She knows that she is dreaming. She also knows that when she awakens, nothing will be the same.
“Nnedi, Nnedi, say something,” the man beside her pleads.
But there is nothing to be said and even if there was, she is in a dream and it won’t matter anyway.
He moves away from her and gets up from the bed, this man that she has loved since as far back as she can remember. She wants to pull him to her, to offer him the absolution he has come to seek in her dreams, to lay down her cloak of pride so he can kneel in repentance but she continues to lie on her back, staring at the ceiling.
She watches as he dresses. He starts to wear his watch and she realizes it is the watch she bought for him for his first job interview so many years ago. To think that he has kept it all these years.
The appearance of the watch gives her strength and she opens her mouth.
“I forgive you Kofi,” She whispers, her voice trembling over the words.
The man stops what he is doing to look at her. Tears fill his eyes and the gray hair on his head starts to turn black. His wrinkles begin to smoothen and suddenly he is years younger.
“Thank you,” he mouths and then makes for the door. It is a purple door in a white walled room. It is the room of her growing up. In this room, she had lost her virginity to Kofi. In this room, they had vowed to always love each other. In this room, they had wept until their eyes were dried up on the day they found out they couldn’t be together.
She wakes up in a different room. Its walls are beige and the door, a boring gray. Beside her, the man she married is snoring softly. She turns to look at him and is shocked at the way her heart suddenly swells with affection for the man she will never love enough.
She reaches over to kiss him gently so as not to wake him.
But it is time for her to get out of bed. Kofi will be here today. He will come seeking forgiveness and she must be ready to offer it.
Before heading downstairs she looks in on her twins. She has watched them sleep many times since they were born but today it feels different. She watches them and wonders if she would have had twins with Kofi. If she would have loved his children more than she loves these ones.
Kofi had asked her hand in marriage when they were both only 25. It was going to be a fairytale happily ever marriage but then her family doctor, always one to be on cautious side had requested genotype tests amongst other types of tests. It turned out they were both carriers of the sickle cell chromosome. The risk had been high but she had been willing to take the risk. Kofi on the other hand, had not. He had disappeared one day and she had not heard from him since, in dreams or in real life.
Until a few weeks ago when he had called her from the blue.
“Star,” was the first thing she heard when she picked up the phone at work that sunny afternoon.
“Kofi?” She asked foolishly, as if anyone else had ever called her ‘Star’.
He has promised her he was calling not to harm or take anything away from the beautiful life she now had.
“I just want to see you again. To apologize. To explain. To beg your forgiveness. And then I will leave you alone forever, at least on this side of life.”
Foolishly she had agreed and they had fixed a date. He would come around around noon. The twins would be away at dance practice with their father cheering from the sidelines
Downstairs, she went straight to the coffee machine which really belonged to her husband. She hated coffee, it sounded too much like “Kofi” and looked like him too. Dark, perfect, unforgettable…
But today was a new day, a day for forgiveness, a day to try new things, a day to be grateful for broken hearts and healthy children…
The doorbell rings as she takes the first sip of the bitter liquid. She is not expecting anyone. Except Kofi. But it is only 9am. There are still three hours left for him to show up.
Then the dream comes back to her and her heart starts to beat rapidly.
She lets out a huge sigh of relief when she sees it is only the mail man. He greets her with a smile before handing over a package with her name scrawled over it.
In the parcel were two letters and a wristwatch:
“My husband was Kofi Manuel. He died this past week of a heart attack. While sifting through his things I found this letter addressed to you. I did not read it but I want you to know that the last thing he said before he died was “Tell Nne, it was always her.”
Forgive me. Forgive me for leaving. Forgive me for never walking through that purple door to our dreams. Forgive me for being a coward. I have missed you everyday since. I have wondered everyday about what could have been.
I named my daughter after you. Her name is Star Manuel. You were my star. You are still my star.
There was no way I was making it out of this life happy without you by my side, without your forgiveness. The day I had my first heart attack, I knew it was the pain I caused you coming back to take its pound of flesh. But it has been a good life Nne. I am a lucky man. I got two Stars.
If you reading this, it is because my courage has failed and cowardice has won. I would have loved to say these words to you in person, face to face, but since I cannot, I will settle for my spirit sitting beside you as you read.
It was always you Nne. It will always be you.
Nnedi burns both letters after reading and throws away the rest of the coffee. The wristwatch, she keeps. One day she will go looking for Star Manuel and return what should rightfully be hers.
Back upstairs her husband is at the edge of wakefulness. It is the perfect time for her to snuggle up to his steady and warm back and ask:
“Babe, is it okay if we head out to the store later today for some purple paint. Our bedroom door needs some color.”
Song of the day: Prince – Purple Rain