Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
A SMALL WORLD - SEASON THREE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
The pastor’s message today had been about “The Stone The Builders Rejected”; Jesus Christ. Jimmy had paid rapt attention to the teaching, which had cemented together some of the things he had been studying on his own about Jesus and the Faith He brought. He’d also noticed how keenly Fatima had listened to this sermon. He’d smiled to himself when he’d seen her google the verse, Matthew 21:42, and read the entire passage on her phone.
What had really resonated with him was the idea that ‘the Stone’ wasn’t simply Jesus, the Person, but the Word of God too. It was God’s word that the builders rejected and refused to build their faith upon. It was strange because these builders, the pharisees and teachers of the Jewish Law, were all well-versed and knowledgeable of the scriptures and the commandments of God. But they missed a very crucial element, which Jesus also represented – God’s love. God’s word wasn’t simply law, it was both Grace and Truth, and that was what Jesus brought, as John wrote about in John 1:17. Jimmy smiled as it all began to make sense.
After greeting some of his friends, he left the church with his wife to enjoy a lovely brunch, being served at a hotel near their fellowship. They had eaten there a couple of Sundays this month, already. He felt it was a good way to encourage her to keep attending services with him, by making it a tradition. He also thought it would enable them to discuss anything she might want clarity on, after the service.
“What did Jesus mean when He said “Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed,” in verse 44?” Fatima asked, when they had both served their first course from the buffet table.
“Hmmm, that’s a good one. I pondered on that one for a long time, actually,” Jimmy admitted. He wanted to dig into his food, but he felt resistance from the Holy Spirit. He needed to be focused because she was a seed in need of watering. “Well, you know how they say the truth hurts?”
Fatima looked at her husband and admired him. His faith and growth lately had been so inspiring to her. She smiled as she replied, “Yes…”
“I believe that that’s what Jesus meant by those who fall on it will be broken to pieces. The truth cuts life a knife. It is humbling when you see yourself for who you really are. And also, when we surrender to God, it is like a death. We are asked to die to ourselves, and we do die and are given new life…”
“And I suppose those who are crushed are those who refuse to humble themselves and surrender to God. The truth falls on them like a ton of bricks and, for them, it doesn’t transform but destroys. However, I think that will be on the Day of Judgment, when God has given time enough for everyone to come to the knowledge of the truth and repentance.”
“Yeah… So, I think Jesus is saying that we have a choice to make. Both options will require us being broken and dying, but only one of them will result in resurrection into the new and eternal life He offers those who believe in Him.”
“Thanks,” Fatima said. She drew in a sigh.
“You’re welcome. I appreciate you asking.”
She shrugged. “It made sense… I was just thinking, if the stone represents love, why would it break you? But I understand your response when you used truth. It makes sense when you see Love as Grace and Truth.”
Jimmy beamed. “Wow… You’re spot on!”
She returned his smile, and he remembered the question he’d been meaning to ask her.
“By the way, why did you suddenly decide you wanted to come with me to church?”
Fatima sighed. “I don’t know… I guess it was the day we went to Mary’s house and I saw how she received Jamie… After what he did. And I thought about that night again and how you’ve changed since. Even how Jamie’s changed. I just thought there’s something of God here…” She looked him in his eyes and swallowed.
And all Jimmy could do was smile. With his whole being.
Chuka and Ijeoma lazed around on this Sunday, in their new home, after they’d returned from their church service and enjoyed lunch as a family. The kids were now playing in the living room, where the TV was tuned into Nick Junior, even though no one was actually watching it. The boys played with their trucks and race tracks and building blocks, and the noise was enough to make someone go crazy.
But somehow, Chuka and Ijeoma had learned to tune out the noise. Ijeoma laid with her head on her husband’s thigh, as he read the newspaper. She had been browsing social media and was now thinking it was time to take a break from that too. She was thinking of heading to her room and sleeping, but she liked her proximity to her husband and kids. It made her feel like she was actually doing something while resting.
“What?!” Chuka suddenly exclaimed, his eyes glued to the paper.
Ijeoma sat up and looked at him, just as Emeka and Ekene turned to ask their father why he’d shouted “What?!”
“What’s wrong?” Ijeoma asked.
Chuka showed her the newspaper with the headline – “Ifeanyi Chukweke’s Wife Defends Her Brother, Accused of Rape!”
Ijeoma’s jaw dropped. “Oh my God!” she sounded. “We need to call them. Do you think they’ve seen this?”
“I’m already on it…” Chuka said, his phone in his hand and unlocked as he speed-dialled his best friend. “It’s engaged.”
“You think we should visit?”
Chuka thought for a while and then shook his head. “Nah, they’re probably being bombarded already. We’ll call later. But this is bad…”
“Yeah,” Ijeoma breathed. The last thing that family needed was another scandal… Jeez!
Dami laid stretched out on her former bed and breathed out a sigh of relief at being in a room that didn’t make her feel suffocated. Her room was easily twice the size of the accommodation they just left, and she had a decent sized kitchen, modern bathrooms and assistance in the form of her sister and her mother.
Sure, Ayo was problematic. She was already complaining about them moving into the house, but Dami couldn’t care less. It was only temporary. And a new mother deserved some understanding and support.
Her dad hadn’t been keen on the idea either, but Dami assured him that they would pull their weight by contributing towards upkeep and chores. Plus, they, her parents, would also get to spend as much time as they want with their grandson! This was music to Mrs Ogunyemi’s ears. She had been disheartened when Dami had initially told her that she couldn’t perform ‘omugwo’, a post-natal care tradition, for her grandson, because they had no space for her to stay over.
So now, Tope was with his grandma, who was cuddling him, while Dami and Sola were in their room, settling in.
Dami swiped her hand and legs across the bed in the shape of a butterfly repeatedly and giggled. She looked at her husband, who was still trying to unpack.
“Leave that for a minute… Come and lie with me,” Dami cooed.
Sola flashed a quick look at her. He wasn’t exactly happy about moving into his wife’s parent’s house to stay with her family, but at least her happiness made up for his lack. Besides, he hated it when she was miserable and grumpy. “Not now, dear… Got to tidy up.”
“I haven’t felt so good in ages… Seriously, come here…”
His eyes darted to the door. “There’s no way I’m getting freaky with you on this bed…in this room, while your parents are home!”
Dami playfully winked. “But we’re married.”
“Exactly! That’s the turn off. We’re supposed to have our own place.”
Dami sulked. “So, you’ll never sleep with me here…again?”
Sola rose and sat on the bed. “Maybe not never. But not now… I just need some time to adjust and get comfortable, okay?”
Dami nodded. Sola leaned over and gave her a quick kiss, before returning to unpack his things. Dami laid back in bed and shut her eyes, giving in to her need to rest.
Over in Chicago, Chidinma and Emmanuel were entertaining friends. Well, actually, a couple of Emmanuel’s clients and their spouses. Being such a good hostess, Emmanuel often boasted of his wife’s talents in catering and event planning and had come to use her skill to get into the hearts of his clients and seal important deals. It was turning out to be a great partnership.
“Hmmm, yummy!” Tina, one of the wives, said when she’d taken a mouthful of Chidinma’s parsnip and carrot soup. “Where did you learn this recipe?”
Chidinma beamed. “It’s from a cook book actually. I go through a few books a year to learn new recipes. This was from one of the books I learnt from in 2014.”
“It’s really tasty,” Ethan, one of the clients, said.
“Do you cater for events?” Neil, the second client, asked.
“Well, not cater. But I organise events. I’m an event planner. So, if you know anyone who’s in need, I can hook them up…”
“Yes, she’s really awesome,” Emmanuel said, squeezing his wife’s hand.
“Great! I do actually. Do you have a card?” Neil asked.
Chidinma nodded. “I do, but it needs updating. I’ll be printing a new batch tomorrow.” She could have kicked herself for not moving ahead with plans this week.
“Cool. Just get some across to me via Emmanuel when you do.”
“Thanks so much,” Chidinma beamed.
“So, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to look at the proposal I sent?” Emmanuel decided to kick off the business talk.
Chidinma listened and observed him at work. He had told her about the deal he was working on earlier, but as he went through the details in this meeting, she really got a clearer picture. She chipped in her own thoughts, which earned her an appreciative smile from her husband.
“This was great! We should do this again,” Ethan said.
“Yes, thanks for lunch!” Pamela, his wife, added.
“We loved having you over. Thanks for coming,” Emmanuel said, as he escorted their guests to their cars.
After they drove off, Emmanuel held Chidinma’s hand as they walked in together, confidence in his stride.
“I think it was a good meeting. Well done babe,” Chidinma said.
Emmanuel smiled and pulled her to him when they got in the house. “We make a good team, babe. You were amazing!”
Chidinma’s cheeks were hot as she beamed, and the fire descended to her abdomen when Emmanuel brought his lips down to her for a passionate kiss.
Michael couldn’t understand it. He hadn’t been able to get through to Temi all weekend. He remembered that she said she would be on a retreat, but he was sure they would still have reception where ever she was. Or was she ignoring him?
Why would she, though? Hadn’t she told him she loved him? And she had given him the head’s up about the trip, though not that she would be unreachable?
However, when he’d checked their WhatsApp chat on Saturday, he’d seen that the messages he’d sent her had all been read. So, that meant she had network. Why didn’t she reply? Was someone else with her phone?
He’d tried calling her again this afternoon, but none of his calls were even connecting. Hmmm… He would have to wait until Monday. He would try her again then and if he still couldn’t get a hold of her, he would be sure that something sinister was going on.
Michael laid on his bed, looking up at the ceiling. He was staying in the apartment he still owned with Lisa. She was still at the hospital. Linda was getting better. She was responding well to chemotherapy and was due to be discharged next week, if all continued to go well, so that she would receive treatment from home. He planned to stay back until she was discharged from the hospital.
He heard the key in the front door, which could only mean Lisa was home. He wasn’t expecting her back yet. He stayed on the bed and shut his eyes. He was tired.
“Michael, I think we need to talk,” Lisa’s voice stirred him back to reality. He turned his head to her.
She’d been sullen since he told her of his decision to get a divorce. “What about?” he asked, as if he didn’t know.
“Your change of heart…” She sat on the bed, causing him to shift.
He sat up. “I thought we had an understanding…”
Lisa swallowed. “I guess, I never believed you would ever want to marry again. I thought, and still believe, we are meant to be.”
Michael stretched out a hand to his wife. “I’m sorry. I know it hurts, but you will find someone… You just have to…”
“I don’t want to find someone else, Michael,” Lisa protested. “Don’t you understand?! I love you. I’m still in love with you…”
Michael let out a sigh. “What do you expect me to do, Lisa?”
Lisa took in a deep breath. She looked at her husband. She took hold of his hand. “Come back to me. Please.”
Michael shook his head and retracted his hand. “I can’t. I don’t love you anymore.”
Lisa swallowed, as she nodded. There was a lengthy period of silence, which she broke with, “Okay… Well, I have to meet her. I want to be sure that you really love her too.”
“If you really love her, you’ve got nothing to be worried about.”
“You don’t understand… This is not about you, Lisa. We’re over. I just need my papers.”
“And you’ll get them signed. No hassles. If I’ll just meet her…”
“And how do you imagine this happening?”
Lisa rose up from the bed. “Figure it out.”
To be continued...
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