Short Story: When You Wake Up.




It was 4am on Saturday.

Ameh stared at her reflection, as she often did when her mind was cloudy. This usually helped to clear her mind, but it was not working today. She was in her bedroom, seated in front of the dressing mirror, with the light from the bathroom illuminating her features.

She looked into her brown eyes. They were slightly slanted, and were a constant source of envy from women and admiration from men.

‘Your eyes are so beautiful’ was the pick-up line which Muri, her husband, had used to woo her. She had heard those words before, but coming from him, they had sounded like salve on an open wound.

Ameh looked at her pointed nose, and her full lips, which were dry due to Abuja’s hot weather. She poured a few drops of coconut oil on her hand, and rubbed it gently on her lips.

She stared at her deep brown skin, which was blemish-free, except for a prominent birthmark on her left shoulder and visible now in her spaghetti-strap night gown.

She thought about her virtues and her shortcomings. Despite her flaws, and the fact that her body was apparently conniving against her and refusing to produce a baby, she was by her own admission, a good woman.

There was a slight movement on the bed behind her, and Ameh shifted her gaze in the mirror to her husband’s sleeping form. Even in the semi-darkness, she could see the back of his head, his toned and muscled arms, and his bare back, with the rest of his body covered with the blue sheet.

She listened to his steady breathing. Ameh wondered what had made her wake up at that precise moment about fifteen minutes ago. She had gotten up from bed to use the bathroom. As she stepped out, Muri’s phone on the dressing table near the bathroom door had caught her eye because the screen had lit up with a text message. ‘Last night was fun-see you soon!’. “Vera” was the sender of the message.

Muri had told her that he was ‘hanging out with the guys’ after work.

Vera was the name of his ex-girlfriend.

Muri was still seeing Vera.

These details arranged themselves line-by-line in Ameh’s head as she stared at his phone, long after its screen went dark.

She had sat down heavily at the dressing mirror, all thoughts of going back to sleep forgotten.


She thought about how they had been married for over two years, after dating for about a year. Ameh had been in a relationship when she met Muri at a party, and the attention which she had gotten from him that day was more than she had gotten from her boyfriend Nathaniel in months. It had not been a difficult decision to end things with Nathaniel; even his attempts to salvage the relationship had seemed tepid and insincere.

Muri had told her about his ex-girlfriend, Vera, whom had broken up with him some months before, and Ameh didn’t press too much for the details. Their relationship had moved smoothly for the first few months, and she had taken him to Benin to meet her parents. It was when he had taken her to meet his mother in Abuja that they experienced their first relationship hiccup.

Ameh’s parents were Civil Servants and her upbringing was happy but modest. She had never felt inferior to anyone until she had met Muri’s mother at her mansion in Asokoro. Mrs Baruwa was draped in jewels and was wearing a luxurious silk bou-bou, despite the fact that she was just lounging indoors. Even though she had been dressed smartly in black trousers and a multi-coloured blouse, Ameh wondered if she could run home to change her outfit.

Muri had made the introductions, and Ameh greeted her. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you Ma. You have a lovely home’.

‘How old are you?’ Ameh was taken aback; she had not expected the question.

‘I’m 28 years old, Ma’.

‘Hmm. You look over 30’ Muri’s mum sniffed.

Despite Muri quickly changing the subject, the two women regarded each other with mutual dislike.

‘Your mother doesn’t like me’.

‘Noooo she was just playing with you’ Muri said as he drove her home from his mother’s house.

Ameh sighed. She had started to have some misgivings about the relationship. They had broken up briefly the previous month when he had sent her a message meant for his ex-girlfriend to her in error. It turned out that Vera wanted him back, and he was ‘confused’. Ameh had ended the relationship, and Muri begged and pestered her into taking him back, promising that things with him and Vera were over for good.

She had married him, despite her doubts. Ameh had always suspected that Muri had relationships during their marriage, but she had never voiced out these thoughts for fear of being labelled ‘a jealous wife’.


Ameh stared at herself in the mirror, and returned her gaze to her sleeping husband.

She would not go back to sleep.

She would wait for him to wake up.

©Ivie M. Eke 2016.



  1. Muri! Muri!! Muri!!! how many times i call u? u better from that sleep proceed to meet your maker.
    well seriously, Muri, u need proper closure with Vera cos Ameh doesn’t deserve this. after all, she didn’t “steal’ u from Vera. ooooookaaaaaay, that’s where all the LIVE bullet go?? no wonder missus never carry belle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This short story is a very powerful tale of love, hate, uncertainty, frustration, disappointment and pain all wrapped up together brilliantly. It leaves the reader deep in thought, feeling the emotions of the character involved. Concise yet full of information. You can’t help but admire the writer’s skill in driving her point home. Wonderful piece, hope there many more to come

    Liked by 1 person

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