Rebecca was only fourteen years old when she met Kevin. She was having difficulty in math when her mother enrolled her in a private class to be tutored by Kevin. She was slim to the point that she seemed tiny, almost frail. It was easy to think she was malnourished at first glance. But when you considered her height and the fact that she was only fourteen, your mind would be presented with a new problem of how fast she must have had to grow to have achieved that height at that age.
Kevin was the present best graduating student in Rebecca's school. He lived in the same gated community as Rebecca and was her elder brother's classmate. Rebecca always had a crush on Kevin for as long as she could remember and nothing he did was wrong. His very words, which were very few, were Gospel to her. So it was with great enthusiasm she attended his private tutorials in her home pantry. Kevin, on the other hand saw her as a plain, nice little girl and had his eyes set on an older girl Natalie.
Kevin was sixteen at the time. When he discovered what it meant to like a girl and the society's accepted standard in these things, he had decided, at that young age, that he would not marry unless he fell helplessly in love with a girl that he had no choice but to want to spend the rest of his life with her. In his thinking, he would only have one partner for the whole of his life so when he met Natalie, he was sure. This is it, he thought.
He was so focused in making the best result possible in his secondary school certificate examinations that he did not know when Natalie crept into his heart and firmly attached herself with seemingly no exertion from herself or anyone else. It all started the day he went to the seat he preferred in the library to find her seated there, drinking from a water bottle and listening to Mp3. Nobody sat on his seat. What audacity! He was not a hot-tempered person but this incident infuriated him. Maybe it was the fact that she was not even studying or the fact that her ears were plugged with earphones that so annoyed him. Maybe it was because of how peaceful and unruffled she looked with her hair well packed on her head and tied into a pony tail.
He was frustrated but he swallowed his pride and sense of entitlement and found another seat. He liked the other seat because it had a view of the school so that he could look outside at students loitering in the school every fifteen minutes as he took a minute break from studying. This was his way of managing his short attention span. As he sat to study, his mind would not settle on the task at hand. Suddenly he could no longer bear it. He walked over to Natalie.
"You're seated on my seat," he blurted. As soon as the words came out, he regretted it as he realised how completely absurd it was that he could conjure up such a thoroughly cock-eyed idea that a student could own a seat in a school library. Natalie did not react immediately and he thought, oh thank Goodness that she did not hear. Calmly she unplugged the earphones, looked up to him and spoke calmly: "Oh, I'm so sorry. I didn't realise this was your seat. I will be leaving in a few minutes and you can have it back."
Kevin was speechless. This was not the reaction he was expecting. He walked back to his seat with his tail between his legs. If he was unable to concentrate before the incident, he was now totally debased and could do nothing but think about how to redeem himself in her eyes. She had made him feel so small and he was ashamed of himself. What kind of girl is she? Girls don't talk or act like that. He expected a confrontation.
He was deep in these thoughts when he felt a touch on his shoulder. "I'm leaving now. You can go have your seat," she said. She turned around and left. That was the last time Kevin went to the library to study. He went there everyday but only to look at Natalie. They became friends and spend their whole days together. His life changed to something he could no longer recognise. He spent his days with her and he spent the nights writing down his thoughts for her. His world revolved around Natalie. He had never felt that way before and he had no words for it.
Thinking about it, he still wonders how he was able to pass his exams let alone make the best result. Recently, Natalie was becoming a bit distant and he could sense something was wrong. They still spent some time together and he still felt the same way about her but things were different.
Some days Rebecca would go to his house invite him over for her classes only to find Natalie there. She felt no jealousy. She was just happy breathing the same air with him. Besides he seemed to be having more time for her since he now stuck around for up to one hour sometimes after teaching her. He helped her cover the syllabus for her exams in time for revision and she was able to pass her courses well. He, soon after, was admitted to study law at a neighbouring state university.
Occasionally, he came home when they were on holidays and Kevin and Rebecca would see each other. When he came home after first semester she was happy to notice that he no longer talked much about Natalie and it seemed to her that since Natalie moved away to another school, her chances of having him to herself was on the increase. He told her endlessly about college life and she could not wait to go.
Rebecca was admitted in the same school as Kevin and to her, life could not be more perfect. Before she located her room, before she knew her way around campus, before she registered her courses, she went and looked for Kevin, outside the school campus where he shared a flat with a friend. She was seventeen then and had added more flesh to her bones. It did not take long for Kevin to realise that he was wasting his time pining over Natalie. He asked Rebecca out and they both started dating. Meanwhile, by Rebecca's reckoning, he was her boyfriend way before then.
Kevin knew how she felt about him so he found it more than a little curious that she was completely without jealousy especially since he had a lot of female friends and admirers. So one day he decided to ask: "How come you never get jealous of any of the girls?"
"The only girl you could ever leave me for is Natalie"
He was shocked to hear her speak the name. But she was not even jealous of Natalie those days. He tried to convince her that he was done with Natalie and was never going back to her. The more he talked, the more he realised how unconvincing he sounded. He gave up but he never stopped thinking about those words of hers.
After graduation, he went to law school. After graduation a year after, Rebecca applied for Masters in another school. During this time they tried to manage the relationship over the distance. He soon realised that Rebecca was distracted and was not giving much time to him as before. It didn't take long for him to discover what the problem was: Dion, Rebecca's friend from her undergraduate days had started going out with her in her new school. Somehow, he blamed himself for not giving her enough attention and knowing how much she had loved him, he could not let her know what he found out especially since he didn't know the true extent of her involvement with him.
Instead he invited her to come and spend a few days with him in the town where he worked. She offered some excuses about academic workload. He was willing to wait but things seldom work as planned.
His phone rang and he answered it. "Hello. It has been ages," she said.
"Hey, Nat. It is so nice to hear from you."
"How are you doing? I'm coming in to town tomorrow for a business meeting and it would be awesome if you would be kind enough to meet me at the airport."
"Sure. What time are you coming in?"
He had a strange premonition that this coming to town was not going to turn out well but it has been so long since he's seen her so he could not refuse. He met her at the airport. She was still the most beautiful girl/woman he had ever known. She was her usual self-assured self. She said nothing about a hotel or where she planned going so he suggested dinner. She agreed and that was how, without realising it, Kevin forgot he had a girlfriend. That night, they made love for the first time.
It was not until two days after Natalie had left that Kevin realised he had not called nor spoken to Rebecca. When he called her, the first words she spoke was, "I am coming to spend some time with you."
She arrived the next day only for Kevin to realise that he was no longer attracted to her. He kept trying to make things seem normal but things had changed. When she left she called him and her words shocked him: "I have always been worried that Natalie would return and take you from me. I know it has finally happened."
He tried to deny it but she was not asking a question and did not need his explanation. Gradually, things deteriorated between them until they both admitted the truth to each other and became friends again. Rebecca met someone else and within one year, she got married. Kevin was very proud and happy for her.
Rebecca's husband, Charles, worked in a large bank with branches all over the country. Soon her husband was transferred to the same town where Kevin lived and both friends had the opportunity to become closer. Rebecca was pregnant and the hospital she used was close to Kevin's law office. She stopped by to say hello sometimes.
She was due in six weeks time when Charles had to travel to the bank headquarters for a monthly performance review meeting. He did not want to go but she assured him that she was not due for another six weeks so he went.
That same night she went into labour. With Charles thousands of miles away, she instinctively called Kevin when the labour started. Her water had already broken. Kevin quickly drove to her house and helped her onto the car, drove her to the hospital and awaited when the nurse would tell him it was alright to see her. It was three hours later before the doctor came out.
"Congratulations. You have a baby boy," he said. Kevin was so happy, he did not bother to correct the doctor about him not being the father. He asked when he could see them and he was told to wait. An hour later he was allowed to see the mother and child briefly. They asked him to leave her to rest. He went home at about 12 midnight.
The next morning, he went back to the hospital to find Charles in the waiting room, sobbing uncontrollably. "What is it? When did you come in?"
"My Becky is gone," was all he could say. Kevin froze. This was surreal.
"Gone where?" he screamed.
"She passed away this morning. I should have been here for her."
But I was here, Kevin thought. She was well when he left her. How can this be? He rushed to the room where she had been but there was nobody there. He later learned that she had died of extreme postpartum hemorrhage. They tried to explain it all to him but he could not wrap his mind around it.
During the years that followed, he realised that he never stopped loving her, from the time he taught her, through university days and even when she cheated on him, he loved her. He thought the love had died but he was wrong.
Looking at his old pictures and seeing her beautiful face, he could not help but wonder if there was a relationship between the events of his life. He could not help but wonder if things would have turned out different if he had married Rebecca. In his heart, he knew that this was a girl who loved him in every way a man could be loved.
Authored by @churchboy
All images were obtained from an open source
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