She found herself in a strange forest.
Strange but beautiful. Healthy trees were surrounded by a lush greenery. Sunlight flowed down in a gentle smoky gold. Whole white flowers filled everywhere with charm.
Grace looked round, relishing the beauty of nature.
But the moment was cut short by the disturbing screech of an unfamiliar bird. From the corner of her eyes she saw the black bird fly off from a nearby shrub.
Then there came the blood.
From above, it rained down the forest, staining everything that was in sight; the white roses, the green leaves, her cream-colored gown.
Drenched in red, she threw her lips open and screamed.
She came awake on her bed with a sudden start. She rose to a sitting position and tried to settle her breathing. The AC was on but she could feel the moisture on her forehead.
She turned, fumbling around the wall for the light switch. When she finally turned the light on, she saw that it was only 4 O’clock.
But she didn’t go back to sleep. No way she could have.
She entered the kitchen and poured herself a glass of cold juice. In the sitting room she reopened the book she was reading last night.
She tried to read but the letters appeared blurry.
It was a few minutes to Five when she drove out of the compound.
She parked some distance away from his house, the only space she could see on the car-lined street.
She entered the compound and hurried up the stairs.
She knocked at his door and waited. Nothing. She pressed the bell. She didn’t hear any sound.
She was about to knock again when she remembered she had her own key. She opened her bag, brought out the key and slotted it into the hole.
She entered the room and an unfamiliar smell greeted her. It was the pungent smell of alcohol mixed with something else, mildly irritating but not extremely unpleasant.
The TV was loud with sports noise. She picked the remote and turned down the volume.
‘Alex?’ she called out.
She dropped her bag on the blue sofa and walked into the room.
When she opened the door to his bedroom, the sight that greeted her froze her briefly.
‘Alex!’ She ran to the male body hanging down from the high bed. Two legs were on the bed while neck and hands hung loosely down. She held him up and tried to see if he was breathing.
It was all over his nose, his mouth, the bed, the white dust he’d taken. The transparent sachet beside him was nearly empty. Beside it was the note.
She picked the piece of paper and read the handwritten lines hastily.
It was love. I know it really was. I know you felt it too. Only I wasn’t clean enough for you and I apologize for that. Call it the other side of love but please don’t forget me. Alex.
‘Oh no, Alex, please don’t do this.’ She shook him. ‘Alex, don’t die on me please!’ Her heart was pounding.
She wiped at her eyes and ran out of the house. She returned shortly with two of his neighbors and they carried him to her car.
The doctors at All Saints Clinic were all professionals. Most of them were trained abroad.
But also in the big clinic were a few interns and residents who do not know what they are doing.
Most times, the licensed doctors are busy.
Sometimes they become too busy that these interns are given undue right to cater to a patient.
You can’t spot them easily, those ones. They usually don’t look any different. But there is one thing common among them –they broke bad news to people without any show of moderation.
And it was one of those kind of interns that informed Grace of her misfortune.
‘What do you mean you lost him?’ Grace screamed at the slim man.
‘It was a huge overdose, Madam,’ he told her.
In his blue coat, he looked mid-thirties, but he was obviously younger. ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’
As Grace dropped to a nearby chair, her shoulders heaving violently up and down as she sobbed, the young intern shook his head and walked away.
But then in those rare miraculous moments that it appeared the light at the end of the tunnel just flashed across your face, Grace saw the young intern coming towards her again, this time accompanied by an older, more doctor-looking man.
Their steps were hasty, silent on the gleaming tiles of the hall.
‘I’m sorry, Madam, are you the lady that brought in an overdosed patient?’ the older doctor asked.
Grace nodded, wiping at her runny nose.
‘We actually got a pulse, but he is still deeply unconscious.’
Grace didn’t understand.
The man tried to explain, something about how lack of oxygen to the brain had caused him anoxic brain injury.
Grace nodded readily to each statement but in the end all she had managed to grasp was that Alex was not dead yet, that there was still a chance of him waking up, holding her, kissing her.
She fought the urge to slap the boy doctor.
She asked the doctor if it was coma. He didn’t answer the question and only assured her that he would come around.
‘It will take some time, but he will make it. All chances are in his favor.’
Grace stared fixedly at the man.
‘Madam, do you believe?’
She nodded promptly. ‘I believe, Doctor, I believe.’
She has wiped her face when Dapo arrived the hospital.
He sighted her leaning on the short metal demarcation in front of the hospital.
He ran to her.
‘I got your message, what happened?’
Grace looked up at him with reddened eyes. ‘He tried to kill himself.’
Dapo turned away quietly, like a snail pulling back into its shell. An act that made Grace curious herself.
‘Please can you take me to him?’ he asked.
‘Not possible now. He is currently under intensive care and no one is allowed to see him.’
‘He told you, right?’
Grace looked at him and nodded.
‘I was the one that gave him the tablets.’
‘The abortion pills?’
He joined her in leaning on the metal demarcation. ‘Yes. I didn’t tell him dosage.’
Grace’s hands tightened round the metal bar.
Dapo shifted closer to her. He wiped off a trickle of tear that sped down his face. ‘He was a good boy, you know. Quiet, always reading, got wonderful grades in school, mum loved him best.’
Grace stared at him.
Dapo sniffled and continued. ‘He has always regretted it. It kept him sad for months. You should have seen.’
‘Why are you telling me all this?’
‘Because I’m truly sorry.’
‘For being so mad with you, you both. For allowing your relationship to torment me.’
Something leaped off from Grace’s eyes and she blinked.
Dapo took her hand. ‘Please you have to forgive me. This situation wouldn’t have manifested had it not been me.’
Grace nodded and took back her hand. She straightened up and folded her arms on her chest.
‘So your wife left you?’ she asked.
‘She didn’t get home with me from the restaurant that day.’
‘I’m sorry I wrecked your marriage.’
‘It’s okay. It was meant to happen anyway.’
‘Why say that?’
‘We were married for the wrongest of reasons.’
‘Yea. I heard she was the one that set you up, gave you the big oil job and all that.’
‘Yes.’ He turned and extended a hand to her. ‘Friends?’
Grace took his hand. ‘Sure.’
Dapo nodded. ‘Thank you, Grace.’
Alex regained consciousness the following week.