“Hey Babe,” my voice had a high tilt.
“Sweetie, how are you?” his voice sounded bored.
“Happy Valentine,” I greeted. “What is good about the valentine if you are not here with me?”
“Come on babe, don’t be a sour puss. I will definitely see you in three days’ time.”
“Oh yeah? That was what you said last valentine and you ended up spending five days.”
“That doesn’t mean this year will be the same. Considering how everywhere in the world this valentine is celebrated, shouldn’t it be a public holiday? ”
“I have no answers. I just want you here.” Mark replied.
“Let me sing for you. I will make you feel better.”
“Humpf… Give it your best shot.”
“Close your eyes baby like a whisper let me take you away… ”
“I feel better already,” I could hear the laughter in his voice. “Great. 17th will be here before you know it and it will be our very own valentine.”
“I love you.”
“I love you more.”
That was the conversation we had last valentine. I looked at the handsome face smiling at me. Mark, he was so full of mischief. My very own Mark he was till the day he left me. I smiled and it was bittersweet.
I took my bath, got my blue denim jeans on and green turtle neck on top. I picked a red heart shaped bag, made of wool. And that was the only thing that screamed Valentine about me. I was going to have a treat and have fun by myself. It was time to stop mopping for the guy who left and never came back.
The neon lights read Cold Stone. I had this big smile on my face as I walked to the counter. I wanted to treat myself to the biggest ice cream I could get. I got the ice cream, sat at the far end of the fast food restaurant. The whole place had people going in and out, as I scooped the ice cream I watched ladies and the men they came in with. Everyone had a red signature, no matter how small. I was so engrossed watching that I did not notice the man who walked to my table.
I switched my attention to the man in front of me.
“May I sit here, please?”
“Sit.” I was determined not to pay him any mind.
I raised my face to watch the TV program; it was a talk show about love. The silence was getting a bit awkward. He was saying nothing, so was I.
“Do you believe in this valentine day?”
I looked at him and a smile at the corner of my mouth disappeared almost immediately as it appeared.
I turned to look at him and I held his gaze for a moment before I looked elsewhere.
“The Valentine day is overrated in my opinion; it is just another business ploy to make sales. Have you been on Jules Online Shopping? Just for this season, certain commodities have been slashed by 30%. Wristwatches, wristbands, handbags, shoes, clothes, just mention it.”
The man who was in front of was listening with rapt attention. It was as though he hung to every word I said.
“I don’t do Valentine too. I feel it is crappy.” When he said this I noticed his shirt was black. I sighed and went on people watching.
“I didn’t get your name.”
“I haven’t told you, silly.”
He smiled. “I’m Jide. What’s your name?”
“Here is my card. Call me sometime soon?”
“I hope I remember to.”
“Ouch! That hurts.” He said as he dramatically held his chest.
“Call the doctor.”
“We should hang out some other time, Laurel.”
“I’ll give you a call.”
I waved to him and my eyes followed him as he walked out of Cold Stone. Oh! He’s one of those impressive tall guys, I muttered to myself.
I walked into my dark apartment and suddenly the light came on.
“Surprise!” All my friends were there. I stood there blinking hard trying to remember what made the day special.
“It is a freaking valentine’s day!” I shouted to no one in particular.
Sandra walked up to me, dangling my keys in front of me. “You have to live a little Laurel, we brought this valentine party here and you should be grateful that I did allow them.”
A slow music started and everyone had a partner dancing to the music, except me.
“Well, since the party is here I could do with a drink.” I kicked off my shoes and loosen the braids which I packed earlier into a tight bun. My sitting was red.
Sandra came back with red wine.
I hesitated a little. “Do I need to know the contents of this cup?”
“It’s a mix of drinks, just drink it!”
I downed the drink and I felt a little warm and fuzzy inside.
This party had only drinks and music. I did not want to care what they took. What was certain was that these people were my friends. Friends I have abandoned for a while. I took my time going around, talking to them. I laughed, danced and played games.
About one hour later, I left my sitting room to sit on the front porch. The room was stuffy and it did not seem like the party would end so fast. It was dark and the time on my wristwatch struck 8PM when Jide walked up to me.
“Were you stalking me?”
“Of course not, I was only passing by and I saw you.”
Jide sat next to me on the staircase and we were both silent.
“I like you.”
I turned to look at him.
“Is that a bad thing?” he said when I said nothing.
“No.” I shook my head and then took my gaze off him. “I haven’t been nice to you, why do you like me?”
“I don’t need you to nice, sweet and melting on the floor. I saw you in Cold Stone and I liked you. You have an aura around you that says ‘what the hell, I will just be me’, I saw that confidence in the set chin and even as you told me why you didn’t like valentine, I knew there was more. I read sadness in those eyes.”
I sighed and stared into the night. It was a valentine night; there were no stars, just the moon and a dark sky. I could sense a shift in the cloud and the air began to blow cold.
“I smell rain.” I told him with utter disregard for our conversation.
“It is getting windy. Laurel, I don’t mind, if you would be windy storm that fiercely blows into my life. Let me into your life. Let me be your friend and if I am so lucky I can be your lover.”
“Take me on a date tomorrow and we will see about letting you into my life.”
That was how my relationship with Jide began; he saw all the things I did not see. I may not have had a crazy valentine but love found me. Today, we are married and happy being together.
Sometimes, miracles do happen. Love does come surely. We just need to believe in it. It finds us and catches up with us when we are not watching.
Happy Valentine’s Day