Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Second Chance - Chapter Fifteen


“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home.”
               ––Mother Teresa

It was true that he left them––and her. It was true that he’d never called since he ran away. It was true that he never thought of them––and her. All he’d wanted at that moment had been to run away. He was tired of living under their rules and under their shadow. They’d been grooming him into a man he had no business becoming and no choice developing into. Ben didn’t want to live a political life like his parents; the life where he would have to be careful at every moment. At that time, freshly out of the university with a Bachelors in Political Science, all he’d wanted to do was to be free to pick a girlfriend, but his parent had said no to their twenty-three years old son, because they had better things he could be doing with his life and time. So he left them. Looking at his sister as she made breakfast had emotions surging through him. Had he made a mistake by running away without taking her along? Had he been the reason why she was now so keen on taking her own life? So he asked her, “Why’d you do it?”

“Why do people do it?” she replied back, her burning eyes still on the frying pan. She shouldn’t have told him. It made her look weak, that’s why Ben had been behind her for the past five minutes just watching her. She didn’t want to be the little sister who needed saving. She could take care of herself now. She’d been doing so without him.

Ben didn’t push any further. He went upstairs to prepare for work. After one week of living with her, he’d learned so much about the fifteen years girl he’d left behind. She liked to answer his questions with empty questions and Ben had no patience to spare. He was saving it all up for Bisola who by the way still hadn’t contacted him like he’d planned.

When Judith finished, she fixed herself a plate and came to the living room to eat. Ben was expecting his breakfast on the table when he came down but he was greeted by an empty table. His sister was almost through eating, and when she saw him, she modestly told him to go into the kitchen and help himself.

“If you’re going to stay with me the least you can do is serve me my breakfast.” Ben said under his breath but he’d intended for her to hear.

“Nope, the least I can do is make the breakfast. You’ve been fine before I came, and am not your wife. Why don’t you call your Secretary to come serve you breakfast? You what Ben, you should seriously get married. Alice already did.” Judith finished, intentionally hitting a nerve in her brother. She gulped down some water, picked up her plate and moved passed a shock-stricken Ben. He was absolutely flabbergasted after hearing the news of his ex-girlfriend’s marriage.

“Did you think she was going to wait for you?” she snickered. 

He nodded, still in shock. “Well then you should have done this thing called “call.” You should have picked up the phone and called someone!” she yelled in her own anger.

“I did. I did.” He repeated when he finally found his voice to speak. “I called. I told her to wait for me. She promised she would. She said she would take care of you.”

“People promise a lot of things––you did too. I never saw her. I never saw the only girl you cared about.”

“Then how do you know she’s married?” Ben asked, hoping his sister had only been lying, but the invitation card Judith had received in the mail hadn’t been from another person but her…your high school sweetheart.” She finished mockingly. Although shocked, Ben wasn’t angry. He’d suspected she’d gone her separate way when she stopped picking up his calls after one year of waiting for him to be a man––a man of his own––a man who didn’t need his father’s presence before he could move an audience for a cause he believed in. It’d taken six years for such a man to be cultivated. He’d turned his back against what he knew in search of the things he knew nothing about. In spite of all that, there were still things he needed to learn, like how his sister got to be the way she was now. And what made chose to do what he’d done six years ago.

“Go to work, I don’t want to keep your Secretary waiting. That girl likes you, you’d better be careful. You just might get caught up in her web sooner than you think. I’m sure our parents are looking forward to grandkids.” she teased.

“And what will you be doing while I’m gone?”

“Same thing I’ve been doing since I got here… spend your money. See ya!” She hopped away.

“Judith, he called in a low and calm voice before she disappeared. He said to her, You grew up, a lot.” And he didn't mean physicially even though there were evidences of that change. 

Oh no, Ben, what I did was I stopped waiting on you.” 

***

When Ben entered his office where he was the president of a cable company, a position he rose to two years ago, he was still depressed from the daunting conversation he had with his sister. He opened his laptop to begin work for the day in order to clear his mind. A soft knock on the door, it was his Secretary. Margaret carefully shut the door behind her and stood next to it. She smiled invitingly at her boss, waiting for his signal before going to him. She knew she had no business being in his office this early. Her plan was either going to backfire, or it just might be the biggest step towards her goal.

Ben simply waved his fingers and she was by his side before he knew it. He knew Margaret had set her eyes on him ever since he employed her. And she was looking for any form of opening to his wounds where she can come in and be his healer. Today she wore a pair of lavender lace skirt and a deep V-neck white blouse that showed off some extra skin that wasn’t needed to be seen in a work place. He wanted to ask why she was at work before eight which was the time she was initially supposed to resume work. She answered saying, “I was wondering if you’ve had breakfast.” “I could help you get something if you want.” She quickly added.

“Margaret,” he started to call her name in the gentlest way he could, removing his eyes from his computer, he asked her to take a sit and she did. Her nervous hands were folded on her laps, waiting on his answer.

He was being given an opportunity to shut everything down and he was going to take it. “Look, you’re a nice girl,” she nodded correspondingly, not sure where this was going.  “You’ve been working harder than any other employee here and I commend you for that. But your job begins at that desk and when I call for you, and it ends when you go home or when I call for you. I’m not paying you to be my waitress or my cook. The other day had been due to an emergency. I don’t like you coming to work two hours early, I would rather you stay in bed for another thirty minutes so you can work better when you get here…” while Ben continued, Margaret was trembling from the embarrassment swelling though her whole body. She hadn’t expected him to turn her down in such a way. He hadn’t even given her a chance. Did he think she wasn’t good enough for him?”


“I would also like for you to stick to the dress code, ask one of the employees for the employees’ rules and regulation booklet, I’m sure you’ll find what I mean inside. I’ll pretend that your actions as of lately is all due to the fact that this is still your first three months working with us. I don’t want to have this conversation again, alright?” he asked her as if she was a little girl he was trying to get to swear an oath. Margaret could not raise her head up to look at him. She modestly nodded and was up when she felt Ben’s eyes drift away from her. 

She was half way to the door when Ben said, “And about my house key, I’ll like it back on my desk before you leave today. Let’s keep up the good work that we’ve started...” He wasn’t finished before he heard the door slam on his words. When she left, he chuckled devilishly. He was feeling a lot better now. That needed to be done before it went too far. He’d tried to keep a friendly atmosphere around the workplace but Margaret who was unattached had mistaken his outgoingness for something else which he wasn’t ready for. At the end of the day, Margaret came back to him with his house key and an envelope that held her resignation letter.

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