Hi guys, so I wrote two stories that appear in the recently released TNC book, These Words Expose Us: An Anthology. This is an excerpt from one of them. Enjoy!
He shifts beneath the covers and she finds her body tensing; her blood congealing until she is stiff next to him. She recognizes that restless movement of the men who come to lie in her bed; the impatient vibration of a leg, the turning towards her in the darkness, the exhalation of breath. It is usually the last conversation they have in her bed because it is one of two things that follows: a marriage proposal or a break up.
She is sad. Her eyes are open in the artificial darkness of heavy drapes and the solitude of a house that is far away from the traffic of the middle of town. The sliver of light that has fought its way through the tiny space between drapes tells her it is early evening. They had fallen into bed mid-afternoon and gone to sleep afterward.
He sits up and calls out her name. Once, twice. She doesn’t reply; her silence attempting to delay the inevitable.
With a sigh, she moves, letting him know she’s awake.
‘Sit up now, I want to talk to you.’
She pulls herself up to a sitting position, closing her eyes when her back is against the headboard- she doesn’t want to see his eyes when he speaks. Her fingers play over the silk sheets that cover their nakedness- it is cool to touch. She traces the patterns that border the sheets: round and round and spiralled and twisting into each other.
She had always known she was going to end up as somebody’s mistress. Nothing else had seemed clearer to her; it was a case that would insult any psychologist in its simplicity. Her mother had been a kept woman: the ignored and illegal second ‘wife’ of her father. But Arinola had liked having her father around only once a week as opposed to the heavy-handed, over-involved fathers her friends complained about. It was like Christmas to her; an overdose of it would cheapen its value, its importance: her want of it.
And so, her boyfriends never lasted long: they could sense the miles her feet would run if they tried to hold on tighter. They could see the flight behind her eyes whenever long-term commitment was broached. So, when the first married man had kissed her in the back of his car, his driver looking away in studied nonchalance, she had kissed him back.
She is comfortable with having only a percentage of the men who walk into her life. She is aware that the freckles on her back and her cheeks are only a passing attraction for them; she knows that the wit her lips offer is only a short winter holiday. But she wants the husband without the babies; the laughter without the fights; the love without the lugubrious subtractions that everyday banalities would take from it.
Her fingers still over the sheets and she opens her eyes slowly to see that he has been waiting for her to do this.
He smiles a small smile; just a tipping up of the right corner of his mouth.
‘I want you to name the baby,’ he says.
She met Diran when she was still with Emeka. Seated at Jevenik, Diran had saluted Emeka from across the room; an old friend from Secondary school but as her eyes met his, Emeka’s hand which had been moving over her thigh under the table had made the transition from human to stone to slimy reptile. She had broken up with him the week after; just in time to convincingly explain to his wife who called, spewing curses, that she was mistaken about an affair.
The three weeks after that had been one endless moment of waiting. She moved around haltingly, her breath held; her eyes darting around at every movement. She lost weight and answered every phone call; her nights peppered with dreams that had her hot, bothered and panting by morning.
She waited for him like the persecuted wait for Christ’s second coming.
When he showed up at her doorstep; having queried everyone around Emeka except Emeka himself; with hooded eyes and hands that shook with uncertainty, she had pulled him in without word- her hands quietened his fretting, her lips awakened a curiosity he remembered vaguely from his teenage years and her body wrapped itself around his, willingly, asking nothing and everything in return- convincing him that it was possible to have two homes.
‘You want me to name your baby.’ She repeats his words; flat-like: all the emotion evaporating.
‘Yes, Arin. I want you to.’
Her eyes rove over his face, taking in the excitement in the flaring of his nostrils, the intensity in the flecks around his pupils and in his smile, she can see the hope that she will be as excited at this ‘proposal’.
She closes her eyes.
Diran is a good husband to his twenty eight year old wife. He had told her that first day when the sweat on their bodies had dried. He sat at the edge of her bed with his back to her, the silence between them heavy with unspoken demands and weightless concessions.
‘I’m a good husband.’ To which she had said nothing; the new ones tended to want to justify being in her bed. ‘I swear to you, I am.’
‘Only your wife would know that.’ She said eventually.
‘I do all the right things. And I love her, I do. But I think I love you, too.’ His words had become rushed, taking no breaths between words as if to expel a demon from his throat before it latched on to a tonsil. ‘And I don’t know how, when I don’t even know you. But I won’t divorce her. I will not.’
‘I don’t want you to.’ Then she had gone to make them dinner.
They have been together for eighteen months.
‘Arin, say something,’ he asks of her now.
‘Your wife has been lying in bed for the past three months because of this pregnancy and you want me to name your child. Diran, are you crazy?’
He turns on his chest so that his head is beside her covered breasts; his naked bottom now exposed to the cool air of the humming air conditioner. He takes her hand in his. His palms are softer than hers and they warm up the back of her hands.
‘I want to give you something. Arin, I need this; so you can know the extent to which you own me.’
When she doesn’t reply, he sighs and rolls off the bed. She watches his butt contract then relax as he slips one leg then the other into his shorts. The muscles in his back move about beneath his skin as he pulls his shirt on. ‘Just think about it,’ he says before he leaves… read more
THE COMPLETE STORY ‘NAMING’ BY ‘PEMI AGUDA APPEARS IN THE BOOK THESE WORDS EXPOSE US.
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