The idea that Gilbert and she would one day be strangers never crossed her mind. She even dreaded having that thought because, in all her dating life, no man had come close to the perfection that Gilbert was. Apart from being physically appealing, he had the aura and personality that she had been praying for. He was charming, humorous, and very mature. What more could she ask for if not for a long life together after their marriage? But we plan, never knowing what life has in store.
They had moved in together a year after dating since things had gone well for them so when they looked at their situation, the best thing to do next was to live together. They could not spend a day apart, either Gilbert went to her place or she went to Gilbert’s place. On any night, they were together, and economically, it made more sense to live together too. So they moved in together.
Six months later, they had a traditional wedding and later a white wedding. This made their stay together official and if there was anything that they wanted to do and felt hindered before, now was the time.
A day became a week, weeks became a month and of course, right now we are talking of years together as a family with two lovely children. Everything seemed okay. Well, of course, they had their challenges as with every other couple. Which, was not alarming. Even if one asked Viola about the state of their union, she would have confidently mentioned how happy they were, growing together in love as they built their small family together.
Only that this perception seemed to be Viola’s only. What Gilbert did was a shock to her and an indication that things had not been ok all through. A show of how he had not been okay and kept quiet, leaving whatever issue that had existed to escalate to the extent that he decided to do the unexpected.
This particular day had not been any different from the rest of the days of the week. He woke up and took a shower as usual. He then took breakfast and dropped the kids at school. This too was normal, school was along the way to his workplace hence the family’s decision for him to be dropping them off every morning. Viola’s workplace was in the opposite direction, but when it was still early, she would drop them.
On this day, it had been a bit late and Gilbert took them to school. Again, this was normal. When Viola or any other person asked the children if their father had been any different, the answer was still the same, nothing seemed off.
No one could have known. Later that afternoon, he called Viola. He had sounded normal, inquiring how her day had been. He then told Viola that the work he was involved in could take a long time that could prevent him from coming home early, therefore she should pick up the children.
Viola wasn’t as busy that day. She picked up the children and headed home. They did their evening activities, and as usual, the children did homework. It was even time for dinner and he had not arrived. Usually, Gilbert tried as much as he could to be home by dinner time.
“Work must have been too much,” thought Viola.
But she decided to call to see how he was doing.
“Hello there babe,” Viola greeted him.
“Hi, how are you babe,” Gilbert responded.
“I am well. How’s your evening, still working?” Viola inquired.
“Yes, I am sure you people are almost having dinner,” he said. It wasn’t a normal occurrence for the family to have dinner without him.
“Yeah, the kids are asking where you are,” Viola informed him. As they were setting the table, they kept asking where Dad was.
“It may take some more hours before we finish this task, you people go ahead I will come to have mine later,” Gilbert said.
Viola and the kids had dinner and after some time, the kids went to bed. She stayed up watching a certain series she had been watching over the weekends only but now that there was a bit of time as she waited for Gilbert, she decided to keep herself busy.
After an hour, he had not arrived. She decided to wait a bit more. By 1:00 in the morning, he had not arrived. She had fallen asleep as she watched and thought maybe he had come in and she had not heard him ring the doorbell. She thought maybe she’d find a missed call because that would be the next move after the knock failed.
Checking her phone there was no missed call neither was there a WhatsApp message. She found that to be a bit strange.
She had watched the series on the bed using her laptop and since she had slept on the bed and Gilbert had not called, she thought maybe she had left the door open and Gilbert was somewhere in the house. The unreasonable thoughts one may have when they have weird feelings about something.
She sprang up and headed to the sitting room. She checked the boys’ room, they were still asleep. The sitting room was empty and silent. Everything was still in the way she had left things. This a sign that Gilbert had not come because when Gilbert enters a room, she’d know. He would have left the place in a state that would be in dire need of cleaning. So, Gilbert had not come home.
She sat down and called his line. She had thought maybe he had gone out with friends, but even that thought wasn’t enough reason not to call or text to inform her of what was happening on his end. She missed him so much. By this time, she thought he’d be sleeping next to her.
She found his line was off. It rarely happened that one called his line and found it off. He usually ensured his phone was fully charged. Every other time, he left home or the office with his phone fully charged. This was very weird.
The first thing that she thought about when she found his phone off was that maybe he was in danger. But that thought was too uncomfortable. She dismissed it and thought maybe they went out for a drink and his phone had gone off. She decided to stick to this thought. A thought that made her give this weird situation more time, hoping that he’d show up.
She went to bed but never fell asleep even for a moment. She kept on calling and waiting to see if she’d get a message showing that he had turned his phone on. Meanwhile, she thought it a good idea to call one of his friends from his workplace.
“Hello Lenny, I’m sorry to call so late but I can’t wait, I can’t find Gilbert on the phone yet he was to come home before midnight, when last did you see him?” Viola had said these words so fast, not even giving Lenny a chance to respond to her greeting.
“Calm down,” Lenny sounded scared because when someone calls late in the night sounding very scared, insinuating that a colleague may be missing, it leaves one with mixed emotions. Especially when this said colleague left work in the mid-morning and never came back in the afternoon.
Lenny figured out that he had to be careful about what he’d say concerning this issue,
“Okay,” Viola replied.
After taking some deep breaths and getting to a state where she could speak coherently, Viola spoke again.
“Gilbert was at work till late at night. He should have been home before midnight but he’s not yet here. His phone is off which is very unusual. Were you by any chance with him last night in the office?”,
“No. I had an errand to run that could not wait till late in the evening so I had to leave earlier,” Lenny explained.
“Okay, do you know who they were working with so that I can call them?” Viola asked.
“No, I don’t know. Maybe it was an assignment from another department.”
“Okay, thank you, and sorry for calling very late,”
“No problem, it’s understandable,” Lenny said.
This left Viola even more worried. She thought calling Lenny would reduce her fears. She thought Lenny could give her something tangible to work with. As she called, she imagined that maybe Lenny would mention something about Gilbert going out with friends, and if not something that would at least make her feel less worried. That had not been the case. She had to talk to someone.
Viola thought of who next he’d call. She needed to talk to someone about what had just happened. She needed to talk to someone who could have a clue about where her man could be. If not, at least someoho could assure her that things would be okay. That he’d come home eventually.
She thought of calling family. His sister, with whom they are usually very close. If she did not know where he’d be, at least she’ll have informed her of this new development.
“He was to arrive befonoon:00 but now his phone is off.” She explained.
“That’s so weird. He is never off.” His sister confirmed her fears.
“It’s really stressing me out. I even called a colleague but he did not know where he could be.” Viola added.
“What did the colleague say?”
“He said that he left work early. He would not know when Gilbert left work.” Viola informed her.
“It’s worrying. But let’s give it till morning.” The sister advised her.
Viola knew this could be the only thing she could do now. Wait until morning. When morning came, she would see whwas at next. Though this seemed to be the one reasonable thing to do, she thought it too difficulShe hopedope that it won’t reach morning before Gilbert came. She stayed in bed, hoping that she’d hear a knock on the door that would end her worries.
She tossed and turned and after what seemed like a year, she realized that the sun was rising. It was already morning, the night had gone just like that without her sleeping and most importantly, her husband not coming home. She got out of bed and prepared breakfast, the kids had to go to school despite what was happening. If anything, she needed that they stay without worries as she looked for a way to go about everything.
After taking the children to school, she went to work and asked for a day off, which she got. Off, she went to his place of work. If there was anything she needed to know, it would be in his place of work. The people they worked together on that assignment would at least be able to give her some information.
On arriving, she met with Lenny, who showed concern for her worries. Lenny took her to HR and left because he knew his lie would be uncovered.
“I am here to inquire about Gilbert, my husband. He worked till late in the night and did not come home. He has also been off so I can’t even reach him. I wanted to know if there’s any information you may have about him.” She asked.
“So sorry to hear that, but I was the last one leaving yesterday, and there is no project taking people in late at night,” said the HR Lady. This shocked Viola.
“Are you sure?” She had asked to confirm.
“Yes, I am sure.”
The HR lady said, “he did ask for a salary advance because it is the middle of the month. Maybe he had some issue he wanted to sort out.”
The HR lady called Gilbert’s colleague to inquire about him working late into the night.
“Gilbert left in the mid-morning and did not return in the afternoon.”
This made Viola even more confused. She did not know what was going on. The idea to go to the police to report that he was missing seemed uncalled for. Gilbert had said he was at work late at night while he had left even before lunch.
At this point, she had mixed feelings. However, one thing she was sure about was that he was not in danger. Rather, he was at a place that he did not want her to know about. She decided to go back home. She called his family and told them what was going on when he was not back by the next day. She also made a report to the police. When she looked into his wardrobe she was shocked to find a lot of his clothes, all his watches and shoes were missing. This let her know that this was something he had planned.
Several days went by. Viola had to find out ways to calm her children when they asked about their dad. She just told them they wait, he would come. His phone was still off during this time. She was dealing with heartbreak and worry at the same time.
After a week and two days of calling and texting her husband, Viola got an Instagram notification of a post that Gilbert had made on Instagram. The post showed a smiling Gilbert. On the photo was the caption, “starting over”.
That photo confirmed her fears. It also left her even more confused wondering what was it that pushed him to take such a move.
After restraining herself from calling Gilbert’s sister to confirm what was going on, she decided to risk it and make that call. Maybe everyone knew about his plan, except her. She needed to know this and one person that would tell her would be his sister, Isabel.
“Could you have known about his plan to leave us?” She asked as she sobbed.
“Ummm.” Isabel stuttered when asked this.
“Just tell me. Did he have issues with us that he could not speak of with me?” She pleaded to be told the truth.
“The right person to tell you all that would be Gilbert,” Isabel said finally, refusing to answer every question that Viola asked.
“How will I do that if I can’t reach him?” Tears were streaming down her cheeks.
Isabel went mute. She did not hang up, nor was she saying anything. Viola could hear her breathe from the other end. She knew she would not get the answers she required and she decided to hang up.
She did not know why he had done this to her and the children. Though she knew this would be her reality now, she had so many questions. She wanted to ask him why he had just up and left. She wondered what she’d do with the kids who can’t stop but ask about their father every other time. She would have to start over and this was going to be heartbreaking but it seemed there was no other option.
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