Hi y’all. Betty here. Why this is the story I conceived while listening to Ingrid Michaelson’s very cheery ‘Die Alone’, I don’t know.. but my shrink and I are trying to figure it out. Enjoy! ********** I made Deji late today. I used his car to the supermarket and things I needed just kept popping…
Hi y’all. Betty here. Why this is the story I conceived while listening to Ingrid Michaelson’s very cheery ‘Die Alone’, I don’t know.. but my shrink and I are trying to figure it out.
I made Deji late today. I used his car to the supermarket and things I needed just kept popping out. It wasn’t something I could help. His colleague from work had lost her boyfriend. Now, they are all gathered around her, consoling. The very people that never approved of him while he lived. Fucking hypocrites.
The older woman sitting next to me reminds me of my mother that day my brother died, disapproving because I showed up late. It might be because my tight dress doesn’t get mid-thigh or it could be that she’s been staring at her own children this way all her life and a mysterious wind blew and made the face permanent. I like the second option more. I yawn. Loudly. Some tiny lady whose shoes I’ve been admiring glares at me, hesitates, and then walks over.
“Hello. Sorry, do you work at Glaxon? The face..” She has a tiny voice and a pretty face.
For a moment, I consider lying to her. Telling her that I’m some new receptionist that always gets ignored and making her feel terrible but I think of Deji and pause. “Nah. I’m with Deji.”
Her eyebrows go up, getting lost in her fringe and her jaw drops a little. She catches herself, snaps her mouth shut and gives me the phoniest smile I’ve seen in a while. “Oh really?”
Deji. I’m now censoring myself for this man. I suddenly feel claustrophobic. I’m asking myself what I’m doing in a stranger’s house, sitting so appropriately because of a man.
I stand clumsily and taking a moment to grin at my silent companion, I walk out. I need a smoke. I haven’t taken five steps to the car when I hear my name being called.
I pause and wait for Deji to catch up. I wonder for a moment how he saw me leave and when the thought that he was watching out for me comes up, I dismiss it impatiently. And so my voice comes out harsher than I intend. “Some midget of a girl was interrogating me.”
“Whoa! Peju? C’mon. She’s a darl!” He places his hands on my upper arms and turns me around to face him. I’m almost as tall as his 6’2 in my shoes. “Feeling out of place again?”
“Well, my dress wasn’t a hit. They didn’t appreciate these fine legs.” I say in a small voice. Then I close my eyes. I don’t understand what’s happening to me, why I’m speaking in a whiny voice to some guy; why I want him to hold me and take me home.
“I did. Let’s go home.” He pulled my hand and put it into the crook of his and we headed toward his small expensive car.
“Let’s go to yours.”
That day, I was sitting comfortably on the hood of my Volvo, enjoying a smoke while fighting tears. Just staring forlornly at the tall glazed building because it was the closest I could get to that person who last breathed there. My shoulders hunched in my Rock ‘n Roll tee and my legs swaying in my cut-off jeans.
I like to think he stopped because he thought I looked like something out of a movie. He later told me he thought I was planning harm.
“Hello. The bank is closed.” These were the first words he spoke to me. From inside his car. How fucking stupid. He should have just ignored me and driven off in his toy car.
“At this time? Do I look stupid?” I asked him.
He’d pursed his lips then started to look away.
“My little brother killed himself in there. What’s it like inside?” I don’t know why I told him. I’ve thought about this incessantly. Could it be because several people had passed, giving me curious stares but never stopped? Or that somehow my damaged soul had sensed that somewhere behind that neat haircut and sculpted jaw, my healing lay?
He had said nothing. He’d started his car again and I’d been disappointed but he only parked properly and walked back. He leaned against my car and I thought that the one-week grime would definitely smear his suit.
I said nothing. I took a long drag and let it out slowly. It felt good to have let it out though, to have someone stand next to me in this my morbid ritual.
“You want to go in?”
I snorted. “Hell no. What an absurd suggestion. Dyu smoke?”
“Ah. What do you do then?”
“Nothing. I do nothing,” I’d said. Then… “Fuck outta here… I don’t need you.”
He ignored me.
“You know I’m going to die alone, right?” I squinted at my laptop screen. “One day, a client would come for his drawings and meet me rotting in front of my TV.”
Deji was quiet. Then said:
“I like your nose.”
“Oh shut up! You like my nose? Well, I like your butt.” I laughed.
His hands stilled mine over the mouse. He turned my face so I was facing him.
“I like your nose.”
It was a Sunday. He’d been lying there in his white shorts and black tee watching me click the mouse furiously when he made this declaration.
I eyed him warily. “Wanna fuck?” I enjoyed watching him cringe. He rolled his eyes and went back to his book, exasperated.
I crawled over to the bed and pushed his book down. “Thank you for liking my nose.”
He’d said nothing to me; just pulled my head down and nuzzled my neck. And I had cried. A lone tear ran down my cheek and dropped to his shoulder. I knew then that I was fine. I was happy in that moment, deliriously content with the man. He pulled back and drew me along with him; holding me.
The way he held me when we got home after I’d screamed at him in public for defending me when I’d scratched someone’s car. The way he held me when I’d told him about Chinedu’s suicide and my family’s withdrawal from me, their blame- that I should have known something was off. The way he held me when I showed him the tattoo of my brother’s name etched on my lower back. The way he held me when I told him I blamed myself.
The way he held me after he came back, having stormed out of my life a few hours earlier. Stormed out because I had hit him and cursed at him that I didn’t need him taking care of me, that I was fine before he came along. That he was too good for me, me and my inappropriate outfits and bad habits.
…when I let him in.
“You know you deserve a calm girl like Peju. Settle down, have kids, grow old… Calm life.” I tell him now.
He smiles. “I know.”
“Yeah. You don’t need me. With my dramatic fucked up life.”
“Shut up, woman. Should we get take-out from Ajoke’s?”
I’m thinking maybe I won’t die alone.