Gloria was innocent, or at least that’s what she showed the world, but in her mind she was in her partying years. Twenty-three, feisty, with a beautiful face and lovely features, she was unstoppable. Her life’s philosophy was simple. She did whatever or whomever gave her the most fun with the least responsibilities.
Sometimes she thought of the morals that camouflaged her persona so well. They were a good thing to have but they were so dull. She loved reckless treachery and desire more; they filled her breasts with life.
She got out of bed and put on the lace thong that was lying lonely on the floor.
“Do I have to go this early, can’t I stay a little bit longer?” she asked desperately.
“I told you, I have a commitment in the next hour or so and I need to get prepared.”
She thought of crying then remembered how powerless her tears were on him. “You know I can help you prepare?”
“You could but I already called you an Uber.”
Daniel was the part of her life that she couldn’t stand. She loved to hate his arrogant confidence. How he got dismissive and bored of her at a moment’s notice. But in all honesty, she found his authority intoxicating. There were times she felt like screaming into his ear, “Do you know how many men want me?” But she knew that would only bring problems because no matter how many men wanted her she knew that number fizzled when it came to the women who wanted Daniel.
She picked her clothes slowly from the floor, wanting to stretch out the time so she could be in Daniel’s presence longer. Her dress had formed a puddle at the door. She smiled while picking it, remembering how heated they had been━Daniel had lifted her immediately they got in the house and her dress was off before the bedroom door was half open.
“When am I going to see you again?” she asked with a boulder in her throat. Dreading the answer that she knew all too well.
One of her chandelier earrings was in his ashtray. She wondered for a second why she dressed to the nines when she came to see him then she remembered she did it to impress him. Anything to be in his good books. The other earring was under the bed. She went on her knees then decided to leave it out of spite for the next woman.
“I will text you when I get home,” she said while putting on her heels, her voice soft and weak.
Daniel shrugged his shoulders. “If you want.”
After she left, Daniel jumped on his couch and put on a movie. Gloria tightened her fist in the Uber. Embarrassed by her walk of shame but at the same time exhilarated from the night she had. She removed her phone from her handbag and texted Ben. She needed emotional support and she knew exactly where to get it.
Ben was twenty-seven. He was at a time in his life when things had started working for him. He had just been promoted to manager. He had bought a car and moved to a leafy suburb and women were starting to pay attention to him in a way they never had before but he didn’t care about any of them. He worshipped only one and her name was Gloria.
His philosophy was simple. Patience and hard work got you where you wanted to be and when it came to love, he was a hopeless romantic. And he had found his soulmate in Gloria━Gloria a diamond among worthless charcoal.
His eyes grew wide and a smile cut across his face when he saw Gloria’s text. “Speak of the devil. I was just about to call her.”
“I’m so down, I need someone to talk to,” the text read.
Ben loved when Gloria came to him with her guy problems. That was his chance to show her how caring and understanding he was and he prayed every day that she would appreciate it and reward him with intimacy. More than a year of knowing each other and she had not developed a taste for caring yet.
“Let me talk to my boss and take the afternoon off. I know this quaint restaurant outside the city that you will love. Where do you want me to pick you up?”
Gloria always made sure she ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. It was her reward for giving him her time. She sometimes looked at Ben and resented him for putting up with her crap. ‘How can he be so clueless?’
After lunch and a shopping spree, Ben often got overly sentimental.
“Let’s go to my place. You can shower and put on the new clothes I just bought you?”
“Maybe next time, Ben. I’m meeting my girlfriends in the afternoon.”
Ben’s face sagged.
“Come on, tell you what, I’ll give you a kiss on the cheek if you drop me home.”
Ben’s face relaxed and flashed with satisfaction.
“Get in the car.”
Gloria smiled knowingly. By God, she had him wrapped around her finger.
Daniel was thirty-one. Tall, with wide shoulders that couldn’t fit through a door and muscles that could only be informed by frequent exercise. He was a successful electrician and his philosophy about life was simple. He lived it on his own terms and was completely unapologetic for who he was. When it came to love, he had decided to date around until he found the woman that suited him best. At thirty-one, he had not found her yet.
He had a simple litmus test for his women: If he didn’t want to sleep with them, what else did they bring to his table? That informed their true worth and consequently how he treated most of them.
He was puffing rings of smoke on his bedroom balcony when a young coed hugged him from behind. Her hands slid down his waist and found his manhood. He didn’t always go for women in their early twenties but he was spoilt for choice and so he went for the most youthful and vibrant.
“Come back to bed, Don,” the girl droned. She had taken to calling him a Don. He hadn’t asked but he didn’t mind either.
‘I’m done with bed. I think I’ll play some PS for a bit.”
“Why can’t you treat me like an equal for once and do what I say?” He had forgotten for a second that this one had a sharp tongue.
“Equality is the first ingredient in a recipe of a very frustrated woman.” He turned and puffed three rings of smoke into the air, almost bored.
‘How rude. You mean you don’t consider me your equal?” she said firmly, her brown eyes fixed on him, waiting for a misstep.
He puffed another ring of smoke into her face and she coughed.
“Tell me something, you’re twenty, I’m thirty-one. You’re in college, I’m already a success. What part of that dynamic is equal?”
She coughed and shook her head.
“Come back to bed.”
Gloria had just realized she was pregnant. Instinctively, she knew Daniel would want nothing to do with it and so she picked up her phone and called Ben.
“Ben, I’ve missed you.”
“We just saw each other last week,” Ben giggled into the phone, his manhood rising.
“Are you in your house? I want to come,” Gloria said, her voice hoarse, lowered three octaves.
“I’m at work but I’m talking to my boss this instant to come and pick you up.”
Ben stopped by a Quickmart and bought scented candles, chocolate and a bouquet of flowers.
The sex was the best he had ever had but not to Gloria. She hated how he licked her neck with too much saliva. It repulsed her how he capped her waist with his sweaty hands before getting in her and vibrating like worn out lawn mower, spilling his seed in less than a minute, but she endured it with rehearsed movements and moans.
“When should we start planning the wedding?” he said, breathing heavily beside her.
She did not think it would be that easy. She had thought she would have to cajole him with acrobatic sex.
She nodded her head. What woman did not want marriage and nuptial bliss? “Ready when you are.”
They had the wedding before her first trimester.
The arguments started erupting when their daughter was a year old.
“Just tell me what to do and I will do it,” Ben often cried.
“That’s the point. You are the man in this relationship. You should know what to do, I shouldn’t have to tell you.
Daniel sat in the pub-style restaurant waiting for Gloria. She had said she wanted to see him and the bill would be on her. He sat there listening to a bunch of men arguing that women were more sexual than men and shrugged wondering who brainwashed them. “A man has seven to eight times the testosterone a woman has. How then can her sex drive be more than a man’s?” he thought and felt like opening the Wikipedia page on male and female anatomy and slapping them with it.
He was in gray jeans, brown shoes and a black shirt whose sleeves he had folded to his elbows. He looked at his simple watch. Gloria was running five minutes late. He removed his phone and texted her. “I’m tired of waiting, you know where my house is.”
She knocked on his door, almost repulsed by herself. All these years and she still succumbed to Daniel’s demands with unquestioning obedience. ‘What’s wrong with you?’ The thought would have crossed her mind if her loins were not combusting with desire.
After she had been taken, she turned to Daniel. “Let me have a puff of your cigarette?”
She took a long swig and coughed. “Why do you take this? It’s bad for you.”
“It keeps the demons away and I love the taste of it.”
“I am so frustrated.”
Daniel puffed more rings into the air.
“All he does is say sorry and ask me what to do.”
“I’ll tell you the problem with that husband of yours. He adores you too much.”
“And what?” She turned and looked at him, the glint in her eyes dripping with mischief.
He raised her chin with his thumb and forefinger, his stare brazen. “You’re not to be adored, you’re to be fucked.”
She trilled a nervous laugh then groaned rabidly with pleasure, her skin flaming as Daniel took her from behind.
She didn’t know how Ben caught wind that she had cheated. Before she left to see Daniel, Ben had been very jealous. “Don’t go, stay here with me. Let’s cuddle on the sofa and watch some Netflix.” What she didn’t know is, Ben’s jealousy had made him put a tracker on her phone and he was following her movements frequently and that’s how he had happened on her little tryst.
“He’s just a friend. You don’t have to worry about him.”
“Gloria, do you think I’m stupid?”
“We just had one drink. I swear, it won’t happen again.”
“I have given you everything, everything,” Ben was saying, tears forming rivers with tributaries down his cheeks and dropping on his lime shirt to form dark pools.
Even now his cuckoldry repulsed her and she felt like shouting, “Man up.”
“You wanted a maid, I got you a maid. You wanted your own car, I bought you one. You wanted a clothing line, I opened a boutique for you. What else do you want me to do?”
“I promise, it was just once. Forgive me.”
After that they frequently had arguments but they were not as fierce. They slipped back into the same routine. Gloria was approaching her late twenties and she started appreciating the value of a stable man. She was finally looking at him and seeing him as a man at last. The sex stopped being such a burden to her and she started enjoying it and she was soon pregnant again.
Their daughter was three and their son, one when Gloria got pregnant a third time. Ben had been excited each time. Soulmates did exist. He patted himself on the back for being patient with Gloria.
It happened that their newborn baby needed a blood transfusion and the doctor took samples of Ben’s blood. The results came back negative and flamed his curiosity. He requested a DNA test “It’s probably nothing,” he assured himself, his pulse racing at the truth he already sensed.
After the results, he threw caution to the wind and ordered a DNA test for the rest of his kids. The results came back the same way the first one had. Probability of paternity 0%. He did not call Gloria, he did not call his boss to take some time off, he did not cry. He went to the store, bought a rope and locked himself in the bedroom. The fire was dead in his eyes and his body had gone cold when Gloria came back from her boutique, with a fundi in tow to break down the door.
At forty, Daniel had found the woman that suited him best, who had given him a son and a daughter. They had their problems but nothing his vast understanding of women couldn’t diffuse.
It had become routine for him to get out on the lawn with his newspaper and a packet of Embassy Lights and puff rings in the sky. Watching his three-year-old son play with trucks. Today was unlike any other day because he had just read the obituary section and seen Gloria’s husband.
It was all there. The suicide and the number of kids he had left behind. He breathed out a sigh and wondered what would make a perfectly good man go like that. His son came racing towards him before he could rub two thoughts together.
“Dad what does love mean?” he asked sheepishly, in that way only a boy of three can.
Daniel stabbed his cigarette in his ashtray and mussed his son’s hair.
“Let me tell you a secret about love, son. Men are the true lovers. We love without the motive of what love could do for us. We love for the sake of love and we suffer for it everyday.”
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