Ms. Lynch was now at the door facing Alfred. Her mind raced back to one particular day back in London when she had to resist the temptation to call Alfred. “No, he is my student, I can’t do that. Stay professional and good friends” she advised herself. It was on the eve of her departure to the States. She knew that even though she resisted the temptation, she could not lie to herself that she had feelings for Alfred. After spending five years at Buxton Academy, she decided that it was time to head back home and spend some time with her family. One of the reasons she stayed on at Buxton for that length of time, was to see Alfred through high school. Ms. Lynch doesn’t usually spend more than two years in her place of assignment when on the international scene.
As she entered her car that afternoon, she knew something was not right. Her phone kept ringing and she refused to answer the call. She peeped at the mobile again as it rang for the umpteenth time. It was Alfred, she suspected it.
She had been ignoring his calls for too long. It was a battle she had to win. She must win this battle she declared to herself. “It will be fine. Just one more week and I will be on that darn plane” she told herself.
Ms. Lynch picked her hand set, and dialed the number, then cut it off. “No, I must stay true to myself and the profession” she declared. She turned the phone off and drove off.
She spent the entire evening at The Grills. She ate and drank herself to stupor. She has never done this. She felt alone. She realized that she was scared of loneliness.
What happened to all the prayers and all the angels that were supposed to keep watch over her?
As she laid her head on the bar’s table, something re-echoed in her head. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil…”
“What is the shadow of death? Am I in the shadow of death?” The questions flew around her head.
How she got home that night, she did not know. She kept hearing the door bell ring over and over as if in a dreamland. She stood up and went over to the door. Here stood Alfred.
Good morning Ms. Lynch.
I am sorry I woke you up.
It’s ok. Come in.
She went back to her room, threw herself right on the bed and went back to sleep.
Alfred was no stranger to Ms. Lynch’s home. Initially the relationship started off as Ms. Lynch being the protector of Alfred, then to being the unofficial mother or foster mother of Alfred. The relationship metamorphosed into that of Alfred being like a younger brother of Ms. Lynch and blossomed to friendship in Alfred’s final year in high school. Ms. Lynch was instrumental to Alfred soaring like an eagle at Buxton. Alfred owed her – lifetime gratitude. She helped Alfred to navigate Andy through the process of submitting a fresh evidence for a new court hearing. Emma meant the world to Alfred.
The place was in such a state. Alfred helped clean the place up, washed the dishes and left afterwards. He placed the brown envelop carefully under the flower vase in the coffee table in the living room.
When Emma Lynch woke up, she tried to reconstruct everything and could not. She went to the kitchen and drank water, made a cup of tea for herself, picked up the brown envelop and then went into the bathtub and soaked herself. After about one hour in the tub, she began to recollect the events … the events that will change the geography of her life forever. The resistance to make that phone call, ignoring all of Alfred’s calls, her outing at the Grill. “But how did I get home?” This puzzle remained. Her head began to hurt again. It was that sudden rush of blood to her head and her entire body organs having to handle that sudden surge in blood. This had happened to her when she resisted that urge to call Alfred the last day she was leaving Buxton.
She opened the envelop and read the card…”To the woman who means the world to me, may you never walk alone in this world…those angels you always talked to me about, may the ever be present with you. I shall come someday and look for you.”
She read the words over twenty times. She finally summoned courage and called Alfred’s number but it went on to answer phone. She tried a few times and the call never went through.
“Ladies and gentlemen we would like you to turn off all electronic devices as…” the voice droned in the plane. Let me give it one last shot. She turned on her phone again and called Alfred’s number. No luck. She decided to leave a message this time around. “Alfred I have tried to reach you without success, I wish you the very best in your future endeavours and keep in touch. I am on my way back home…” excuse me ma’am, can you please turn off your phone, the air hostess advised Emma.
Uwem Mbot Umana©2017