A LOVE TO COUNT ON (SHORT STORY)
I so love this story. I’ve been tweaking it since I wrote it some days ago and now I think it’s just right. Tell me what you think of it and stay ever blessed.
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Benneth’s heart was thumping. He needed to get to Julia as fast as possible. He had meant to spend the day by her side, holding her hand, helping her to make sense of whatever the day served and to take a decision on it. But being a supervisor in a growing wholesale business whose manager was the owner meant working long hours and not slacking at all. He hadn’t dared to ask for the day off because he knew the request would be denied, as it had been on previous occasions. He definitely needed to set up his own company. He was hoping to revive his late father’s food produce business once he’d saved enough.
Finally, at 7:20 p.m., he pulled up by Julia’s parents’ bungalow at Nekede on the outskirts of Owerri. The house was dark, so at first he thought no one was home. His heart seemed to drop to the pit of his stomach. Why hadn’t he called her before driving off from his office, he asked himself. And could this mean she wasn’t home? Would that imply she hadn’t returned from her appointment earlier in the day, the appointment he had so longed to accompany her on?
(RELATED: LOVE SO STRONG!)
He stepped out of his second-hand Jetta car, fumbled in his coat pocket for his phone and dialled her number. No response! God please, let her be alright. He called again and she picked up.
“Hi Ben! Are you through for the day?”
“Yes. How are you? What did the doctor say? Are you still at the hospital? Can I …?”
“Easy, Ben! I’m not at the hospital.”
“Then where are you?”
“I’m home wishing I could teleport myself to your place.”
“That can be arranged; I mean, getting to my place, no teleporting required.” He cut a diagonal path across the lawn to the front door from his parking position as he spoke.
“I’m at your door.”
She squealed with delight. That’s a good sign, he thought. Next, she switched on the light and opened the door, looking fetching in a white T-shirt and a flowered wrap-around cotton skirt.
“Where’s everyone?” he asked as she ushered him into the living room.
“They went for the mid-week service. I was too tired when I got back from the doctor’s, so I decided to take a nap.”
He stared intently at her, so she answered his unspoken question. “The tests were inconclusive. The doctor referred me to the teaching hospital in Enugu. I will go there next week.”
Benneth was surprised. He had thought from her tone when he called that she had been given a clean bill of health.
“What are they querying?”
“Cancer, of course,” she responded like it was common cold. This was what he had feared and why he had wanted to go with her to the hospital. But even though she was to undergo more tests before a clear diagnosis was made, Benneth thought Julia would be more worried. She wasn’t weak or in pain, still the lump on her left breast that necessitated the hospital visit should have been enough cause for agitation. But she was so relaxed it just didn’t seem right.
“What can I offer you?” she cut into his thoughts.
“Why? You’re coming straight from work, aren’t you?”
“I think we should talk,” Benneth began. “I find your attitude disturbing. What you’re going through is life-threatening.”
“Whoa, we don’t know that yet!”
“But they are suspecting something. I’d like to help you process …”
“Ben, I’m not in the mood for that. I spent the whole of last week fasting and praying about this. And while I was at the hospital today, I did a lot of processing, alright? I just want to have a good night: you know, eat, watch a movie or loll around.”
“I’m sorry. I suppose I’m the one who needs help dealing with this.”
“I do need to talk about it too, but not tonight. Listen, my family will be coming home any moment from now. They will probably be expecting me to tell them everything that happened today. Recounting it all will be exhausting and so depressing. So please, can we go to your place?”
“Okay. Write them a note.”
As she went to get some paper and a pen, Benneth saw Julia on a hospital bed. She seemed to have been undergoing chemotherapy. Her head was shaved, she looked pale but she cracked a joke. He couldn’t make out the words but saw himself doubling over with laughter. Sitting nearby was a liitle girl that looked like Julia: fair complexioned, with lean features. The girl seemed about five years old and she was engrossed in a story book.
As the vision cleared, he found himself thanking God for the joy of knowing Julia and being a part of her life. For some reason, he wasn’t troubled about the revelation concerning her health. (Ironic, he thought, considering he had just accused her of not taking the matter seriously. He realised he was in spirit mode, his reactions not based on his intellect.)
He saw her health status as a prayer point he needed to address. Due to his job circumstances, he had been unable to pray along with her the previous week. Instead, he was worrying and hoping she would be told right away that the lump was nothing. A referral to a teaching hospital was not something to be ignored or consigned to wishful thinking, he told himself. At that point, he knew what he must do.
When Julia came out with her bag, she wanted to pin the note she had written for her family to the bookshelf in the living room but Benneth took her hands. Looking into her brown eyes, he asked, “Julia Uzochi, will you marry me?”
[bctt tweet=”I want to walk through life with you no matter what the future holds. #love #quote” username=”edithohaja1″]
“Wow, Ben, what a surprise!” She put her arms around his neck. “You’re not feeling sorry for me, are you?”
“Not at all.” She seemed unconvinced, so he added, “You are a child of God, my darling, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. You are not an object of pity. We will approach the health issue with faith, the operative word being ‘we’. We will remind God of His word on this and leave the rest to Him. We, together, two of us.” He emphasised the last sentence.
[bctt tweet=”He bore our sins in His body on the tree, … by His stripes you were healed. – 1 Peter 2:24″ username=”edithohaja1″]
“That is very sweet of you, Ben. I know I can always count on you. But why propose this very moment? Why ….”
Benneth cut her questions short with a kiss. He then explained: “We knew this would happen someday. I just think now is as good a time as any. I know I’m yet to get the ring and all that but just say yes already.” As she hesitated, he teased, “Come on, I know you’ve been dying to be called Mrs Igwe,” lifting her 5 ft. 6 in. lithe body off the ground.
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“Sure of ourselves, aren’t we?” she responded looking down at his upturned, handsome face.
“Well, Mr Benneth Igwe, you’ve got yourself a wife!”
He then set her down. They hugged, kissed again and settled down on the sofa to wait for her family and share the good news.
[bctt tweet=”The story of a young man’s touching response when his girlfriend’s health is threatened.” username=”edithohaja1″]
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2017
Hello! Would you react in the way Benneth did in this story or would you be more calculating if you faced a similar situation?
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