Dr. Rupert Henderson finishes knotting his tie in front of the dressing-mirror. He takes his coat from off the door of the wardrobe and puts it on.
He turns and sees Barbara still sleeping.
She is lying on her back, and he thinks how beautiful she is.
Her short negligé has ridden, exposing her lovely right thigh.
For a moment he thinks of undressing again and making love to her.
Nowadays their love-making is very infrequent.
He being a paediatrician, loves kids very much. He and Barbara has been married for close to fifteen years now, and they have no children.
They have tried all avenues open, but nothing seems to work.
They had seen specialists in South African, London and Germany, and still nothing had worked.
In Germany, it had come out that everything was okay with both of them, just that for some unknown reason they simply cannot get children.
Then, he heard of an amazing Gynaecologist in Ghana called Dr. Gabriel Anaman. They came down to Ghana to meet Anaman, and Rupert had been impressed with the newly-opened Eden Hospital.
Dr. Anaman had finally pinned down their problems: evidently Barbara’s body produces less hormones and other fertile environments necessary for pregnancy, and yes he could work on her.
The position for a paediatrician had been available, and the salary astounding.
Plus Anaman could work on Barbara. Rupert had put in an application and had been taken instantly.
Barbara had been hostile moving to Ghana. Her hostility began when she was told she was more than partially responsible for their inability to have kids.
Their marriage had begun to slip on rough seas, and there had been a time, a brief moment in time, when she had suggested divorce because she was fed up with Ghana and wanted to return to South Africa.
No amount of encouragements from Rupert, Effe and Anaman could make her change her mind.
And then she had tested positive, for the first time, to a pregnancy test.
Their joy had been over the bounds, and it had saved the marriage. Unfortunately she had miscarried three months into her pregnancy, but they had been positive, sure that it would be possible soon under the expertise of Anaman.
But lately Rupert has been sensing that there is a change in her, an awkwardness, almost like a coldness, a growing barrier that for almost a year has been getting higher and bigger.
It is beginning to frighten him because he loves her so much.
I’m on my way, honey.
She opens her eyes and looks at him. She does not smile. She just sighs.
Alright, honey. Taken your breakfast yet?
Yeah. Housekeeper fixed me something. Would you be passing through the hospital today?
She turns on her side and raises an eyebrow.
You have an appointment with Gabby today, remember?
Oh, yes, yes. Almost forgot. Sure, I’ll pass through then, yeah.
He leaves the bedroom, and Barbara sighs miserably. She turns on her back and closes her eyes tightly.
The door opens suddenly and she sits up, and sees her husband is back in the room, looking at her with his sad eyes, the expression that said he is hurt.
The expression that she has come to see a little bit more often nowadays, and which is beginning to haunt her.
Honey? Forgot something?
Not me. You forgot something. Found a toll ticket in the garage, next to your car, for the Kasoa Toll Booth. Didn’t know you went to Kasoa yesterday.
Barbara’s heart skips a terrible beat. Her face flushes a terrible red, and she is sure her guilt must be written all over her face.
How stupid of her!
I … yeah, I wanted to clear my head. Drove around a bit… you know, just to drive this feeling of doom away.
Doom? And you drove to KASOA to clear the doom? Would there be another ticket in your car to show when you returned? D–n, Barbs, you told me you went to the Embassy to work!
(tears in her eyes)
Honey, jeez, what’re you insinuating? I’m not hiding anything from you. There’s a perfectly simple explanation to-
(shaking his head)
I’m sure there is, honey, I’m sure there is!
He turns and leaves her.
Barbara is too stunned to move for a moment. Her fear is spiralling out of control as it dawns on her that her husband is on to her affair with Steve Hollison.
She had started the affair with Steve just over a year ago, purely by accident.
She had freshly miscarried, and she was so very lost. She had been close to Steve because he is the Chief Executive Administrator of Eden Hospital.
He had also been having trouble over Effe’s inability to have kids. They had been at a staff party when an emergency had arisen.
Effe and Rupert had left, and Steve had offered to drive her home.
They had both been drunk at the party. He had touched her thighs on the way home, and then it had started raining, and before they knew what was happening they were in the back seat of his car making love.
Then they had begun their meetings at the LOVE BED HOTEL.
It is not that she loves Steve, or that she does not love Rupert.
She loves her husband very much. Steve is just fun, a way out of her stress, a different body to hold.
She has been feeling guilty of late, especially since that sad look began creeping into her husband’s eyes.
She always drives to Kasoa, parks her car, and sits in Steve’s car to the hotel.
Afterwards he drops her at the Mall where they part ways.
And now a silly mistake, a toll ticket not thrown away, not disposed of, and suddenly she sees acute pain in the eyes of her husband.
Barbara scrambles off the bed and rushes out of the bedroom.
She almost crashes into her stunned housekeeper on her way to the front door.
Rupe! Rupe! Please wait, honey!
The gates are closed and the security guard is already inside his booth again.
Barbara pauses, and rushes back into the bedroom.
She picks her phone and calls him. It rings, and rings, but he does not pick.
She sits still, her panic steadily climbing. Rupert had been in the dark about her affair with Steve, the first adulterous relationship she had had in her marriage.
She had not known how much she loved her husband, but now that Rupert’s trust in her has taken a dent she realizes just how much he means to her.
She knows she has to be near him. She has to bring him round. To ignore his sudden festering suspicion will make everything end in disaster.
She gets up to go to the bathroom. She is going to the hospital to see him.
But first there is something she must do.
She picks her phone and sends a message to Steve.
CAN’T BE WITH YOU ANYMORE.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE ELAINE, AND A CHILD ON THE WAY, I BELIEVE YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT ME.
I WANT TO GIVE MY MARRIAGE A CHANCE.
PLEASE DON’T TRY TO CONTACT ME. IT’S BETTER THIS WAY.
THANK YOU. GOODBYE.
She waits until the message checks as sent, and then she deletes it from her sent folder.
She is in the bathroom when she hears her phone ringing. It rings several times.
When she comes back to the bedroom she checks and sees it is Steve. She sighs and starts to dress up.
He calls again, and she picks the call.
Steve. I’m sorry, but it’s over, really.
What bullshit is that, Barbs? Over the phone? A message? Is that how you do it?
Rupe found a toll booth ticket in my car. Moreover, this thing has been haunting me. I pretended I didn’t care, but seeing Effe all cut up because of your betrayal has been getting me really guilty, because she’s a good woman. And now this. Rupe is a good man, Steve. We better stop this before something really nasty happens!
Hell Barbs!, not now! I really need you now, baby! This issue with Elaine is really eating me up, baby! I need you now more than ever! Please, baby girl! Let’s meet and sort this out. Let’s talk about this, please.
I don’t really care, Steve. It was fun with you. We both agreed no strings attached. We had fun, baby boy. It’s now time to move on. I can’t risk losing Rupe. I still love him, Steve. I’m sorry, but it’s over.
She cuts the call, and does not answer when he keeps calling back.
When she has finished dressing up she goes out to look for her husband.