I had to prepare for a public lecture on Modern African Literature, which was to begin in the next thirty minutes, and yet I couldn’t put the phone down. I read the text for the fourth time, while imitating her voice in my head. I was overjoyed. Everything I have longed to hear her say where conveyed in the short message. A notification from Clare, one text, and my spirit’s elated; “You’ll never love me like you love her. I guess, even though my heart wants me to stay, I have to let you go. Bye, see you around.”  I had been waiting for the text for almost a year now. Finally, the wait was over. The chapter closed. I tossed my phone on the bed and headed for the shower.

I reached for the shower knob to turn the water on, when the phone rang. I guessed the caller had to be Clare, probably intending to communicate the ‘good news’ verbally. Consequently, I dragged myself towards the bed, while hoping that the call would be registered as miss call. My prayers were answered. As I reached for the phone, the call ended and the screen went blank. Trusting my intuition, it never bothered me to confirm if it was indeed Clare. The bottom line was, I had gained my freedom, there was no point in meddling with the past. For better or for worse. Thus, I turned and headed back to the washroom.

What is the point of being with someone you know you will never give all your love? I had explained to Clare severally that our love story was never in the scripts, but somehow, she had managed to trick my heart into staying with her a little longer.

“You deserve someone who loves you deeply as you ought to be loved, I am not that person.” I had told her one night when she had stayed at my place late into the night. She never seemed to have acknowledged the painful, blunt truth and the guilt in my words.

“I wish I could give you everything you deserve, but I can’t.”  I had gotten off the phone with Stella, my smile radiant, my eyes burning with passion.

“I know.” Is all she said. And she came back the following day.

In five minutes, I had concluded the bathroom business. I slipped into clean clothes in a flash, picked my phone from the bed and headed to the door while confirming the identity of my last caller. It was a strange number. I decided to call back.

“Hello.” I said when the person at the other end picked up after two rings.

“Hello Dismas, you are speaking to Dwart magazine chief editor.” An articulate soft voice gushed my ears. I hesitated momentarily.

“Uh, how may I help you… eh.”

“Sofie. I am pleased to inform you that your short story titled Nathaniel has been accepted for publications.”

Nathaniel is a short story I wrote in the last quarter of last year. The story chronicles the life of the young man whose mother abandoned after birth. In his twenties, a gang leader struggling with self-identity, his mother comes back into his life to try and make amends. But the damage had been done, and not even his mother’s wealth could calm his violent spirit. Only robbery with violence. Like most stories I have written, I had never intended to send it for publication. On receiving the great news, I was elated. I struggled in vain to control my joy, “That is great news Sofie. I am very much honored.”

“The story was captivating; all our editors couldn’t let it slip. We have emailed you a copy of copyright deal, all you have to do is read and sign. You can drop it at our offices anytime, even today.”

“I am on it. Thank you very much.”

“Thank you Dismas. Have a good day.” She clicked off.

“Have a great day Sofie.”  I reached for the table to place the phone as I process the news. My hands fell. The cold of the floor tiles sucked the warmth off my fingers. I retreated my hands inside the duvet. I turned and rubbed my eyes. There was a distant taste of euphoria in my heart. My spirit craved to cling onto the slipping ecstatic moment, but sleep had already deserted me. I checked my phone. 8:54 am. Monday 11th March, 2019. I jumped out of the bed, the public lecture on How Data Scientists Think was in twenty minutes.