Miriam said her eyelids had fell for her feet. I called it sleep. I liked life plain and simple, nothing more, nothing less. 

I told Miriam to be grateful for a perfect day.  Miriam had been so excited at the prospect of our marriage that the day of our engagement initially took second place. I reminded her that this was the day when we first met. Her eyes flickered and the distant smile reserved for the wedding disappeared. She took my hand and held it, as if for the last time and then busily began to make plans to make our engagement special.

Miriam’s mother announced she would not be able to make the engagement. I knew she would not hide her discomfort at the prospect of my engagement to Miriam. I made light of the fact that I did not make it to her mother’s like list. Poor Miriam looked at me apologetically. I had not thought before speaking. Miriam’s mother did not like her much either. Her eyes welled up but I would not let her dwell. I discouraged Miriam from living out her mother’s general dissatisfaction with her in the only way I knew how.  Miriam had to be responsible for her own happiness otherwise Miriam would turn into her mother. Left to be stony and hard while regaling stories of being mistreated.

Miriam’s old friend Angela would make the engagement from Tahiti. Miriam’s weekly telephone ordeals with her mother resulted in her telling of Angela’s arrival. Her mother thought Angela was talented. Miriam’s mother changed her mind. She even expressed shock and dismay that Miriam had failed to insist she turn up to such an important event. Miriam apologised. Her mother’s upset extended to being unable to buy Miriam an engagement present. She would however find the strength to turn up and join the celebrations. Her mother announced she would stay with us but Angela was also staying. We had two bedrooms and a box/dressing room next to the bedroom. Miriam’s mother offered to share her bed with Angela but she preferred the dressing room floor next to our bedroom. Miriam said it was not the most romantic of solutions but she did not wish to be the cause of any further upset to her mother. 

I had always been a romantic. This was the dirty source of our perfect match. Our mutual friend Charlotte had introduced us. I was simple but romantic. This aspect of my personality had been buried for it could not be exposed. There was no room for sentiment in the world of hard boots, hard hats, hard rubble and hard labour.  I was now devising building contracts but the work still served the kind of man I was. The evenings allowed me to enjoy the only complexities in my life. A glass of something selected by the woman I loved. This woman was Miriam despite her protests. 

The invitations were sent out and the day soon arrived. The engagement had been perfect. My building friends managed to mingle with the school marms of Miriam’s network and Miriam’s mother managed to mingle mercifully. But the night would prey upon me. 

I could hear Miriam breathing in bed when I woke up to the pleasant feeling of tender kisses being brushed up against my genitals. I was aroused. My sleepy state soon turned to a state of paralysis when I realised that Angela was the cause. I used all my strength and courage when I turn to see if Miriam was awake and a party to this terrible crime. She slept. I tried to push Angela away but she persisted and continued to lick me and her tongue like a dog. I began to breathe hard as I continued to try and shove her off me. All the while, a terror gripped my body. I feared waking Miriam and momentarily imagined Miriam’s mother watching. This image propelled me to finally push Angela away. I could not sleep. In the morning, I waited for Miriam to question me. I briefly blamed her for even knowing Angela. But Miriam was too innocent to suspect or have any idea of what took place. Miriam knew something was wrong. I was agitated and distracted as Angela smiled and flirted at the table. Miriam’s mother noticed. Undeterred. Angela continued.

I felt violated and untrustworthy. 

Miriam feared that the engagement had caused me to doubt our relationship. Charlotte was called. I waited until Angela, Miriam’s mother and Miriam were all in the garden. I casually asked about Angela but Charlotte suspected something. I blurted out what had happened. Charlotte laughed nervously initially. I feared she would tell Miriam but she accepted that I did not have the imagination for such tales or infidelity. I was relieved. She added I would need to end the damage caused by my disturbed and distracted state.

I know my terrain and I had to learn how to compose myself in this new world. The incident would occasionally regurgitate itself in my nightmares. I never said anything because I could not bear Miriam being upset. She had learned to depart from the series of disappointments that represented her life before me. I would not be the source of one more. I had suffered betrayal by her friend but I would not subject Miriam to the same. Angela did not make it to the wedding. Charlotte made sure of that. I would never celebrate the day we first met or our engagement because it turned out to be the day of our first and only child.




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