He sat down beside her and her fragrance filled his nostrils. In the fresh scent, she appeared edible.
A sweet tasty fruit. A ripe yellow mango perhaps, because he likes mangoes.
She stared softly at him.
With every second her eyes spent on him, his skin crawled with a mix of warmth and cold.
The silence dragged and his palms grew sweaty. ‘Can I kiss you?’ he asked, very quietly.
She half smiled at him and half shook her head, and then she bent forward to him and planted her lips between his.
Icy sands of pleasure mixed with something else sped round him.
She pulled out and he gave out a sudden ‘Wow!’ and then in the same stunned state added, ‘Thank you.’
She grinned and he felt stupid with himself.
As if in retaliation, he held her at the shoulders and thrust his lips into hers.
When she pulled him close and kissed him back, her fingers digging into his back, something cold and lumpy melted in him.
And in that way the slight shivering hovering all round his skin cleared and the air in the room became normal again.
And now he savoured the lusciousness of her soft lips.
Gently, he lowered her to the bed and came on top of her, aiming for control.
She rubbed his cheeks as he kissed her.
The passion soared swiftly, enveloping them.
But when he reached to unfasten the top buttons of her gown, she pulled away from him and told him to wait.
He let out a sigh and said, ‘I’m sorry’, his features drooped.
‘No, no, please,’ she said, rising. ‘You have no need to apologize.’ She exhaled and tried to return her breathing to normal. ‘Absolutely no need.’
She bent and gave him a quick kiss on the lips again and then started to straighten her dress. ‘I’d rather we don’t rush things, that’s all,’ she said.
He nodded and said ‘Ok’, his eyes turned up at her. There was obedience in them, or something close.
He tapped on the bed beside him with his palm. ‘Sit.’
She shook her head softly. ‘I think I should be leaving now,’ she said.
He stood and walked her to the car.
At home, Prof sat up on the couch, his eyes fixed on the news.
‘Daddy, good evening,’ she said, walking past him through the back of the dull-green sofa, her heels clacking on the marble floor with a sort of hurriedness.
‘Wait,’ she heard and stopped. She turned slowly back.
‘Where from?’ her father asked.
‘A friend’s,’ she said, her voice clear and bold.
Prof’s eyes remained on her and she stared directly back at him.
Then he gestured with a finger and said, ‘Your hair.’
She touched her hair, her gaze turning curious.
‘Oh.’ She smoothed it down. ‘I’ll be inside, dad,’ she said, turning to leave.
Prof nodded and compressed his lips.
She disappeared and he picked the remote from the central glass table and changed the channel from NTA to MNET Movies.
She had just come out of the bathroom in her towel when her phone started to beep.
She picked it from the bed and checked.
It was him.
She smiled and took the call.
The phone to her ear, she said ‘Hi’ first.
‘Are you home now?’ he asked.
‘A long time.’
The pause lingered. There was so much he wanted to say to her, but at that moment lost the words to use.
She waited, wanting him to come through first.
‘Will we see again?’ he finally did.
‘Get your generator fixed, I will come with a movie tomorrow evening.’
He ended the call with his lips curved in a small smile.
And then, suddenly, his face cracked open in glee and he felt the urge to scream and leap about.
He made to dance but held himself.
He opened his door and ran outside.
At the first pull, the generator shook to working.
He hissed and called it bastard.
At school the next day, he found it hard to remain still on his seat. He would stand and walk over to someone reading and close their book.
Or take something from them and walk away so that the person would stand and pursue him and he would want to continue running about the class, laughing and playing and being happy.
It got to a point that Anita rose and asked him, ‘Bia nwokem, did you take something before coming to school today?’
He walked over to her desk and took the bottle of yoghurt she was drinking and ran off.
At home, he tried the generator again and it worked.
Then he took his fuel container and walked down to the petrol station towards the end of the street to buy fuel.
But there was power when someone pounded his door at about 5 p.m. in the evening.
He had just completed some push-ups and walked to the door shirtless, annoyed and sweaty.
He opened it and she stared back at him.
‘Ouch!’ he said, wilting.
‘Do you exercise often?’ she asked him, letting herself in.
‘I do sometimes.’
‘I see.’ She looked briefly at him again and sat down on the bed. ‘I like your nipples.’
He almost placed his palms over his chest to cover them. Collecting himself, he asked her, ‘You do?’
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘They are pointed.’ She pulled a slightly amused face. ‘Heard pointed nipples are usually the most sensitive, is that true?’
He smiled broadly. ‘Maybe.’
She returned the smile and bent and unhooked her bag. She took out some DVDs. ‘I got fantasy,’ she said, dropping the movies one by one on the bed beside her— ‘sci-fi, horror and comedy, don’t know which you’d prefer.’
He came closer and took the DVDs and checked them. ‘The Hobbit, nice, I’ve watched it.’
‘Think Like A Man, really?’
She laughed. ‘What?’
‘Watched it too?’
He slipped up another disc on the surface. ‘The Hunger Games, no. Heard so much about it, but—’
He frowned. ‘I feel it’s kind of a kiddie’s movie.’
‘How dare you?’ she said, a playful smile spread across her face.
‘You’ve watched it?’ he asked.
‘More than twice.’
‘You like sci-fi movies?’
‘I actually don’t have a particular genre.’
‘So you are like an anything-goes, give-me-whatever-else-you-have punter?’
She laughed out loud in amusement. ‘Whatever!’
He smiled, liking the way she laughed.
‘So we watching it?’ she asked.
A sudden frown fell over her face. ‘No? Why no?’
‘Not sure I’d like it.’
‘Believe me you will.’
He shook his head. ‘That’s not enough conviction.’
‘Yes.’ He folded his arms on his belly. ‘Sell it to me. You got 30 seconds.’
She rolled up her eyes in thought.
‘25 seconds,’ he announced.
She smiled. ‘Ok. Great critical response.’
He shook his head. ‘I’ve seen lots of movies get praised by critics and I end up not liking them.’
He depressed his cheeks, clucking. ‘Not so much her fan.’
‘Really? Who would you rather have over her?’
She burst open in great laughter. ‘Mercy Johnson in The Hunger Games, sounds very interesting. Well, to make up, Dayo is there.’
‘Who is Dayo?’
‘Dayo Okeniyi, he is a Nigerian American and really gorgeous.’
He was about to be pricked by a strand of jealousy when she added, ‘Not as much in looks as in acting anyways.’
‘Fine!’ he said in exaggerated concession. ‘Let’s see your Hunger Games.’
‘Yes!’ she screamed.
He smiled and handed her the DVD. ‘You can set it up while I quickly shower.’
Midway through the movie, she dozed off on him.
Because the movie captivated him, he saw it to the end and only tapped her when the credits have started to roll.
She got up and wiped at her face. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘Failed to make it to the end.’
‘It’s okay,’ he said, staring intensely at her.
Their gaze held for a while and then he bent and kissed her, slowly and passionately.
She kissed him back.
When he slipped down the thin arm of her blouse, she did nothing to protest.
She allowed him.
He lowered her to the carpet and lay down beside her. He came to her and their bodies fused into one.
And right there on the carpet, they had it—a deep and sweet knowledge of themselves.
Afterwards, they lay together, their naked bodies entwined, and stared up at the ceiling.
They saw again three days after.
And then again.
And with each meeting, their hearts drew closer and closer.
Till finally their souls appeared to have merged into one.
They played, laughed, argued and pretended to fight.
And kissed and walked about the room naked.
One day, the evening before she asked him to follow her home and see her father and kid brother, he asked her, ‘Have you ever imagined a fairer version of you?’
She smiled and said something that made him kvell.