I Dream of You -A Short Valentine’s Day Story
I Dream of you is a short Valentine’s Day Story set in Nairobi.
Janet Kerira has been dating Timothy for a year and a half and he’s never told her that he loves her. On Valentine’s Day, she spends the day worrying because Timothy hasn’t called her for four days. He left on an assignment four days ago and hasn’t called, messaged, or even emailed her once. Even with her concerns that their relationship is fading away, she can’t help but worry about Timothy’s safety and hopes that the magic of Valentine’s Day will bring him back to her.
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Janet got off the bus at the Nairobi Archives and raced down Moi Avenue, dodging other pedestrians in her haste, headed to work. She had not meant to be so late, but her mother wanted her to drop off a package of bananas at her neighbors. As a result, she caught an empty Citi-bus that took forever to fill. Now, she bumped into a man carrying a sack of packaging containers.
“I’m so sorry,” she said when the sack slipped to the ground.
She helped him pick it up. When he rushed off mumbling under his breath, she glanced at her cellphone and groaned. It was already eight-fifteen. Carol was going to eat her for breakfast this morning.
Biting back another groan, Janet crossed a one-way street recklessly and got honked at for her trouble. She ignored the disgruntled driver and continued her dash to the Oasis Bookstore where she worked. She had gotten the job through her mother’s friend. The owner of the bookshop, Carol Wangari, paid her fifteen thousand shillings a month to manage the store. Everyone called her the manager. Janet considered herself Carol’s little slave. Her work hours alone were enough to make her want to find another job, but that wasn’t easy in Nairobi.
She reached the bookstore in time to see one of the sales girls and her friend, Christy, sweeping the veranda outside the front door. Janet was glad she left the keys with Christy yesterday so that she could open early.
“Morning, Christy,” Janet said. “Has Carol arrived yet?”
“No,” Christy said with a smile. “Morning, you look nice.”
Janet ran a hand down her red dress.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” said Janet to Christy
Janet entered the bookshop.
She was happy to see customers already prowling the floor. Waving at the other two girls attending to the customers, she hurried to the back of the building and opened her small tiny office. She dumped her handbag on the desk and let out a relieved sigh. She had dodged a bullet this morning. Carol liked showing up every Friday morning to check on the bookshop records and the progress they were making. Janet did not want to imagine what would have happened had Carol discovered she was so grossly late.
Letting out a soft sigh, Janet walked around her simple desk and sank onto her office chair. She picked up the orders she left on her desk the evening before and read through them quickly. She needed to make calls to three publishing companies this morning, after which she would be in the store checking in books that arrived last evening.
“Coffee?” Christy asked, coming into the office with a mug and flask. “You look like you didn’t eat any breakfast.”
“You’re right, I woke up late, then had to run errands. Remind me why I live with my mother again?”
“No rent,” Christy said, with a laugh as she poured coffee into the white mug. “Minimal bills and you get to save your money.”
“I wish I could save my sanity. I argue with her more times than I’d like to admit. Today, she just had to send me to the neighbor’s house because it was on my way to the stage. I was late, and she could see that, but no, she had to get her way. I can’t ever say no.”
Janet shook her head.
Christy perched on the edge of her desk.
“Because you love her. Speaking of love, since today is Valentine’s, has Timothy called?”
Janet shook her head and her shoulders slumped. She and Timothy had been dating for a year and a half now. He worked for a church-based NGO and was always traveling.
Last month, he was in Wajir taking relief food to people who needed it. He called her every night, to let her know that he was okay. She worried when he went to those places and wished he’d just agree to take a desk job. Those were her wishes though, not his.
Four days ago, Timothy left on another trip and she had not heard from him once. She made more than a dozen calls to his cellphone but he wasn’t answering. No messages, no emails, she sighed and sat back in her seat.
“I’m worried,” Janet confessed, her voice small and filled with worry. “He went off to God knows where. This time he didn’t even tell me where. He was acting off when we went out the night before he left. He was…,” she paused recalling their dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Hurlingham. “He was distant, distracted, not really listening. I’m worried I’m losing him, Christy.”
“That won’t happen,” Christy soothed shaking her head. “I’ve seen you two together and you definitely belong.”
“Yeah,” Janet frowned. “This is Nairobi. Couples are happy one second, and then the next, they are not.”
“Okay, stop. Now you’re spiraling,” Christy said with a laugh. “Will you stop judging him? Maybe he’s just delayed. You know his job is more stressful than yours. We both know he loves you.”
“He’s never actually said it out loud,” Janet said with a sigh.
She and Timothy had grown close, shared their deepest secrets, and made love, but no words had ever been spoken. It had never mattered before. Now that he was so far, wherever he was, the words mattered. She wished he would say them to her.
“I’m just worried. I wish he’d call me. I want to tell him a Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“You’re lovesick,” Christy said, standing up. “I gotta get back out there. We’re anticipating a day filled with people buying Valentine’s Day cards. Don’t worry, Janet. Timothy will call.”
Janet watched Christy leave her office and hoped her friend was right. She really wanted Timothy to call her today.