It had been three years since their meeting at IDC by the 7th floor elevator banks.
In spite of several invitations, Kem’s schedule seemed to never allow him make it to Bible study at Tam’s church such that he was pleasantly surprised when he got a call from Kem asking if he could join them at the next Bible study.
Tam made a mental note to talk with Kem after their Bible study about finding a Bible based home church even if OTR was not an option. From Kem’s questions asked during the Bible study, it was clear he had at a minimum, a curiosity about forging a personal relationship with God, but seemed to think he needed “to “be ready” before he could make himself fully available.
He suspected this desire to draw closer to God had something to do with Kem’s efforts to get back in Sammie’s good books.
Sammie had made it clear that her relationship with God was her first priority. In Kem’s words “I am pulling out the heavy artillery for this one.”. He had met Sammie about a year ago and things seemed to be going well. But to his surprise about seven months into the relationship, Kem decided it was best for him and Sammie to go their separate ways. Tam’s cue that things may be warming up between the two was how, Sammie seemed to come up more often, lately in Kem’s conversations.
It had been two weeks since the Bible study at OTR when Kem called to ask that they meet up the next day to go over the design mockups for Kanyi’s group.
Tam took a quick sip of his drink while Kem gathered himself. He was curious to know what and how Rio was part of the conversation. Tam had a litany of questions, but that could wait because it was clear something was weighing down heavily on his good friend’s mind.
“What is most confusing is why I feel so crappy about this” he blurted out in a whisper.
Rio had come over for what turned out to be a relaxed weekend watching movies and chatting and was getting ready to leave when she told him what she had done.
Kem: “I can’t believe you…you did what? When? , how? … I am sorry when did this happen? he asked in rapid fire succession.
Rio briefly looking away from mirror while applying finishing touches to her lipstick said “Sweetheart, correct me but am I mistaking your reaction as a mix of concern, hurt or shock or all?”
Kem: Of course I am shocked! and what’s even more baffling is the sense I get that you are not moved by the gravity of this bomb you just dropped on me. Pardon me if it just blows my mind” he snickered at her.
Rio: “Hold up,! hold up Kem!”.
She was now facing Kem who had his head bent towards the floor clutched between his hands, eyes closed.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So to be sure, remind me again, what was our… or better yet your understanding from the beginning” She sensed she may have struck a nerve by the way in which he jerked his head up and glared at her.
Kem: “What do you mean?”
Rio staring at him said “Maybe I can juggle your mind some. In the beginning, did we not agree that there would be no emotional strings attached. It was nothing more than sex correct?”
The swift manner in which Kem stood up, startled her but suggested that this conversation was too heavy for him to take sitting down.
“Rio what does that have to do with the price of garri in the market? It would really help if we stick to the real issue here. Forgive me for my somewhat visceral reaction to you just telling me that you had an abortion”. Kem smirked.
For a quick moment, Rio thought she saw a glistening in the corner of his left eye as he continued “and what is even more alarming is that you are telling me after the fact”
“Kem, I am not sure what difference it would have made, if I told you before I did it.”
He picked up a sudden somberness in her tone while she carried on “Besides, there was never any discussion about how we should handle pregnancy. For me it was that simple and clear; this was just about satisfying a physical need or desire. You are not having second thoughts?…”
She paused to catch her breath … “about this being anymore than it is or are you?”
Kem stared at her momentarily, turning around and dragging the soles of his leather slippers as he walked away. Rio unsure as to what to make of his non-verbal response to her question followed him into the kitchen.
As he gulped down the last of his drink of water and just as she started to speak, he raised his finger and said “Let me say something before you continue. I am really experiencing mixed emotions but one thing is crystal clear. I have no one to blame but myself. You are right that we never had that conversation about what to do in the event you got pregnant”
It appeared to Kem there was a glint in Rio’s eye. Her shoulders seemed to relax as she poured herself a glass of juice.
Kem continued “I must admit, I was content with a non-committal relationship, that way we don’t have to worry about mushy emotions getting in the way, no expectations, just the perfect arrangement. No expectations equals no complications. But here we are.”
A few minutes passed by and neither of them spoke.
Rio placed the rinsed out glass in the dishwasher. A few minutes later, she had her overnight tote slung over her shoulder and just before she turned the door knob on her way out, she turned around and noticed Kem making his way to the living room. He grabbed the remote control while settling into the loveseat.
“We are still on for Sunday right?
He gave her a fleeting glance before returning to the game and said “I am going to have to get back to you on that one”
Rio turned around and slowly shut the door behind her.
To be continued.