Jemima always had a smile for anyone who came her way. It seemed to people she had not a care in the world. She shared and cared for them without burdening them with her own worries. No matter how hard they tried to get to know what could be bothering her so they could return the favour, she would reply; “You have already helped me. My troubles ease when your troubles cease.” They all thought she was an angel in human form. She never got annoyed or complained or even mocked the ones that complained, no secrets were ever heard elsewhere. So long as you needed her, she would make time for you. And she always made their troubles seem easier to handle, where she could assist financially she did and where physically she would. Although Jemima never complained, at night, after the world has had its fair share of cries and worries, she would cuddle up under her cover with her tomcat Chico and cry herself to sleep. So many nights she endured this routine until the day Johnny bumped into her.
Jemima always preferred staying back for lunch, she never enjoyed eating in crowd, she was very conscious of the way she chewed, she was conscious of everything about herself. Never mind that she radiated of self confidence, Jemima was a broken spirit. Her last encounter with love left her in total doubt of herself, her capabilities and her physical being in general. She avoided being with people in joyous occasions, she felt she would bring them ill luck. That was among the reasons she was such a good listener and helper of the less privileged. So on this very fine, sunny Wednesday, Jemima had run out of sweetener and she decided to go buy some for herself. On her way through the gates, a young man chasing after a Labrador, that she luckily jumped out of its way accidentally pushed her. Being very petit in frame, Jemima toppled all the way backwards and hit her head really hard as she crashed to the floor.
“Hey, PYT, you got to wake up now, it’s been 3 days already. Please get up!” A gentle eager masculine voice urged her making her stir trying hard to open her eyes adjusting it to the flood of light streaming in through the windows. The sheets felt weird, the pillows were definitely not hers; where on earth was she? Jemima wondered to herself as her eyes began to adjust, the blurriness becoming much clearer and the lights no longer as harsh as before. “Oh my head! Where am I?” She asked as the young man came into her vision. “Hello Jem, you’re in the hospital. You’ve been in here for three days, all thanks to me.” He said lowering his voice as he said the last part. “It’s a wonder I’m not dead” she said giving her warmest smile, reassuring him no harm had been caused. After a few more tests and scans, Jemima was declared fit to leave the very next day. Johnny was with her throughout the entire procedures and was adamant about leaving her alone since she came to. Jemima was glad of his company; it felt good having someone fuss over her even though she tried no t get too comfortable with the idea. She told herself he would be gone once she started going back to work.
Johnny called on her every day and night; he would invite her out under the pretence of taking their pets out for fresh air or saying she needed to make sure none of her senses went numb after the fall. Jemima was glad of his presence in fact, she found herself looking forward to his visits; she wore brighter colours, had her hair done every week, always wanted to get home early, listened to more Celine Dion songs, hummed to herself, even her colleagues commented on her lively, springy, footsteps. Jemima seemed to be falling in love with Johnny. She kept telling herself it wasn’t love; she was just lonely and needed company. But each time she saw him, a new wave of life swept over her, her heart sang its own song, her body moved in time to the tune, her eyes shone with the light, her spirit soared. She loved this man that made her unconscious. Maybe she was still unconscious she thought so many times pinching herself; “Oh you’re wide awake darling, you best accept that reality and enjoy it” her sub-conscious would tell her.
“Jem, I’m in love with you” Johnny told her on the 6th month of the day he had knocked her over. “You are an amazing person, I watch you struggle with so many emotions, I try to ask but I don’t want to push you into anything or force anything out of you. Today, I want you to share in my emotion, to push every other aside and be for me. You may not feel the same but I know what I feel will be enough for the both of us. I only need you to let me love you, let me introduce you to my family and friends not only as the lady I knocked over but as the woman I love and want to share a future with.” Jemima was awed; she starred at him with her mouth agape as though she was watching something amazing on a screen. She couldn’t believe her ears heard all he had just said. It was meant for her and her alone. She had to run away, she had to find a place to hide far from him, far from everything he had just told her. She broke down in tears; “I can’t let you. I won’t let you” she sobbed very hard, hugging him really close. He tried to get her to explain to him what she wouldn’t allow him do, why she was so terrified, why her body shook and why her eyes all of a sudden became an expression of fear. But she wouldn’t stop repeating those words over and over again so he held her as if to assure her whatever it was she was scared of wouldn’t happen. He would never hurt her and he would never let anyone hurt her.
Weeks went by and Jemima refused to accept Johnny’s calls or reply his messages. She avoided every place they went together and every place she knew he would hang out or wait for her. Jemima was in a terrible state of fear and she wished she could tell him why but that would even worsen the situation so she did what she thought was best for everyone, she totally avoided Johnny even though it broke her heart daily especially since she knew the effort he had been putting in to still get to her despite her rejection and coldness towards him. One sunny day, a co-worker informed her that she saw Johnny at the train station and he said he was travelling for a couple of days to attend to some issues out of the state Jemima gave a weak smile and thanked her then she decided to go to the park where they usually met on Wednesdays after working hours. It was usually quiet by that time of the day being filled with mostly couples engrossed with each other not noticing anyone or anything else. As she sat on the bench they always sat on, Johnny appeared and sat beside her clasping her hands very tightly in his at first frightening her until she realized it was him “But ... but you’re away, I mean that’s what Lucy told me” she stumbled her words very confused and angry. “Yes I know” he replied “I asked her to do me that favour because I knew you would come here. I had to see you. I have been going out of my mind wondering what had come over you….what is wrong, Jemima?” She shook her head with so much fear in her eyes and her whole being trembling… why wouldn’t he just go somewhere else and let her be? She asked herself. “I love you, Jem. I L-O-V-E –Y-O-U, JEMIMA and I am not leaving here except you tell me you don’t then I will never ever bother you again” he said with a stubborn gleam in his eyes. Jemima shook her head and tears poured down her face but before she could say a word “BANG” the loudest most deafening sound was heard and then she saw Johnny fall to the ground. Jemima screamed and cried calling for help, begging him not to die, to hang on. With her head bent over his body still sobbing and hugging him close, she didn’t notice the shadow that formed over them until the deepest cruelest voice said “You are my Jemima. No one will ever have you, James’ Jem” and he walked away as she hugged Johnny still closer to her his blood staining her and her tears staining him.