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In Between

Fred's big eyes were balling mercilessly, nose running as he paced up and down the staircase to the studio. A previously handsome, flawlessly elegant strong man now made small. Fred appeared frantic; vividly at the edge of a mental tsunami. Persuaded by Cindy and the growing attention in the corridors, he walked into Hot Hits FM. Cindy was right behind him- breathless - the two were charting towards Cindy's best friend DeeJay Nika. Cindy was not sure where to go with Fred after she picked the most eager excited new dad from the airport. Fred had returned for his first holiday from the UK since the baby was born. Cindy had given birth to the beautiful boy with caramel skin and a smile that tugged at your heart- a baby who never cried but just cooed.

The love story turned grim begun at Livingstone University- the number 1 Ivy league institution in the country. All three had studied at this institution. Cindy and Nika had attended an all-girls Catholic high school where it was utter scandal to think of a boy, admitting it even worse. Cindy lived as a mellow born-again Christian most of the time. She never tried hard at school but outsmarted everyone- Cindy and Nika were knit together by the trauma in their upbringing; alcoholic parents, poverty cycles laced with nerve-racking tuition feats. They had vowed to destroy the spell of brokenness that had haunted their kindred. Unlike the other belles, these two did the Christian thing with honor but nurtured a peppery curiosity for ' the world' as it was called in their 'Scripture Union Bible Study'. Much to everyone's surprise, Cindy aced her high school exams, Nika had been more likely to pass. The two girls were determined to use their education as a ticket out of a life of shambles. No return.

Before the big cross over to the university, the girls had found electrifying jobs selling cable TV and sold millions worth of products. Cindy and Nika were on their way up, dolled up with saloon-treated hair for the first time, make-up, shoes, and groceries for their fragile homes. The year came with thrill then got tainted with pain as a big secret at Cindy's home nearly broke them wide open. Cindy's twin sisters had been claimed by another father and it rocked their world to pieces. With a full 20/20 hindsight reflection, there had been several birthday presents for the twins that were prettier than the ones the other siblings received. Everyone had said the twins looked exactly like their Dad(Cindy's doctor turned drunkard womanizer father). Mama Cindy had succumbed to the pressure of a lover in the years gone by- now he had returned with a firm determination to send his twins for a high school education in Canada. It had happened somewhere in her mid-years, Mama Cindy was growing in her career, and her husband who was once a dashing bachelor that took her dancing in Europe had become a decrepit, drunk, and forgotten the three-course meals they ate together. He had exchanged all of this for the food of many strange women from the neighborhood slums. While Mama Cindy had to hold her head up high in the government car that picked her- she could always spot him sauntering in and one day she had enough. She would not continue bathing and hiding him before the children got up. One day when the rumors about uneducated children running around with her husband's last name- were confirmed, she fell into the arms of another type of powerful man. The deed was done stuffed in the minutiae of life except for the twins.

By university, poverty had struck, Cindy's parents were holding on to demeaning jobs-then Cindy met Fred, a swanky campuser [university student]'-right before his graduation. Just when all her roommates had checked the 'I did it' box- he swept her off her feet. The clincher that sealed their soul deal was when Fred picked Cindy's father up in a few trenches and took him home in honor. What was not to love? The one or two unintended pregnancies were hard but they handled it well- the couple got closer.

Fred was a money-making machine, he rose up to the occasion no matter Cindy's pride. It was no surprise when he opted for the UK to make a fast buck as he figured out their life. There was plenty of love-making, he left and kept in touch. Then a rumor dropped that he had been seen in South London with his more mature sophisticated ex-girlfriend. Cindy's heart broke. Amidst the hurt, she acquiesced to one of the stalkers in her life-a one Roby that often visited their college room, they went on a long date. Roby was a strange intense little man but he bought drinks, vulnerable that night their bodies came together and Cindy's fertility rose up again. They would go out together a few more times- his excessive observation, incessant calls, and aggression in plain sight. Cindy stumbled along- it was about a month when she realized they had been no period-and that was the day that her life hopes took a new full stop. At the same time, her parents had reached the worst place financially and moved to the village farm home- this was not their dream retirement.

True to heart, Cindy wasn't sure who the father was, and Nika ached for her friend.

"I will not get rid of it, what if this is my last chance", Cindy wept, Nika wept along for how far they had come, and how far they needed to go- but feared God enough to honor her friend. The troublesome business of trying to count the days became impossible and as unbelievable as this might sound- this carried on for 9 months. The stalker-Roby now tuned boyfriend and his family proceeded to obsess over the dreams that visited them nightly- that Cindy would bring forth their first grandchild. The hardest part for Cindy was dealing with Fred- he had been maligned, yet his commitment to Cindy was growing so fast there was no room to discuss the matter over the brief international phone conversations.

Fred didn't make it for the birth, the baby looked like him, everyone wished him to look like Fred and not Roby. Poor Cindy took one day at a time giving each father whatever joy they desired to hear, as a familiar trauma simmered up from her childhood and all sense left. The stalker or rather Roby continued to meet his fatherly duties and ensured the whole world knew they had a son except Cindy's family and certainly not Fred's.

Two days before Fred returned Cindy had gathered the courage to tell her parents about the baby. She looked into their eager faces and closed her mouth- everyone wanted the 'Fred' Londoner to be the father, not the worrisome stalker-Roby. Even Cindy's father who had conducted his lifeless than honorably, and been disrobed of fathering his beloved twins was bent on the Londoner.

And then, as all inevitable days do come- Fred landed on that morning flight in July, Cindy broke the news of doubt to her family, both her parents had begged her to choose the Londoner more so- after his visit. Fred had insisted on going to see the baby first and greet his inlaws to be.

Cindy couldn't hold on any longer - as they got into the car -after meeting the baby, she broke the news to Fred.

Nika had wondered how sure she was because Cindy and Roby had gone for a type of DNA test that wasn't 100 percent. It was the early 2000's and the disgruntled doctor who conducted the test was a traditional man who seemed more committed to saving every un-wed mother from shame rather than yielding to the new science.

Fred had drank some wine on the plane - when Cindy broke the news he was furious and broken and the alcohol shot up. The only place she could think of going with him was the radio station with the hope that her best friend who talked for a living as a deejay would calm him down. Nika was stunned- speechless for the first in many years- all she could do was offer water and a place to weep.

This was the beginning of the end, or rather the end of a dream and the start of another.

For Cindy and Nika who intended the best- we root for you.


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