Dennis paced back and forth in the Radite Central Hospital awaiting the doctor’s verdict on Ester’s condition. It had been torture hoping and praying for a miracle, and watching her slowly wilt away like a dried up rose. Finally he was called in to the doctor’s office.
"Tell me what’s really happening, and don’t you lie to me ‘cause I’ll know," he told his colleague.
He was a doctor himself after all and he knew that Ester’s condition was critical. "The blow to the head was critical, a major artery was severely damaged as you already know," the doctor, Nolan, said then paused as he took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes.
"The surgery we performed on her helped remove some of the clotted blood, but her condition is still unstable especially since blood is having a hard time reaching some parts of the brain. Even if she were to survive, the damage is already done and we cannot tell to what extent," Dennis took the news quietly although his mind was screaming.
He sat on the chair for a full minute holding his head between his hands. It was something he always did when faced with terrible news. Realizing that he had to leave, he staggered outside pain gripping him by the legs threatening to pull him under. He considered going to her room, but he was afraid to see her, it would only make matters worse. He couldn’t bear to see her beautiful face and imagine what would become of her. If she were to survive, he recalled Nolan’s words. He started walking to his house instead of driving. It would take him longer, but there was no use risking his life that way. It was what made Ester lie in bed, reckless driving and he was feeling suicidal. If he were to get behind the wheel right now, he would speed himself straight to his grave. While he walked, he thought of the good times. The happy moments they shared after their reunion. It was fresh in his mind still.
"Come on, we don’t want to be late," Dennis urged his party of people on as they headed over to Ester's family home. It had been months since they started seeing each other again and he saw no further reason in waiting. They both were still very much in love with each other, so they decided it was time they get married. Today was going to be their engagement party and he was going to give her a ring in front of both their families. The dowry was also to be paid today, so it was a big day second only to their wedding day, the day she would become his wife.
The small town of Kansi was abuzz with news that Ester, the school teacher whom everyone thought was going to die an old maid was to get married and to her teenage sweetheart no less. The house was packed when Dennis arrived along with his father, mother, uncles, and relatives. They were ushered inside far away from dancing and drinking that had already begun. Of course, as tradition dictated, only the men sat in the living room to discuss matters while the women sat in another room. His bride to be would not come out until later. It was a long and tiring procedure, but it had to be done. After having a few drinks and formally presenting the dowry, they had agreed on beforehand, it was time for the ring giving. Ester came out all decked in traditional attire escorted by her cousin. She greeted first her in laws then turned to face her fiancé. She could not believe up to this moment that this was really happening. She would soon be married! And then it was like they were the only ones present. He got down on one knee and looked her in her eyes. Although no words were said, she saw it, the question in his eyes and hoped that her expression gave him the answer he needed. He slowly slipped the ring on her slender finger and it fitted perfectly. Cheers erupted from the assembled group of family and friends and they were brought back to reality. He stood back up and hugged her.
"I love you," he whispered to her, "always". It wasn’t a declaration he’d done that already, the glittering ring on her finger as proof. It was a promise not for the world to hear but for her ears only, and he prayed to God, he would have the chance to keep it. Ester wanted to return his words with a promise of her own, but the past held her back. And she doubted he'd feel the same way once the truth was out. So she kept her mouth shut and smiled in reply. Food and more drinks followed after, both families enjoying the fact that their children were to be joined in marriage. A date was set soon after and it would only be ten months until the wedding. What a long ten months that’s going to be, Dennis thought. He had no idea in how many ways. Ester still couldn’t believe that she would be leaving her hometown, the very same one she thought, she’d never leave and that she would go as a married woman into her own house in the capital. She’d asked for a transfer there and she was still waiting for a reply. Even if she were getting married, she would still work, teaching had become her passion. That and writing. Dennis had gone back to work at his own clinic, it had been only three weeks, but she was already missing him. She took out her notepad and sat down to write. She could never compose anything while typing, so she always started out writing in her notepad. Inspiration struck and the words flowed from her head on to the paper. It started out as a story, but as she filled a page, she realized it was poem. Without stopping she wrote and before she knew it hours passed. It didn’t matter since it was Saturday and she had no place to be. Only when her phone rung, did she look up from her notepad. The clock on her wall indicated that it had been nearly three hours.
She picked up her phone. "Did you miss me already?" She teased.
"Hello to you too, Ester," he said sarcastically, "But to answer your question, yes I’ve missed you," he added in that deep voice she loved hearing.
"You spoke to me just last night," she argued.
"Are you already tired of me? Are you having second thoughts?" He asked in mock hurt. "Aww, is the big doctor afraid?" She teased, "You know, I would never get tired of you, right?" She added more seriously. The line went silent for a second, but Ester knew that he was still there.
"I miss you too." She didn’t see it, but she felt it, his smile on the other side and she smiled to herself too.
A few weeks later, she was on her way to see him. She was on mid-term break from the school and since he can’t leave work, she went over to him. She opened the notepad she’d brought with her and continued the poem she was working on. She hadn’t stopped writing it from when she started obsessed with finishing it. It helped her pass the time and suddenly she had arrived. As he’d promised, Dennis was there waiting for her. He took the small bag and escorted her to his car.
"How was your trip?" He asked as he pulled the car out of its parking spot and into the road.
"As okay as bus rides go, I didn’t mind the solitude," she replied putting her notepad up to show him how she spent her time.
"I see, by the way, I bought the book you recommended. I couldn’t put it down until I finished," he said as they got into the car.
"Told you. You’d be hooked," she commented cheekily. She had recommended, he read a romance novel and he’d said guys don’t read romance. To have him read and appreciate it was no small feat.
"Anyway, I thought, we could go out for dinner tonight since you just got here and are probably tired," he said to her as they arrived.
"And I have to go back to the clinic, I still have two patients scheduled."
"Sure, I’ll just take a nap," she replied and let herself into the house.
It wasn’t the first time she visited him and she knew her way around. She went straight to the guest bedroom to freshen up. She had figured, they would go out for dinner at least once and she was glad that she had the good sense to bring at least one nice dress. After taking a bath, she settled down on the bed cross-legged and opened her notepad. She wrote until she realized Dennis was home, so much for taking a nap. They headed out to dinner at a nice restaurant in the heart of the city. They talked about everything and anything. They had heated debates and shared a laugh or two. Friendship had always come easy for them and they couldn’t wait to be friends forever. Since it was still quite early in the evening, they decided to take a walk around the streets after dinner. He bought her flowers from a stand and put one in her hair.
They passed by another stand selling handmade bracelets and ornaments and he bought two leather cuff bracelets, one for each of them, that had the letters D and E. Ester teased him immensely for the cheesiness but she was secretly happy for his gestures. What really threw her off, was when they’d passed by a street musician playing and he’d given him money to play a song. He’d then extended out his hand and asked her to dance. She was shy at first to be dancing in a crowded street among strangers, but because it was him she soon forgot the people because they didn’t matter. It was her and Dennis and the beautiful sound of the song.
The night was perfect, Ester thought as they began walking back to where Dennis had parked his car. But her mood was darkened when she saw the look on his face as they’d passed by an ice cream stand and he stared longingly at a family of four buying ice cream. She saw it, he wanted to have a family, expected to have a family. She unconsciously put her hand on her stomach as guilt threatened to sour all the good moments of the night. A voice in her head kept saying, he deserves to know the truth. But she was afraid that the truth would take away the only good thing in her life. She fell silent on her way home, but Dennis thought nothing of it, he assumed she was exhausted from all the walking, they did tonight. He was quite tired himself after the long day he had. And it was all worth it he thought. For some reason tonight, although supposed to be a casual dinner became somewhat of a moment, like a milestone along the long road of a relationship. He hoped, it would be one of many to come, a collection of memories to treasure and keep. They both retired for the night with Dennis sleeping peacefully while Ester lay awake in bed. The guilt that had been nothing, but a blunt stab was now bludgeoning her conscious.
She knew she was supposed to tell the truth, tell him everything from the beginning, but she always talked herself out of it. But after tonight, she couldn’t keep him in the dark any longer. It was lies and a lack of communication that had torn them apart before. She wasn’t going to do it again. Even if it will cost her everything, she was willing to pay the price. She slept for not more than three hours before morning came. She had made up her mind last night, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t scared. Dennis was an early riser, and he’d already gone for his morning run and showered by the time Ester found him drinking tea in the dining room.
"Morning," he greeted with a sunny smile, but his smile faltered when he saw her face. Wordlessly Ester sat on one of the dining room chairs ,a grim expression on her usually bright face. Tell him now, a voice in her head said, when there's still time.
"I have to tell you something," she spoke finally in a grave voice. A look of concern came over Dennis’ face, "What is it?"
Taking in a deep breath she began, "It’s about our baby, the one we lost." Dennis said nothing, but focused all his attention towards her. "I told you that day about how I lost him, but I hadn’t told you everything," she continued, "I was tricked into drinking that potion, but the reason I…." she paused as tears started to cloud her vision and her throat constricted painfully. Dennis got up from his chair at this and moved as if to hug her in comfort. She put her hand up to stop him. She couldn’t possibly say what she was going to say next with him hugging her. "The reason I never suspected anything was because, the one who gave me that potion was someone I trusted."
"Who was it?" Dennis asked and the look on his face was enough to tell that whoever's name comes out of her mouth faces possible death. It helped to know that it's impossible as said person was already dead and six feet under.
"It was my mother." It was as if those four words triggered something in him. He looked so enraged, she thought he might’ve being seeing red. Dennis couldn’t possibly fathom what Ester had just revealed to him. How could someone be so cruel as to rip one’s own daughter apart. The tears were now freely falling from her eyes as the pain, she had closed off a long time ago came rushing back with a force so strong, she almost couldn’t withstand it. It had been a blow for her, to have someone she loved and trusted, take something so precious away from her. But that was only half of it. Dennis who remained frozen on the exactly the same spot was left speechless, but he gave her a look that said it all. In his eyes she saw compassion, pain, anger, love and a need to shelter her from all that pain. But she knew what she would say next would change everything. It would take it all away.
"There’s more," she said in a trembling voice as a fresh batch of tears sprung forth. More bad news? Dennis thought. "Because of the way, I lost my baby, the doctor said…" she faltered once again, "he said that I…." But Dennis already knew what she would say next. It wasn't hard to guess. "I lost my ability to bare children," she said as Dennis sunk in a chair close by. He held his head in his hands as he couldn’t quite wrap it around Ester’s revelation. It was too much and she thought to only tell him now?
"We’re engaged and in a few months we are to get married, and you are telling me about this only now?" He asked his voice raising in anger.
"I know, it was selfish of me, but I didn’t want to lose you again, Dennis I love you," she pleaded knowing it will still do her no good. "I deserved to know," he shouted in a booming voice Ester had never heard from him before. It sent her cowering away from him. "I know, but I was afraid," she explained still in tears as she had already given up on reigning them in, "the reason why I never got married was because no man wanted a woman who couldn’t give them children and when you came to my house that day and said you wanted to start over, I just couldn’t tell you. I knew, it would drive you away."
Dennis said nothing after that, he was so angry, he couldn’t look at her. He got up and went to get dressed. "I’m going to work, I can’t deal with this right now," he said to her as he passed by her still sitting on the same spot he left her. As he slammed the door shut, Ester knew that it was over. Her inability to have children had always been a deal breaker, and it was no different now. He would come back later and tell her to leave his ring and never come back. She wasn’t going to wait around for that to happen. She grabbed her bags and caught the next bus headed to Kansi. The only reminder of her presence, her notepad and the engagement ring he'd given her on top of his dining room table along with the bracelet he'd bought for her the previous night.
Dennis spent his entire day in a daze, working robotically as his mind wasn't really into anything. All he could think about were Ester's words, and the words he'd said in anger. He hadn't particularly said any hurtful words but he knew the lack of resolution hurt her. He was also hurt by her secret. The anger he'd felt surging through him when she'd told him still existed in his system. He couldn't imagine how she survived all these years without breaking. He had gone to Kansi when Ester's mother died, and he was silently thankful that the woman was already dead. If she were alive he would have faced jail time for manslaughter for he would have strangled her to death. She was a murderer who ruined her daughter's life and his. She took away the chance he and Ester had of ever having children together. She took away Ester's first child not knowing that it would be her last.
By the time he was headed home, he'd come down enough to decide that he would marry Ester no matter what. She was a wonderful strong woman who endured so much darkness in life but who never lost her light. He would hold on to that light for as long as he could. As he turned around the bend near his home, one thought was clear and vivid in his mind; he would never let time slip from them as before. This time he was going to fight. That thought flew right out the window as he received a call from his soon to be father-in-law.
"Ester was in an accident, come to the hospital now," were his only words. He couldn't drive fast enough.
The second part is here. What do you think? Will time slip away from our two lovers or will they make up for lost time?
Miha - Your comments always make me smile, thank you so much for stopping by here. You were wondering who the trickster was now you know, and it's cruel, but people can be cruel like that. It just shows the extent of tragedy Ester faced. Hope you like this chapter.
Butterfly - Thank you so much, hope you enjoy this chapter.
Trix - Thank you, I updated as you asked.
Brittney Tracey - Thank you so much. This is set in the modern times, but it has a touch of African traditions which explains why it may feel like a period story.