I remember the exact moment I realized I was in love with him. That day, I had rushed into the classroom with a broken zipper. He must have thought it strange that for the first time, I went to sit at the back – it was to do my assignment.
He had helped me complete it to avoid the wrath of the teacher. I watched as the students who did not do that assignment were made to lie face down on the teacher’s table, strokes of the cane landing on their buttocks and the class monitor shouting ‘minus one’ each time they touched their bums.
After that, he had become my math tutor. I admired how he found the mysterious pie, and the annoying ‘x’, and the invisible ‘y’ with ease.
I had invited him to my parent’s anniversary party. We sat next to each other and talked about how much we enjoyed each other’s company. It was obvious a girl envied me – Charity. She was not alone in that, a lot of people told me that I was lucky; that we were lucky.
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Charity’s calls that came in whenever we were together, caused fights sometimes. I would accuse him of having a secret a thing with her. She often pretended not to know how to solve the simplest of equations just so he would help her. She brought the math even I could solve – gold digger.
He loved me. I knew it.
This love was cut short – family. Mum said he would be useless, like the rest of his family. Dad said his background was evil and the people from there never succeeded. My sister blamed it on my teenage years, that I would find someone better.
I changed school. We relocated. Many things happened, and we did not speak for a long time. Just that, there was no actual breakup.
If I was me then – thirty-five, I wouldn’t have allowed it. I wouldn’t have pretended I was doing OK without him. I would have called and not wait for him to call first.
They had lied. There was no one better, only worse. The way he treated me then and the way some man I ended up marrying treats me now proves it all.
My daughter had called me to see him on TV. It was him, with Charity, now Mrs, with his surname attached.
I had changed the channel. Mum looked at me, whispering ‘I’m sorry.’ It was the only thing I allowed her to say to me, each time she saw him in vogue, a billboard or TV.
I didn’t say a word, but she knew, everything in me silently cursed her. That could have been us.
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Art Credit @alfred_darling_art_gallery