Illusions: A Short Story

| March 7, 2012

Mandy sat up in bed. She had been awake for quite some time watching the invisible demons dancing on her bedroom ceiling. Now, as she finally roused herself and sat up in the bed watching the sun’s rays dance across the bare, hairy chest of the man who had shared her bed last night, she smiled at the remembrance of the intertwining of their bodies. Remembering the way their bodies had writhed in the rhythm of ecstasy, their moans of indiscretion escaping from the depths of their adulterous passion, Mandy felt only a slight tinge of guilt. This man had shared her bed many nights, not just last night, or the night before, but many nights before. Something was beginning to happen between them, something she did not wish to end, but knew would have to end, sooner or later. 

Gosh, if only today was not Sunday. She hated Sundays for the very reason that Sundays made her feel sinful. Monday through Saturday, she was fine. Living in sin or not, nothing reminded her she was not being good. On Sundays, it was different, especially when she saw her Bible lying strategically between her rosary and her Daily Guide on her bedside table. She couldn’t remember the last time she had even prayed the rosary and that made her feel worse on most days when her eye caught sight of the neat display. But no, not today. Today she was not going to let the Bible or the rosaries make her feel guilty about being in love. She had not meant to fall in love, but she had, and she refused to see any sin in that. It could never be wrong to fall in love under any circumstance. Love was the greatest gift of all. It said so right there in the Bible.

Grabbing her robe from the pile on the rug, Mandy stood up, stretched out her arms high above her head and let out a drawn-out yawn of satisfaction. She had slept well. That much was obvious. Heading towards the bathroom, however, she wondered how she had let it go this far. She had only wanted to prove a point. That point had gone too far, but she had still proven that she was indeed capable of getting any man she desired. She had even proven that she could get a supposedly committed and happily married man to have an affair with her. But, the satisfaction she had hoped to gain from proving all this was non-existent at this very moment as she took one last glance at his naked body shimmering from the leftovers of last night’s pleasure. She closed the bathroom door behind her, wondering what to do next.


Across the city, a very happy wife was rousing from sleep. Afua propped her head up just a fraction, enough so that she could see the birds hopping from branch to branch, happily chirping tunes outside her bedroom window. Life was good and she thanked God for another fabulous Sunday in which she was grateful to be alive.

Remembering all she had to be thankful for, Afua began to count her blessings one-by-one. There was her amazing husband, Kwesi, who loved her very dearly. He had promised her the provisions of her many desires, and by far he had lived up to many of those promises. Not that she needed him to provide her with those things. After all, she was a junior partner with one of the cities’ top legal firms, and her rise to the position of senior partner seemed near; that is if the rumors she was hearing around the office were anything to go by. She knew she deserved it. She had worked very hard to get this far. She had earned their respect. She knew she had.

Blessed with two adoringly beautiful girls, Aba and Asa, Afua had recently moved her family into that dream house in the suburbs like she had always dreamed. Afua was a devoted mother to her children and a loyal wife to her husband. Her life had finally come together, and she was very pleased.

The pattering of tiny feet across the hall brought Afua back to reality and she braced herself for the interruption that was to follow. It was an interruption that was more than welcome. She had always dreamed of interruptions like this, from the moment she began dreaming about babies and a family. She sat up quickly in an attempt to tie her gown tighter around her waist, trying to hide her nakedness. Before she could finish tying the knot, her bedroom door flung open, and in burst her two little angels bubbling with an energy so rarely found in adults this early in the morning. It was quite obvious that these two had been up for a while, probably up to some sort of mischief. She better go check the kitchen for milk dripping off the counter top, Afua thought to herself as she watched her girls head directly towards her.

“Mommy!” Aba and Asa exclaimed in unison. They might as well be twins, those two. The way they act. They were only a year apart anyway. Afua had married late. For her that was at age thirty. Knowing time and tide waited for no woman, she had quickly gotten busy trying to fertilize her eggs, right after she got Kwesi to say I do. She had not wished to end up like her cousin Elsie. Pretty, glamorous, well-educated and successful, she was still childless at thirty-five, having chosen a way up the career ladder over becoming a wife and mother. Now she was ready to have a baby and God was punishing her for being so selfish. She thought science would save her when she was ready and now it was failing her. Jumping from one doctor to the next, desperately trying to have a baby to keep her husband happy. Seriously, did Elsie really think she was going to easily get pregnant at thirty-five? Had she not heard all the warnings that said the twenties were the best time for a woman to make use of her reproductive system? Such a smart woman, such a waste of womanhood! Mandy was even worse. She loved her best friend to death. Lord knows she really loved Mandy like the sister she never had. They had been there for each other and they shared everything. And it pained her that Mandy was still single at thirty-three. What another smart and pretty waste of womanhood. What good was she now, way past her expiration date and seeing a married man? A successful researcher with one of the top medical research centers in the city, still unmarried with shriveled up eggs. What a shame. What a loss!

By her calculations, Afua figured that Aba had happened either on their wedding night or during the two-week honeymoon she and Kwesi took to Jamaica just three days after; because Aba arrived exactly nine months after the wedding. Asa had followed a year and two months later. And now she was done. They had agreed on two children. She had done her part. But her husband was now insinuating that she may not have done her job because he kept joking about having a son.

“Who wants pancakes?” Afua asked, tickling her girls and lovingly jabbing their sides.

“We dooooo……!” Aba and Asa screamed in unison. They wiggled themselves from their mother’s bosom, landed on the softly padded bedside rug and drummed their tiny feet across the polished hardwood floor towards the kitchen.

Looking behind her daughters as they faded down the stairs, leaving traces of their toddling shrills behind, Afua felt such pride and a sense of accomplishment. Glancing at the family portrait by her bedside she smiled, content. She finally had it all. This was the life she had always dreamed of, and it was good!


“Did you sleep well, darling?” Mandy asked, walking into the room wrapped in a towel, her hair dripping wet. Frank stretched his long athletically built torso, showing the ripples that sent shivers down her spine.

He smiled at her. “Come here” he said, motioning her towards the bed. Mandy knew what would happen if she obliged him, and she was already late for church.

“No Frank. Not now, I’m already late for church. Don’t you have some other place to be anyway?” She asked, not really meaning it as a question.

“Oh come on sweetheart,” he said, mocking her. “You know there’s no place I’d rather be than here with you.” She rolled her eyes at him and went back to rolling deodorant under her arms. “Come on baby, don’t be like this. Last night was wonderful and now you want to spoil it with attitude? Come on over here, let’s talk.” She smiled at the mention of last night. Last night had been great! She could not deny that.

“There! That’s it! See that smile? That’s what I want to see. Now get your pretty self over her!” Mandy walked over to him, a naughty expression spreading across her face. She stood at the foot of the bed, and let the towel drop to her feet. Church would have to wait until next Sunday.


Afua stood by the stove turning the crispy brown pancakes, happy to let the girls pretend to be helping. What they were really doing was making a mess. A mess she would have to clean up later. Kwesi would be home tonight. She could not wait to see him.

“Mommy, look what Asa did!” Afua looked down to see Aba pointing at Asa who was holding the box of pancake mix over her head. There was pancake flour in her hair and all over the kitchen floor.

Afua took the box from Asa, placed it on the beautiful marble-surfaced kitchen counter and smacked Asa on the back of her hand. Asa began to cry and reached for her sister.

“Don’t touch your sister with those hands!” Afua yelled, and then softened. “Look what you did! Thank God you didn’t already take your bath. You want to be naughty this morning? Stay there and think about what you just did. When you’re done, you clean up this mess because mommy is not going to do it for you.” She loved referring to herself as mommy. She loved the way it sounded in her ears.

Asa threw herself onto the floor and started to kick her tiny feet. Afua ignored her and went back to turning the pancakes. Asa screamed louder now, throwing her whole body on the floor. Aba went and sat beside her sister and tried to talk her into behaving herself. Afua smiled at the sight. Aba was such a wonderful older sister. Sweet and caring, just like her daddy.  

Her thoughts flew to Kwesi. Her husband, her soulmate, the love of her life. From the moment she met Kwesi, Afua knew she would be happy with him for all eternity. He was a good provider, a wonderful father to their daughters and a fabulous lover. He owned his own architecture firm in the city and was well-known around town for his talent and honesty. How did she ever get to be so lucky? She knew. Because she had always been committed to doing what was right. She had never been the promiscuous type like Mandy; although she could not brag of being a virgin when she eventually got married. There had been Fiifi, her first love. But they had been in love, so there was nothing wrong with that. She had not been one of those self-proclaimed feminists, like Elsie, who always felt the need to shout their independence from the rooftop. Didn’t they know that women, especially those who proclaimed to be practicing Christians, had certain standards they needed to keep? Whatever happened to humility and propriety? Women of today don’t know anything about that! No wonder many of them are suffering the lives of single-hood, loneliness and unhappiness! See how many of them are walking the streets aimless with big degrees, independence and no man or children. Look at Abigail, the one at the firm for instance, beautiful, curvy, brilliant, single and claiming she prefers it that way. What kind of woman chooses to live without a man? Obviously, one who did not live right and now can’t find one. That’s who.

Afua chuckled at the thoughts running through her mind. The excuses women make to cover up the fact that they just can’t find a man cracked her many times. The cackles were usually laced with sympathy for these women who knew no better.

It was at times like these, when these kinds of thoughts took a field trip in her mind, that she felt the most grateful that she had Kwesi. And even though business took him out of town a lot these days, the times they spent together when he was home made her feel loved and lucky to have such a faithful and loving husband. Unlike that married man Mandy was seeing, Kwesi had eyes only for his wife. And Mandy, poor Mandy, she had no shame! And neither did that sorry excuse for a married man! His poor wife, what she must be going through! The thought sent a shudder through Afua. She tried to concentrate on the pancakes.

Her Kwesi would never do that! With all the good loving she was giving him at home, he had no energy for another woman. Afua considered herself a good wife. She submitted to her husband’s will and supported his dreams like every good wife should. She was even willing to give up her dream of partnership at the law firm to stay home and raise his daughters if he asked her to. But Kwesi would never ask her to do that. He was proud of his wife’s accomplishments, never jealous.

She kept watching the front door, waiting for him to walk through any minute. His flight landed two hours ago. Asa had stopped wailing and was now playing ”Patty Cake, Patty Cake…” with her sister; the two of them sitting on the floor. Afua sang along as she reached into the fridge for the gallon of milk.

She heard the key turn in the lock before the girls did. Her face lit up. Her man was home.

“Daddy!” the girls jumped up and run towards the door before she could stop them. Asa was going to get pancake flour all over the living room floor and onto her daddy’s expensive suit. Oh well, what the heck, she would just have to clean it all up later. She grabbed the kitchen towel from the handle of the stove and headed towards the excited voices of her family in the living room.

She walked straight into her husband’s arms. “Welcome home Frank Kwesi Anderson! I missed you babe” she whispered her joy as she fell into her husband’s embrace and kissed him. Apologizing for Asa’s mess, Afua wiped his suit clean, ignoring the scent of fresh soap and the very familiar smell of Mandy’s favorite perfume, mingled with his own fresh spritz of cologne, allowing it to tickle her nostrils and linger in the air.

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