Uche leaned against the car and rapped his fingers on the roof. He watched as Somto emerged from the Junior Church building. As much as a lot had changed in the home front, she was still diligent with her service in church. It baffled him how she had become a stranger to their daughter yet was a mother figure to the kids in church.
She looked beautiful in her sea-green pencil gown. Aside losing a lot of weight, she was as breathe taking as he had always remembered. He missed the days when he’d call her ‘my achalugo’ and she’d burst into laughter. She no longer laughed liked that around the house. He couldn’t even remember the last time he saw her smile. She seemed to be withdrawing more and more into her shell; surrendering herself to her new life as she had once surrendered herself to him.
Somto got to the car just as the lead Pastor’s wife did. Uche fell in line and grabbed her by the waist as they both exchanged pleasantries with the woman. He felt her stiffen but he knew she wouldn’t act up in public, especially not in front of her ‘big sister’.
“Pastor Bim…that dress looks heavenly on you.” Uche said.
“My husband needs to hear this. He doesn’t know the difference between a dress and a potato sack.” They both laughed while Somto tried to wiggle out of his grip. He pulled her further in.
“SomSom, your cupcakes at the last bake sale were divine. I trust you’d be gracing us with new bud-melting recipes?” Pastor Bimbo teased.
“Yes ma. Definitely. Anything for the kids.”
“Alright, love. The bake sale is in two weeks. Don’t forget,” She admonished as waved them goodbye and walked away.
“Are you going to let go now?” Somto spat.
Uche sighed and let go. They entered the car and joined the outgoing traffic
“You went from hundred to zero really quick, Somto. Weren’t you just laughing with P. Bim?” Uche asked as they finally left the church premises.
She looked outside the window and pretended not to hear him.
“I’ve been thinking.” He paused to look at her briefly. “We should go see a marriage counselor?”
Somto turned to look at him. “We?” She scoffed and returned to her former position.
“Don’t you see? We have problems we obviously can’t handle ourselves.” His grip on the steering tightened. “Our marriage is falling apart.”
“Need I remind you that you made that call, Uche?” She was almost raising her voice.
His jaw got all tensed up as they drove in silence for some minutes.
“I’ve apologized a million times. I don’t know what else to do. Are you ever going to forgive me for that one mistake?’
Somto ignored him, leaned her head against the head rest and closed her eyes.
“I love you, Somto and you mean the world to me. You have to believe that.”
“I don’t remember you acting like it six months ago.” She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “Listen, stop trying. Let’s just accept the fact that this marriage has run its course and let’s look for a way to go our separate ways such that it doesn’t affect our daughter in any way.
“Are you asking for a…divorce?” He choked on his words.
“I am asking for a divorce, Uche. My lawyers are already working on the papers as we speak.”
Uche bit his knuckle and fought to keep his eyes from misting. He knew he had messed up bad. But he never would have thought this was where it would lead to. It possibly couldn’t end this way. He wouldn’t let it.
“I’m not going to sign any papers.”
“Don’t make this hard than it already is.”
“I won’t sign any goddamn papers!” His voice rang out with so much anger, he surprised himself. He took quick successive breathes. “I can’t.”
“You can’t or you won’t?” She was slightly irritated.
“You. Selfish. Bastard.” And then she dropped the final blow. “I’m filing for custody.”
Uche’s face fell. “I’m not letting either of you go without a fight.”
“Then lawyer up.”
They spent the rest of the ride lost in their individual thoughts.