I rubbed the slumber out of my eyes: that I was able to do that alone came as a bit of a shock. The last thing I could remember was being put to bed with a chloroform pacifier. I expected to wake up in handcuffs, maybe with a video camera too in front of me and a man with a hood broadcasting a message making some demands. At the very least, I thought I would be in a dungeon or a holding cell.
All those were terribly wrong guesses.
When I woke up, I was in my bed, and my wife Tamara was lying next to me.
“Morning, sleepy head, I woke up a little earlier just to prepare for the day, and I decided to do a little reading too. Want me to get you anything to eat?” Ummm, how about a hot plate of answers? But then, where do you even start from? I rubbed my eyes again, trying to piece together the events of the day before, separating facts from the fiction my mind could have conjured up in my sleep.
“Just a cup of coffee will do.” What else was there to say? Was everything that happened the previous night just a dream? She put down the book she was reading on the nightstand and left the room as I sat up, looking around at the space which was well lit by the light beaming in through the French windows on my left. She’s the one who picked the design. The deep scarlet comforter? The black Turkish rug? The matching drapes? She picked those too. Even the choice of color of the white walls, and the similar theme in the rest of our Roma house. She picked everything.
“Are you still meeting with the managing director today?” She asked as she walked back into the room. I turned my attention quickly to the dresser where my undergarments were laid out, and then the rest of the suit she picked out for me, hanging from the wardrobe handle. That was something she had done consistently for past three years, and it only hit me then – Tamara ran my life. And it’s something that really shouldn’t have been bothering me, but after I found out that she had been lying to me about work for nearly a month, it was a thorn in my side.
“Yeah, it’s gonna be a pretty busy day,” I said, my eyes now glancing over the pieces of toast, the two eggs and the rasher of bacon on the plate set before me. I said I just wanted coffee; is she trying to fatten me? I realized that I was turning into a paranoid green monster, and I was even hesitant to put the food in my mouth. I took a bite, with as much caution as someone on a twig bridge, and after I swallowed, I didn’t drop dead instantly.
“Oh that’s a shame, I saw the supper you prepared when I came in late last night and since I found you asleep, I thought we could make plans today,” she said, looking a bit nervy as if she knew that wasn’t true. Was it? I wanted to read her expressions to see if I could pick anything else up. She was now seated in front of the dresser, doing her lashes. Man, she’s beautiful, I thought to myself as I looked at her reflection; her dark chocolate skin was rarely covered with any makeup, and after she tied her braids behind her back, she put a thin layer of gloss on her naturally deep claret lips. I had almost forgotten how striking she was. But whereas before I only saw beauty, I saw the same now covered with a layer of mystery and intrigue.
Who is this woman who had been subtly controlling everything in my life? Playing it so well that I didn’t even realize what she was doing? I mean even just our house; I wanted an apartment near the bustle and life of the downtown area, but she pointed out how Roma was closer to both our workplaces, and she even planted the idea of having children in my mind with talk about taking the tots to the Lusaka International Community School, which she made my mind believe was the best in the city by saying all her superiors take their kids there. I had always planned on having kids later in the marriage, but in the weeks leading to that morning, I found myself thinking about them more frequently, probably what she had intended for me to do in the first place. Without me knowing it, she had been playing the chords in me I thought no one knew how to play, but she knew me probably even better than I knew myself. And I didn’t know why just yet, but she had been taking advantage of that knowledge. One thing I was sure of, though, was that I was going to get answers, one way or another.
If she’s not going to tell me, I thought, I’m going to find out by myself.
I’m going to stalk my own wife.