continued from Episode 11
It is hard to believe that after such a long time, Kelvin is seating across the table from me at Jevinik. I remember the first time he brought me here, I thought he looked great then. He looks great now, better than I remember, and he hasn’t aged a day.
“How have you been?”
“You look great.”
We speak at the same time. There’s a pregnant pause, then we laugh at each other. It feels good to hear him laugh again.
“You first.” I want to hear him talk.
We catch up on each other’s gist over my half-eaten plate of eba and his full plate which came shortly after he sat down. He is doing very well, now into estate management. Yes, he still lives in the same apartment. No he is not married. And yes, he still loves to dance but has left the crew to the younger guys to handle.
“So how about you, Kaitlyn? What have you been doing with your life? It’s been what – three, four years? You look great. Really, you look amazing.” My cheeks start to hurt from all the smiling. I am glad he notices how much I have changed over the years; work-out and nutrition have become important aspects of my life.
I thank him, then answer, “well, not much. After my Masters, I got a well-paid job and I’m doing fine for myself, I guess. I’m hoping for a promotion but my boss is a tough cookie.”
“I know what you mean. I hope he’s not giving you too much trouble.”
I laugh. “My boss is a woman. I would have thought she was a witch if she wasn’t a strong Christian.”
He laughs too. “Now you can never tell oh. Come on, so many of them hide under Christianity.”
“Do you still dance?” Dance. I cannot remember the last time I danced, just for the fun of it, and it makes me sad. “Not really,” I answered, avoiding his eyes.
“Are you seeing anyone?”
“Yes,” I say without thinking. I cannot tell what he is thinking, not by looking at his expressionless face. I look at my watch and stifle a groan which he immediately notices. “What’s wrong?”
“My lunch break has been over for about thirty minutes.” I am already standing, picking up my stuff from the table. “I’m so dead.”
I thank him for his company and say how nice it was to see him again. The whole time I am standing giving off vibes that I am ready to go he doesn’t move from his seat. He just sits, looking up at me with that same blank face and shaded eyes. He offers to give me a lift and I politely decline; I still have not completely wrapped my emotions around this meeting. Finally he stands. “We should hang out sometime. I’ll call you.”
I am thrilled to know he still has my phone number. We say our goodbyes awkwardly, trying to decide between a hug or a handshake. We finally settle for a hug and unbidden, my body responds to his touch. Betrayer! It’s just like nothing has changed. I turn around shyly and rush out the exit.
It’s been three days and he has not called. I wonder if I imagined it all. What did I even imagine? Maybe he feels nothing for me anymore. I’ve stopped myself from calling him more times than I can count in the past few days. I feel like a fool for letting myself fantasize about all the wonderful things that could happen when he calls.
My phone rings. As has been the pattern for the past few days, I hurriedly rush to pick it up hoping it is him. It’s my boss. She wants to push up the deadline for the submission of a report, and so I have no choice but to spend tomorrow (Saturday) at work. Not the best way to kick off a weekend, but what choice do I have?
My phone rings again and I’m tempted to ignore it; it’s probably still her, hoping to ruin my Sunday as well. But I reach for the phone and my heart immediately skips a beat. Kelvin.
He apologizes for not calling earlier and I feign indifference. He asks if I’d like to go out. It’s almost 9 but I know Mummy wouldn’t mind me going out, especially since Daddy travelled and cannot offer any resistance. If anything, she would be joyous; I have not gone on any dates since I returned home after my Masters. She keeps asking about marriage and complaining that all I do is hang out with friends.
I tell Kelvin I can make it. Sure enough, Mummy does not hesitate; she even helps me pick an outfit I end up not wearing.
We go to a Salsa Social. I immediately get nervous when we enter the large hall with the gleaming floor, lights and gaily dressed people. “It’s ok,” I hear Kelvin’s voice close to my ear. I smile up at him, both because he noticed my nerves and because he smelt so good. “It will all come back to you once you start to dance.”
And he is right. We dance into the night as the music and rhythm fill both our souls till we can do no more. I cannot remember the last time I felt so alive. His hands are strong and gentle at the same time, and I sail on them effortlessly. I wish the night would never end.
We end up in his apartment. I know I should go but I stay. There is nothing different about his place, memories cloud my mind even as the familiar scent of his perfume fills my nose.
“I should go. It’s really late.” My reluctance is clear as a bell in my voice and I am glad when he tries to stall me by offering a glass of juice. Our fingers touch slightly as I take the glass, startling me. I look up and find his eyes gazing steadily into mine.
“What?” I ask him. I wish I knew what he was thinking.
“Nothing.” His gaze is still fixed on mine as I gulp down the juice hurriedly. I stand up and place the glass gently on a nearby stool. He stands as well. “I really should go”.
I am not prepared for his hand which reaches out and strokes my cheek. I step back in surprise. He immediately turns apologetic. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have. You have a boyfriend. Forgive me.”
“I lied. I don’t have a boyfriend.” I want to say more. I want to tell him I still love him, that I never stopped loving him, but does he feel the same? There is no way of knowing and I am too afraid to try. We stand in silence until it becomes obvious that he won’t say anything. I grab my purse and start to walk towards the door, feeling like a big fool. He grabs my hand and I immediately snatch it away. I am angry now and close to tears, angrier because of the tears threatening behind my eyes.
“Why Kelvin?” I snap. “What am I doing here? What do you want from me?”
“Kiss me.” He doesn’t wait for my response before covering my mouth with his. I give in to him as he reminds me of how much I’ve missed him, his touch, his everything. I am, after all these years, once again lost in his world. He breaks off the kiss after what must have been forever and looks down at me with the softest light in his eyes.
“Oh Kelvin. I’m sorry. I wish I never left. I’m so sorry.” In spite of myself, I break down in tears.
He gathers me to himself in an embrace, hushing me. “That’s all in the past now, dear. It doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t. I still love you.”
I look up at him through tear-filled eyes and it is true. He loves me.
“That’s good. Because I never stopped loving you.”
He kisses me playfully and I laugh.
“But there’s one more thing.” His face takes on a very serious mien, and the laughter catches in my throat. I know that look.
“What is it, Kelvin?” I hate myself even as I ask. I feel like I want to know and I don’t at the same time. His head droops and I can feel the grip of his hands loosen on my waist. Panic sets in and I begin to imagine the possibilities: a child, a wife, a lover … I couldn’t possibly lose him again! “What, Kelvin?!”
He looks up then. “Where did all this bum come from?!” The question has barely registered when he spins me around and grabs the said member in a quick squeeze.
“Stop it!” I yelp. I turn around to smack him but he gently tackles me to the ground. I am laughing when he pins my hands to the floor and kisses me. He kisses me again and again.
By Keren-Happuch Odinenu
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