Ex Squared

You’re lying in his arms, head resting on his chest. You can hear the soft thud each heartbeat makes. He’s asleep but you’re awake, as has been the norm for almost a week. You have never been an insomniac. You never even understood the word. How was it possible that someone would go through the kind of day every typical Lagosian went through and not be able to shut down at night? Your eyes and your mind never even gave you that option. Even when you wanted to get some extra work done, they would simply shut of their own accord.
But strangely, for about a week now, you have been unable to sleep. You have refused to take pills. And now you tell yourself that it’s time to start asking some frank questions and giving honest answers as well.
Three months ago, you made a trip that brought back rushing, dizzying memories of your ex. An ex you weren’t speaking to at the time. An ex you wouldn’t even call to tell about the trip and how the rush of memories felt. And then three months later, you are in bed with that ex, trying to figure out why you’ve been having trouble sleeping.
He stirs and unconsciously links his fingers with yours and seconds later he is snoring gently. You sigh and turn in his arms, trying to find a more comfortable position.
Shortly after that trip, you ran into him at a bar where you and the girls were having a night out and after some small talk, he said he would call you the following day. You hadn’t expected him to. Not keeping to his word was something that was consistent with him. But he did. And you were a tad bit surprised.
So you met up for dinner on Sunday and spent a few good hours catching up. You were so guarded, it was rather ridiculous and he pointed it out. You had laughed nervously and apologized. How was it that he could make you so uneasy even after all this time? You thought you had it together.
Eventually, you relaxed and filled him in on work, your numerous projects at the office, the late nights which had now become part of the job and the relationship life which was non-existent. He told you about his own job, his promotion and the random women he had surrounded himself with after your relationship. When you asked why he wouldn’t commit to any of them, he said
“Commitments aren’t for me. I don’t think I can be with just one woman.”
“Right. Of course. That was why you ended things.”
He shook his head.
“No. It was a lot more complicated than that. Besides, I thought we ended things. It wasn’t just me that made the decision.”
You laughed and shook your head.
“Don’t even go there. Like I had much of an option”
He raised both hands in mock surrender and you laughed. A thought ran through your mind and you decided to act on it.
“One question. Don’t lie to me.”
He smiled and nodded.
“Did you ever cheat on me while we were together?”
The horror that spread across his face was amusing.
“You think I did?”
“You’re not answering the question.”
“Of course I didn’t! Why would I do that? I loved you!”
“Well, you didn’t stick through the relationship and you just said you couldn’t ever be with one woman.”
He sighed and dropped the glass he’d been holding.
“I didn’t stick through the relationship because I was afraid and then things just got complicated. But somehow, I have been measuring the women against you since then. They never meet up. They all have bits and pieces of you but no one person has it all. Maybe if I found that one person, I’d be willing to try.”
You threw your head back and laughed really loudly. Your amusement was genuine.
“Uche, you’re not hitting on me, are you?”
“Nope. I’m just saying. I mean, I know you hate me. And things are a lot different now.”
“Don’t be silly. I don’t hate you. We’re both mature adults. The relationship didn’t work out. As is normal in life. We’re friends now. And that’s fine.
The rest of dinner that day went really well. And you should have ignored him when he asked to see again, but you didn’t. You went out with him on so many other occasions until he was effectively integrated back into your life.
You pause in your reminiscing and you ask yourself why you let that happen. Why didn’t you stop him? Why didn’t you stop yourself?
When he kissed you that night at the karaoke bar in the midst of your friends, why didn’t you stop him? When he finally surprised you with the road trip you had requested for countless times while you first dated, why did you not turn him down?
You’re asking yourself all these questions because the truth is, everything he ever did after that particular dinner brought you two closer together. And you unwittingly drifted back into a relationship where he was doing all things right. He told you he loved you, he doted on you and did everything you required of him.
But in your heart, you know the truth. You really aren’t in love with him. And you can tell that it is the reason you have been unable to sleep.
Because only last week, he started talking about marriage and raising children together. And coming from the person who had been avoiding commitments for a long time, you knew he wasn’t playing. And you also knew that you were absolutely not in that place with him.
You wake up the following morning, having caught only a couple hours of sleep and you seat and watch him for a few minutes until he eventually wakes up. He smiles and reaches out to touch your face.
“You know, I would totally love waking up to this face every morning. It’s so beautiful.”
You smile and gently take his hand off your face.
“Hey. What’s wrong?”
Concern. You smile.
“Nothing really. I just spent a lot of time thinking last night.”
“You did? You couldn’t sleep again?”
You nod and he makes a sad face.
“I’m so sorry babe. You should have taken the pills.”
“No. I was able to figure out why. And… I’ll need to fix it.”
He yawns and sits up facing you directly.
“Alright. What is it?”
You take a deep breath. This will be hard.
“The truth is, you and I are not in the same place emotionally. I mean it’s great when we hang out. We have so much fun together, we look great on social media, our friends love that we’re back together. But I’m just- I’m not happy. I’m not content. I want to be able to feel something when you hold me. I want to feel something when I look into your eyes. I want to be excited about texting you, I want my heart to race when you I see your name in my caller ID-”
He interrupts you
“But those things are juvenile. We are adults. You of all people know that relationships aren’t based on mushy feelings alone. Those feelings come and go. It’s why they are feelings. You get a high temperature sometimes, but it leaves, no? Sometimes you feel hot and at others, you feel cold.”
“I felt that way every single day of the two years we dated Uche. Feelings are fickle, but at least let them exist. For me they need to be there and then the other ingredients mash up together to create something formidable. Yes, I was angry with you sometimes and we would fight. But even then, I would look forward to hearing from you. Your call would come in and my heart would skip.
We don’t have that now. All there is right now is you and your feelings and how happy I make you. And I want more than that.”
He sighs.
“So what are you saying?”
“I’m saying that although I make you happy now, it won’t be for long. Because soon, I will begin to resent you and it will show in the way I treat you and we will both be unhappy. So before this goes too far, let’s just end it.”
He smiles and takes both your hands in his.
“Babe, you’re cranky and irritable because you’ve been having trouble sleeping. I know you mentioned it and I’m sorry we haven’t been able to fix it but I assure you, we will get through this together, whatever it is. It’s the lack of sleep that’s causing you to think like this.
So, I’ll go take a shower, and come back, then we can try to plan a fun day together.”
You’re silent for a few seconds. The smile on your face is a sad one. Simply because he is in denial and you almost feel sorry for him. But you nod instead of saying anything contrary.
“Sure. Sounds like a plan. I could make breakfast while you shower.”
He smiles even wider, kisses you on the forehead and then gets off the bed.
“I love you babe. And it’s strange that you seem to be having doubts now, but we will work through them together. I’ve got faith in us, enough for the both of us.”
The moment he gets into the bathroom and turns on the shower, you get out of bed, pick your clothes and leave the room. You flag down a cab as soon as you get out of the house and settled in the back seat, you proceed to block him everywhere possible; his number on your contacts, on your whatsapp, on BBM, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Skype, Instagram and then you turn off your phone.
When you get home, you throw a few clothes into an overnight bag and the same cab takes you to a cheap hotel not too far from your house.
You check in, take a nice, long, warm bath and then pop a few sleeping pills. Just before you drift off to sleep, you think about him and how he must be feeling but it is only a fleeting thought. You remind yourself that sometimes being selfish is necessary. Like how he was selfish the very first time you both ended things. More like him ending things without giving you a fighting chance. Now you’re both squared. And that wasn’t even your intention.
A storm is coming. But first, you will sleep. And when you wake up, you will be well and able to deal with it.

13 thoughts on “Ex Squared

  1. Oge…..its been a while I read your post o r series; not because I don’t want to but because I have been off line. I must admit that I really miss your writing! Please dear could you turn this to a series? I really love LOVE and all that comes with it! Thanks. I give this post 5 stars.


    • Aww. I haven’t even been writing much dear. I’m certain you didn’t really miss out.
      I still have a pending series that I am yet to complete. If I can find time to conclude that, then I could start another.
      As for this story, some stories are best left short, don’t you think?


  2. It’s sad that both of them were not at the same place emotionally at the same time.
    I think she allowed him to get closer because she was looking for closure; to know if she still loved him, to know whether his shadow will linger in her next relationship and whether the fragrance of what they have will soil the next relationship.
    But now, she knows…and she is free. Now she can truly love another without fear or restraints…without any doubts.


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