If there were two people meant for each other but fated to be apart it was Sean and Anna. They met, or more accurately first saw each other, at a restaurant. They sat at different tables, right in line with each other and were both there with their significant other. However these two people were bored even though committed to the one who sat before them.
Anna was in love with Jake and Sean was having a baby with Sarah. However, these realities dissipated the minute Anna and Sean caught sight of each other. The voices of their partners became a distant whisper and their eyes locked, but the moment was short lived as Anna had to attend to her waiter. Her eyes slowly left Sean’s while his lingered a while longer on this beauty. In his mind he had escaped his world into a dream, though it was but for a moment, his heart was thankful.
The night went on, each of them forgetting the dream that had rescued them only minutes before and they focused on the reality they had to live with. Sean was certainly not ready in any way to be a father. His career had just started; financial stability was a long way coming. Anna on the other hand was in love but not ready for marriage. She often wondered why her heart was resistant to give its whole self to Jake. He was the right man in every way. Marriage with him was a novel idea but at the same time a frightful reality.
The two had found themselves at arms length of their dreams but they were a few years early. Anna was twenty five years old; she thought marriage at this present time would only suffocate her. Jake had just proposed in as romantic a manner as she could have wished for. The ring was perfect and the words heavenly, however she had stopped breathing when he said, “will you be my wife?” Jake was grinning widely, thinking that Anna was recovering from the shock and would soon give him the answer he was waiting for. Tears rolled down her face and from a distance she heard a voice say, “NO!” From the look on Jake’s face she realized she had been the source of her voice and neither one of them said a word.
Sean’s heart sank. Though his face was wide in grins and chuckles, his insides were screaming “shoot me!” Sarah had finished telling him the good news in the middle of their dessert; He was soon going to be a father. These two had not even discussed the prospect of marriage in their future, even in a committed relationship; they had always thought it was too soon to be that serious after only nine months in a relationship. Sean was always careful when they were being intimate, but that had not prevented the conception of a life. Even with love on their side, Sean was not completely welcoming the news he just received.
“Will you say something? Please.” Sarah begged, interrupting his whirlwind of thoughts.
“I… I’m..,” he sighed, “We did not plan this. I am in shock.”
“Shock? What!” Sarah exclaimed
“We have been careful. That is why I’m…shocked.” He whispered the last word as if afraid of someone hearing him.
“Don’t’ even say it.” Sarah was furious. She was about to throttle Sean but opted for a calmer approach, silence! Which is how the rest of their dinner date commenced and Sean knew he was in hot water.
Now, of course flirting with a stranger is no harm, especially when you know you will never see them again. This was the thought that was left after the brief moment during dinner when they locked eyes. But fate was playing a game and it was too sweet to be ended. When the two couples were departing from the restaurant, Jake bumped into Sarah at the door. When he turned to apologize his frown became a smile and his face lit up. Sarah and Jake chuckled, forgetting the incident, and fell into an embrace. Anna shyly looked up and met Sean’s smiling eyes. Her breath caught and she coughed. Could life be this cruel to her tonight? She thought. Sean on the other hand was in perfect bliss. He smiled at her slyly without panic and thought how stupid he felt that very second.
Jake and Sarah broke from their embrace and introduced their partners. They had gone to high school together and hadn’t seen each other since Jake’s graduation from university two years before. They left Anna and Sean alone and proceeded to the parking lot in laughs and chit chat. Anna and Sean came behind them in silence.
Realizing the oblivion that their dates had cast them into, Sean whispered to Anna, “So you were checking me out in there?”
The question surprised Anna but she calmly responded, “I was not. Merely looking that’s all.” He smiled and said, “Yes, of course.” He was mocking her.
“You are one to talk. I felt your stare burn the top of my head when I tried to have dessert.” They laughed and continued in silence.
Then Sean asked a question that stopped Anna in her tracks. “So did you say yes?” she looked at him, curious about the intention of the question. Then he added, “Well, I saw him propose but I missed the answer.” Anna wanted to say that she accepted but something in Sean’s presence called her to tell the truth and so she did.
At Jake’s car the four said their goodbyes. However there was an unspoken thing between Anna and Sean. Like a wish to continue or see each other again, luckily they were the only ones who felt it.
“It is so weird!” Jake said on the ride home.
“What is?” Anna asked, snapping out of her reverie.
“It seems like yesterday when Sarah and I were in high school and now she is having a baby. Just seems surreal.” And it was the word ‘baby’ that left Anna with the oddest of feelings. She could not explain why or how, but her heart broke. She felt like she just lost the most precious thing in her life even though she didn’t even know him. In the silence on the dark car, on the ride home, Anna shed her quiet tears.
Jake and Anna walked to her front door and stood under the veranda light still in total silence. One was wishing to run but finding no escape, and the other wishing for an explanation to put his heart at rest.
Anna was the one to speak first, “I’m sorry, but I am not ready to be married. I do love you. Please understand.” Then she cupped his face, smiled and lightly kissed him on the lips.
“It’s ok. We have the rest of our lives to get married.” Jake assured her and started to leave but stopped on the way. “It has to be soon Anna. I am patient and respect your wishes of celibacy but I need you.” Anna just nodded and Jake took his leave. She knew Jake was not going to wait another year and he had just confirmed her worries.
When the bedroom door slammed shut, Sean ran to it and screamed, “I was shocked. Just get over it.” Sarah came out of the room and slapped him then threw a pillow at him, went back inside and locked the door. In a more calm voice Sean pleaded, “Come on baby, we have to talk about this. I do want to be a part of my child’s life.” the only answer he got was silence and he gave up and went to the sitting room to make up his bed for the night. He lay there in the dark and all he could think of was Anna. Her smile etched in his brain as he drifted off to dreamland. He had hated it when he saw Jake propose to her but felt delighted when Anna said she had turned Jake down. It was unsettling to him to be so bothered by someone he just met, especially when he was going to be a dad. But she was bothering him, in a way that no woman had before. It was a sweet sensation.
A week later the four of them were standing in line to see a movie. Sarah had forgiven Sean after hours of pleading. He wanted the baby, accepted the situation and was staying by her side, which is all Sarah wanted to know.
Jake and Sarah were the one who came up with the idea of a double date. They wanted to get back the bond they once had in high school and also involve their loved ones in their joyous reunion. Besides this they were in need of a person to confide in.
After the movie they all went for a walk and again Jake and Sarah left their other halves to each other. They seemed to get lost in their own presence.
“Congrats are in order I hear.” Anna said after they got to a park and sat down. Jake and Sarah still lost in their talk.
“For what?” Sean asked in surprise.
“The pregnancy, how long has it been since you got married?”
“Thanks and we aren’t. We just moved in together three months ago.” Sean explained
“Not married, staying together and having a baby. Huh!”
“Huh! What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means nothing.” Anna said, but Sean didn’t believe her.
“What are you, religious?”
“I’m not religious. I just have principles about that sort of thing. And yes I go to church.” The last statement was added as if she knew what he was going to ask next.
“So you look down on people who don’t save themselves for marriage?”
“Look, I meant no offence. I tend to think people have the same values I do. I am sorry.” Sean glanced at her and smiled. She was beautiful. Her brown skin glowed under the evening sun and her eyes were captivating. She smiled back and told him it was rude to stare.
A month had gone by and Sarah’s baby was growing and she was beginning to show. With the growing belly came the mood swings that had Sean walking on egg shells. There were times when he wanted to run and find peace someplace else but when he saw Sarah peacefully asleep he knew that it is were he belonged.
He had seen Anna twice since the movie date. Both times were by coincidence. The second time Anna was at the park one night. It was warm and she had decided to take a walk after Jake proposed and again she had declined.
Her behavior was alarming to her. How could she claim to love him but get a fright when he talks marriage? The thought of losing Jake hurt her but the on of marrying him cut even deeper.
“Are you ok?” the voice might as well have given Anna a new lease in life. She felt suddenly at peace. She had been staring into thin air when Sean came along. She hadn’t realized that se was crying and felt silly to have Sean see her like that. She turned to him and stared into the deep pools of brown eyes that seemed to tell her to feel better.
“It must be painful. You want to share?” He smiled and sat next to her. Anna smiled back, took a deep breath for composure and told him the whole story.
“I freeze up when he proposes, I cannot breathe and it’s not because I am happy,” she paused and shook her head still sobbing,” I am terrified out of my skin. Why is that?”
“I don’t know,” Jake replied without thought, “Maybe, deep inside, you know he is not the one.” Beside herself Anna laughed and wiped her ears away. “What are you doing here anyway?” she asked.
Sarah and Jake had gone shopping for the baby and seeing the joy and radiance on her face, Jake had realized that he felt none of it. He was in no way looking forward to being a dad. He thought it was just new father syndrome to be so detached from the experience. However he had always known that when the time came for him to be a father he would feel something, anything was better than this vast emptiness he had inside, the doubt and confusion.
‘Maybe you still think this baby will ruin your plans or your life.” Anna advised
“Maybe I feel trapped.” He said. Each one of them didn’t know what to say. They sat there on the park bench and contemplated the situations they were in, wondering why they felt at peace with each other and in turmoil when they were with the one they loved and aching for the other’s touch. They turned again to face each other, words escaping them and leaned closer. Right when their lips were about to lock Sean said, “Why do I feel so right with you?”
Anna responded by asking, “Why do I feel like you are the one?” then they kissed.
The kiss was new. It made them feel from a deeper place. It stirred their dormant, at times non-existent, butterflies in the stomach. Anna stopped the kiss, looked down in shame and shook her head. She stood up and took one look at Sean then ran to her car. He just sat in awe. Immediately guilt consumed him and he stood up and continued in his walk around the park, the now dark, empty park.
Anna drove frantically. She was trying to tire the feelings stirred up inside her, all the while cursing herself for her betrayal. She drove to Jake’s house, without reason but blind fury. In need to amend what she believed she had broken.
When Jake opened the door he was met by a sobbing Anna who flung herself into his arms and started kissing him. Her mind was still cursing but her lips kissing and her heart pounding. Jake’s responded as only he knew how, receiving what he was being given, hoping but not pushing for anything more. When she stopped she looked Jake in the eyes and saw the love she was so desperately looking for. So without a doubt she agreed to be his wife.
Three hours after Sean had left Sarah at home he was sitting next to her. He had slumped into the chair and just stared at her for a few minutes. She had questions about where he had gone but the look in his eyes told her to wait for him to speak. Sean continued to stare at Sarah, thinking about what he had done at the park, what he did after and what he was doing now.
After what seemed a life time of staring at Sarah, Sean kneeled down in front of her and put his head on her tummy, “Little one, daddy loves your mummy. Please tell her to say yes.” He whispered to the tummy.
“Yes to what?” Sarah asked.
“Yes about you and I, about making you Mrs. Modise, about us spending the rest of our lives being happy at each other’s side. So how about it?” he raised his head to her and looked deep into her soul. Then he took out a platinum, two carat diamond ring out of his pocket and put it on her finger. The amazed Sarah thought of nothing else and agreed.
The first to get married were Anna and Jake. Sarah wanted to wait till the baby was born. She said she didn’t want to look like a beached whale on her big day.
Two weeks before the wedding, Mpho, Anna’s friend, tried to talk her out of marrying Jake.
Anna had told her that she could not stop thinking about Sean and the kiss. Even when she accepted Jake’s proposal, she was doing it out of obligation and fear. Anna had been avoiding Sean’s calls and all the double dates Jake and Sarah set up. She thought if Sean was not near her then her feelings and fantasies would stop, however when she heard about his engagement her heart fell into a million pieces. How can a stranger give you so much in such a short time? She thought over and over again. But now she was getting married and she had to stop.
Mpho thought her friend noble to honor her promise to Jake but the deception she was weaving was making her miserable. She tried talking to her about sorting out her feelings for Sean before she got married but Anna was ardent about her choice.
“What good will it do?” Anna asked
“For one, it will help you with the confusion you are going through. Secondly you owe it to Jake to enter into this union completely without doubt.” Mpho explained. The friends were not in agreement, they went back and forth but Anna’s answer was the same. “I will not talk to him because I do not love him. I am just having pre-wedding jitters.” Anna said her final word on the subject and left her friend to fight the battle on her own.
When Mpho was about to say her last plea, the phone rang and from Anna’s expression when she answered it, Mpho knew the Sean saga was not over. Anna’s heart sank and she just listened to the voice on the other end. He was sweet and left her yearning for a kiss.
“Anna, I know you do not want to talk to me but I have to say this. That day at the park made me realize that my heart had moved on and at the same time that I had to give my child a safe home to grow up, no matter what.” He paused hoping to hear her purring voice but she just kept silent and he continued, “I also want to tell you that besides my baby, you are the only person I think about. You are inside my thoughts and dreams everyday.” Then he hung up. The matter was not resolved, but it was easier for Sean to breathe now.
With the phone still at hand, Anna fell on the couch and sobbed. Mpho could only hold her for comfort. “I thought you didn’t care for him?”
Anna looked up at her friend and said, “I don’t. I don’t, he just caught me by surprise.” Mpho didn’t comment instead she sent Sean a message telling him that Anna still cared.
The plans for matrimony went on. Anna appeared happy and for the most part she was. Jake was an awesome guy, she would be a fool to let him go, and she was making a better choice. These were the thoughts that got her through. Her attempts to get Jake to not invite Sean and his fiancée were not bearing fruit and so she let the attempts rest. On the eve of her wedding Anna and Jake spent the whole day together. They went for movies and dinner. They walked in the park and at the end of the day shared a passionate kiss that left her even surer about getting married.
Anna stood in front of a full length mirror admiring months of hard work and sleepless nights. Her hair was piled up on top of her head in curls and she looked like an angel in her boob tube white dress. It flowed down to the floor into a little train be speckled in diamante.
Her mother came into the room for a last minute boost and goodbye to her little girl. When she left Mpho came in and stood by the doorway, beauty never looked that beautiful.
“I am sorry,” she said. “You look great but I had to do this.” Before Anna could ask Mpho stepped away from the door and Sean walked in. “You two need to talk. I will keep watch.” She quickly left the room before Anna could object.
The wedding was being held at Jake’s parents’ house. The house was in Phakalane, spacious and beautiful. Anna had fell in love with the garden the first time she had gone to the house. She looked at Sean for a second, said hello and went to stand by the window. Sean said, “Hi.”
She looked out the window and down at the people who were preparing for her big day. But here she was wishing to vanish from the face of the earth. Sean on the other hand could not make himself speak. The beauty of her and the way she was as a person seemed too much for words. She turned back to look at him, the memories of the fantasies and the kiss and the wishes all coming back. Then she said, “All what we had been was in stolen moments and dreams. It was a beautiful thought but that is all it is ever going to be. We needed to escape for a while and we did. Now… now it’s time to face responsibilities and take charge,” she paused for air and to drive the tears away. “At the moment, there is a man out there waiting for me to make him happy. And I wish it was you but I will make him happy and he will make me happy. Jake loves me and I have to love him like I once did. Please don’t say anything for I am afraid of what I will do if I hear you say my name. Let us part in good terms and you will raise your baby and I will have my family with Jake.” She took another deep breath and turned back to the window. Sean stood there for a while digesting what Anna had just said. He wished to say something to comfort her but he couldn’t thus he left without a sound. Mpho got back into the room and hugged her friend. “Are you sure?” she asked.
Anna nodded and made up her face again.
The ceremony was sweet and went smoothly. Jake glowed with love and Anna hoped to feel just as great for him. At the reception Anna and Sean were dragged onto the dance floor. At the end of the dance Sean leaned closer to Anna and whispered, “I love you.” She stood still and Sean walked away. That was a goodbye for them both but she secretly hoped it was a goodbye for now.