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She sat in the dark, alone. The dark had been her constant companion for as long as she could remember. She sought much-needed solace in it now. The dark also provided a cover, nobody could see her and most importantly, she couldn’t see herself. She didn’t like what she saw so she had stopped looking.

Her phone rang, shattering the silence. She ignored it. It would be her best friend wanting to know about her plans for tomorrow. Hysterical laughter welled up inside her but she controlled the urge. There was no way for her friend to know she no longer had any plans. The phone rang again, persistent. She didn’t want to hear what her best friend had to say. She knew what the call would entail. She would get details of the fabulous day her friend’s boo had planned, along with the wish that he would finally put a ring on it tomorrow. Then her friend would ask about her plans with her boo and did she think he would propose?

The memories weren’t as easy to control as the laughter had been. They were on the edge, taunting her, mocking her efforts to keep them at bay. They broke free, first the sound, then the images. It was an onslaught she was powerless to control. She heard him tell her how worthless she was in bed, how clingy and desperate she sounded. Did she know she would never keep a man if she continued like this? She was too whiny, too eager for attention, she didn’t give him breathing space. He wasn’t surprised that he would be the seventh man in three years to walk out of her life. Men felt smoldered if you loved too much, where was the challenge in that? Besides, she should have succumbed to his request for sex earlier instead of making him wait for something that turned out not to be worth it. Was that her ploy to keep him interested? He wasn’t impressed by her cheap tricks; men hated it when a woman left them dangling.

She had kept quiet through it all and he had taken that as another sign. She was too docile. If she truly loved him, she would cry and plead for him to stay or was she too proud? Men hated pride in a woman, even the bible said the woman should submit. He calmed down enough to tell her he had really wanted it to work between them but her attitude showed that he had been nothing but a pleasant pastime for her.

She refrained from telling him so many things. His blows struck her hard, making her lose her capacity for speech. She cried out now as a possibility occurred to her. What if she was pregnant? She jumped out of bed and dressed hurriedly. She couldn’t go through another abortion, she hadn’t gotten over the guilt of the last one. She worried that damages may have been done even though the doctor had promised it was a clean abortion. Too bad it hadn’t been clean enough to wash the dirt that had piled in her soul.

Oh God please don’t let me be pregnant, she prayed as she left the house. If I’m not pregnant, I will…will what? Will not be stupid again? Will be more careful next time, if there was a next time? Will stop pleasuring men with my body? She had run out of promises. She had nothing to offer anymore.

It was a fast walk to the pharmacy. The cruel words kept playing in her head as if it was a favourite song on replay. She couldn’t have told him that the man she had dated before him had said she was too cheap for giving in quickly to his sexual demands. Or that the one before that had said she was too cold, she didn’t love enough. Or the one before that had said she was too good in bed, he didn’t believe he could pleasure her. She had lost count of the numerous excuses as each man took a vital part of her along as they walked out of her life. She felt dry, empty. She had dared to hope that she had got it right this time. Seven was the number of perfection and he had seemed so perfect in the beginning. He was her dream come true, her prince charming. She should have known better. She just couldn’t seem to get it right no matter how hard she tried. The harder she tried, these more she failed.

“Can I help you, miss?” the attendant asked.

She gasped, embarrassed that she had been caught standing before the neat rows of drugs, lost in thought. The attendant smiled at her, he was a handsome young man. She had known lots of handsome men whose beauty ended with their looks.

“I wouldn’t bother you but I was about to close for the day when you came in. I’m running late for my men’s fellowship. We have a special program in honour of Valentine today.”

Oh great, he is a Christian. She had dated some men who had claimed to be Christians and they had turned out to be no better. Stop it, she chided herself. Is this what she had turned to, analyzing every man and comparing him to her list on first sight?

“You could tell me what you want and I will get it for you. I have to pick my fiancée and drop her at her Pinky Promise meeting before leaving for my fellowship so you understand my hurry.”

Of course, it made sense. All the good ones were taken, she just wasn’t fortunate enough to get a good one.

“I will be with you shortly,” she replied.

She waited for him to leave before picking the pregnancy test kit. She averted her gaze as she handed over her purchase. The attendant talked pleasantly, probably trying to ease her embarrassment and she was grateful for his thoughtfulness. She thanked him as she left and returned home hurriedly. She took the test and while she waited, something the attendant had said came back to her. A pinky promise meeting. She had heard that word before but she couldn’t recall where. She picked her phone and searched for the phrase on Google.

“A promise to honour God with our body,” she read from her phone and this time, she didn’t stop the hysterical laughter. She was about to close the page when an article caught her attention. She didn’t know for how long she sat there, reading several articles. She didn’t know the exact moment tears started rolling down her cheeks. It was as if the writer was talking about her, as if she knew her personally. She saw herself through the words she read, the mistakes she had, and the compromises that had cost too much. She cried for the innocent girl she had been, for what she had lost, for what she had become, for how lost she had been for so long. She just wanted to come home and this Heather Lindsey woman was telling her it wasn’t too late. She could be clean and whole.

Is that true Lord? I’m not too dirty for you?

THOUGH YOUR SINS ARE LIKE SCARLET, THEY SHALL BE AS WHITE AS SNOW.

She cried harder at the still, small voice, at the image that response evoked. Could she really be pure again?

THEREFORE IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATURE, OLD THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY, BEHOLD, ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW.

She hesitated, could it really be that simple?

I HAVE LOVED YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE.

She needed no further conviction. She made the decision then and felt lighter afterwards. She would go back to the pharmacy tomorrow and ask the attendant where the Pinky promise meetings held.

The pharmacy! She had totally forgot the test. She picked it up, knowing she wasn’t going to make any wrong decision ever again. If she was pregnant, she would have the baby. The test was negative. She sighed in relief.

She had been given a clean slate. She could believe again, believe that she could get it right.  She was no longer alone.  She was home at last.

 

Yetunde Lemboye

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