She lay in bed.
Right in the middle, where she always lay...that much was obvious as the bed moulded to her form like it was used to this...used to her; here.
She felt tired of smiling at everyone downstairs...she just wanted to be alone...she just wanted to shut her eyes...just for a minute...just for a minute
His scent hit her, softly, but left her a little winded by its unexpectedness.
Imagine a caress that has the effect of a slap.
She burrowed half her face in the pillows...looking for the source of his delicous smell so she could climb in there and stay...and not move.
She smiled as she heard his voice in her head "Yinks, o di kwa mma! You keep doing this...I dont know why you're all the way in my back when there's so much space on your side of the bed...and your toes are so icy! wahala e ti po ju honestly..." he'd grumble half heartedly settling in the bed so she could curl better into his back.
She was always amused because he always really liked her snuggling up to him..he was always so toasty warm..mmmm...
He slept topless..all smooth soft skin over a body that still did it for her.
Her smile faded slowly as the pain started to build in an achy heat in the center of her chest.
She cleared her throat as she fought it...she just wanted to shut her eyes...just for a minute...just for a minute...
The pain subsided...gave her small relief...

She smiled again as an image of him getting dressed in the morning popped into her head, all thumbs when it came to his cufflinks..he had the biggest hands ever.
But she never complained...she chuckled....
He'd put his shirt on, his underwear, his pants, his tie...making sure everything sat right - looked right.
Then he'd present his wrists to her, like she wasnt getting dressed too and didnt have to be ready to leave just as quickly as he did.
No. Everything stopped when Chinedu's cufflinks needed attention.

She chuckled again.
Ow...there was the pain again...this time she pulled a pillow to her...clasping it to her chest tightly.
She pulled the pillow harder to herself, trying to breathe through the rising pain...she just wanted to shut her eyes...just for a minute...just for a minute...
The pain subsided...gave her small relief...

Now this reminded her of another tightness...of holding on to him like her life depended on it...while he made her cry out...made her laugh and soothed her all at the same time.
He knew the right amounts to give her each time...each.and.every.time.
He always said that sometimes he felt like he knew her body better than he knew her.
She always said her body was his mistress while she was his wife.
She always felt fragile in his arms..precious..loved...

She curled up tighter in the foetal position...hmmm..she'd forgotten to take her shoes off, she noticed absentmindedly...
She felt cold.
The pain was getting too much to control now...

Then she remembered his smile..his smile...

This time the pain hit her in the chest so hard she sat up suddenly gasping as her eyes stung with tears that were suddenly there.
She struggled to breathe...there was no air...she shook her head to get away from the beauty of it ...the wonder of it...the gift of the love that was always always in his smile when he looked at her.
The way it showed off his single dimple that she always teased him about saying he stole it from his mum, only able to make away with one before mama caught on to what he was doing.
The way it spread his full lower lip so all she could think about was suckling it...
The way it spoke to her in their secret language.

She wiped her face, looking surprised at how wet her hands were.
She couldnt believe she had anymore tears left to shed...and they just kept coming and coming...
She clutched at her chest, at the heaviness that she felt there...trying to get comfortable wondering vaguely what animal was making that horrible noise.

"Yinka! Yinka!" her mother shouted bursting into the room followed by her sisters, all with alarmed looks on their faces.
Oh..she realised almost stupidly..I'm making that awful noise
Her mother rushed to her pulling her to her chest, engulfing her in softness, "mummy-smell" and faint perfume.
Yinka pulled back and looked at each of them after the other..thinking to herself randomly that her sisters actually looked pretty in their black dresses, though a little too pale and drawn. No. That wouldnt do.
Her face must have shown something..something heartbreaking because her baby sis Kemi started to weep uncontrollably in deep hiccupy sobs, her tears slowly wetting the neckline of her dress. Laide, the middle sister put her arms around Kemi "its ok..shhhhhhh..its ok...o tito" she soothed through her own weeping.

"Mummy..." the look on Yinka's face sent a hot flash of pain through her mother "my heart is gone...what will I do without Chinedu? What do I do with all this space? eh Mummy?" she whispered in the most tired voice gesturing at the bed.
Yinka's mum bit the back of her hand to keep from crying out at the despair & brokeness she was looking at.
She took a deep breath then cradled her oldest child's face in her hands and said the only truth she knew
"You have to let him go..."