Image by Myra Siason via Flickr.

THE DOCTOR says I’ve got a hole in my heart. I tell him that I am aware. I tell him that it is you who dug it in there.

He sits opposite me, the doctor, a clean-shaven man with warm eyes that gather moist whenever he blinks. His eyes, they look like yours.

He looks at me with worry furrowed on his forehead. He makes to say something but changes his mind before the words take flight. He scans through my form a second time.

—You’ve been married for how long? he asks.

—Ten years, I say. I do not take my eyes off his.

—Any kids?

Silence.

—Does your husband abuse you, Madam?

Silence.

—I do not mean to pry, I’m only trying to understand what you mean.

I look away. I do not want his pity.

He waits a few more seconds, and when I still do not answer, he hands me a scribbled note and a printed copy of my enchocadiogram in a white envelope.

—The medication should ease things for now, but at this point, I’m afraid surgery is inevitable.

The words float out of his mouth, each like warmth encased in a bubble. They float in the artificial cold of the room, and when they find me, they burst open.

—He never hit me, I say, not once.

If the doctor is taken aback by my sudden response he doesn’t show it. He listens uninterrupting, a silence that nurtures the words out of the hole in my heart and I purge, same way I do standing before my mirror on days when agony calls me by name; days when I clutch my belly with nails digging deep, mourning the seven foetuses that long fell from within it, unbaked, never finding a home in my arms.

The doctor only lets me go when I have nothing more to say. He makes me leave with a promise to come with you for my next appointment.

No. I do not tell him of your happiness, of a second home with your mistress and three happy children, or that you only return to me once in a week out of some unsaid obligation.

I was once this happiness until I was not.

Outside the doctor’s office, I squeeze the paper and the envelope. I toss them in a bin and I head home.

*

Months later, on the night you are to find out, you would feel anger first, and then despair, at my refusal to speak to one of your many doctor friends, at my refusal of life. You would go on a calling spree, asking family and friends, anyone, asking them to beg me, talk some sense into me. You would refuse to return to your happiness, your mistress, your kids, choosing instead to not leave me by myself. And for the first time in years, before happiness, like water dripping into a sieve, sipped from our lives, you would touch me. You would hold on to me and cry. You would apologise for all the pain.

—I do not want your pity, I would try to say, but the words would never find voice, they would trip over and over into the pit you’ve dug in my heart.

 

 

About the Author:

Eric Atie is a graduate of the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is a creative photographer and a short story writer who is passionate about African Literature. He is currently working on his debut short story collection.

Tags: ,

4 Responses to “Home and Holes | Eric Atie | Fiction” Subscribe

  1. Abby 2017/09/05 at 05:59 #

    Beautifully short and loaded. Nice work Eric

  2. Deechan 2017/09/08 at 07:41 #

    I love this!!

  3. Wisdom Nemi Otikor 2017/09/09 at 01:40 #

    Deep…

    Happiness is an ambiguous word. Home is where ever we choose.

    Thank you for this read.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Let’s Talk Text: DITABA | Naane le Moya - 2017/09/12

    […] by Eric Atie. The piece highlighted the extent to which women make sacrifices in marriages. Read it here. * Story […]

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

Lesley Nneka Arimah Picked for the US National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” List

Lesley Nneka Arimah has been picked for the US National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” list of 2017, on the […]

The Photographer as an Osprey | John “Lighthouse” Oyewale | Essay

On 30 June, we published Work Naija: The Book of Vocations, an anthology of writing and visual art that explores the […]

Zukiswa Wanner Calls Out Misogyny in South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, Takes on Politicians and the Media

Zukiswa Wanner has called out misogyny in South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, taking on politicians and the media in the […]

Dinaw Mengestu and Nadifa Mohamed Have New Work in Freeman’s Magazine

Nadifa Mohamed

Dinaw Mengestu and Nadifa Mohammed both have new fiction forthcoming in the new fourth issue of Freeman’s magazine. Titled “The Future […]

The Brittle Paper Literary Awards: New Date for the Announcement of Winners

The announcement of the winners of the inaugural Brittle Paper Literary Awards was scheduled for 23 September 2017. However, a change […]

The Reviews Are In! | Namwali Serpell Has High Praise for Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu

Screen-Shot-2017-09-20-at-4.57.42-PM-e1505944728679 copy

Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu is one of the hit novels of 2017. A historical drama, it tells the story of an 18th […]