The Journey Home

Untitled by Hector Gil

Lewis Agulue (3rd place. Fiction. Spring 2011 Writing Contest)

I walked in on them having sex.

Our bedroom was designed in such a way that upon entrance, our matrimonial bed is not directly visible from the doorway. It was designed this way to maximize the privacy of the occupants and so that if we had children in the future, we would be alerted to their presence before they had a chance to be scarred for life by the sight of us coupling. It was however, possible to have a glimpse of the bed from the reflection in the mirror on the dresser; but in other to do this, you had to be taller than 5 feet and 6 inches and by the time our kids attained that height, they would understand the value of privacy.

At first, I had difficulty believing that the female participant was Jennifer Connelly, the woman who had vowed to love me for better or worse, the woman whom I had shared myself with, the woman whom I trusted with every fiber of my being and promised to love and be in love with for the rest of my life. At this point I made up my mind that logic was illogical. It definitely was not my wife in there moaning excitedly to the pleasure of another man. And even though he said her name, cognition did not place that name as that of my wife; it just sounded similar. He said her name again but it was just some other woman who shared a name with my wife, and then I started to wonder, were these guests of Jennifer who had accidentally walked into my room thinking it was the guest bedroom? Of course, that was it, and I was invading their privacy; even though it was my bedroom, they still had a right to their privacy, and just as I was about to turn and leave, the greenish-yellow/beige glow from a 5-carat cubic zirconia ring caught my eye. At the sight of that ring I experienced a wave of nausea followed by acute tachycardia. My heart beat so fast that I could feel blood rushing to my ears. It couldn’t be. I groaned as the reality of the situation hit me and then I walked into the room taking one dreadful step after the other, laden with the knowledge of the fact that the life I had built and everything I had believed was an illusion, that my wife was in this room, making love to another man.
 
 
 
She was as limber as a contortionist but much more pleasurable to watch. Jenny was the most physically appealing woman on this side of the southern hemisphere, and I, Corey Hayman, have been in love with her for six years. Her eyes were as dark as a pool of black ink and her gaze was direct but not piercing; she had the ability to hold your attention just by looking at you because she could speak through her eyes. When I met her I knew she was out of my league, but I was overwhelmed with a compelling feeling that if I didn’t make a fool of myself just to engage her for five minutes, I would be doomed to wander the face of the earth forever, endlessly soliloquizing about the possibilities that would have occurred had I just spoken to her. And here I am, with her, have been for seven years. Yet it feels like I still can’t get enough of her, and every time we make love, there is still a shadow of our first union, the details of which are still as fresh to me as the harvest of a new season.

We had gone on what seemed to be our hundredth date. She had let me know right from the start that she did not make hasty decisions and was in no hurry to jump into bed with any man, and even when she did, there was commitment involved. I never tried to persuade her, and night after night, I gave her a chaste kiss on the cheek and watched her magnificent hips as they swung to the rhythm of her footsteps. She used to be a dancer and she was quite light on her feet and her lithe movement complemented her glorious curves. That fateful night, as we navigated the streets of upper-middle class suburbia en route to her house, there was silence; not an uncomfortable silence, and it was not treated as such, rather a quiet knowing of our place in each other’s lives. I pulled into the driveway of the Spanish colonial home where she lived, I walked her to her door, and when I tried to kiss her on the cheek she turned and planted her lips on mine. I was so lightheaded I almost lost my footing and my vision blurred a little, like I was experiencing vertigo. Instead of going into the house, she walked to the corner and then into the backyard, and I followed in a daze. At the mounds of upturned earth where renovations were being done to include a pool, she took off her shoes and called out to me gently. Thus began our physical relationship.
 
 
 
Stephen King wrote, “The mind can calculate, but the spirit yearns and the heart knows what the heart knows.” My mind and spirit both failed me now in this, the most crucial of times, and as I took step after dreadful step into the room, a wave of nausea washed over me before I could reach viewing distance of the occupants. I turned around and walked out of the room; I could not summon the will power needed to verify what my heart already knew. I walked down the stairs, into the kitchen and out the back door onto the verandah because I needed some air. It had been a cool August night, the sky was crystal clear and the stars shone beautifully; the garden in the front of the house, bathed in light from the moon, was an eloquent shade of gray, alive with crickets sounding their mating call. It was a beautiful night to be falling back into the arms of your lover; but in the twenty minutes since I had walked into the house, the weather had changed drastically. It was wintry cold, the sky was cloudy, and no moonlight illuminated the backyard. It seemed like nature was replicating the turmoil I felt inside.

And there was a pool. This was the strangest I had felt since this nightmare began. Jen and I had not discussed putting in a pool, and I had only been gone two weeks; surely one could not be installed in so short a time. But all was irrelevant because I was still nauseated and my heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest. The doorbell rang; it was too late for a visit from anyone we knew, but tonight was a night of strange occurrences and I decided against going to check on our night caller.

Just then, I heard footfalls coming down the stairs. A strange man with blonde hair was coming down to open the door, followed somewhat closely by a woman so Junoesque and angelic that she could only be my wife. Then just as suddenly as the weather had changed, an anger so intense and so pure overtook me. This was too pure to be anger; it was rage born out of pure lunacy and my vision blurred as I let it consume me. I started to approach the man and the rubbery feeling in my legs was no more, my fists clenched so tightly my fingers dug into the flesh of my palms. The man opened the door and I stopped dead in my tracks; my anger dissipated just as quickly as it had ensued and my state of confusion returned.

My mother was at the door. I must have fallen and hit my head for this was surely a hallucination. Not only did she not flinch and step away from this stranger, but she smiled warmly and called him by his name. She stepped into the foyer followed closely by someone resembling a Passamaquoddy medicine man, and then my mother hugged the stranger who had just been defiling my wife in my house. I took a few steps back and found myself in the kitchen away from view of the strangers in my foyer, contemplating the events of the evening, evaluating every detail to find out just how I had ended in this terrifying and world-shattering twilight zone.
 
 
 
As I opened the door, I felt a little awkward looking at Chelsea after what had just happened between Jennifer and me, but she smiled and her smile always made me feel more comfortable. She stepped into the house with the man she had promised to bring with her. He looked like a Native American and he dressed the way Native Americans were depicted in movies and paintings, except there was nothing fictional about him. His was not a costume and his presence was humbling as if there was a halo of power around him.

We all moved into the living room, the medicine man leading the way and chanting softly. He turned and gave Jennifer specific instructions to light some herbs on fire as soon as he dropped some cowries and reminded us of time constraints. She nodded in understanding as she took the herbs and got some matches ready. The medicine man kept chanting, and then he stopped and said out loud, “Samuel Gibbons, son of Chelsea and Abraham Gibbons, husband of Jennifer Connelly, come from where you are in the kitchen and show yourself.” Then he dropped the cowries to which Jennifer lit the herbs.
 
 
 
I was behind a wall in the kitchen trying to find out if I was losing my sanity when I heard the medicine man call out to me. It was all very confusing because I did not understand how this man knew I was here. I still could not make sense of what was going on and was too confused to apply cognitive reasoning. I decided to confront them directly and find out what the hell was going on. I stood in the doorway of the kitchen and looked at the people in the living room; they all stared back but not directly. My mother had tears welling up in her eyes and a somber expression on her face, and my wife, my beautiful wife, looked tainted to me. But she was still beautiful and I loved her, and at the sight of her I was willing to forgive her transgression and begin anew because I still felt overwhelming happiness just by laying my eyes upon her.

And then I saw that man, Corey, I think was his name, and the reality of this unreality set back in, so I demanded to know what was going on. But as I spoke, so did the medicine man, and it was as if he was my doppelganger because his words were exactly my words and the inflections were exactly the same. I looked at him in surprise and so did everyone else in the room. Then I spoke to my mom and asked her what was going on, and again my doppelganger spoke. My mom burst into tears and so did Jennifer. I had reached the zenith of confusion and my patience started to wear thin.
 
 
 
Jennifer had confided in me about a year ago about an unease she felt and had been feeling for a long time. She said she always felt very strange after we made love, and it had been going on for a while. She explained that she felt as if we were being watched, and that it always left her feeling lonely afterwards. Tonight I stood next to Chelsea and behind my wife, completely freaked out by what was going on. I am a man of science and have never believed in spirituality, but here was a medicine man in our living room, chanting, burning things, and throwing pebbles. And he just spoke in a voice completely dissimilar to the voice he had spoken in less than two minutes ago, and he called Chelsea mom. This suddenly made me a believer and it was scaring the crap out of me.
 
 
 
As it turns out, I, Samuel Gibbons, am dead. I died nine years ago in a car accident on my way home to my beautiful wife, Jennifer. I had been away on a business trip for a few weeks and was on my way back to her. To say she made me the happiest man in the world does not fully describe the feeling I had when I was with her, neither was saying that I loved her. Before we met I always had a view of meeting someone and falling in love and being happy with the person who completes me. She, however, showed me a different path; she made me see that in love and marriage, most people look to others to find what they lack in themselves, they look to others to complete them, and therefore, depend on relationships to save them; they seek their better half. She said that in marriage, two become one, but that does not necessarily mean two halves; it can mean two separate entities merging to form one. She made me realize that you shouldn’t look in others for what you lack in yourself because human beings are unpredictable, and if they become predictable, they become boring. Find what it is you lack, but look for it in yourself; if you can’t find it, make up for it somehow and make yourself whole. Do not look for what you lack in others; that way you do not depend on someone else for your happiness. Right then and there I had fallen in love with her, and it seemed like my life before that was geared towards bringing me to that moment. From then on I had been complete.

My desire for my widow burned with a fiery passion and it resonated even beyond the grave. And any time she feels ardor, I complete that journey home to meet a piece of my heart that I left here with her and have been doing so for nine years. The time had come for me to move on because she was married now to another man and I have been completing that journey to their matrimonial home.

I looked at my widow and I loved her even more than I ever did before. I felt a tugging and the lights flickered. It was sort of scary because it felt like there was a spirit in the room. I was dead, so my energy was probably interrupting the electrical current. I was the spirit. The herbs were burning out and from my understanding, it symbolized the elimination of my existence from this side of life. It was time to meet my maker and give account of my life. I said goodbye to my mother and my lover, acutely aware that it was the end of the trip that I never took home.
 
 
 
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One Response to The Journey Home

  1. Joseph Mokouba-Sony says:

    Great work!

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