as she moved on autopilot.
The events of the last few months passed before her eyes as she walked. She was an award winning writer who had her debut novel, The Princess In Rags, released four years ago and with the release of the book had come the beginning of her problems. At the time it didn’t feel that way though, how could gaining international recognition become a problem? Her book was so successful that her agency arranged a book tour for her and she soon found herself moving from one country to the other speaking at important events. She signed two ambassadorship deals worth several millions of naira and in the twinkle of an eye, she was suddenly richer than her husband, Juwon.
Juwon was the love of her life, the man who supported her career even when she wasn’t making any money. Juwon’s income as a graphic designer for an insurance company sustained them when added to the little amount she was able to garner from her freelancing gigs. The release of The Princess In Rags changed their story and suddenly, she who had all the time in the world on her hands before was suddenly too busy for her man and marriage. They had gotten married after three years of courtship and agreed to start a family after five years of marriage but the book changed that. They had just one more year to go before starting a family but Kimberly wasn’t ready to be impeded by a pregnancy, she had after all just released a bestseller and signed a deal with an international publishing house to release another.
The task of combining attending events that raked in money and trying to come up with material for her follow up book was one that she couldn’t add the pressure of starting a family to. Juwon became just another facet of her life, an unimportant facet so she didn’t even know when he began to recede into himself. It was as if she didn’t need him or his money any more especially now that she was making more than him. She would sit at her laptop clicking away, preparing her next speech or working on her book or any of the other things that needed her attention. Sex became a burden to her and Juwon would beg for hours on end to get her to come to bed.
If The Princess In Rags had been a bestseller, the follow up book, Cocky Blue, was a smash and the divide between them widened. It was like a gulf had been opened between them and there was no crossing the chasm. She had no time for him or their marriage. Daily, he would plead with her, his popular phrase being, “Just give me five minutes of your time Kimmy.” She would dismiss him casually and tell him she had work to do and he should stop being so inconsiderate. The talks of children were no longer on the table as she made it clear it was the last thing on her agenda.
When Juwon first started drinking, the part of her that cared was a bit bothered but she pushed it aside by convincing herself it was just him being a man. All men drink, why shouldn’t he? She would tell herself. Coming home to the smell of cigarettes, weed and sometimes used syringes bothered her as well but since she didn’t ever meet him doing or using any substance, she didn’t bother to ask questions. She was about her next book, her next project and Juwon seemed content to have her slip into bed at 3:00am after working all night long on her laptop and refusing his pleas of leaving work for just five minutes.
How could I have missed the signs that were there? Kimberly asked herself bitterly as the tears streamed down her face with no move on her part to wipe it away. Juwon had been lonely and depressed about the gulf between them and despite being under the same roof, she had been blind to it. The drinking, smoking and drugs had been his cry for help yet she had been unbothered all in the name of chasing money so that their unborn children could have a comfortable future. How could she not have noticed the happiness he exuded whenever she conceded to have sex? For her, sex was an obligation, fulfilling a marital role without actually being a part of it. She would mechanically suck him till he got hard and comfortable enough for him to thrust into her while she lay there like a log of wood, thinking about what needed her attention. He had even asked her if she never got horny enough to desire him one night after a round of one sided sex. She had shrugged off his question and gone into the bathroom to clean herself. Persistently, he followed her and she finally responded that she wasn’t just a sexual being but they both knew she was lying. During their courtship and the early years of their marriage, she was the one with the insatiable sexual appetite, she had been a tigress in bed but now she was simply a robot.
That she could be cheating never crossed his mind, he trusted her that much. He knew the millions she was making had replaced him in her mind. She was more concerned about signing the next deal or working on the next story or book to care what happened to them. The little delights he took in her cooking, making the bed and cleaning the house were taken away when she employed a maid to attend to the mundane house chores she was too busy to do herself. Further and further he slipped into his depressed state without his life partner noticing the pain he was in. He couldn’t talk to anybody about it because as a man he had to fix his marriage and the fact that Kimberly was now a celebrity meant their marital woes would become a media circus should it get out. To the outside world, he was a happy man with all the money he could possibly need, he smiled next to her a red carpets or events she needed him at but at home she discarded him like a used condom, a tool that had served its function.
His depression affected his work because he couldn’t keep his mind on the things required of him and the addiction to his new found love, cocaine was making it hard to function. Unable to bear the pain any longer, he took an overdose of pills, filled the bathtub and silently climbed in. The idea to go in the Whitney Houston style came to him after he read of Bobbi Kristina’s death. He left the note by her work desk where he knew she would be sure to find it. Sure enough, that was the first place Kimberly resumed that night. She saw the note but when she saw his handwriting, she tossed it aside and made a mental note to read it later as she began to click away. It must be Juwon trying to be romantic or something, she thought, I don’t really have time for this now.
Three hours of productive writing on her next novel, she finally deigned to look at the note and she froze when she read the words. Was he playing a prank or something? She ran into the bathroom and screamed at the sight before her. He was lying in the bathtub face down and unconscious. She ran to him and touched his cold body but he had been dead for hours. Unthinking, she ran out of the house, pausing only long enough to grab her car keys. Now as she walked barefoot, she wondered what she could have done differently to save him. She realised she loved him more than life itself but hadn’t even known about his depression because she had been too wrapped up in herself.
But I was making the money for the both of us? Kimberly cried silently. He fucking had access to my credit cards, he could have said he was unhappy or something? Even as she said the words, she knew he had said it many times but she chose to miss the signs. She hadn’t thought it would lead to this. She stopped in her tracks and stared into the dark water under the bridge and something in her told her to jump. I deserve to feel the kind of pain that would come with being swallowed by the cold water, she thought. Mechanically, she began to remove her clothes. First her jewelries came off, followed by the expensive lace wrapper she had tied and then the blouse. She was in her lingerie now and she put one leg over the railing. She stared at the water and it seemed to beckon to her, she put her second leg over the railing and sat on the steel, feeling its coldness against her bare skin.
She couldn’t hear the noises; her mind was bent on what she about to do. She deserved to die. She deserved this, for pushing Juwon to take his own life. She didn’t deserve to live. Just as she made the leap, she felt two sturdy hands grab her and she leaned precariously in the air and realised someone had grabbed her before she could plummet into the waters below. She didn’t struggle, she didn’t fight to be set free, she simply went limp and began to cry.
Dedicated to the memory of DG
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