Promise in the Dark
For the eight years that followed his meeting with Juliet, Jackson was haunted by their last exchange.
“So just like that ah, you expect me to be gone from your life?” Jackson had said.
“Do you even love me Jack?” Juliet had asked him. “You keep talking about promises and all am getting is your sense of responsibility…and guilt. You want to return a favor and what woman wants to be with a man who says he wants to take responsibility of her? That’s not love Jack.”
“I know it’s not love but I really like you Juliet, I always have and all I am asking is that you give us a chance to get to know each other more. I don’t know about you but every single time I think about who am gonna spend the rest of my life with, it’s your name that pops up, it’s your face I see. Maybe that’s not love but hell I know I like the feeling I get when I imagine us having a life together. Be honest with me Juliet, can you imagine spending the rest of your life with someone else other than me? Or better yet, can you handle me being with someone else?”
Juliet quickly looked away and said, “I can. It’s not like leaving without certain things in my life
would be something new.”
Jackson went over to her and stood right behind her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and
gently turned her body around to face him.
“Say the words straight to my face.” He said. “Tell me Jackson, I don’t love you.”
“I can’t say that.” She said.
“That’s settled then.” He said. “You are obviously going through some things right now that you
might not want me knowing about but you see that’s okay. I understand because I know you and
because I am willing to wait for you until you are ready and can trust me enough to let me into your
life. I am leaving tomorrow but I have your number now and I know where to find me. All am
asking for now is that you don’t push me away. I promise I will try not to be too much of a bother
but Juliet, there is no way in hell am going to disappear from your life. That’s just not gonna happen.”
In as much as Jackson drew strength from his own determination, he knew that the journey he had
just embarked on was not going to be an easy one. If Juliet was anything like she was eight years
ago…and chances were highly that she still was, then her determination and stubbornness was
something Jackson needed to worry about. It was not going to be easy loving a woman that has
gotten too accustomed to being alone and independent. Everyone she had ever counted on and
expected to depend on had let her down, including himself.
When a whole week went by and Juliet did not hear from Jackson, she started to panic.
“Do you think I was too harsh on him?” She asked her friend Nancy over the phone.
“You think?” Nancy said sarcastically.
“What if he never calls me? I keep checking my phone every second hoping to get a call from him.
I think am going to lose my mind.”
Nancy laughed. “I think he’s trying to give you a taste of your own medicine stubborn gal.” She
said. “He hasn’t been online since he left as well, I have been checking his Facebook profile.”
“I wish I could stalk him like that too.” Juliet said.
“Then why not set up an account now?” Nancy asked. “I mean, this whole time you said you didn’t
want Jackson finding you and he has so, it’s about time you embraced civilization my friend.”
“Even if I set up the account, it’s not like I can just send him a friend request. It will be too
embarrassing after everything I said to him.”
“So you know.” Her friend said. “Why did you even say all those things to him? Poor guy.”
“I don’t know.” Juliet sighed. “I was embarrassed…and intimidated, insecure even. You saw the
way he looks now-“
“Oh yeah, that’s one fine looking brother.” Nancy said. “I could barely look him in the eye when
talking to him. I just wanted to squirm in excitement. I walked into the house and found Chisha in
his boxers with his scrawny tuma legs sprawled out on the couch chewing raw cassava like it
committed a crime against his ancestors. I almost told him to pack his things and scram from my
house. And you, you have a hotshot like that travelling thousands of miles just to see you and
you’re busy skirting. My friend, is the air in Namibia messing with your head?”
Juliet chuckled. “What will a girl like me be doing with a guy like that Nancy?”
“And what’s wrong with you?”
“Like you don’t know.”
“All I know is that you’re a very beautiful woman inside and out and you just happen to have gone
through things in life that most people don’t. That shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed
about. You should be proud that you rose above all those things when the easiest thing to do
would have been to give up. You’re a survivor gal and any man would be lucky to have you.”
“You think so?” Juliet asked.
“I know so. Now get on Facebook and create that account. I better be the first one you sent a
request to! You will find all our mutual friends on my profile.”
“Should I send Alice a request too?” Juliet asked.
Nancy almost choked on her saliva. “For what!?” She spat.
“She’s my sister.” Juliet said.
“The same sister who told your man that you married young for money and have four kids. Juliet
please, stop being so naïve. That girl is no good for you. Besides, she’s not even your real sister.”
“It’s not that I am naïve,” Juliet countered. “I know exactly what sort of person she is and I am
going to talk to her about what she said to Jack but still, she’s family. I can’t hate her even if I
“Why not? She hates you just fine herself.” Nancy said.
“Fine, I won’t send her a request.” Juliet said.
“Good girl!” Nancy said. “Now let me go and feed my skinny boyfriend before he disappears into
“Pass my regards to him.” Juliet said and ended the call.
She created her Facebook account right away and as instructed sent a request to Nancy. She
then searched for Jackson but apart from his profile pictures, she could not see anything else on
him. She needed to send him a request and become his friend…something she was not yet ready
Jackson called her three days later at 3 in the morning.
“Did I wake you up? I did right?” He said.
“I just woke up some five minutes ago to study. Are you watching me or something?”
He laughed. “I wish. Am sorry for calling you so early but I just managed to get a new phone now. I
had to be in Seattle for a training and I dropped my phone somewhere, didn’t have time to leave
the hotel. It was like boot camp, except there was fancy food and a lot of fancy people.” He
“It’s fine.” She said.
“It’s fine? I was hoping you would be worried or something, you know.”
Juliet chuckled. “I worried, a bit.” She said. “You’re the one who said you would call but….”
“I know, am very sorry but you’re the first person I’ve called on this phone.”
“You’re lying. You called Happy first.”
Jackson laughed. “Shit, you know me too well woman.”
“How is she? Happy, I mean.”
“She’s okay, all grown now and naughty.”
“I miss her.”
And just like that their conversation carried on. At the end of that call, Juliet had to accept the fact
that Jackson was the person she had the easiest time communicating with. It was as if not a day
had passed since their unfortunate parting. The years that followed allowed the two to reconnect
more as friends than lovers as Juliet insisted on playing things safe, and Jackson never pushed
her. After eight years of chatting on Skype and phone, Jackson finally returned home for good.
“You still haven’t told me how you won over her heart.” Greg said to Jackson.
Jackson laughed. “I kissed her.” He stated simply.
“Huh?” Greg said.
Jackson laughed again. “Juliet is a bit old-fashioned but I had no doubt she was in-love with me.
She was going to keep playing hard-to-get if I didn’t take drastic action.”
The both of them laughed, with Greg getting up to shake his friend’s hand. “You’re the man Jack.”
“She was waiting for Happy and I at the airport and the moment I spotted her I ran to her, scooped
her into my arms and went straight for her lips. She didn’t stand a chance.” Jackson said proudly.
Jackson’s phone rang from the other end of the sofa where he was seated.
“Is that Juliet?” Greg asked.
Jackson reluctantly reached for the phone. “No way.” He said before checking the phone.
Suddenly, the expression on his face turned sour.
“Who is it?” A visibly concerned Greg asked.
“Alice.” Jackson said.
Greg jumped over the table to where Jackson was and grabbed the phone from him. “No way in
hell you’re taking this call.” He said. “What the devil does this wench want from you?”
“Who said I was going to answer it?” Jackson said. “I always ignore her calls…unless she calls on
some strange line.”
“You need to block her. How long has this been going on?” Greg asked.
“Since my interview on BBC Africa six months ago.”
Greg was giving him a what-the-hell look.
“Yeah, she’s shameless like that. She even came to the office the very next day after she saw the
“How come you never told me about this?” Greg asked.
“Because it wasn’t important.” Jackson said. “She came in her usual seductive tone and said she
had no idea I was the owner of JC Pharmaceuticals and JC Consultancy. Her actual words were
‘oh my gosh I can’t believe you’re the JC I have been hearing about all along oh my gosh.’” He
mimicked her voice.
“She didn’t know about you and her sister?” Greg asked.
“No, Juliet likes to keep a low profile and we both decided it was best to keep our relationship off
social media. At least I try to post pictures of us every now and then but only the ones where her
face isn’t showing. She never posts anything about us…which isn’t surprising because she’s not
even that active online. Alice only learnt about us when I told her that day.”
“And what did she say?” Greg asked.
Jackson laughed, thinking back to the day that gave him so much satisfaction. It was as if he had
been finally vindicated for some crime he had been wrongfully accused of for a very long time.
“I appreciate you coming all the way to congratulate me on my success Alice but there was really
no need to.” Jackson had said to Alice.
Even though he appeared to be looking at her as he addressed her, his mind was elsewhere. Her
voluptuous bosom was screaming at him for attention, threatening to erupt from the tiny piece of
fabric that was supposed to be holding them together. Her fake wing-like lashes were so long he
wondered how she was still able to see under them. She was lucky it was not windy that day
otherwise those wings would have sent her flying off into the air.
“I just thought that since we grew up together, I should pass through to show some support.” Alive
Jackson stood up from his cozy leather chair, hands tucked in pockets and a bemused expression
on his face. “Let me upfront with you before it’s too late.” He said. “I am not going to pretend that I
don’t know why you’re here. I do and I would like it if you didn’t come here again. I might have
forgiven the past but I haven’t forgotten. You only want us to be friends because you think there is
something to gain. And quiet honestly, I have no desire whatsoever to pursue you like that not just
because I have a girlfriend, but also because I have no interest in you.”
To Jackson’s surprise, Alice appeared unperturbed by his declarations. She was actually smiling.
“Who is she? Your girlfriend I mean.”
“It’s your sister, Juliet. We’ve been seeing each other for close to three years now.”
For a split second Jackson entertained the idea of holding a camera in his hands and flashing it to
capture the shocked expression on Alice’s face.
“Juliet? How…I mean, since when?”
“I just said three years, but we had been in touch for years before I came back to Zambia.”
“She never said anything.” Alice said, a very stoic expression on her face.
Jackson immediately regretted having spilled the beans. The look on Alice’s face was exactly the
reason Juliet desperately wanted to wait a bit longer before telling their families about their
relationship. Alice looked like she was going to kill her sister the moment she laid eyes on her.
“She isn’t yet ready to face the drama that comes with our relationship.” Jackson said. “I am very
sorry to have to say this to you but I really should get back to my work.”
“Oh,” Alice said in a disappointed tone, getting up from the chair. “I was just about to leave
anyway.” Her face was spilling embarrassment all over the floor.
Jackson held the door open for her and Alice rudely brushed past him.
“I danced around my office like a fool after she left.” Jackson said to Greg. “I’m even embarrassed
of myself just thinking about it…but still, it was very satisfying to put her in her place.”
“And yet somehow she still managed to call you after that.” Greg remarked.
“That’s because the woman is shameless and determined like a fox. She scares me sometimes.”
“Does Juliet know that her sister is after you?”
“How can she not know?” Jackson said. “Alice is very aware of Juliet’s insecurities and she
capitalizes on them. And the sad part is Juliet always takes the bait every single time. Just the
mention of my past with Alice had her treating me like am her enemy. If I don’t take the initiative to
call her or visit her it’s possible a whole month could pass by without us talking to each other.”
“You guys have a lot of issues going on.” Greg said.
“You can say that again.” Jackson replied.
Just then, a knock came through the door.
“Are you expecting anyone?” Jackson asked Greg, grabbing a bottle of beer from the table and
taking a long gulp from it.
“No.” His friend said, walking over to the door.
“Who is it?” Jackson asked Greg who was now smiling mysterious at whoever was on the other
side of the door.
“It’s Juliet.” Greg announced.
Jackson chocked on his beer.
To be continued…
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