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The weeks that followed ushered in a new beginning for Michael and Jennifer. They began to relive their honeymoon, strengthening their bond on a daily basis. The counseling was still in progress but in a different dimension with each of them having separate sessions with Pastor Damian. Although their love for each other soared with the progress recorded from the counseling, they had resolved to put intimacy on hold in order for Jennifer to heal emotionally. Jennifer’s joy knew no bounds as her marriage became peaceful once more and she saw less of her mother-in-law who stayed clear of their marriage in order not to pick a fight with her son. She became her once cheerful self and hung out more with her friends and family.
Jennifer lay in the couch on a cool evening totally engrossed in watching the suspense-filled, emotion-awakening movie, “Twelve Years a Slave” without waiting for Michael, who went to the loo, to rejoin her. Just then her message alert came on, causing her to temporarily pause the movie as she quickly picked up the phone from the side stool by the side of the couch and tapped on the message icon to reveal the content of the message. She stared at the message for seconds unable to believe what was glaring at her. That was when she realized that she mistook Michael’s phone for hers due to their identical make and colour. With calculated steps she mounted the stairs to their matrimonial room with her pulse racing way too fast. She sat on the edge of the bed waiting for Michael to emerge from the lavatory while trying her possible best to keep her emotion under control. Michael was startled to see Jennifer gawping at him with his phone in her hand and made an attempt to find out what the problem was.
“What’s wrong sweet?” he probed.
“I’m sorry dear. I unintentionally read your message thinking the phone was mine. Here it is,” She said apologetically.
“Is that all? That’s no problem at all,” he said and read the content of the message while walking away.
“Don’t you think you owe me an explanation?” she quizzed, maintaining her cool.
“An explanation over what?” Michael asked obviously confused.
“An explanation on your relationship with Mabel that warrants such correspondence,” She replied.
“Come on babe. It’s nothing or do you think I’m cheating on you?” he inquired looking surprised.
“What do you take me for? A fool? You expect me to believe that there’s nothing going on between you and your ex when you still call each other pet names like “baby” and “my love”. And as if that’s not enough, you still meet up. Telling me you have nothing to do with Mabel is an insult on my intelligence and I don’t like that,” Jennifer replied visibly shaken with anger.
Michael paced the length and breadth of the room trying to control his anger. Jennifer found his silence rather annoying and sought to get to the bottom of it.
“Michael your silence is not helping matters at all. It is rather aggravating the issue,” She added.
“I can stand any accusation from you but not being labeled a cheat. I meant no harm at all. We are just fond of calling each other such names. And about meeting with her, it was for old time sake. She’s been away in the states for three years and just returned of recent,” he explained.
“How does such an explanation sound to you? Even a five-year-old would not buy that. I remember the day I ran into an old friend in a mall and exchanged pleasantries. What did you do you? You could not even wait for us to get home before landing me a slap in the car just because of a harmless hug. If I had done as much as this then I believe you would have skinned me alive. Just when we are trying to rebuild our marriage you decided to cheat on me?” Jennifer replied losing control of her voice.
“Don’t you dare talk to me in such manner,” Michael cautioned.
“Or else what? I guess the truth is bitter huh! You should have thought about that before rekindling your romance with Mabel,” she retorted.
Michael landed a slap on her face for a start and made sure he beat the allegation out of her before storming out of the room. Jennifer dragged her assaulted body to the wall in a sitting position before punching Sarima’s number into her small phone to inform her of her ordeal and picked up few items leaving for the guest room.
Jennifer looked in the direction of the door and was happy that she followed her instincts to have it locked. Michael had camped in front of her room all night apologizing for going out of control while convincing her to open the door in order to hear him out. From the look of things, Jennifer was sure he would not go to work and the thought of it troubled her a lot because she figured she needed ample time for herself if she had to survive. Just when she was about to give up on ever leaving the room, she heard Mrs. Obiora’s voice urging her to open the door. She wondered what her mother in-law had up her sleeves this time. She opened the door to see the face of her mother-in-law laced with pity and surprise and suddenly started imagining what had gone wrong with her. Mrs. Obiora pulled her along like a child and examined her properly to see the extent of the damage before proceeding to strike up a conversation with Jennifer.
“I know I have never welcomed you as a member of this family, always making sure that you are seated on a keg of gun powder. I am truly sorry for everything I have done against you. Jennifer my child please find a place in your heart to forgive me,” she pleaded on her knees.
Taken aback by her sudden change in attitude, Jennifer pulled her up and embraced her as a sign of forgiveness.
“My child I may have been the definition of wickedness but I am definitely not in support of my son’s violent attitude towards you. How could you bear to stay married to a man whose hobby is to abuse you to the extent of making you lose three pregnancies?” she paused waiting for Jennifer to say something.
Jennifer realized that her mother-in-law was genuinely concerned and decided to open up but was at loss of what to say to her with tears streaming down her face.
“So it’s true. Here I was blaming you for being childless while my son has been occupied with the task of killing the fetus and you kept me in the dark all this while. As if that is not enough, he laid his hands on you last night. Jennifer you would not spend another night in this house until he comes back to his senses. No sane man hits his wife,” she spoke with her voice threatening to raise the roof.
“But how did you find out ma?” Jennifer questioned.
“It means you had no plans of telling me. I would not have known if not for Melody.”
Mrs. Obiora was about to say something when Michael walked in surprised to find his mother discussing with his wife. He greeted his mother and proceeded to know why she came visiting so early.
“I came to rescue my daughter from the jaws of death. Michael, I am your mother and I know I raised you up properly but never in my life could I imagine that you made a pact with the devil. How could you beat up your wife to the point of her having a miscarriage?” she thundered.
Michael was totally confused as he looked from his mother to his wife and was at loss of what to say.
“But mum she was not pregnant. I swear she was…” he was still talking when his mother landed him a deafening slap.
“Are you remorseful that you beat her to a sorry state or that you failed to terminate another pregnancy? Despite my excesses, your father never laid his hands on me, a fact which you can attest to. Michael, I rue the day I had you and I would not leave this house without Jennifer,” she said angrily.
Michael was flabbergasted at his mum’s new behaviour as she led Jennifer out of the room to their matrimonial room for her to pick some of her personal effects. Realizing the enormity of the situation, Michael pleaded with Jennifer who did not even look in his direction, only paying attention to packing her stuff. His plea to both women fell on deaf ears as he watched them drive out of the premises leaving him in the arms of loneliness.
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