Short Story ~ A Journey Beyond Love ~ Sophiyya EmBee

 "After three years I get to see this beautiful face again." 

At the sound of his voice, my heartbeat accelerated. Even after all these years, I couldn't forget that voice. For days and nights, it rang in my ears. It haunted my dreams. The thick drawl, was like dripping honey. 

"I have changed." I almost whispered without turning around. My voice blending with the wind.

He removed his shoes and sat down beside me, putting his legs in the water beside mine. The atmosphere was tense with the friction between us, I could feel it. The strain of the years tugging at our hearts, and every fiber of my body. I wished for nothing more than his arms around me and yet tucked my hands safely between my legs instead of reaching out to pull him to me.

I had invited him earlier to meet here. I had tried and failed woefully at getting him out of my mind. I had come to miss him, miss his voice, miss the comfort associated with sitting by his side. It had been difficult surviving the past three years without his kisses. I missed kissing him so much, it hurts to just sit by him with his lips within reach. 

"I'm surprised you still have my number." I broke the silence.

"It's more surprising you still have mine. I could never bring myself to delete it," he paused.

"I could delete your number, but I will never forget you," I said quietly. "I thought about you every day"

"I never stopped thinking about you either."

Unable to resist anymore, I turned to look at him. As always, my breath stayed in my throat. Everything came to a still, as though we were caught in a photograph: the man and the woman, her face turned towards his, love radiant in her eyes. 

He looked even better than my memories of him. He had more hair on his face, just how I love it. His sideburns were thicker and trailed down to join his beard, all jet black hair. The nose I always teased him about was the same; a little big for his face. The eyes were as clear and beautiful as I remembered or even better. His full eyebrows had always complimented the eyes. Every feature sculpted to make a beautiful face. Slowly, cautiously, my eyes went down to his lip, and I almost stopped breathing. I could feel my heartbeat all over my body like it was looking for a perfect exit. The pink lips were more pronounced by the contrast of the beards and when he smiled, his cheekbones became more angled.

"Like what you see?" he teased.

It took me a minute to register his words. I looked away

Clearing my throat, I announced, "I'm running away."

He was quiet for some time. "Does he beat you?" 

I shook my head, no. 

"Does he abuse you?" 

Again, I shook my head, no. I could see the sigh of relief when I answered. A moment before, he had murder in his eyes. he was still protective of me.

"Doesn't take care of you?" 

I shook my head. 

"Then what is it."

"I don't love him." I confessed. 
"I don't think of him as a part of me. He has always been a stranger," I was close to tears.

"What about Rilwan?" He asked about my son.

"I don't know." I said quietly,  "I don't even want to think about it."
"I should go with him," I said like an afterthought.

Ibrahim had always been my comfort. I could tell him the deepest part of me without even realizing it. We had been an item for as long as we knew each other. Like a treasure, my soul had found his. We understood each other even without words. We had loved each other. How we never considered marriage, is still a mystery I can't unravel. It was in the midst of that love I was married off to Bashir. 

I never had a problem with Bashir and I willed myself to love him initially, but I have never loved him. We developed a friendship but hat was as far as we had gone. Until he started asking for more. Bashir fell in love with me, demanding that I give him my heart too. And my heart was not what I could give to him, not because I didn't want to. I just couldn't.

I spent some more time with Ibrahim watching the sunset and for that moment, I forgot my worries. It was as close to paradise as I could get. The lake reflected the beam of the setting sun, giving the environment an orange glow. The grass was greener than usual by the bank of the lake. The birds were flying back home in flocks, so high, only their hue, silhouette, was visible. It was a perfect moment. I felt guilty on the drive back home.


"I was just about to call you," Bashir called from the living room, "where have you been?"
I didn't want to lie, "I drove to the Lake," I mustered confidence into the sentence, "Have you eaten?" I added.

I heard his footsteps and waited. 

"Yes, and I enjoyed the meal," he had reached where I was standing and gathered me in his arms before I could escape.

"Thank you," he whispered close to my ears.

For a brief moment, I wished that he was violent. Maybe if he was abusive, I could leave without this much guilt.  But Bashir was so sweet, I couldn't handle all the sweetness. 

I managed to wiggle out of his embrace, "I need a bath,"  

I left him before he could answer, I didn't turn back, either, to see his expression.


I spent the last couple of days, preparing my escape. In between, I tried desperately to provoke Bashir too, to provoke some reaction, anything to excuse the escape I needed so badly. He did not budge . 
His calmness added to my guilt. But I couldn't stay and watch him fall into the hopeless, dark pit of my love. I turned to the sleeping form of my innocent son, and felt more guilt. But my selfish side won. 

Bashir had left for a trip, this felt like the perfect opportunity. I quickly packed up for Rilwan and I. And then, without a note, I left. 

I left Bashir.

I trashed the three years we tried to build. I broke my father's trust. I'd betrayed my mother. I'd disappointed my family, but all that was nothing compared to the love that coursed through my veins for Ibrahim.

With tears in my eyes, I drove through the thickets and plains. Into the rain and sun. Usually, I'd have been brewing a travelogue, but I was just not in my element today. I was oblivious to the road. I left my life behind. Everything. Nobody knew where I was headed, except Ibrahim.

Ibrahim consumed my thoughts, consumed me. I couldn't see anything but his face. And maybe a part of me knew that Ibrahim would always be my end. For a brief moment, I allowed myself to dream of his lips.

His lips were the last thing I remembered before the sound of Rilwan's screeching scream reached my ears. And then I saw the windshield raining glasses on me.

Sophiyya EmBee is a writer and poet from Northern Nigeria. She is a passionate book enthusiast, unapologetic cat lover and a devoted Tea addict. Her literary journey has been marked by creativity and expression of love with her works featured on prestigious platforms such as The Arts Muse Fair and Inside Arewa. As the administrative officer of Poetic Wednesdays Initiative, she fosters a community of poetry lovers and wordsmiths. Beyond the realm of literature, she studied Urban and Regional Planning in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and currently flirts with Real Estate Development in Kaduna.