Duality (Class Session Number Four)

Scene One

“Once seen never unseen.”

I wasn’t sure what she meant, and I was prepared to ask when she turned from the window and faced me. There was a harshness to her opaque eyes, and a lightness, too. I hadn’t seen that lightness in a very long time.

“Isn’t that about apt?” Both her eyes and her thick Ethiopian accent pierced me like the machete’s of her youth. I looked away, unable to face the source of my shame.

“I don’t know what you’re implying.”

“Oh, don’t be coy!” Her outburst astounded me. I thought by now her feelings toward me would have lessened. She shook her head as if saddened by my ignorance. “You know exactly what I’m saying.”

I glanced her way, watching her peripherally and then turned away. “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t. Unless you’re referring to the countless aches, pains and humilations brought on by your hand and your tongue. Is that what this is about?” I paused, surprised I had it in me. “Just what is this all about, anyway? I was content enough without your meddling-it’s been eight months—when you had to, you just had to contact me, demanding that we meet up. To talk, you said. What is your claim?”

She paced for a moment, clearly ruminating and probably scheming. But what’s her purpose? She’s already taken everything from me.

The light had vanished from her eyes and the irises looked almost entirely black. “You truly have no idea, do you? Or are you being coy again?

I look down, shaken. “I really don’t know.”

She looked as though my words were sacreligious, and she resumed her frantic pacing. She paced for a long time, and as she did, her anger transcended to fury. Finally, abruptly, she stopped and looked me in the eye.

“John,” her accent came out sounding like ‘Zohn,’ “my mind can never unsee your lies and half-truths, your secretive ways and your perpetual role as the victim, when I have always been truthful and true to myself and to our vows before God. I took them earnestly. What did you do?”

My mind reeled. I’d taken her from the confines of her African village and from the clutches of her domineering mother, and brought her to the States, to freedom. It wasn’t easy to pursuade Nkechi, her mother, to release her and, in turn, to apply for and be granted a U.S. Visa.

“What did I do? How about what did you do?”

She looked aghast.

“Mia, you humilated me…countless times. Can you fathom, even for an instant, what it was like for me, a lieutenant in the U.S. army, to show up for work with bruises and lacerations and have to formulate some lie, some excuse, whenever I was question? And I was questioned a lot.

“And let’s not forget the time I went AWOL, the summer before last, and my captain dropped by and found one my eyes blackened. Now please tell me just what the hell I ever did to you?”

“These eyes see everything, Zohn. Haven’t I always said so? Yet you stand here, in the home we planned to live out our days in, under the gaze of God, and try to play innocent…”

My mind hadn’t stopped reeling. There was only one transgression I was guily of and there was no way she knew. Was there?

“The light just went up in your eyes.”

Like a grand epiphany, I knew that she knew.

“The stink was all around you, but I had to know for sure. I had to see her myself. So I employed an investigator to follow you.” She gave a smile that was sad and smug. “Before long I had the evidence. the explicit images will never be unseen.”

Jessie.

“Now the blood is on my hands.” She spoke with scorn, with an accusation. “Her blood.”

Scene Two

Mia gazed out the living room window, longing to be one with the bright sunbeams as they nurtured the distant grassland and shone down on the hills upon the horizon. Such reverie was for a far off place and time. Zohn huffed, pulling her back into the present.

“Once seen never unseen.” Mia reluctantly turned away to confront her husband.

He was impatient, but he also looked bemused. You aren’t fooling anyone, Mia thought as she stepped closer. The weight of their imminent blows was palpable. “Isn’t that about apt?”

He retreated. “I don’t know what you’re implying.”

The gall, she thought, astonishment on the heels of anger. “Oh, don’t be coy!”

She shook her head, and the long, tight braids undulated across her slender torso. “You know exactly what I’m saying.” For a moment, his gaze seemed to sway like a pendulum, as if marking the time when we first met, to our marriage and then the redness of two miscarriages. The present rushed in.

“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t. Unless you’re referring to the countless aches, pains and humiliations brought on by your hand and your tongue. Is that what this is about?” Zohn stopped. “Just what is this all about, anyway? I was content enough without your meddling-it’s been eight months—when you had to, you just had to contact me, demanding that we meet up. To talk, you said. What is your claim?”

You are my claim. And our promise to God. I claim those. But I’ll refrain.

“You truly have no idea, do you? Or are you being coy again?”

He looked down, his guilt in his body language. “I really don’t know.”

Either he was a finer actor than she’d given him credit for or he was being honest. He is a liar, the voice of her mother roared, and Mia’s anger turned to rage. “Zohn, my mind can never unsee your lies and half-truths, your secretive ways and your perpetual role as the victim, when I have always been truthful and true to myself and to our vows before God. I took them earnestly. What did you do?”

“What did I do? How about what did you do?”

Mia was increasingly astounded by his gall.

“Mia, you humiliated me…countless times. Can you fathom, even for an instant, what it was like for me, a lieutenant in the U.S. army, to show up for work with bruises and lacerations and have to formulate some lie, some excuse, whenever I was question? And I was questioned a lot.

“And let’s not forget the time I went AWOL, the summer before last, and my captain dropped by and found one my eyes blackened. Now please tell me just what the hell I ever did to you?”

“These eyes see everything, Zohn. Haven’t I always said so? Yet you stand here, in the home we planned to live out our days in, under the gaze of God, and try to play innocent…”

“The light just went up in your eyes.”

Then she told of his coming home with the stink of sex emanating from his pores, and hiring an investigator. Less than a week later, she had his full report and several revealing photographs of his infidelity with Jessie.

“Now the blood is on my hands. Her blood.”

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