Alice and Wilson were campus sweethearts. They were inseparable. They had dated since their second year of university but broke up two years after graduating. Wilson had gotten a job that occupied most of his time, then he got a promotion shortly after, and it got to his head. This was the first time they were meeting after the break-up.
Unfortunately, a mutual friend from campus had tragically died in a road accident, and they were attending his funeral. Many of their former classmates were in attendance because the deceased was popular. He had been a good person who had touched the lives of many. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, they were glad to reunite.
“I have just seen Alice. Are you guys still together?” Someone asked Wilson.
“Oh, I haven’t seen her yet but we broke up a few years ago,” Wilson responded.
Once the funeral was over, people mingled. Alice and Wilson finally saw each other again. It was strange for both of them at first. The interaction was cordial but impersonal. People joined them, and many of them still assumed they were still together, so it was awkward to keep announcing their break-up many years later. Nonetheless, they soldiered on and joined the rest of the group, exchanging memories of their deceased friend.
As the evening unfolded, the group dispersed. Alice and Wilson went their separate ways, each silently acknowledging the complexity of their shared history and the mutual loss they had experienced that day.
They didn’t communicate with each other, but something was triggered in them. Wilson wondered what would have happened if he had put more effort into the relationship when his career took off. Alice was still as beautiful as he remembered. He imagined she must have her own family. He found himself lost in the sea of ‘what if’.
Alice remembered their relationship fondly for a while but also remembered why they broke up. She had carried that as a lesson over the years, actively avoiding men who didn’t prioritize their relationship.
A few weeks later, Wilson flew to Mombasa for a work event. After one of the sessions, he went out with a few colleagues to a popular joint. He saw a familiar figure from afar. His heart warmed up, thinking it could be Alice, but he doubted it. He thought it was the alcohol talking. Later in the night, he found his way to the counter, and there she was —it was Alice.
“Hey stranger,” Wilson told Alice.
“Hey right back,” Alice said, smiling back.
“Hmmh, I never thought I’d see the day I found Alice in a club and at the counter,” he teased her.
“Me neither, guess you never say never,” said Alice.
They got a round of shots and took their drinks with them to the balcony. It was such a beautiful outside, with clear skies and bright stars. Between the wonderful ambience, the excellent company and a bit of booze, they had a fantastic night. “We should do this again,” Wilson said at the end of the night. They met two other nights before going back to their regular schedule.
“Can I be honest with you?” Wilson asked Alice.
“Yes, sure,” responded Alice.
“I did think about you a couple of times over the years,” said Wilson.
“What about?” Alice asked as they strolled on the beach.
“I always imagined you be married by now with at least two children,” said Wilson.
“Why two?” Alice asked.
“One is too few, three is uneven and four would be too many, so two would be the sweet spot for you,” Wilson said, looking at her waiting expectantly as though he had cracked a riddle.
“You remembered I don’t like odd numbers,” Alice said, smiling at him.
“I do, amongst other things.”
“Oh, there’s more?”
“Mostly, I missed your ability to say exactly what you want. My inability to read between the lines has gotten me in trouble once or twice,” he admitted with a chuckle.
“It kills me to admit this but I finally understood what you meant by I needed to loosen up a little bit. I have been called uptight,” Alice told him.
“I would like to give us another shot. What do you think?” Wilson asked her.
“I still don’t like playing second fiddle to anyone’s career,” Alice said firmly.
“Believe me, I learnt that the hard way. I have done a bit of growing. Things will be different this time,” Wilson assured her.
The trickiest bit of their relationship was navigating distance. Wilson worked in Nairobi while Alice moved around different towns making films, features and documentaries. She was worried their schedules were too busy to form a meaningful connection. Things went differently. They managed to talk at least twice a day on an extra busy day and more often with lighter schedules.
Wilson became the first person she talked to when she had happy or sad news. Alice’s insights on issues helped Wilson make better decisions, even at work.
Their bond grew more than they anticipated. Wilson kept his word, and in turn, Alice let him in completely. A year later, there were wedding bells. Sometimes, it takes the right timing for a relationship to work. Wilson and Alice’s time apart allowed them to learn and grow into the people they needed to be for their relationship to work.
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