Ore paused outside her brother’s door, taking a deep breath. She felt bad that she had lied to him, especially because he was the ‘better’ brother. Benjy was easy to talk to, and not judgmental like her eldest brother, Deji. It was why she chose to share her decision with Benjy because she knew he was going to keep her secret; what she had not shared however, was her real reason for not wanting children.
None of her siblings knew what her marriage was really like, because she didn’t want to be the pathetic one. She was used to playing the role of lastborn, the one who stumbled through life leaving mistakes in her wake. She was not logical and level-headed like Deji or decisive and daring like Benjy. She was just poor Ore, a stalk of wheat in the wind, moving in the direction of the wind. Deji was obviously thriving in his marriage, with his twin daughters, his son and his perfect wife. Almost too perfect, Ore thought. She couldn’t recall ever seeing Ivie, Deji’s wife with a hair out of place. Her makeup was never smeared, her teeth never had lipstick stains on it (something that Ore struggled with every day), and even though she’d gone through two pregnancies, one Caesarean section for the twins, she managed to look like she was stepping out of a magazine ad.
Frankly, the woman scared Ore, she had a smile always pinned in place, making her face or emotions inscrutable. You couldn’t tell what she was thinking or feeling. Ore wondered what she looked like when she was having sex. Was her smile frozen in place as per usual? Was she a quiet moaner, releasing one or two elegant moans mid-romp? Did she call God or her husband’s name? Did she scream, sink her well-manicured nails into her husband’s back mid-thrust? Did she?
Ore did. She had always been a loud lover, maybe because she suppressed her emotions everywhere else. When growing up, she had been a crier, the child who cried at every little thing, a child who demanded responses to her tantrums. Loud. Spoilt. Weak. Now that she was grown, she found herself swallowing the cries of frustration that coursed through her when she was dealing with difficult people. With her family, she pretended to have it all together; a career, a good-looking, fairly-rich husband, a life that looked shiny from the outside – all the things her father doubted she would ever have. In essence, she lived a life that was muted like those old black-and-white movies where the characters’ lips moved but you never actually heard what they said.
The bedroom was where she used to be free. Free of expectations, free to love, be loved, to moan like a cat in heat or to roar like a satisfied lion.
But all that, was Ore of before. The Ore of now, didn’t scream in bed because her good-looking, fairly-rich husband didn’t think it was becoming of a woman, plus he also didn’t like the entire world to know he was having sex.
“But you know it’s legal. We are officially married. Nobody should judge us for having loud sex,” she told him.
He didn’t see it that way. And that was the problem – Ramsey had only one way of seeing things, leaving little room for her opinions or thoughts.
It took her all of eight months of being married to realise that she had married her father all over again. But where her father was authoritarian in his demands, Ramsey was manipulative. Had she sensed it before they married? Perhaps, but Ore being Ore had closed her eyes to his flaws and focused on his finesse. Ramsey was manipulative and controlling, but he was also rich, spoilt her with gifts and was quite the delight in bed, and silly little her thought those things enough to make a happy home.
This was why her little deceit of secretly being on contraceptives was a small way of taking control of her life, of being independent. Of course, she wanted children, she just didn’t want children with Ramsey.
“Good morning, Ore,” Ivie, Deji’s wife’s voice rang out, snapping her out of her reverie.
Ore blinked, tossing a smile at the perfect woman. “Good morning Ivie. How are the kids?”
“Oh fantastic,” Ivie was fully dressed, even though it was barely 8am on a Saturday. Her pale pink gown wrapped her body in a hug and her curly wig bounced on her shoulders. Ore felt frumpy next to her.
“Where is Junior?” Ore asked, feeling the need to remind this woman that she was mother to a toddler and therefore didn’t have to look runway-ready at 8am.
“He took a walk with your father, bonding, I guess.” Ivie’s smile remained in place.
Once again, Ore found herself thinking that something was off about Ivie. Everybody, but especially their father, had been excited when Deji announced he was getting married. Deji had always been a worrier, he never thought he was good enough for anything. When he announced his engagement to Ivie and introduced her to them, he had done so with a hint of pride in his stance. He had also been unable to take his eyes off their father until the man had opened his arms to Ivie to show his acceptance of her. Deji seemed to be the only child of their father who constantly lived up to the man’s expectations. However, whenever Deji hit a milestone in their father’s planned-curriculum, their father congratulated him and raised the bar a little higher, keeping Deji constantly grasping for something ungraspable. He studied architecture like their father had always wanted and had found a wife shortly before he turned thirty, had started childbearing almost immediately, giving their father his desired grandchildren.
Ore felt a shiver go through her. Their father, she realized, had managed to control their lives for so long and that was no fault of hers. What was her fault however, was that she had married a man who constantly exerted his own control over her.
She had married Ramsey while still blinded with grief at the loss of her mother. In a wild moment of passion, he had suddenly represented her ticket out of the loneliness that threatened to engulf her when her mother died. His attentiveness and warmth, his gentle nudgings on how to rebuild her life brick by brick after such loss, was enough to make her fall for him. He was the peace to her emotional storm. She needed him.
What scared her most, she realized, was not the fact that she had gone from one controlling man to the other, rather, it was the fact that deep down she needed them, to exist. She had known a long time ago that she was like her mother, a weakling who needed to exist in the orbit of others. It was why she had stayed with their father despite the turbulent nature of their marriage, it was why Ore would rather stay with Ramsey than walk away.