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Short Stories

#Inktober2018, Short Stories,

Inktober – Day 6: Drooling

His eyes opened slowly. He blinked away the blur and rolled his head over on the pillowcase he had drenched in sweat and beef-scented drool. He’d laid still for a while before he jerked off the sofa to look for his phone.

“Oh shit. Where’s my phone?”

Wiping the drool off his face, he searched frantically for the phone. Under the pillow, underneath the sofa, on the coffee table; everywhere.

It was 2:32AM when he found it. It was tucked in between two of the sofa’s cushions. He had missed his online date with his girlfriend, again for the third time in a row.

“I gotta make it up to this girl. I gotta..”

He slept off.

– JasmineTheJewel

Short Stories,

Zoned

“Trix, wetin do your eyes?”

“Na pepper oh. I bin take pepper hand rub my eyes by mistake.”

“Every day pepper pepper. And you no be Yoruba.”

I smiled and pulled out a chair. I looked at my cheap wristwatch. I was twenty-two minutes early to the afternoon lecture. I whispered a short prayer and placed my head on the desk in front of me. I was almost asleep when I heard his voice.

“Beatrice, you no sleep last night?” He pulled out the chair next to me.

“Maybe she get belle,” someone said rather loudly.

I squeezed his hand and placed my head back on the desk. I couldn’t focus. My eyes and head were too heavy for comfort. I raised my head and rubbed my eyes when I felt him let go of my hand. A girl was hurrying to the back of the class. She looked plain but beautiful in a yellow chiffon blouse tucked in dark denim trousers. I saw her highlight when she passed my seat.

“Ah. This one came late because she was painting face,” I said under my breath as I basked in the wake of her strong perfume.
I turned to look at Nathan. I observed the way he looked at her; his eyes approving her calculated strides, waiting for her gaze to meet his so he could stretch a wry smile. Snapping him out of the trance, I jab his shoulder with my elbow and ask about the math assignment we had already done.

“It’s correct na. I checked it yesterday.”

“Oh.” I close the notebook. “I just wanted to be sure.”

The lecture took longer than necessary. The hall was filled with irregular sighing from students; similar to those heard when a sermon is taking too long and the keyboardist starts soloing to remind the preacher that people put Sunday rice on the fire before they came to church that morning.

“Course rep, bring the attendance list to me.”

I sighed as the lecturer began to call out the names on the list. List that students have worked on. Is it not to say ‘Sir’ for your coursemate and hope your voice doesn’t sound like your voice when it’s time to answer for yourself or pray that you were the only one Matthew begged to impersonate him? Waste of time.
I sigh again, this time louder. Nathan looks and turns his torso to face me. Good sign; I have his attention now. He rubs my arm, wearing a slightly worried look and I reciprocate by pouting and codedly looking away, in the direction of the new girl, hoping she’d see him touching me and take it as a warning sign. Maybe she’d stay away from him or even change her school. Maybe she’d–

“Why your face dey like this?” – He asks, raising my chin with two fingers. – “You don chop?”

I hadn’t eaten all day and it was almost evening. How could I eat? I didn’t even have an appetite. My stomach was filled with jealousy served with a side dish of rage.

“Yes. I’ve eaten,” I lied.

I got up to leave but he didn’t follow. I kept walking and I didn’t even sense him behind me. I stopped to look back and I saw him where I left him in the hall. From a distance, I could tell he was getting up to do something stupid. He had his default ‘God, abeg’ look on his face, shoulders slightly raised for a confidence boost and collars patted down.

He was going to talk to the new girl.

He says he needs me but I know he wants her. The problem is I do not feel worthy enough to ask if I’m not enough. And so I stand bare, in front of my scum stained bathroom mirror, recounting all my flaws and edges. Staring at myself until tears blur my vision before I retreat to soak my pillows and come up with a better reason to explain my swollen eyes in the morning.

Short Stories,

The Missing Apple

“Lucas is a sore loser. He called the other day and tried to talk me into taking him back. Guess what I said?”

“What? Tell us,” Hannah yelled. “You said yes, didn’t you?”

Everyone leans forward in their chair, eyes fixated on the girl speaking so loudly about her former lover; everyone expect him – Ian. (I only know his name because he looked up when someone said it.) He faces the window instead and he seems impatient. His crimson shirt tightly hugs his chest, leaving no crease. He wears stonewashed denim pants and hides his hands in its pockets. He keeps tapping his left foot on the tiled floor.

“Yup, he’s definitely waiting for something.”

Tires screech outside the window and a red coupe parks in the driveway. The driver honks twice and Hannah straightens her pleated skirt with her palms.

“Yup! That’s our call. I’ll stop by later, okay?,” she says as she playfully lifts her purse from the coffee table. “And, don’t do anything stupid.”

I make a funny face. “Yes mom,” I say as I walk her and the others out.

Clouds gather like it’s about to rain and a cool breeze reminds me that my zipper is open. I wonder how long it’s been like that; I must have been too busy to notice. Thank God I was seated the entire time.

There are used plastic cups and empty chip packs lying all over my living room.

“Can’t believe my zipper was open when he was in my house,” I mumble as I clear the floor.

“I was going to tell you but it would have been awkward.

The voice came from behind the bookshelf. A figure holding a mug emerged and I gripped the closest dining chair I saw before my legs started wobbling.

“Ian. I– I thought you left with the others.” My inaudible words seemed to fall before they reached his ears.

“Oh so you know my name? That’s a good start. Nice to meet you, uh?”

“Kaethe. My name’s Katherine but you can call me Kaethe. K-a-e-t-h-e, that’s how it’s spelled. It sounds Greek that way. Have I said too much? I should stop talking now.”

I look at everything else but his eyes. His flawless skin appears to glow and he smells so nice up close. I sigh. He’s sitting right in front of me. When did he pull out the chair? It doesn’t take him long to see I’m avoiding his gaze. He waves a hand in front of my face and asks if I’m still here. I want to answer but I just smile instead.

“Don’t you think you should sit down, Kaethe?” He bites an apple from my fruit tray.

It’s not what he said. It’s the way he said it. I stare at the lips from whence my name was pronounced with such ease as I watched him finish the fruit.

Hozier’s voice filled the room from my mini speakers.

‘Why were you digging? What did you bury?..’

“Oh no. Wrong song, wrong moment,” I think to myself.

He stands and walks past me, drawing back the curtains to let in light I don’t need. Then I hear him close the blinds. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel like a prospective murder victim because I’m too distracted by the reality that he’s in my house alone with me when he says, “You know, I have a problem with not following instructions.”

“What are you talking about?,” I ask, battling to drown thoughts that he’s a serial killer from my head.

‘Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips, we should just kiss like real people do..’

“We’re real people, aren’t we?,” he says and I hear his footsteps from behind me. I don’t even have time to answer when he twirls my long braids around his fingers and buries his nose in my hair.

I take the coffee mug from his hands and drop it on the table beside me. He smudges my trembling lips with his thumb. He looks into my soul through my eyes and settles his gaze on my lips as he draws me in, close enough to feel his heart beating against my chest. It’s all I can concentrate on. I try to synchronise our pulses when he finally breaks the ice. He kisses me like he’s afraid to at first but then it’s like he’s gained my permission. This time, it’s better than I ever imagined. The way he slides from lip to lip at a time is beautiful. I am too petrified to kiss him back. I let him do all the work while I look for a place to hide my hands. They finally come to rest on his shoulders.

He stops and I’m panting.

“Are you okay?,” he asks. “I can stop if you want me to.”

He reads my answer before I get the chance to say it and we back up against the west wall. He locks his fingers in mine and slides my arms on the wall, above my head. We kiss harder this time and he tastes like apples. I am too deaf to hear anything right now and I shut out every sound except the sound of our soft moans and his breath against my face. My arms settle to cross behind his head. One of his hands slide down to my back and the other goes to my zipper.

“You still forgot.. to zip this,” he says, half kissing and half talking.

We switch positions on the wall. This time I lace my fingers behind his neck and lose myself in him. Every time our tongues touch, I feel like there’s ice in my spine. We draw closer and he kisses my chin and returns back to kiss my hanging lips with such precision. I only know it’s getting intense when I don’t want to stand anymore.

“Kaethe? Kaethe!?”

I am startled by the tone in which my name was called then I realise that I am leaning too forward in my chair.

“Why are you staring at Ian and pouting?”

Everyone, including Ian was looking at me this time. He grinned and I had to look away.

“Oh my! I was looking out the window. Uh. Sorry, I was distracted.”

Just then, tires screeched outside the window and a red coupe pulled up in the driveway.

I look at my fruit tray. There is no apple missing.


(06-01-17)

Short Stories,

The Visitor

“Nkechi, come and carry this bucket”

“Where should I put it?”

“Just comot am for here. I no wan see am. Ogechi, pack these clothes inside. Tidy this place for once. Haba! Visitor dey come!”

“Who!?” chorused I and my sisters almost immediately.

Our question was followed by a snort remark from our eldest brother, Orji, who was a specialist in sarcasm. It was left unanswered.

The house was in disarray at the time we were asked to put it in order. We dusted every dust-able furniture piece and I tasked myself to clean the sandy cement floor. The sitting room was cleaner than our mother’s ‘special occasion’ chinaware in no time. Of course, we literally used our bodies to pack the dirt. We just had to have our baths again.

“NEPA! NEPA don bring light,” shouted Amuche, my little sister. The white-turned-brown ceiling fan jolted on receiving the electric current as it began its tedious operation process: ‘crunng, crunng, crunnng, bfooo, cr-unng, ggu ggu ggu’. The cool breeze of freshness filled the entire room and the dingy smell of wet cement soon faded away.

It was this house I grew up in. Late in 1989, I was the fifth addition to a dominant female bunch. Orji, the eldest, was the funniest person in the whole family. He always had a smile on his pimple-ruined face, even when he was blue. He had the perfect set of teeth; the type that would surely get you a job to advertise commercially for any toothpaste or dental company. The type that made me wonder who I inherited my shovel-like gap teeth, or as Mazi Ukpaka would say, ‘open-teeth’ from. My face was round and chubby, indicating I was fat as a baby. My nose was the first thing you’d see when you looked at me – it was small; it was fat; it had tiny nostrils. My eldest sisters would always tease me, singing, “Egusi, egusi, egusi nose the answer!”

I was different. I didn’t engage in fruitless discussions about new trends in the fashion and entertainment industries; all that was rubbish to me. Ogechukwu was the chairlady of such conversations. She always had the latest gossip and rumours spreading round town. She and Chidinma would save up money in their shekere to buy matching clothes: yes, they were twins and partners in crime. They were five years older than me and three years younger than Orji. Nkechi, the peaceful one, was the workaholic. She was my immediate elder sister, the one I kind of bonded with; the only person who would cover up for me. I played my role as the last child perfectly until Amuche, the devilish angel was born seven years later. Her arrival was rather unexpected; we all loved her still. She was the greatest amebo I knew. We nicknamed her copy-and-paste because of her accuracy in relaying events. Countlessly, she had figuratively ‘opened my nyash’ to my parents on my recent saving habits. I would starve myself sometimes just to save money; I just loved it. My mother would always offer to “keep” my monetary gifts at any given opportunity. I didn’t get much from visitors, there were five of us; money had to be divided in ratio and proportion according to age.

The visitor!

Five hours ago, Orji told us he was expecting a guest. Suspicions had begun to arise. Had we been coaxed into cleaning again? There was a time he told us that our long lost uncle had returned from ‘Obodo Oyinbo’. We literally polished the house till it shone; only to find out it was a scam.

The house rang with different pitches of hissing from all corners. The longest was from Chidinma, who had powdered and blushed her fair face with rouge in expectation. Ogechukwu was still dressing up and admiring herself in the chamfered mirror that hung on the west wall in our room.

I retreated slowly to the backyard, hurling insults at Orji under my breath as I picked up a fairly large charcoal stone from the fireplace to complete my drawing on a makeshift canvas I set up to eliminate boredom.

“Fufie! Ifunanya!!” shouted Oge. I ignored her call until I heard, “… the visitor n’abiaa”. I dropped the charcoal butt and dashed to the sitting room, straight into my sisters when the laughter was started by Chidinma.

They all pointed at me, screaming, “Saawah! Saawah lele!! Is-a-lie!!!”

It was a prank after all.

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