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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)

TITLE: This Hurting Space
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan


This Hurting Space

All it took was a lousy, inexperienced driver and a couple of drinks to do what I had always thought university or marriage would do. The phone call came sometimes in the afternoon but what I can remember of that day is a blur; holding Seye’s lifeless body in my arms, refusing to cry even when the nurse on duty encouraged me to, just thinking that it couldn’t be happening to me.

The tears came much later after ambling about dazedly for three days. That was when it hit me that my only son was really gone. Of course I’d always known I would one day lose Seye but I’d thought it would be when he entered the university or when a pretty girl got her hook into him. But no, he’d been on his way home from youth fellowship at the church he attended when a drunk juvenile behind the wheels of his father’s Mercedes knocked him down.

“Why did you have to take him?” I questioned the God Seye had loved as I stared at one of my boy’s pictures. “I need him more badly than you do. Seye said you’ve got so many children to love but I’ve got only my boy. Only him...”

Then it came back to me. A conversation I’d had with Seye just a couple of months ago.

“You should go out more often, you know.” He said as he bent over to lace his shoes, “you could come to church with me. They hold a women’s fellowship this evening too.”

I laughed. “You don’t bother your head, son.”

He stood up, towering above me at six feet one. “You shouldn’t build your life all around me. What of when I leave home?”

I shrugged noncommittally, not allowing him see my fear, “I’ll cross that hurdle when we get there. Now, get going.”

“But mum…hey, why didn’t you guys have another kid besides me?”

That caught me offguard.

“It would have eased things a bit next year when I enter the university.” He offered.

“Hmm…come give your mum a hug and get going, will you?”

He acquiesced, gave me a quick hug and said quietly, “I love you mum.”

“Love you too,” I whispered back, “more than any other person alive.”

“That’s the problem. You should have more friends, love more people, let your family come here more often.”

“It hurts,” I mumbled. “Hurts to love too many people. By the way, there’s only space for one person and you’ve taken that space already.”

He wanted to argue but took a peek at the clock. “I’m running late. Catch ya later.”

He didn’t know how close he had been to the truth. If only he had pressed me harder.

Seye’s father had been my whole life once. But then Seye had come into the world, all wide-eyed and innocent and I’d had eyes for only him.

“It’s not healthy, Clara.” Taiye, my husband would complain.

“Babies are so helpless and need their mothers round the clock, don’t you understand?” Seye became a toddler and my excuse changed. “He’s too rambunctious. If I let him out of sight, he’ll tear the house apart.”

I’d mistakenly gotten pregnant again but I was a registered nurse and knew the right person for the job. The remains of the baby was left in an abortionist’s office before Taiye even knew about it. I just couldn’t bear to love another child as much as I did Seye. It had taken Seye to fall ill with severe typhoid for me to realize it. What if I loved another child and he died, or fell ill too? Could I bear to face the agony I’d done the five weeks Seye had lain critically ill?

Taiye left soon enough, but I was too wrapped up in nursing Seye back to life that I didn’t miss my husband at all. It was indeed a relief to see him go because I couldn’t stand the look in his eyes anymore.

“Oh God, oh God…” I cried out in anguish as I realized the depth of Seye’s teenage wisdom. “I don’t know how to love anybody else…it’s been only Seye. How do I not love him anymore? What do I do about this hurting space in my heart? Oh God…”

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden…”+

I spun around in search of the voice. I was alone.

+ Matthew 11:28 KJV

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Member Comments
Member Date
Mary Frederick01/31/06
Thank you for sharing this story of love and grief. It touched my heart and moved to prayer. God bless!
terri tiffany02/01/06
You wrote such a realistic portrayal of pain and loss. Thank you! It kept my attention and the ending was perfect.
Melanie Kerr 02/04/06
I really empathised with you throughout that piece. The temptation to love so exclusively and fear the loss of that person. I have to push myself out to meet people, knowing that i could fall into that same trap.