The Pretest for “In Sickness and in Health.”
Some gals get all giddy about being seen in public with their man. They are like female dogs, protecting their territory by way of optics. “You see me with him. Okay. Step off.”
Maya did not have such inclinations. She was a rising star at her job, studying for her Masters, with little time for anything beyond work. And even less time for the man she saw most.
There were times she considered letting the relationship die but she hated being the one to break things off. Her conscience felt better if he decided to dump her. In that case, she could play the victim. But she was no victim.
Maya had a plan, and at the moment, it did not involve a full-time man. Her plan was tunnel-visioned toward becoming the boss. Perhaps at all costs.
Chuck, on the other hand, was already successful. He enjoyed sitting in the C-Suite, hobnobbing with the muckety-mucks, and doing business as usual. He also liked Maya.
Granted, he didn’t see much in her at first, but she kept hanging around. She kept needing to ask another question and wanting to get his perspective on career matters. She had grown on him, and when Charles lost his best friend suddenly, it was Maya seating across from him when he got the bad news. He felt sort of bonded to her.
Chuck’s friends questioned the relationship. They were too different, his friends said. Maya was all work and no fun. He said he liked Maya’s tough exterior. Furthermore, he said, they were just friends.
But the friendship had evolved: From office visits to late night telephone calls after Maya’s classes, she’d check on Chuck and weekends when Maya came over to watch the games. His friends did not see this side of her.
Soon Maya graduated and received the promotion she thought would change her life. With it came an extra dose of self-esteem she had lacked. Now that she had a title and staff who reported to her, she was attending meetings, not quite in the C-Suite, but on a higher level, nonetheless.
Chuck’s friends credited much of Maya’s success with her association to him. He was quick to deny their claims. “We’re not Beyonce & Jay Z,” he’d retort. “She worked hard, she earned everything she has.” And she did.
Maya wanted more success, though. She was ambitious and Chuck did not fault her one bit. He had bigger dreams, too, and he began to see those desires clearly as the grief of his friend’s death faded.
He intentionally spent more time with Maya. Mostly, out-of-town. Maya had heard the rumors, too, and she did not want anyone in her business.
Chuck always joked, “nobody worth caring about is interested in your dating life,” but he was serious. He never paid attention to gossip or the opinions of others.
He did care for Maya, though, and he could tell their feelings were mutual. When he approached her about taking their relationship to the next level, she smiled and said yes, adding that she wanted to keep it low-key. He said, “No problem. We will take it slow.”
Nothing changed much. Chuck and Maya continued to spend evenings together, after Maya had finished her assignments for another degree. They celebrate birthdays alone or in faraway cities.
After another year of their clandestine relationship, Chuck considered settling down. He knew one day he’d want a wife, children, and all the next steps in life.
One day he broached the idea of taking things to another level. Maya pulled away. She said her schedule was already too full. She accused Chuck of pressuring her.
Chuck could not believe her reaction. He threatened to end the relationship. He said he did not want to see other women but, “I’m going to have to move forward, Maya. With or without you.”
Maya knew Chuck did not mince words. And when she saw Chuck on a date with another woman, she seethed inside. That same evening, Maya made sure she had an emergency so Chuck would have to cut his date short and see her instead.
Before long, they began seeing each other regularly again, and falling into the same patterns Chuck waiting for Maya’s schedule to open. Chuck missing events with friends because she was too busy to attend. Chuck going alone only for her to text him constantly while they were apart.
After one such weekend, when Chuck had gone away with his friends, he returned to a bitter Maya. Chuck restated his desire for a family. He said he did not fault Maya if she did not agree. He said he would always care for her.
Maya opposed the suggestion. She said she wanted the same things. She asked Chuck for more time and more understanding. She wanted to prove it, so she invited him to the season’s biggest ball game with several of her co-workers. This was a first. Maya had never initiated much more than Chuck coming over to her apartment for take-out.
Finally, Chuck thought, their relationship might be taking a turn for the better. Maya made all the arrangements, even volunteering to driving to the game. Chuck was happy to see Maya had grown out of her insecurities.
Unfortunately, the night before the game, Chuck started having a throbbing sensation in his wrist and hand. The pain was so severe he contemplated staying home. But to pull out now would go against all his pleas and would likely embarrass Maya, so, he popped a few pain pills and rested up for the ride.
The next morning’s traffic was drudgery. Everyone in the state seemed to be on the highway. Flags in orange and green or maroon and gold waved in the air and occupied most of the road.
Maya’s impatience showed in her driving. The frequent stops and go’s irritated Chuck, too. The pain in his joints intensified with each jerk Maya made into a new lane. He took another round of medication.
Once parked, Chuck and Maya headed into the large arena. Chuck did not say much to distract her on the tightly trafficked road, but he thought it would be best for them to stay close amongst the hordes of people. With his operable hand, Chuck reached out to Maya.
She ignored the gesture. Maya had acted odd for most of the trip. She was reserved and reflective. She had a lot on her mind.
First, Maya did not like crowds. Second, she did not like her co-workers much either. It wasn’t that she hated them; she just wasn’t one for small talk. Third, she did not like arguing with Chuck. She wondered why he could not be satisfied with the way things were. Now, here she was at a game, pretending this is where she wanted to be. This was not her scene. She would have been happier watching it at Chuck’s home. She would coalesce this time, but she silently promised herself to never do this again. At least not until she was done with school.
She walked a few steps behind Chuck on purpose. Tomorrow morning, they would return home. It could not happen soon enough, she thought.
Chuck made the most of the game. He greeted all of Maya’s co-workers with smiles and purchased enough popcorn and hotdogs to share. Chuck was always comfortable in any setting. He cheered for the opposing team, danced during half-time, and spent most of his time talking to Maya’s boss.
Maya talked to her boss’s wife when she did talk. At half-time, she traded a smile with Chuck, and laughed with everyone else at his dancing. She felt more relaxed than she had all day. But after the game was over, Maya was tighter than two fists.
“This is the worst place to have a game this size,” she murmured under her breath.
Although Chuck’s hand hurt something terrible, he kept the charm flowing and offered to drive them to the hotel. Maya would not have it. She’d asked him earlier why he kept nursing his wrist. She knew her anxiety would raise the roof if she allowed him to drive.
Maya’s cousins booked a block of rooms at the same hotel. Or rather, motel. Chuck surmised that Maya did not reserve at least four-accommodations because she wanted to be near her family. He noticed Maya’s tranquility in their presence. It was a pleasant change.
After a potluck-style dinner in one of her family’s compact motel rooms, Chuck excused himself. He told Maya the pain was worsening. He had suffered long enough, he needed to rest.
In Chuck’s opinion, Maya did not seem to care. She never tried to comfort him. Well, she did try to “comfort” him hours later, with alcohol on her breath.
Chuck said he had a headache. By morning, his joint pain was worst, excruciating, in fact. He needed a doctor.
Since his doctor was off on Sundays, Chuck asked Maya to take him to the urgent care office near his home. She did. And she left him there.
Chuck sat, in pain, holding his wrist, waiting to see a doctor. After receiving treatment for gout, he called his brother to pick him up.
Months later, Chuck thanked Maya for the trip. She claimed she did not realize his situation was “that serious.” Chuck then thanked God for revealing that Maya was not his true love.
Words of Wisdom
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him.” Genesis 2:18. That sounds like wisdom to me.
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