But for my unscheduled sabbatical, I probably wouldn’t have needed this (re)introduction. I’m kinda sorta the other writer here on Goldinwords, but apparently trying to get that little bit ahead of the pack meant working longer than you’re awake and harder than ten masons put together. But in the spirit of the Season, I was pushed to create this. Meet Vin: one-time bad boy who would have hung it all up for Pauline, if not for Life…& Genevieve. The kind of story that starts today, goes back into the day, then returns to later today and ends in a shower… 🙂
Based on a True story… 😮
* * *
Personally, I think it’s unfair that her face should be the first one I thought of waking up this morning.
Vincent cradled his head in his hands as he sat up in bed. By an uncanny stroke of (?bad) luck his leave began this Friday.
The house was quiet – Genevieve had probably left to drop off the kids at school.
The kids – Ayiwa & Fiifi. He smiled. He still couldn’t believe that Vin, the Heartstopper, was now a responsible husband & father of 2. Thank God that a consummate skirt chaser was still eligible at the end of the day to be blessed so.
He ran his hands through his day-old stubble as he remembered…Pauline.
That girl stopped me dead in my tracks mehn, he mused wryly. The ironic part was that he’d known Genevieve by then, but someway somehow, they were never in the ‘right place’ at the right time for things to *click* – that came later.
But Pauline…that woman nearly killed me oh, he grimaced at the thought. It was only in the darkest recesses of his mind that he would admit to himself that she was the first woman who actually Stopped the Heartstopper.
“Herh Yaw! Won’t you congratulate me on passing my exams?!”
It was a gold-hued late afternoon and he was worn out from working double shifts at the Pharmacy to cover for a very pregnant colleague who wasn’t ‘feeling too good’ and he was in no mood to deal with Pea’s rollercoaster of emotions. Vincent silently swore at himself for answering the call at the counter. She was the only one who constantly called him Yaw, and it was cute at first, but now it just grated on his last nerve. But the wise young man he was realized that to vent at this particular moment was the utmost unwise course of action, so he responded.
“Umm, I’m kinda busy at the moment dearie, can I call you back later?” Innocent enough sounding, eh? WRONG.
“Yaw, are you serious right now?! You didn’t bother to call all day and when I do so myself, you’re telling me you’re BUSY?!” Her voice managed to sound irritated & incredulous at the same time to Vin’s surprise!
Oh no, exit sweet Jekyll, enter Miss Hyde, he groaned internally.
Smiling apologetically at the client with a quizzical look on her face, he proceeded to parcel her purchases and quickly make up her receipt. Mrs Eshun, a regular at the shop, collected her drugs and then deliberately seated herself in one of the comfy chairs at the storefront. Uh oh. He was sure to get an earful from the outspoken former headmistress this time.
Turning away from her, he tried to tamp down the worm of annoyance that had begun to wriggle beneath the surface of his mood.
“Look here Pea, I’m sorry for not calling earlier. I’ve been busy at the shop since morning and I’ve barely gotten a second’s breathing space with -”
“Don’t give me that Yaw!,” she cut in, annoyed. “I saw you had time to Whatsapp an hour ago, didn’t you?!”
Vin wasn’t sure if he was more shocked that she would cyberstalk him just to start a fight when she could have just as easily called him earlier herself, or found it more funny that she would even admit to doing so. That was why he burst into a surprised laugh… Wrong. Move.
“You’re laughing?? Am I such a joke to you that whatever I say comes out as funny to your ears??!” The lady was finally well & surely on the warpath! “You can be such an insensitive person sometimes, you know?? And so selfish too!”
All levity snapped out of Vin’s mood with that last bit.
“Okay. Thank you for those nice words. I’m glad you’ve finally gotten that off your chest,” he was hurt and his words dropped like chiseled stone. “As I said, I’m quite busy at the moment. I’ll speak with you later” He knew he didn’t have to hang up on her because half way through, he’d heard the *click* that signalled the call’s end.
He then held the phone at arm’s length and released a long sigh, bowing his head as his shoulders slumped. This isn’t supposed to happen to me, Vinnie thought.
“Ahem,” Mrs. Eshun cleared her throat, “can I step in now?”, she asked coyly, twisting the chair to face him.
Here goes Round Two: Me vs Estrogen, he inwardly groaned.
“Yes, Auntie Aku?,” he replied drearily.
“How many times did I call you?”
“Three times madam”. He tried to smile at her unusual beginning to his blasting.
“I’ve seen a lot so listen carefully to what I’m about to say. I’ve been friends with your mother since you were a boy and seen you grow up since then so I know you’re not an angel. But you’re like a son to me in more ways than one so I want you to take this advice in good faith. First ask yourself these two questions: why do you like this girl? Do the things she does at least prove she feels the same way about you? Then I want you to finally put all the things you know about her together and honestly ask yourself: if I had known all these things from the first day I met her, would I still have dated her?’
To say Vin was surprised would have been the Understatement of the Century. He’d been expecting a dress-down of epic proportions for answering the phone call during her order and so had instinctively put up barriers to that tongue-lashing so he was utterly unprepared for this.
Squashing down the petty annoyance at her for listening in on his private conversation with a little more than a bit of effort, he sank into a chair behind the counter and sighed.
“Auntie Aku, you don’t understand. She’s everything I ever thought I wanted in a woman,” he began counting off his fingers “beautiful, intelligent, tough, independent, she likes some of the odd stuff I like such as old highlife music…she’s the whole package!”
“So why are you struggling then?” the coy smile was back
“I…I…I don’t know “, he gave in to a sudden sadness. “It’s like this poem I read some time ago:
when she called I ran,
when she cried I wept,
what she thought I did.
“Auntie Aku, can you believe that ever since we started dating, we’ve always eaten from Noble House, Royal Park or Golden Tulip?? Apparently she doesn’t like the taste of food from any other place. Then it was her birthday and I got her a full set of jewellery – and yes, it was real gold. Forget the number of times I stuck by her side driving her all around town on one errand or the other, all she had to do was call! All this and when I’m busy at work trying to make some extra money to keep you happy, you call and accuse me of being selfish?!”
Auntie Aku’s eyes were wide open by now.
“Ebei Yaw! I didn’t know you had so much money to spend now. You should be dashing me all my medications by now o!” She ended in a surprisingly girlish giggle that set Vinnie laughing and within seconds they were both roaring with laughter as they shared the apparent absurdity of it all.
Vin opened the small door to the side of the counter and came round to sit next to Auntie Aku.
“Auntie Aku, I think I know what you mean. I’m now looking back on the year we’ve shared and for every good time we had, I can remember at least 3 unpleasant ones. Little arguments and feuds over irrelevant things… I think the thing I resent the most is the person I become around her. And no, if I knew then all I know now, I wouldn’t have touched her with a 10-foot pole!”
“Not even for the Dance?”, she quipped good-naturedly.
Vin smiled, “No, not even for the Dance.”
“So what’s stopping you from moving on to better things now?”
“I guess…I guess I love her, and I don’t want to give up too easily. Maybe I can change her..?”
“Oh Vincent! You young people are always in a hurry to go nowhere. You love fiercely, but not deeply. You act as if there’s only One love for you on this earth so whenever you think you’ve found it, you go to unnecessary lengths to hold in to it, even when it obviously wants nothing to do with you. There is a time to hold on, and another time to let go my boy,” she paused and shook her head sadly. “I don’t think I could even begin to address this irrational fear you all seem to have of being alone! Full grown young men and women paa…”.
She reached forward to tap Vin’s chest lightly.
“Most of you unfortunately never realise that this thing inside of you is much stronger than you give it credit for and all you’ve got to do is give it time to do 2 things: to heal you of all past mistakes that push you into another mess in a hurry to ‘fill’ the hole in you, and to make sure you don’t just fall in love with the right person, but Stay in love with them.”
She leaned back into the chair then.
“But then again, I can’t honestly put the blame squarely on you for your current attitudes. I guess some of your parents – we – are to blame too. We failed to teach you how to Fix things and so whenever things go wrong, you don’t know how to fix them and immediately want something brand new. You’ve grown up to believe that Brand New is always better than Repaired. You forget that until The Lord calls us home, things are more likely than not going to go bad at some point. You take each other for granted just because the other person is offering, even though you’re not interested, then you ‘save‘ yours for your Mr or Miss Right, forgetting that the laws of Karma are inviolate. In that, you are all indeed Selfish.”
Vin was stunned. He’d thought he’d leave with a solution to his Pauline matter finally today, but instead was having the real veil drawn from over his eyes.
“I…I’m sorry Aunty Aku, ” he stammered as realization dawned upon him.
“Oh?! Why are you apologizing my boy? You’re not just a perpetrator in this, you’re also a victim. I’m just pointing out a few details that I’m sure you’ve never noticed, running through this maze you call Life. Now all you’ve honestly got to do is to get up and take control of your heart in these corrupt times” she shook her head.
She smiled at him, patting his hand a few times as if to reassure him.
“Now there’s only one last question”, she gathered her drugs and walked up to the door which Vin then held open for her. “What are you going to do?”
Vin smiled as she walked out into the dusk, not bothering to wait for an answer.
This woman be dramatic o! He shook his head silently as he closed the door.
The events of that strange evening would continue to resonate through his mind in the days to come, throughout the mini-feud that resulted from that incident between Pauline and him, to the next lacklustre reconciliation, till she suddenly ceased all communication with him abruptly.
Oboy nearly went mad o! Calling up mutual acquaintances to inquire as to her whereabouts, dreaming up several scenarios as to what could have befallen her, alternating between depression & anger at all the ignored WhatsApp messages (bless/damn the person who thought up “Last seen today at …“!!!) He didn’t need anyone to point out just how stalkerish that was – he only just wanted answers. But even those were denied him time & time again.
It went on until he stumbled into his apartment one day, tired from repping all day and just fell unto his bed, shoes, tie & all. Then like a bolt from the blue, the last question Auntie Aku asked him came to mind: “What are you going to do?”
I am going to close this door for the last time and never look back. I’ll burn that bridge down with prejudice.
And really, that was it. All contacts went down the toilet so he’d never succumb to temptation to call her up. He cut all ties to the other girls who’d managed to jostle in in attempts to fill the void she’d left in her wake. Vin at last cleaned up his act.
Then Genevieve occurred. And this time, he was ready.
He couldn’t later explain the earlier compulsion he’d felt to bypass his usual carrier’s services this time and head for another. As he got to the new one, he just barely concealed his shock before the attendant raised her head.
“Good morning, how may I help you s-” She stopped dead in her tracks as she recognized him almost instantly. “Vin! Imagine bumping into you after so long,” she tried to regain her composure but he’d already seen her shock at seeing him and positively beamed with contentment.
“Yes o, Pea. It’s been ages. I’m glad to at last confirm that you’re still alive!” His smile was definitely annoying her & setting her on edge, evidenced by how she clenched the pen held in her left hand just a bit more tightly at his response – which only made him smile wider.
“Well, I can’t talk for long; I just came to check in with my party of 3 before the flight to Kumasi. Seats 4 to 7 in First Class, I believe? Under the name of Mr. Vincent Archison?”
“Yes, I can see them right here,” she replied in a tightly clipped voice, “Any baggage to be checked in? ”
“Um, just this,” he hefted a medium-sized suitcase unto the conveyor belt. “The rest have their things in smaller carry-ons.”
“Okay then,” she replied, recovered somewhat with the bubbly back in her voice just as in the past. “So. You can just wait in the First Class Lounge till we call to board. Maybe I’ll pass through to catch up a bit if I’m a bit free later, ok?”
“Sure Pea, that would be nice,” he smiled & left to wait for the others to arrive at the lounge.
It was however a good thing for him that he’d placed little weight in her words because the next thing he knew, it was almost 2 hours later and he was being called to board. Pauline obviously hadn’t bothered to show up. Luckily the others had arrived and they could all leave on time at last.
As their line meandered its way to the Gate, he mused. I won’t be surprised if this was just one of her twisted ‘power play’ games to make me wait uselessly.
Sure enough, just as they all passed through the scanner, she magically appeared smiling sweetly. “Oh Vin, I was so busy o. I couldn’t tear away from all the work here. Anyway, I hope your party got here safe.”
“Oh, they did. In fact let me introduce you.” Turning round he picked Ayiwa up.
“This is Aku Ayiwa Archison – the No. 1 lady in my life, and that’s her brother Lawrence Fiifi Archison – the only man currently allowed in my life apart from me, in his mother’s arms just coming through over there…”
Real Africans don’t blush or go pale with emotion, so goes the belief, ryt?
Well, Pauline’s complexion seemed to be warring between both extremes in that split second as Vin saw her eyes quickly flash to his left ring finger where his white gold ring gleamed.
“Oh, you’re married..how nice,” she tried to put a brave face to her words but was failing miserably.
“Pea, are you alright?,” Vin asked her with some concern.
“Um, yes…I mean no. I think I’m coming down with something. Sorry but I’ve got to go.” And with that, she beat a hasty retreat, just as Genevieve reached Vin ‘s side.
“What was that about dear?”, she asked, curious.
“Just someone I knew from way back when. I think she ate something that’s not agreeing with her, the poor thing. ”
Knowing Vin and how long it would take to weasel out a real explanation from him if she continued probing further, Genevieve just shook her head as she narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously.
“Vincent Nana Kofi Archison, you eh? Hmmmph!”
Tossing her head mockingly in a manner that always got Ayiwa & Fiifi laughing, she set off down the tarmac leaving him with Ayiwa giggling in his arms.
“But who was that strange woman, daddy?” she quizzed him in turn on their way to the plane when her giggling finally subsided.
“Arghhhh!”, he mockingly roared. “Archison women, monyinaa pɛ! Adzɛɛn??!” She laughed, just like he knew she would, but was obviously waiting for an answer.
“Well my sweet Aku, but for the grace of God and grandma Aku, that could have been your mommy!”
“Is that so??” Hwɛ ne mpanyinsɛm bi, he couldn’t help thinking.
“Then I’m glad I got this mommy. I think she’s wayyyy nicer!”
“From the mouths of babes, from the mouths of babes, ” Vin muttered.
They boarded the flight & that was Sunday.
Lying in bed on Friday, February 14th, Pauline’s thoughts still filled his mind. But this time, they were thoughts that were only circling the drain.
Just then, Genevieve walked into the bedroom.
“Herh Mr. Archison! Aren’t you going to get out of bed and do something with yourself?”
“Oh Mrs. Archison, it’s not that easy o. I’ve been trying but these new bed sheets you bought, they’re sooo slippery that I can’t gain traction to get out. See?” He mimed getting out of bed but slipped back to fall flat again.
Genevieve just stood there for a full minute, not knowing what to say to her man-child of a husband. She then snapped her fingers with an idea.
“I, Genevieve Afi Archison, neé Quainoo, shall save you from this cesspool of laziness into which you have gotten into my dear husband!”
She then mischievously walked up to the king-sized bed and grabbed Vin’s right leg with the aim of pulling him right off the bed! But then, he had other plans. He bent forward quickly and before she knew what was happening, he’d pulled her unto the bed herself and growled, “TICKLE MONSTER ATTACK!”
Pandemonium struck the bedroom with pillows and sheets and a few books flying off in all directions! The one thing she couldn’t stand was tickling, and right there at that moment, no one would believe that this squealing woman was one of the all-powerful Police Division Commanders in the Region!
“Scrumptious! SCRUMPTIOUS!”, she managed to scream at last in between gasps for air.
Vin immediately halted his onslaught, but still held on tight to her.
“Good! You remember the safeword. I told you it’d come to good use someday, didn’t I?” He heard her snicker as she tried to catch her breath.
“Ei! What do I hear? You want me to start again??”
“No! No! No! That’s not what I said,” she quickly retorted.
“Oh..saa? Ok. Anyway, I have a proposition for you. Seeing as I’m on leave, and you’re off duty for the weekend, what do you say we stay in bed all day today and drive with the children down to the Lake tomorrow?”
“Are you okay? Or you’re not feeling well?,” she felt his forehead.
“I’m fine sweetheart,” he gently drew her hand away, ” I just want to be next to you today and I don’t want to spend even the least time driving to whatever places you’d planned to take me this year. ”
I’m really just so grateful for you today, ” he sat up close to her and held both of her hands in his.
“I don’t know exactly how it’s possible, but I’m sure I love you so much more now than even that day that you said ‘I do’. You were the ray of sunshine that came into my life at an unexpected time, from an unexpected place. You know, I was in a very dark place before I met you, but you had time for me and helped show me what real Love does to a soul – you brought me light my love. It was actually when you came into my life that I first realized just how dark my existence had been, and also got the strength to brighten that corner. I appreciate you every single day, even when I don’t seem to.”
Then as if you hadn’t done enough, you blessed me with two angels in those children. It’s really the cutest thing I could ever imagine when I look at Ayiwa and see a mini You with bits of me sprinkled in that mix. And as for Fiifi dier, it was as if you meditated on my picture every night throughout those 9 months! You were so brave through the threatened abortion at 2 months and the only reason I didn’t push too hard to be let into the delivery room was that I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing you in such pain once more. You’ve done more for me than you could ever imagine my dear, and for that I could never stop loving you.”
She was stunned to silence as quiet warm tears rolled down her cheeks and around her curious dimples.
He then knelt down in front of her, wiping away her tears with his thumbs. Kissing her softly on the forehead, he continued. “If I were to die now, my only regret would be that I didn’t have one more day to show & tell you that I love you Mrs. Genevieve Afi Archison, neé Quainoo, aka My Baby No.1.”
At that, she smiled her beautiful smile at his insufferable cheesiness, hugging him hard.
“You Impossible man! See how you’ve made me cry this early morning? Luckily I don’t have any makeup on, like you would see how I would beat you! Anyway, I love you too…”
“What is it?!” She asked, alarmed.
“Oh…you still make my heart skip a beat when you say that!’ he said with a silly grin.
“Arghhh!,” she screamed in mock frustration, swatting him with a pillow as she got up from the bed.
“Anyway, if that’s the case, then you’d better get in contact with your medical equipment supplier friends and get us a domestic defibrillator because I plan to be sneak-attacking you with more of that all year long!”
“Well your wish is my command then. First thing tomorrow morning..”
“Okay, so that’s settled. Your motion to have a professional Lazy Day today has been seconded and carried. But first, I need a shower”. She’d been shedding her workout clothes all this while and ducked into the bathroom just before reaching her birthday suit, but was still talking from the shower stall.
By this time, Vin had a grin on his face that could have challenged the Cheshire cat’s. He was feeling pretty good and was just reaching for the flatscreen’s remote when his heart nearly stopped for real.
“Oh, and Vinnie dear, wasn’t that Pauline at the airport on Sunday? She looked good, didn’t she? What were you both talking about then? A little birdie whispered something into my ears about changing mommies…what exactly was that about sweetie?”