Chapter One
I would have just started my story with “once upon a time” but come on this ain’t that story with happily ever after endings, cause in this story i died.

I am Lara Johnson, staying in a small house with your family is cozy and sweet, cause you have them to yourself all the time, it was part of my antidepressant,Papa saying stories, Mama having one business or the other and engages you in them.

I am the first of four children
Mother was blessed with five children but lost one to war. It was a sad tale, cause He was my elder brother , that’s why Mother doesn’t let us out of her eyes.

It was another night of Insects running round the house, making tiny noises which to them was big, Our house isn’t much or rather big but it was comfortable, only when you don’t get bitten by those insect, and my body was sensitive to it.
It was uncomfortable, the pains of itching and my body turning red, was all disturbing, most night was usually like that, but this night was just it!

I couldn’t wait for the sun to show its lovely face quickly, so i could run out of the house
from the pains of itching and take my bath.

“Good morning mother, Good morning Father”
“Oh Lara my child how are you?” “Am fine father”, “Lara be bless, go call your siblings to be up and ready for the farm”
“Mark! Joe!, Emilia! wake up lazy bones!
Yes father gave us all English names
he said even if we don’t go far in school at least our names sinks with the white and will be a free visa for us ( Laughs)
Papa had crazy imaginations.

We work few days in the farm Cultivating
and helping mother sell some food stuffs, so we can feed and also train Emilia and Mark to finish their secondary school too.
It was another sunny day, the sun wasn’t harsh this time, but was mild and nice to our skin while we work.

We cultivated a lot of cassava to make Garri to sell, three days from now it will be the big market day, and processing of Garri takes more than a day. I could see the smile on mothers face when she saw that we had cultivated a lot of cassava.

“Well we have tried for today, tomorrow will be a better day, i pray God makes the weather beautiful”
my Mother said while gathering her tools
“Ah finally, am already tired and my back aches, I’ll need a long bath” Joe replied, ” Ehh Lazy bone i know you are just finding way to run back to your friends” I replied him, “so?” he said and rolled his eyes.

Chapter Two
“Hey guess what? ” Joe my immediate younger brother asked, He was hard working on his own plus the brightest in our home, but really didn’t have the home mind like Mark,
Mark was more of the home guy, Farm, house organisation, trending meals, and he always fantasies about having the best restaurant in the world, which was funny to Father but lovely to Mother and I
“Yes Joe what?”
“You know that job i was applying for in that warehouse? they finally called for me to start working” He said with a large smile plastered on his face
“Oh mine! really Ah! thank God” i quickly said
“Ehh is good, at least another money to the house” Mother said while packing
“Ah ah Mother that is the first thing you could think of?” Mark attacked her
and we all laughed to it.

Most times it was always like this, we talk about life and mother says a quote, my favorite one was “Something worth having is something worth doing well”

I never excepted to see that face while we walked home from the farm
That face that brought butterflies to my stomach and made my face turn red,
that was the face of Jack
Mr and Mrs Opkere’s only son , last i heard their son based outside the country searching for greener pastures.
The sound of his horn brought me back to earth.
“Pee! pee!”
“Mama Good morning ” he greeted my mother ” Ah my son, how are you? when did you arrive” mother asked him ” Am fine ma just yesterday, Hey Joe! Mark and Lara how are you”
the way he said my name felt different, what’s wrong with me and that smirk he had on his face!
Damn cute!
I guess its just my hormones working again, making me blush to every pleasantries he gave
“Hey man we are cool” Joe and Mark responded while i shook myself

“Please let me offer you guys a ride home, the sun is at its peek and you must be tired” Mother smiled, oh how she loves free rides
“Lara get to the front , Ohya two oga join me at the back” mother always finds every opportunity to give me out she says ” When i was at your age i had so many suitors, so you better be ready for marriage, you ain’t getting younger”

The way he looked at me made my stomach flip, it was sweet on the inside, like the taste of mango,
is this how it feels to love at sight, well i wasn’t the kind of lady who loves getting involved in men affairs, even when my friend Martha talks about Jack and other guys, it didn’t dawn on me to have feelings for any of them until now.
“So Lara how is life?” Oh my! see how perfectly his tongue rolled out my name “Lara”
“Ermm fine i guess, what else?” Ah stupid me,
was that even a response?
” You eat a lot of fufu, its written all over you if am not wrong you have some on your face, just above your chin”
Oh My God that’s embarrassing quickly i tried wiping my face , while Mark and Joe laughed about it, Wait i didn’t take Fufu for breakfast na, ah he was only joking, i thought to myself with a murderous look.
” Do you have to touch your face? i was joking na, what i mean was that you are looking more beautiful”
” Ya.. thanks” i replied shyly, how can just one guy make a lady be down to earth.

Oh finally! home!, Mother said her thanks while she rushed in as the guys did their manly hand shake, while he walked to me and whispered to my ears “I love the smell of your fufu, I’ll see you later”
that made it, i didn’t even know how the laugh escaped from my mouth, it was weird plus i had this embarrassing laughter, but then i couldn’t stop myself, we said our good byes and he drove off.

As time go by, our communication became stronger and so was our bond,
we talked most times when he visits, and mother was now use to him being around.
At first when i started visiting him his sister didn’t welcome me,
But later on we became good friends,
am an independent lady who would work her ass out to achieve greater things, i had already left secondary school for about three years but money was an issue to further my studies in the university, even when I had good scores, so i joined a team on Medical outreach, as a volunteer, my love to help the less privilege and sick kids drove me there, plus in our community we had that a lot.
I was offered a huge sum of money by Jack for the Outreach but i bluntly refused as tempting as it was i would prefer selling to raise my own money, call it pride i don’t care, instead, i advised him to take the money to them himself.

His sister heard about it and was amazed, well even at that i had to prove a point to them, i might be poor but come on! i do have respect for my self and a reputation to cover.
Love isn’t all about the money, even when his sister taught i was after her brothers money, i do love him and so does he, he says it all the time and even go as far as joining me to fetch water with his own bucket! Just to prove it, Ah that was embarrassing to me, i heard people call it village love, Oh don’t even get it started with the gifts, and how he tried to help me in the kitchen and ended up pouring hot water on his leg.

“Hey Fufu girl” No matter how many times i tell him to stop with the fufu name it just gets worst, he loves teasing me, once he shouted “My fufu love” and a trader ran to him with her fufu for him to buy, my opportunity to punish him, when he tried to deny that he didn’t call her, i objected that it was a lie and he had to buy that fufu, well we enjoyed it with some spicy Egusi soup he helped me in preparing.

“Jack! see i will beat you o, stop calling me fufu girl na” i replied him ” ah ah why na have you seen your self when eating fufu?” he said holding me close in a cuddle form, it was lovely to be in his arms, it felt less depressing.
“ok fine, why did you bring me here today?” i said while caressed his arms around me.
“Well I’ll be returning back to Leicester” he paused to see my face, and he got the reaction right I was torn, but also happy for him, “erm.. okay when?” i said with my head bent i was sad to be honest cause that was a far place to stay, “Hey my love” ok that was new, “did you call me love?” i fired back “better accept it now i called you that, the Fufu might just return” then there was a brief ilence, he spoke again. ” I will be living but not alone this time” i turned and stared into his eyes ” i want you to be my lady, my wife, the mother of my children” with that he knelt down with both knees ” well i see them do this in the movies , now i understand why, i will forever love you Lara Johnson, and be a submissive King to my Queen, will you do me the honor of being my Wife?, i really want you to join me back” he said all in one breathe, i was speechless, it felt like fireworks in me, i couldn’t speak, i just nod to yes “are you a lizard?” he teased, i laughed out with a Yes!
The wedding preparation was made and everything moved Faster, and we left for Leicester.
First time ever living my home, yes papa was right i remembered him happily saying “I told you guys that your names will be a free visa!” oh papa dreams and his prayers.

Chapter Three

The journey to Leicester was lovely, the plane ride, oh how i wished papa could see this, well someday he will, cause i have it all planned out, since Jack said i was going to enroll in an online class while i work is a good idea for me to raise enough money for my family and support him.

Well finding a job here was easy, and also not easy to stay in a good one, the managers act like they haven’t seen a black lady before, well i can’t judge all White dudes by two stupid persons.

I kept trying till finally i found a waitress job at a good cafe, it was nice like the job was meant for me, i resume 7am and close 12pm that was the end of my shifts, i had more chance to learn how to use a coffee machine, also made new friends and most times i help take their shift, also i do have a break to focus on my school online.

At evening period when Jack is back from his work as a staff in an electronic company, we would hang out to few malls and cafes to take what he called pizza, yes i know what it is but haven’t tasted it before, didn’t really liked it at first but later on i did.

“Hey baby how was work today?” I asked him while helping with his bag,
“Oh dear fine and better now you are here with me” he said tiredly, most times its like that, “So wifey what have you prepared for your dearest stressed husband?” He said while reaching for the remote, “well dearest husband i made rice, have you also forgotten we will be having our friends over today for our usual monthly get together and this is the 5th month, dress code yellow” i said while smiling widely, i swear my cheek will hurt after now, i actually do love when our friends visits two were Jacks friends and two were mine.

Marian and her husband were white, while Nnena my friend got engaged to a white dude, Damon, so yes we weren’t racist, if only that existed till now, I had already prepared the meal for tonight gathering, i love this moment of our life, i also called it the Game Night, from that cool movie.

“oh that’s true dear, ah i almost forgot, lemme quickly get my yellow tee, go! go! Bee! ” he shouted, his so playful and i love that, it makes me forget about a lot of things like how stressful this past week seemed for me due to exams, “don’t worry baby i got it out already just take your bath Busy Bee!” I yelled back ” ain’t you the best fufu wifey?” He replied, well that wasn’t going to end right? I questioned my self.

Have been feeling weak lately for over a week now, maybe its the over cooked chicken, cause i threw up and when Jack found out i told him it was the chicken, i know i missed a month and i had a pregnancy test strip in the house, ya Nnena made me got one, she was always fantasizing about been an Aunty soon enough, well it came handy today, i was nervous at first when i wanted to try it, i had all thoughts in my mind, what if am pregnant how would Jack take it? What if am not?
But finally it came out positive and i planned sharing the news to everyone tonight.

Part of why i smiled so much, and also had pity for myself, i was diagnosed of a deadly disease called coronary artery disease (CAD).
Also called ischemic heart disease, CAD occurs when the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become narrowed. Untreated CAD can lead to chest pain, heart failure, and arrhythmias.
Which may take my life but yet still i kept on the bright smile, it wasn’t easy when i heard about the news when i had gone for my monthly health checkup back then in my home country, it wasn’t easy hiding it either, I was supported by the 700 club members, i took drugs secretly and most times when my mother sees it i just denied or say it was for my monthly cramps, she wasn’t that educated to suspect much, plus going for the medical outreach gave me opportunity to know more about my health and how to survive.
Have been living with this diseases from a young age as the doctor said it could be Genetic, but God has been merciful and hiding it from my husband was the easiest part since he wasn’t always at home, i felt bad but the Doctors here assured me that as long as i continue my medication rightly i have more longer time.

My friends arrived shortly and we discussed a lot on some random stuffs and played games, it was a lovely moment.
I read a lot of story about people with same condition who still don’t do anything cause they believe death is close so why make memories that won’t last, well not me Lara Johnson i may not live for long but the little time i have, I’ll try my best to put smiles on people faces.

“I have a news people!” I shouted out, they all paused and looked at me
“What’s the news Lara?” Marian asked
“Am Pregnant”.

Much of my life has been devoted to trying not to cry in front of people who loved me, i just clench my teeth, look up, then tell myself that if they see me cry, it will bring a lot of questions have been avoiding, which may hurt them, and i may just be nothing but sadness and pity to them, and i must not become a mere sadness, so i will not cry and i say this to myself while looking up at the ceiling and then i swallow even though my throat does not want to close and i look at the person who loves me and smile.

Chapter Four
Jack walked up to me and kissed me deeply, it meant a lot, then he whispered “I love you dear, thank you”
As they congratulated me.
As tears ran down my cheek.

“Awww its tears of joy!” Marian said “Says who its the hormones, beginning of night mare people!” Marian’s husband shouted as he drew Jack closer and whispered into his ears why they both laughed out.

The get together was over and we said our goodbyes, while i hurried to the kitchen to make sure everything was in order, one reason i love my friends out of so many reasons was, they never live the house unkept or dishes unwashed, plus me being pregnant, sure am band from doing any house chores.

“Hey baby” Jack said while walking me to the room, “yes dear” i responded while smiling ” you make me proud, and i thank the heavens for giving you to me” he said as he plastered a kiss on my cheek “me too baby” i replied, to be honest i was worried and just couldn’t wait to go meet my doctor and ask my chance of living and seeing my baby grow, that scared me cause having a baby has a lot of stress combined
“Baby will be going to the hospital together tomorrow, and also call our parents to share the good news, what do you think?”
Well i still can’t allow him come with me am scared the doctor might just spill the bean and that would put me and the baby in an uncomfortable phase, plus he too, i hate seeing him worry.
“No baby you’ve got work, i can do it myself and give you the news once you are back, plus you will join me when am due ok but now let me handle it, and yes we’ll call them” i said while smiling at him we were already on bed ready to sleep, ” ok baby what ever my Queen says, i mean my Fufu Queen” he said and placed a kiss on my forehead.

We kissed and said our good nights, he was sound asleep, but i just couldn’t sleep, i sobbed quietly but yet it was a clap of thunder Unaccompanied by lightning, the terrible ferocity that amateurs in the field of suffering might mistake for weakness, same time i muttered words of prayers to God to help my fate, till i fell asleep.

The next morning was quick, i horridly tried to get up to prepare breakfast for Jack but end up failing, Jack was already ahead of me, he was already up and out, by the time i got to the kitchen, breakfast was already made with a stick note “Baby health is life feed my baby too i love you”
Well he can be so sweet, just the right time for my stomach to rumble.

As i horrid to see my doctor.
Hello, Good Morning am Lara Jackson, have got an appointment with Dr. Ryan” i told the front desk nurse
“Hold, let me contact her” she quickly did and directed me up to meet her.
“Hello Dr”
“Hey Lara, how are you?”
” Am fine Dr.”
“Hope you are taking proper care of your health?” She asked with a smile
“Yes i am, matter of fact am here for a pregnancy test” I told her nervously

“Ok then” i was given a tiny container to pee in while the nurse took it in quickly to run the test, while waiting i asked her a lot of questions on my health and about if i was pregnant with my present health condition.

Well i had to wait for the result, a huge part of me wanted this.
“Lara the result says your are 4weeks pregnant already” she said with a smile and congratulated me.

“But i have to be honest and tell you dear” she continued, my heart didn’t race cause i expected something i just nodded as she continued,
“Association between heart disease and pregnancy is a known potential obstetrical and fetal risk factor during pregnancy and childbirth.”
The words where just familiar,
“Labor and delivery add to your heart’s workload, too. During labor – particularly when you push – you’ll have abrupt changes in blood flow and pressure. It takes several weeks after delivery for the stresses on the heart to return to the levels they were before you became pregnant”

If i say i grab all she said, then i lie all this words scared me and i knew, in such case fear is not needed, she said a lot but in all, i could only pick “Risk,Child birth, Labour pain, Less work or stress, always visit the hospital so i run your blood test, things to take for the medication”

That went well right?.

Chapter Five
By the time Jack had returned home
i was already done making dinner, as we silently ate dinner while Adele song played “Daydreamer”.

“Why are you smiling so seductively?”
He asked, i didn’t even know i was or was he just saying out of the feeling from the song? Cause believe me when i say the song has a thing with human soul.

Then the next song began “Don’t you remember”, i smiled and replied him
“Honey cherish every moment and every smile you see, you don’t have to place a name on it” he chuckled as he continued his meal.

” So tell me, cause since i returned from work you’ve been cheesy, and what’s up with the Adele songs?, wait did i break your heart?” he said giving me the puppy eyes look.

I laughed out so loud “Are you serious? Am just happy about this time, this present, and yes before i forget the Doctor confirmed i am 4weeks pregnant” i smiled “Ah anytime i hear that, it sounds all new to me, and makes my stomach to be filled with bubbles of joy!” He said ” what ever words i say, i will always love you…” He sang to Adele- Love song cure.

“Come on baby don’t let this nice song waste lets dance to it, the white people style” i stood up and held his hand as he lead me to the sitting room, we moved so gently, according to the rhythm of the song, it was perfect.

As time went by i continued with my new routine, since the baby bump was getting bigger i had to stop working, luckily for me my exams were done, so i just get up in the morning to Jack already gone to work after making sure the house was well kept and had made breakfast, also he had this romantic act of writing little cheesy lines on a sticker note and placing them in different parts of the house, there was one on the toothpaste in the cabinet that read “i love your smile”, one in the toaster that read “you melt my heart” one in the spoon drawer, that was wrapped around the spoon it reads” i miss spooning you” and another one on the washer that read “I only wanna do you”

These words kept me going, most times i even cry , well the doctor said it was my hormones.

After dinner i just felt uncomfortable, like i was going to pass out, i tried moving to the bed but it was too late darkness had me already, but am just one month due, why am i this weak? The doctor told me less work and that’s exactly what i did.

I woke up to find my self in the
hospital bed, i could remember hearing Jack voice yelling my name for me to wake while he tried using his phone, i think he called the ambulance.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jack questioned me with tears in his eyes, i was torn apart, oh shit the doctor might have told him,
i felt bad, i was speechless to that question and just had tears running down my cheek
“Am so sorry” i said ” Just before i finished my secondary school i had an attack, and fainted my parents where just thinking it was stress from the farm but when i woke up by His grace i left for the hospital and i was diagnosed of CAD coronary artery disease” i stopped and looked at him he had that pity look on his face towards me, which i didn’t want ” i lit up like a Christmas tree, my heart, my body, everywhere”
I smiled we both knew what i meant, he came close and hugged me “i’m so sorry i didn’t tell you” then finally he spoke ” so you’re telling me you have been taking care of yourself secretly with no one knowing all this years? Not even your mom?” I just nodded to it ” you make me love you even more, you were able to even hide it from me your own husband for the 2 years we’ve been together?” He shook his head while he exhaled out loudly ” i should have suspected, with the way you took drugs and always visiting the hospital, i just….i taught it was something else!” He yelled this time his sob roaring impotent like thunder.

“Are you mad at me?” I asked him so quietly that the words seemed to not have came out ” i couldn’t be mad at you for even a moment, and now i loved a grenade, i couldn’t unlove you, if that’s a word, its for better for worse baby” he said and pecked me.
” Its not fair” he said. “Its just so goddamned unfair”.
“the world,” he said, “is not a wish-granting factory,” and then he broke down again sobbing, have never seen Jack this hurt before, i wished i was able to take it away ” I’ll fight it. I’ll fight it for you, don’t worry about me, am a strong lady remember? That Fufu lady”
He looked at me and smiled while wiping his face “ya fufu Warrior” i chuckled and exhaled ” I’m sorry. You’ll be okay. It’ll be okay. I promise”, he said and smiled his crooked smile.
“Isn’t it funny? I kind of conned you into believing you were falling in love with a healthy person” i said
He shrugged “well you did a good job, does it hurt?”
“No, not much”
“You get to battle CAD”, he said
“That is your battle and you’ll keep fighting,” he told me ” You’ll…you’ll…live your best life today. This is your war now.” I despised this cheesy comments it felt like pity, but what else can i get than that. “I don’t suppose you can forget about and treat me like l’m not dying”
“I don’t think you’re dying”, he said. ” I think you’ve just got a touch of CAD”.

My month of delivery came quickly, i was excited i had no time to think of the odds, Mother and Jack’s Mother where already on their way to Leicester for the child birth.

The pain struck like a thunder from my stomach up to my brain and then my heart, it was the worst pain i had ever felt, i was already in the hospital before my water got broken, Jack never for once left my side, he was always there and i could feel Mother outside my room.

This was it, My fate, the sound of the machine beeping as a sign of my heartbeat while i struggled to push as Jack kept saying i can do it, I pushed with all of my might, with tears running down my cheek, Finally i heard the sound of my baby crying, while i was drifting into darkness the sound of the machine increased at a particular peek and went flat, I was far but could hear the doctor saying am sorry to Jack.

No! No! This can’t happen, i need to see my baby, i needed to see my Jack, but there was nothing i could do it was all dark.

A lot of persons has time to live but yet still plays with it, i had none, i wished i did, i miss them.
If you see my Jack tell him i said this
“I never fully understood what love is, but when you came into my life, you taught me what it truly meant. Without a single word you showed me how really important this feeling really is, so in return i wanted to be with you for the rest of my life, or even longer. But time has forbidden me to do so,so instead I’ll give you one simple gift, i will give you three simple words, i will just say I Love You.”

       THE END

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Rough Play

Boy: Hello sir, good day sir! I’m actually your daughter’s boyfriend sir. I’m calling to