An afternoon with Cynthia


When I was still in college I had a flat mate who changed before my very eyes, in a short period of time.

She was a very sweet and timid girl. She always kept to herself and was careful never to bother anyone. Every time something shocking would happen, she’d have this classic and endearing “deer caught in headlights” expression on her face. Everyone adored her and her life was close to perfect, until she fell in love.

His name was Collins. Not the most charming fella, but he was okay you know? He broke a girl’s heart.  But this story isn’t about him. It’s about the girl. This is about my old flat mate, Cynthia.

 

An afternoon with Cynthia

So there I was, chilling in my room on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I was putting the finishing touches on my Gender Studies assignment. In walks Cynthia with an offer to take me out for ice-cream. I was quick to put on my flip-flops and off we were. We walked to ice cream parlour then she insisted we take a stroll to the park, which I didn’t mind. When we got there, she seemed restless and uneasy. I figured she wanted to talk to me about something important. ‘Maybe she wants me out of the flat’ I thought (I was such a slob back then). Little did I know that I was a part of a covert mission to stalk someone.

We were having an unmemorable conversation about Janet Jackson’s fading music career. I had funny things to say, so did she I guess. Suddenly she changed the topic, and looked at the opened field.

“Obi do you know that girl over there”, as she signalled to a group of “free spirits” who were relaxing under a tree. I looked and I knew one girl in the group. Stella, an acquaintance I was on friendly terms with.

“Um…I know the one girl, Stella. Party animal that one, she’s probably recovering from a hangover”, I joked. I then looked to Cynthia to acknowledge my joke. No such luck! Cynthia gave me a stern look instead. Which confused the shit out of me and made things a bit tense too.

“Yes, they told me you know her” she said, in a solemn tone. At this point a million things started running through my mind. I looked at her, with as much evidence of astonishment that I could possibly muster in one facial expression.

‘Did she here something about me and Stella? What did Stella do? Oh God, has she gone lezzy for Stella? Mmmmh, if I knew we were doing this, I would’ve gotten three more scoops of this delicious ice-cream.’

She soon stopped the bullet train running through my mind, “Obi, she’s been sleeping with Collins”.

You know I thought I was a good friend/flat mate, but all I could say to her was “Oh”. ‘Oh’ was really all that I could offer her, because I had million questions to ask her dammit! Why the hell was I doing in the park, eating ice-cream and stalking an alleged mistress? Why am I getting dragged into this shit? Why didn’t she tell me about this when she first suspected it?

Needless to say, my meek ‘Oh’ didn’t deter her. She wanted me to divulge every single thing that I knew about Stella. Which wasn’t much, but she was so dynamic in her efforts to get intel, I even felt compelled to embellish a few things. Which I didn’t, I would’ve under ‘normal’ circumstances (being the eccentric I am), but the whole thing of stalking in the summer time was crazy enough.

We got into the whole thing, and I was pretty convinced from everything she told me, that Stella was indeed sleeping with Collins. It had all the clichés of the tales of a cheating boyfriend. Denial, we’re just friends, people are lying, I love you, she’s crazy, etc.

Which again begged the question, “Cynthia, why are we here? Why am I here?”, so I asked her.

“I want you to introduce me to her”, I nearly choked on my last scoop of ice-cream.

“Um, are you sure? Why? Does she know you? What do you want to say to her? Shouldn’t you be speaking to Collins? I mean this is about you two. You’re in a relationship with him, not her.” I replied in a bit of a panic, trying to change her mind.

All her faculties were surprisingly in order as she picked up on my discomfort and vehement protest of this confrontation.  Cynthia put my mind to ease. She explained that she’d been coming to this spot in the park for a very long time before she even knew about Stella. That she only found about Stella once she started sleeping with Collins. She even made farce at how she knew how crazy the whole thing seemed to me. She called it prima facie feeble duplicity (law students). She confessed that if she told me before hand, I might have disagreed, and that she didn’t have the nerve to walk up to Stella alone.

I was convinced, yet I was still sceptical. My curiosity took over and I wanted to see the story unfold. So I walked over to the shaded tree and hollered Stella’s name. Stella was infamous for her zest, she was quick to respond.

“Obi! How you doin’ doll? Come over here and gimme a hug”, I conceded to her hospitable charms and hugged her with my tail between my legs. I felt a bit dirty. But this feeling was quickly watered down by how she reeked of weed.

“So Stella, can I have a quick word with you buddy”, I smirked sheepishly. I motioned her towards Cynthia’s direction. I then realised that she might know of Cynthia, which didn’t matter to me anymore. As we took the short walk towards Cynthia, I told Stella that my friend wanted to meet her.

“Oh, that’s Collins’ girlfriend isn’t it? Is she the friend who wants to meet me? I’m shagging him. Oh fuck Obi, what is this bitch shit trap you’re drawing me into?” she laughed! Then I couldn’t help but smile at her bizarre behaviour. ‘I should hang out with this girl’ I thought.

“Stella, this is Cynthia, Cynthia, Stella”, I was very curt and eager to end this.

Without skipping a beat Cynthia went straight into it.

“Hey Stella. I’m so sorry if you feel ambushed, but I don’t know what the protocol for doing this kind of thing is. I’ve been thinking about this confrontation for a few days now and I thought it was best to do it in person. “

Stella, tried to interject. But Cynthia was determined to finish. She sounded like an automaton, programmed to confront the other woman with as much tact as possible. She continued as if she she’d never stopped.

“A few days ago, Collins ex-girlfriend contacted me. She told me that she’s HIV positive and that she’s not sure where she got it from. Apparently she told Collins and he’s been ignoring her since then. So she got desperate and contacted me. I’ve been trying to get a hold of Collins too, but he’s phone has been off since I told him that his ex called me.”

Tears started rolling down Cynthia’s cheeks, and just like that it felt like the end of summer. I took off my sunglasses and held Cynthia’s hand. Stella stood still like a marble statue. Her face looked gaunt like something inside of her had decomposed instantly. I didn’t know how to comfort her, hell, I didn’t know how to comfort Cynthia.

As if she had a potato stuck in her throat, Cynthia resumed with her monologue that now sounded like an ode to the end of a young life. The most human and most real thing I’ve ever heard spoken.

“I’ve been going to Collins’ place to try to speak to him, find him, to get some sort of explanation. I’ve since found out that he’s run back to his hometown of Orange Groove. I got tested for HIV yesterday and I’m negative. I suggest you do the same.”

At this point tears were rolling down Stella’s face too. This provided me with some sort of relief. At least now Stella was showing some feeling. And she wasn’t being the belligerent sassy girl. She was processing everything and taking it all in. Stella then gestured to hug Cynthia.

Cynthia stepped back. Wiped her tears and then there was fury in her voice.

“You don’t get to sleep with my boyfriend and then have me comfort you. Your God does not love you that much. You have a reputation Stella. For me to do this, I had to think of you as a human being and not a contemptible whore.”

I don’t know if it was the weed, or if this is who Stella really was. But she didn’t respond at all to Cynthia’s scorn. She wiped her tears, told me to take care and walked away back to her friends under the tree.

I immediately held Cynthia in my arms. She was shaking; all I could do was stand there in the middle of the park and hold her as she wept. When she regained composure, we walked home and stopped at Mirror Tables, for a late lunch. We ended up having a liquid lunch and we had a conversation about the whole thing drunk and loud. We both cried and said all that could’ve possibly been said. We had a few comfortable silences, which would end up in more tears and hugs. Occasionally we sang along to a few songs that were played on the radio.

We literally crawled home and both passed out on her bed.

The next few weeks were hell. I’d hear her crying every night, and when she wasn’t crying she was drinking. Sometimes I’d tend to her, but on other nights I pretended not to even hear her. She was not prepared to draw anyone else into this. I suppose then I was expected to carry her through this whole ordeal. But all was prepared to do was that I could possibly do, listen. I listened to her anger, confusion, regret, pain and hope. All the while I was speaking to my mother for some grown up guidance.

She got tested again for HIV and again she was negative. We were both jubilant. But it had become obvious that something had changed about Cynthia. There was nothing neither sweet nor timid about her anymore. She was now firm and a little more selfish.

Somehow she found the strength to graduate and instead of getting work as a legal intern, she decided to go teach English abroad. Her next test was scheduled for just after graduation. But I had moved back to Southville. It’s been three years, and I still don’t know if she took the final test or not. I didn’t care to ask or bring it up. I didn’t think it mattered then and I still don’t think it matters now. What nearly consumed her, saved her in a way. We email each other every now and then and she is the poster child for carpe diem. I couldn’t be more proud.

 

Collins was never heard of again.

I actually heard about Stella a week ago. She married a Muslim Doctor.

As for me…well, I’m just the guy telling the story. It’s not about me, lol.

Advertisements

About obialone
I'm random and unwise. I'm always seeking wisdom in its simplest form. I'm scared of not being scared, so I find ways to terrify myself. I care about everything, and I'm interested in all things. I reserve the right to change my mind, anytime. So in most cases I find it best to humble my opinion

4 Responses to An afternoon with Cynthia

  1. Kgotso says:

    ME GUSTA!

  2. ite4love says:

    WOW #WipesAtear…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Well done

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: