WHEN IT GETS SOUR
She moved towards his wooden closet and noticed it looked different. She dropped her hand-over bag on his bed. The bed sheet was blue and spotless. She rushed at his wardrobe looking for her clothes. His clothes were neatly arranged and he’d hung her clothes inside the cupboard instead of by the handle where she had left them over the last six weeks. As she folded her green sweater, grey skirt, black turtle neck and brown jeans, she knew that she’d never carry him on her waist again and hear him whisper her Igbo name on that bed.
He wasn’t in the room with her. He had gone to the bathroom to get her blue toothbrush in a green cylindrical case. He placed it on the bed as she packed her things:
“Here’s your tooth brush” he whispered.
He ran his left hand through his silky brown hair like he would do when his colleagues at the office were responding too slowly on a task. She held a frozen smile. She stuffed her items into her grey hand bag, yet she knew she wanted to be in that house for five years more. With quick steps, she grabbed her panties from the silver hanger in the toilet. She remembered that night when they had dinner at the Chinese food court in Mega Plaza, how he held her hands every minute, how he asked her softly what they were going to order, how he told her to raise her head from his thighs when she was going to take a nap, because she was too tired from work and he didn’t want people to think she was giving him a blow job in public like Oyibos would make Naija girls do. She was going to miss him taking her out, as usual, for a treat; instead of making her cook dinner for them both.
She was still moving around his house. She grabbed the Chinese book she was reading from the multi-coloured carpet in his living room. She could hear him searching in the guest room if she was leaving anything behind. She remembered the first time he kissed her in that room. How he kissed her feet and grabbed her dreadlocks. How he turned red when she kissed him back and how he wet himself because he was in too much of a hurry to enter her.
She had scanned her memory before entering his house to get her things. She remembered her mug which she had used to make a hot cup of coffee that Saturday when she went for Seun’s wedding in Yaba and waited for him to come get her because she knew that taking him to a Nigerian wedding, again, would only make him uncomfortable, more so make her friends uncomfortable. She thought he wouldn’t notice that. He did.
She decided to forget her mug on the open frame hanging on his kitchen wall. She also conveniently forgot to mention to him that she would be returning the red shirt; his favorite red shirt with the quote “Journalists don’t make misteaks”, which he wore on her the second time they went to the American Club. He spent that evening caressing her thighs, her face, and buying her all the food she wanted, calling her his little ‘pikin’ and smiling that intensely cute smile with his questioning brown eyes.
She couldn’t look in those eyes as she briskly made her way through his hallway; the same hallway where he took her clothes off, that Tuesday night, when he returned from Prague. She had endured two hours of traffic to Obalende just to be with him because she knew he was hungry for her vagina but she wasn’t hungry for his penis. Instead she was hungry for his warm embrace, but he didn’t know. She wore a leopard skin colored bra that evening. He knelt down while he took it off her chocolaty brown skin. He was supposed to kneel again in her little future, with a black box in his hands.
She breezed through the dining table, her favorite chairs woven from raffia, waving her goodbye. Her eyes were still dry. Her face was still frozen in that smile. She smiled because a man had never broken up with her. She was used to being the tired one. In ten years, her men never had the right to be tired first, but Douglas had snatched his right to be tired first.
As she approached his white door, she remembered she would miss his white un-tanned ass, his white hairless chest, his white pointed nose. She turned to his work station on the left, just adjacent to his book shelf, the same book shelf that made her start to fall in love with him in August – on it lay the golden pillow case stained with the image of an Elephant from her Zambian trip. It was his birthday present and now she wasn’t going to have a present from him because her birthday was a few days away and she would be gone.
She shut the door behind her and ran down the stairs. As she ran, she saw the elevators were almost ready. They had both dreamt of a day when the elevators would he ready so she won’t have to climb so many stairs. She didn’t run every morning like him to keep fit. To her that was something white people like him did in Ikoyi. As she marched across the compound to the gate, she didn’t look back. She wore her brightest smile for the security guard who had been asking her for a tip since the day Douglas first brought her home.
“Ah ah … Sister! Where are you going?”
“I’m just going to get something, I will be back, you hear.”
She heard Douglas open the door when she ran down the stairs. She felt his eyes on the nape of her neck as she walked out of his big black gate on Alagbon Close. Once she was a Nigerian girl who wanted to be part of his America in Nigeria.
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