A Week Later | by Veon Ngugi

Posted on Posted in Short Stories, Writers

We stood on the other side of the road, at the edge of the pedestrian crossing. Our bodies were in the way and yet somehow still managed to let traffic pass.

He stood talking business with his friend, while the friend’s girlfriend and I stood aside and watched people pass. We saw who was rushing home to cook for a husband that was taking a young thing to Java Kimathi for lemon flavoured water masquerading as lemonade.

Then we watched a woman with beautiful Ghanaian braids walk past and debated if she got them because they were affordable or because they would awe people when she went to shags for Christmas, the next week.

Maybe we should have paid more attention to our boyfriends’ business talk and angled our faces so they thought we were interested. Maybe I should have thrown in a comment and gone back to people-watching with my beautiful friend. But we could hear them and nothing sounded amiss, plus a roadside is hardly the place for a business meeting; the boyfriends would brief us should the need arise. Then they were no longer talking business and shoulders were being bumped against shoulders, saying goodbye. We were going for drinks; his friend and the girlfriend were going home. He wanted to go home, so they did.

I wished they were not going.

That way, we could –watch people some more and our men would sip something bitter, brown and manly while they watched us. That way he and I would not fight.

But they were going home; wishing on falling eyelashes does nothing for you!

When they left, we crossed the road and hopped up a flight of stairs into a club. We steered around each other and to a table, he asked for a dry white (which usually is my drink) I asked for a beef burger and a mojito, and then talk began.

I am learning that maybe I do not like talk as much as I thought I did.

We talked. The more we did, the less it felt like I was being heard. Then the waitress proved that to be truly a nice evening by delivering my burger half an hour after his wine had shown up. The mojito was another twenty minutes late, in time for intermission.

We had been staring at each other(‘s eyes). There’s no point in fighting if you are not looking where you are aiming. He said things, we both said things but I figure I should retake my English for Communication class, for while I heard him – my points were nullified. Or maybe I nullified his too. But my eyes were stinging and only looking to the side seemed to save them.

It did, once, then twice, and then I do not know how many times before my heart blew a fuse. The smoke said to walk away but I wanted to stay.

I wanted to stay even though my stinging eyes were screaming to run. I needed to come up with reasons and to justify them to myself. I needed to think, he talked still. Till we both shut up and he was staring at me in that annoying way. Then we were silent. Then he stopped staring. Still we were silent. Till he started making kissy motions and I responded by shaking my head. Silent. Till he opened his palm and I kept mine shut tight. Till I relented and wanted his and he was off-guarding the edges of our table. Till we were swapping saliva and walking into the night.

Now a week is up, and I still do not know why I am staying or why I should leave. But I know that every bit of flesh that belongs to my body says to RUN.

Veon Ngugi

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