The midwife yelled at Rose again, “Push like you mean it! Ya mwisho!” But Rose did not feel like pushing anymore. She was tired. Exhausted. And sweaty! By the stars, she’d never been this sweaty. Her hair fell over her face in strings, stuck to the skin by the beads of moisture. The frock she was in was soaked in the stuff. The last five hours went by excruciatingly slow and yet so fast. She sat up in the hospital bed propped up by two flimsy pillows, legs wide open to usher her baby into the world. Her baby who was in no particular hurry. She felt tight down there. So tight. And pressure like she was being ripped apart.
“I can’t do this,” she said. Taking long rests between words. “I can’t… Not without Kip. Where’s Kip? Is he here yet?” She searched the room her eyes hitting only the disgusting dark green walls. She made out shapes and figures around her but none of those shapes looked like her Kip. He should be here. He’d be able to calm her down. Kip had that particular power over her. Rose found it annoying especially whenever they were having an argument. But now she needed it. Needed that power. Needed his deep calming voice. His logic. But Kip wasn’t here. She started crying or rather resumed crying.
The midwife ignored her. “You’re almost there. Just one more big push.”
Rose thought of Kip and took in a lungful of air.
They met in college at one of those campus-organized events. A career fair of sorts. Rose showed up ready to make an impression on the company reps that came. She took out that one navy dress she had (Rose hated dresses), matched it with something colourful, and let herself loose on the event. She was talking to someone from an auditing firm when she noticed Kip.
He was light for a Kale guy. He stood tall and friendly, flashing an attractive smile at everyone. And when he laughed, his entire frame shook especially his shoulders. He looked like a Luhya traditional dancer when he laughed and that thought made her smile. He was wearing a white polo shirt and black chinos. His short sleeves exposing his chiselled arms. Arms that made her make a gasp. But only a small one. She imagined those arms wrapped around her like a cloak of protection. She imagined that feeling of security. Hugs from behind from this man would be a dream, she thought.
What caught Rose’s eye was the fact that Kip had on a watch and a really nice one and the book he had in his hand. The Best Laid Plans by Sidney Sheldon. One of her favourite books. So, here was a man, good-looking, jovial, tall, muscular, conscious of time and because of that book, had good taste. She liked him immediately.
Kip smiled in her direction. Rose walked away.
Kip would later be haunted by the image of that beautiful girl at the career fair. How her hair flowed in the breeze, how her eyes held focus on whoever she was speaking to. How that navy-blue dress hugged her in all the right places. How her yellow accessories made her stand out. How he had smiled at her and she had basically turned and ran.
They met again at a play. One of Kip’s friends was in the cast and had given him a complimentary ticket. “Come watch me slay on stage,” Janet had said.
“I don’t do plays. I’m a movie or book kind of guy,” he had said holding up a copy of The Hobbit.
“Is that the one with Smog?”
“It’s pronounced Sma-Ug.”
Janet rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Will you come to my play though? It’s the first night and I’d feel better if I knew someone sensible came.” Kip groaned. “Someone who reads books and understands the nuance of storytelling,” Janet continued.
“Ugh. Fine. Will there be food?”
“You should have just led with that.”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
So, Kip found himself in the front row of a theatre (which is a terrible place to be for a long show) watching Janet play an unconvincing mistress to a man twice no three times her size. He looked like a collection of decorative cushions. Those large ones that people bought for ostentation. His name was Micah or something like that. Micah was the one who kept Kip in his seat. Despite his obvious girth, he was uncharacteristically nimble. Almost seeming to float across the stage belting out melodic tunes.
Yes, the play was a musical.
Rose sat two rows behind Kip. She watched him watch the fat man on stage, his shoulders shrugging every time he was amused. Unlike him, Rose wanted to be at the play. She enjoyed the theatre, the live aspect of performance. Blink and you’ll miss it. But she was missing everything right now because her eyes were on this man. This man who was standing up and clapping. Is the play over? She looked around, people around her were on their feet applauding and she stood up and joined them. She blinked and she missed everything.
She sat as people shuffled towards the exits, waiting for the traffic to subside. She was in no hurry. Her room wasn’t going anywhere. She took out her phone and checked her social media. So, engrossed she was that she didn’t notice the tall man with the rhythmic shoulders slide into the seat next to her.
“Hi,” the deep baritone said.
She jumped and turned her neck so fast she should have had whiplash.
Kip smiled, “Sorry. Did I scare you?”
“No,” Rose lied. “I’m just surprised.”
“I’m Kip.” He held out a hand. Rose kept hers on her phone. He finally let it fall but kept the smile on. “I enjoy scaring random women and not paying attention at plays.”
Rose fought back a smile. “I’m not telling you my name.”
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose? By any other name would smell as sweet.” Kip caught the way that her eyes widened (if only by so much) at the word ‘rose’. “Wait, your name is actually Rose?”
She kept silent and blush crept up on her cheeks.
“Thank you, Rose.”
“For what?” She asked.
“For letting me know that I am psychic.”
Kip smiled and Rose burst out in laughter. He liked the sound of it. Like water over smooth rocks in a shallow stream. It held a musical note. Set the tone for a song. David must have written many a psalm to that sound.
“You are not psychic,” Rose said when she finally calmed.
“Why are you still here? The play is over. Don’t you have a cave to go home to?”
Kip smiled again. He should stop smiling. That smile was doing things to Rose. Things she would rather not articulate. Things Kip should never know. “First of all, the Oracle of Delphi did not live in a cave. And it was always a woman so, no I do not live in a cave.”
“So, you’re telling me that you’re homeless?”
“I am not. Are you?”
Rose put a finger to her chin and hummed. “Not that I remember.”
“Why are you here long after you’re not supposed to be?”
“I’m evading foot traffic.”
“Do you see dead people?”
Kip laughed and just then the woman in the play (the terrible actress) walked up the steps to where they were. She stood before them. “Ready to go?” She asked. Rose looked puzzled. Kip stood up. “She’s talking to me. Janet, this is Rose. She enjoys clutching her phone in her hands and conversing with strangers. Rose, this is Janet. She enjoys buying people food after forcing them to come see her play.”
Janet slapped Kip on the shoulder. “Stop doing that she enjoys; he enjoys thing you do.”
“But it works,” he said. Winking at Rose, he added, “Doesn’t it?”
Janet placed her hands on Kip’s shoulders and started pushing him towards the exit. “Come on. Food itaisha. Nice to meet you, Rose.”
Before Kip left, he turned and said, “See you around.”
No, you won’t, Rose thought. She had already closed that chapter. Sure, he was a nice man. Smart and charming. She was a fool to think that he’d even remotely be interested in her. He probably only came to chat her up because he was bored and waiting for this… this… Janet. And Janet was a looker (rhymes with hooker which is what she was dressed as). Untalented but beautiful. The kind of beauty Rose could not and would not compete with.
Still, the thought of not talking to him again did hurt a little. How could he have such a power over her after talking for all of ten minutes? She left the theatre and headed to her room. She would watch a movie to rid herself of him. To erase whatever feelings he had aroused in her. Erase the nice man who could hold a conversation. Whose arms she wished were wrapped around her and not some floozy from the play.
Hi guys. I felt authorial today. This post is part one of I don’t know how many. Unfortunately, I have a knack for not finishing stories. It’s kind of like a talent. My very own superpower. I hope I won’t leave you hanging with this one though.
Read Part 2 here