This was the second time within the hour that Bisi’s phone had vibrated since they arrived the restaurant. She had ignored the earlier buzzing because she was famished. By the time their two hour photography workshop was over, Bisi and Eva had worked up an appetite and without hesitation both settled on a lunch spot known for their cast iron mouth-watering cornbread.
Eva was Bisi’s closest friend from church. They hit it off after she participated in her first women’s ministry prayer challenge. Eva was her partner. She was already familiar with Eva’s work with their church’s media ministry and could not help but gush with praise at their first meeting about the brilliant job Eva had done with the mother’s day collage video. Eva in her modest way was quick to state her gratitude to God. “My prayer is that I use that talent to serve others and honor my Heavenly Father”.
Feeling around her bag, she looked up from her meal “Eva, thanks again for letting me in on the class. It has definitely reignited my interest in photography.”
The music selection which alternated between classics by Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong complemented the dimmed lighting and cozy feel. Eva seemed to be taking in the elegant 1950’s glamour themed ambiance of the bank-turned-restaurant, Bisi’s dry cough jolting her out of her reverie. “Bisi, I am sorry. I don’t mean to ignore you but I am completely blown away. This place is exquisite.”
Bisi had missed three calls; one from her mother, another from her sister and the third number was Unknown. As she listened to her messages she made a note to text her sister the information on the travel agent. With the time difference back to five hours, she had an extra hour to call her mother in Nigeria.
Bisi looked up at her while tucking her phone into the front pocket of her crossbody. “If I want to catch the next train, I need to get going”.
“I can give you a ride.”
Half hour later standing in her foyer, she felt a vibration. . She swiped the green icon on her phone which displayed “Unknown Number”.
“Hello…. Hello…”. No response. Just as she was about to hang up, “Hi Bisi, it’s Mezu”
Bisi glanced at her phone screen again as if to confirm this was not all her imagination.
“I am sure, I am the last person you were expecting to hear from.”
18 months earlier.
After Bisi got off the phone, for the next hour, she replayed different events leading up to the last hour. All that kept running through her mind was their last somewhat heated discussion. That was three weeks ago.
Bisi and Mezu happened to catch the last half of a TV talk show. The question asked was if there are circumstances that justify keeping secrets from one’s spouse even if it is related to something that happened before they met.
“I agree with the gentleman that certain things are best kept secret. Why rock the boat by disclosing less than favorable information about something that happened before they met.” Mezu quipped.
Bisi stretching into a sitting position on the couch said “I think it also depends on the nature of the issue, irrespective of if it is in the past, present or future. Are we talking you had your first kiss in kindergarten or more like I have a certain medical condition, children born and unborn from prior relationships or perhaps I made certain financial decisions that could have an impact on our future as a married couple? I would think those are big issues that could have a huge impact on any relationship”
Mezu took a quick sip of his drink before responding “I beg to differ. What good does it do? However, should he or she choose to share, then be strategic about when and how, would be my advice”. Mezu’s rationale was that a spouse may be less likely to walk out on a relationship in which many years have been invested especially with a few children to boot compared to the early years of the marriage.
For Bisi, the bigger issue was building trust, and as she put it “feeling safe” with the one person she would feel most vulnerable around.
Bisi smoothed out a strand of hair that tickled her left ear and then paused for a quick second “Mezu, it is a fact of life, as humans, if we live long enough; we will have regrets and do somethings we are not proud of. No one is perfect. However, in my opinion, trust is essential to any healthy relationship. So even where we have made poor choices, part of taking full ownership is where one is truly remorseful and willing to face the consequences, whatever that maybe.”
Bisi also pointed out that the act of coming clean was no guarantee of receiving forgiveness, immediately or even in the future. For her, making the confession was a pronouncement to one’s partner that they were changed and in addition to being held accountable, also willing to accept the consequences.
Even though their discussion progressed onto something lighter, it was not lost on her that Mezu appeared a bit withdrawn. She had to admit that even long after their discussion, Mezu’s views made her nervous.
Later that night, sleep seemed to evade her as the events of the day flooded her mind. Under the comfortable covers, lying on her side and hugging her pillow, eyes closed, she remembered the verse the pastor recited on the radio program on her drive back from Mezu’s that evening.
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8).
You could hear a pin drop in her bedroom. Her voice seemed louder than normal as she recited the verse. Just as she was drifting off, she managed to rush through a short prayer asking God for wisdom and clarity of mind to continue to seek His face and obey even in situations where it ran contrary to the world’s standards.
Bisi had picked up on a certain level of restlessness in Mezu’s demeanor. Initially she had attributed it to his dissatisfaction with his current employment or and perhaps it was her recent personal recommitment to God. Even though he accepted her invitation to attend service with her three weeks ago, it was not lost on her that he still had his reservations about her sudden rediscovery.
She felt he was increasingly becoming preoccupied and no longer returned calls on time. On a couple of occasions, he had canceled their date night last minute without any concrete explanation. The one time she pushed back for an explanation he claimed he was very busy. He even snapped at her a couple of times when she tried to bring up her concerns about their relationship taking a backseat. After the last outburst, Bisi decided to hold off on having a heart to heart with Mezu.
Mezu called her at work the next day. Four months ago that gesture would not have come as a surprise. He sounded like his normal self and whatever doubts Bisi may have had were put to rest when he suggested they catch a movie and dinner the following Sunday.
In the last couple of weeks, Mezu had attended a few interviews with good prospects. Bisi had not seen Mezu in a better mood in the recent past. It appeared to Bisi like he was beginning to snap out of his funk. That Sunday, she had already reconfirmed with Mezu and was set to leave her place in an hour.
As she stood in front of her open French door fridge trying to make up her mind between the homemade chapman and coconut water, the buzzing noise caused her to turn towards the island.
It was her phone vibrating. Bisi had this thing about being caught unawares by a ringing phone and so hers was always on vibrate mode and even at that, the vibrating motion sometimes still managed to startle her.
It was Mezu which seemed strange since she had just spoken to him an hour ago.
Pulling out one of the upholstered high bar stools from under the island overhang, she swiped the green icon and spoke.
“Sweetness, is everything ok? Pause.
Hello! Hell-Low! Mezu are you there? There was another pause.
Yes I am here, Bisi”
A couple of seconds passed and he continued. “… you know what? maybe we can do it some other time, I don’t think I will be able to…actually I am not up to doing a movie and dinner at Sybaris”.
For the next minute he went on about how he had a busy week ahead and the need to turn in early. The longer Bisi listened, the less it made sense. From her calculations, they would be done by 7pm giving Mezu more than ample time to get ready for the week ahead.
But even more striking was his tone. There was something different, something unsettling.
Adjusting her seating position and switching the phone from her left to right ear, Bisi pressed on for some more information. The only phrases Bisi managed to grasp onto were along the lines of …”serious thinking lately, serious thinking…serious. Even as those words twirled in her head, she managed to maintain a calm demeanor while trying her best to process what she had just heard.
“You keep breaking up, but let me make sure I heard you right. Mezu, you want us to do what?
Read continuation, Have Something to Say Part 1.