Half-asleep, I dragged my feet across the passage. Gnawing hunger had woken me up and I intended to start my day in the kitchen. I was already in the sitting room before I noticed my sister and her husband tearing at each other like rabid animals. I stopped and contemplated returning to my room like I saw nothing. But the hungry beast living deep in my stomach protested. So, I pretended to trip over the coffee table. Tonye blushed and Martin hurriedly did his buttons. At least you won’t be late for work. You are welcome. I mumbled my apologies and continued my trip to the kitchen.
I heard him drive out of the compound and Tonye walked into the kitchen. I was chopping onions to make noodles and fried eggs, meshai style. She picked up a knife, grabbed a handful of baby carrots and started chopping on the other end of the board.
“Aren’t you going out today?” I asked, wiping tears from my cheek.
“Na,” she mumbled.
I emptied the onions in a bowl and leaned against the counter, watching her butcher the carrots. Her grip on the knife was strong and she didn’t seem interested in the carrots one bit. Something was eating her up.
“Sis, is everything ok? Are you upset I ruined the moment? I’m really…”
“Are you sleeping with Martin?”
She was facing me now and I stood frozen, unsure of what I heard.
“Are you sleeping with my husband?”
My eyes went from her unsmiling face to the knife in her hand, her grip getting tighter. I took a few steps back. What is going on?
“Where is this coming from? I managed to sneak in a nervous chuckle.
“Don’t lie to me, Martha or I swear on our mother’s grave, I will paint these walls with your blood!” Her voice reverberated in the kitchen. Murder was definitely written all over her face.
“Just…calm down. Drop the knife. Let’s…let’s talk about this.” I looked around for something to defend myself as she inched closer. “Hey…Tonye let’s talk about this. Don’t go and do anything irrational o.”
But she wasn’t listening. Rage had blinded her, so I grabbed the bowl of chopped onions and threw them in her face. In that split moment, I ran out of the kitchen to the sitting room where there was enough furniture to stand between us. After racing around and in between furniture, trying to convince Tonye she had things twisted, we both fell down in tired heaps on opposite sides of the room.
“Martin moaned your name while we were making love last night.” She had tears in her eyes. “What are you not telling me?”
I held my head in my hands, making sure I never took my eyes off the knife by her side. A deep sigh escaped from my chest.
“Something has been going on. But it’s not what you think. Please, just let me explain.”
It all started at the pool party Tonye had organized to celebrate her 26th birthday. One of Martin’s friends had placed a 50k bet that no one could beat him at freestyle swimming. My competitive swimming days were far behind me but then I remembered my Netflix subscription was expiring in two days, so I took him up on his challenge. I mean, how hard would it be to beat a man who was half-sober?
A couple feet from the finish line, a muscle cramp in my left thigh had me struggling in the pool. Everyone was carried away by the theatrics of the ‘winner’ that they didn’t notice I wasn’t surfacing. Everyone but Martin. Some seconds and CPR later, I was saved from nearly drowning. As I lay there trying to get my thoughts together, I was thankful to God for giving me a second chance at life. I was also grateful to the man who saved my life. And after that day, I started thinking of him as just that. A man. Not my brother-in-law, not my sister’s husband. But as a man I was beginning to get attracted to. I couldn’t brush away the memory of his lips against mine. The softness, how tender they felt and the way they glided smoothly over mine, fitting like pieces of a puzzle. It was all I could think of, all I dreamt of and all I craved for.
Of course, something switched in Martin too. His eyes began to linger longer on me, our bodies kept brushing each other around the house, he always wanted me to help him out with something. Although words were unspoken and boundaries unbroken, we both couldn’t deny a hunger had been awoken. Tonye, God bless her sweet heart, was happy her sister and husband were finally getting along. Did I mention they both got married secretly outside the country after our father insisted she couldn’t marry a Senegalese?
The first time, it was To Kill a Mockingbird. Martin had given me the book during breakfast. Said I shouldn’t open it till I was in my room so it doesn’t get oil stains on it. It was such an innocent gesture until I settled to read it and saw a note in between the pages.
I think my mirror is damaged cos when I look into it, all I see is you. M.
I had turned 50 shades of pink, imagining him pinning me against that mirror and going all Christian Grey on me before I remembered he had passed this to me right under my sister’s nose. I felt guilty. But then came the second note and it started to pour in. I never replied any of his notes but I didn’t discourage him from sending them either. After all, I was single and it wasn’t like we were having an affair or anything. Plus, I thought we could get away with it since this happened only on paper which I made sure to burn as soon as I read them. All that changed two days ago when the last note came in.
Yesterday I walked into a store and bought sexy red lingerie. I wanted to know how they’d look on you. But I also know that’s impossible. So, I had Tonye wear it. I brushed her hair the way you brush yours and made her wear red lipstick cos that’s your favorite color. When I kissed her, I could taste the raspberry you had on your lips at the pool. I had you in my bed last night even though you were fast asleep on the other side of the house. I don’t know if I can hold this flame any longer. I’m burning on the inside and I fear it might consume me.
I want you. I know you want me too. Please reply this time. M
If Tonye was a good marks man, she would have pinned me to the wall with the kitchen knife. She was crying real, ugly tears now. I had hurt my sister and I didn’t realize up until this moment the gravity of what I had allowed go on. I wouldn’t want my husband having another woman in his mind while he was inside me. No woman ever wants that. As much as I tried to justify it earlier, it didn’t matter that nothing physical happened between Martin and I. I had been having an affair with my sister’s husband.
I had failed her. I had failed myself. I had failed the bond we shared as twins. And I may have ruined her marriage. People will judge. Father will gloat. And Tonye might hate me forever.
Oh God, what have I done?
If you read to this point, thank you very much! And please do comment your reaction to this situation as Tonye. What would you do to both Martin and Martha?