Short Story: Her Imaginary Boyfriend

Written by Faith Oneya

First Published in the African Woman Magazine, November 2010

She has, as have millions of women before her, suffered from loneliness, to the point which any sort of attention from a man would do, even if it was a once in a month text that said:  You are so lost.From a man who was probably just horny and drunk and to which she was likely to reply It is you who is lost or  a similarly mundane text  in the hope of starting a stimulating, romantically charged conversation.

There is, of course, the occasional date that tells her he has Deep feelings for her which confuses him  and her long-time plutonic friend who has declared his Boyfriend intentions but with whom she just cannot get it on.

This is her dilemma-the certain knowledge that there is no such thing as Mr. Right and the deep appreciation of the fact that beautiful feelings for another are nurtured, grown, and not born at first sight.

Now, this may have sounded like a very rational statement, from an equally rational person (which she was) but the heart wants what the heart wants and she found that she went into supposed relationships with an incessant and irrational need to fall deeply in love and live happily ever after. Like Cinderella. A black Cinderella. A Kenyan. Instead of a carriage? A Mercedes.

This could have been the price she was paying for reading romance novels at an early age, of losing herself into the strong arms of the heroes and becoming the heroine whose body is worshipped. It was a price she was willing to pay because she wanted to feel love that would frighten her, and leave her desperate and in awe. Like she imagined she would be in the precense of God.

This is why she is sitting in her comfortable chair (Everyone who came to her house said she had the most comfortable sofa sets) with her cell phone in her hands – there is such a man in her life. The romantic (if there is any) in you may want to sit up and read further, and possibly pat her virtually on the back for the romantic persistence and eventual triumph. Not until you hear that this is  not the guy that makes her  toes tingle and leaves her desperately wanting and needing him more whenever he is away from her. This guy is the type that tells her he’s Confused about the deep feelings he has for her and would like to take it slow.

Her fauvorite relationship guru Greg Brenhart of the infamous book “He’s Just Not That into You” would definitely be proud of her if she concluded that this man was just not that into her and stopped wasting her pretty. Greg would also recommend that she delete her pseudo-boyfriend’s number from her cell phone immediately-however; Greg has not considered the fact that she memorized the number by date three! Greg also swears that no man is ever “confused” about anything. She is armed with these words of wisdom so she should be okay.

Her imaginary boyfriend has not called her in a month. Their last conversation ended with Let’s talk soon. She should have asked for his definition of “soon” but she did not want to sound needy. She should end the relationship. She can’t.

It is the curses of women like her.To always give the man the benefit of the doubt. She is built to endure all the heartache and bullshit that the man dishes out as long as he keeps our hopes up that he might actually give a damn about her. That is why her imaginary boyfriend will stay for three months without calling but on the day that he calls, she will engage all our mental and body strengths in trying not to pick up on the first ring!

She still does not have words to tell her pseudo–boyfriend-that she wants to break it off. This is the rational thing to do. But how does she define “it”?”It” certainly was not a relationship. He had six whole months where she blessed him with her presence in his life without his ever acknowledging that there was anything going on between us except for a feeble: I am so confused so she cannot very well start with the classic It is not you, it is me.She wants to call it quits because she knows she deserves better, and she spends thirty minutes trying to think of dignified exit words. She engages all her linguistic energies and settles for:

We are both pretenders. I pretend to be okay with the way you are treating me and you pretend that there is nothing wrong with the way you are treating me.

She adds ellipses in the text for dramatic effect and to signify that they have unfinished business. She hits the send button with  a smug little smile .Her  satisfaction turns into desperation in the few hours that he takes to reply, declaring he had no idea what she was talking about. In his text, he says:

 Could we just stop this nonsense? Why are you getting emotional over nothing?

Her mother had warned her about men who would cheat on her, and of how much it would hurt. Then, she had thought: But I am not you, mother. Her mother had warned her of the men she would love but would not love her back and she thought: I am not you. Her mother had said nothing of the men who, for a few hours every week, made her feel like a queen and treated her like a leper the rest of the month. She did not prepare her for her own weakness.

Her eyes water. Her lips tremble and her hands shake (You know, like in those silly Mexican soaps where the girl’s lips are always trembling before she cries). She goes over the text again and again hoping for a sign that he cares but she finds none. She curls up in her comfortable chair and weeps for herself and for millions of women like her-because she knows she will be going back to her pseudo-boyfriend tomorrow when he tells her he has to meet her and asks her out for a drink and takes her back to his house. (Not necessarily in that order).

He calls her two months later. She desperately holds on to the hope that he might have changed. Maybe gone on a self discovery journey somewhere in a Meditation facility in Runda or Westlands and realized that she is the love of his life. He wants her to cook him dinner in his house. She jumps at the chance to go to his house.

She wants to confront him about the text. The words are trembling on her tongue (Again, like in the Mexican soaps) She wants to tell him of how much he hurt her. She wants to tell him that he is not good for her, that she is unhappy. She wants to ask him if he has another woman. She sighs heavily.

What is wrong? He asks, looking mildly annoyed. She searches his eyes for a sign that he might care… She finds none.

Nothing, she replies.

You need to leave, I have an early morning.

A knife twists in her chest. Her eyes burn and her legs feel heavy beneath her. It occurs to her that people should be in a sitting position while being rejected. That way, there is half a chance to gather your strength and walk away with the remaining (if any) part of your dignity intact. That way, you have a few seconds within which you can gather your wits and salvage whatever morsel of pride there is to salvage.

The matter of leaving should not be a big issue. He has kindly explained that he has an early morning. Why does it feel then that if she put her foot across the threshold, she would wish she had folded her hands around his feet and begged to stay? Do not play games with men, her mother said, and always be your true self. She does not know what her true self is.

He walks her to the bus stop. He could have driven me home, but he has an early morning, see. There is no public transport on the road. It is late, and most of them are parked for the evening. He flags down a taxi, negotiates the fare, and tells her to leave because she would not get any means home if she stayed.

I will call you, he says.

She pretends she has not heard.

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Author: Faith Oneya

Lover of the written and spoken word.

9 thoughts on “Short Story: Her Imaginary Boyfriend”

  1. “…people should be in a sitting position while being rejected.” That’s the best line I have read the whole of this young year! Well created, I should concede.

    Some of the ‘new’ writings kinda confuse me a little (even if the ‘blogovel’ says men are never confused…Loloudest!). What is ever the ‘time’ of the novel? Does it recount the past, or tell the present or call on the future?

    E.g. “This is why she is sitting in her comfortable chair (Everyone who came to her house said she had the most comfortable sofa sets) with her cell phone in her hands.” This seems to me like a writer on a LIVE show. Hence, I be pregnant as a reader as I am taking through the twists of unfolding events PAP. I dare say that the trend in this piece takes that ‘live’ style a lot to recount the ‘past’. This current-past movement kinda shoves me off balance…but it seems to be the way, moving forward.

    Then comes the line, “…He calls her two months later.”. I think in the orthodox sense it would be, something in the lines of, ‘…two months later, he called her’ or ‘…he called her two months later’. I would be really appreciative to be schooled in this style.

    I love the piece in so far as it may help a one who is a student of relationships…there are some ‘truisms’ of the female mind that i have certainly gleaned here that I would otherwise be unschooled in…Loloudest again!

    Just a thought finally, was there an editing error in the following line or is it intentional: Why does it feel then that if she put my foot across the threshold, she would wish she had folded her hands around his feet and begged to stay?

    Cheers… 🙂

    1. The blurry style of passage through time is simply that.A style.It seems to me that in the virtual world that we live in, time does not bind us. If it is considered a new ‘blogville’ style, then we who are too lazy to put past tenses will celebrate:-).

      Truisms of the female mind,lol!We continue to reside in Venus.Or is it Mars?

      I have noted the editing error and have done justice to the sentence pap!

  2. when i read this article i get a sense of deja vu :-). i hav literary lived thru ur article….so the song that comes to mind…..strumming my pain wit his fingers by the fugees is playin over n over in my mind

    sometimes it takes stranger to show us a true representation of self

    awesome article. cheerz!!

    1. Hi Dee…always a pleasure to strike a chord(of any kind) with a reader such as yourself. Keep the faith though.There are those that are the opposite of imaginary;-)…Next time,you might be reminded of Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’.who knows,you may even write a story about it;)Keep well.

      1. It is a sure sign of great writing when readers can relate with the experiences/incidences of characters captured in a fictional work. Evidence of successful observation, imagination and weaving of a people’s trudges through life. Dee, Anonymous and Praise n’ Meadows reflect the position. Good work…

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