A time to heal (8)

Mide’s Abor with Olamide Longe

Email:  araokian@gmail.com Twitter: @araokian

Continued from last week

Enoch stood in the same doorway Elizabeth had earlier occupied, his eyes trained on her. Where had he come from? Had he been around all this time?

“But the one she really needs to forgive her is dead and buried. So, she is replacing him with proxies,” he finished.

Maria looked at him. No coherent thought formed in her mind on how to respond. She looked at his mother. There was an unreadable look on her face, but Maria didn’t need a mind reader to know she was hurt. At that moment, she wished she were somewhere else. She was feeling disoriented again.

“Hello, Maria. Long time no see,” Enoch said. He moved further into the room.

She wasn’t feeling all that excited at seeing him. She had looked forward to this moment, imagined different scenarios, and had felt deliriously happy just thinking about how it would be. Her heart wasn’t flipping. “Hello, Enoch.”

She understood now the kind of change Emmanuel meant when he said Enoch had changed. And, she felt angry for his mother, angry and crushed at the same time.

He stopped before her. “Thank you for coming.” He held out his hand. Their eyes met as she tried to discern his thoughts.  When she touched his hand, he pulled her up into an embrace, stunning her; she returned it and felt a rush of old feelings.

“I’m glad to be here,” she said evenly, avoiding his eyes and ending the embrace. She glanced at his mother. She was watching them, but her expression was blank.

She had come because she believed it was the right thing to do. She had come out of curiosity, to satisfy herself about Elizabeth, about them all, to see what they had made of their lives since she left them. She had come to see if Enoch had put his life on hold as she had. She couldn’t tell if he had.

One thing was clear. He was bitter and they were not a happy group. And, it didn’t begin with the death of Elizabeth’s husband.

Emmanuel had most likely physically removed himself to escape the gloom.

She had promised herself that she would not allow herself to feel responsible. However, she now felt beholden for some unfathomable reason.

No. It was clear to her why. Enoch was the reason.

“I am glad to be here,” she said again. This time with feeling. She hugged him again and then went to sit by his mum. She placed her arms around her and leaned into her. “I came for you more than for anyone else,” she said. She felt her stiffen and was worried, then she relaxed against her and she offered a silent prayer of thanks.

“I’ll stay back if you want me to.”

Elizabeth’s mum nodded. She was gulping back tears.

“It is done then, we can send for my things.”

Maria prayed her parents would understand. Staying with them would be her penance. And perhaps, somehow by observing it, she might give succour to the ones that need it.

Elizabeth’s mum adjusted herself and with a deep sigh laid her head on Maria’s breast.

Enoch was humming a familiar tune. A song with which he used to tease her.

She raised a surprise face to his. His face had undergone a transformation.

Ave Maria, gratia plena

Dominus tecum