… continued from Episode 7
I knocked on his door. Silence.
I hoped he was around; I hadn’t called ahead so as to surprise him. I knocked again and rested on the wall. My back still hurt from the journey. Passengers are tiring; they expect you to be fluent in Igbo just because you are traveling from the East. They would all converse in Igbo throughout the journey and if you didn’t join in, they eyed you suspiciously. I had gotten the eye a lot on this trip, as I did on every trip, because I was never interested in these conversations. I had gotten the look so many times that I could differentiate it from the look some of the men gave me to show their interest. One time, this lawyer who sat next to me during a journey used my phone to dial his number while I was asleep. I hadn’t realized it until I got a call from him two days later.
I knocked again, louder this time. I heard sounds and couldn’t stop myself from sighing in relief. He was home. Kelvin opened the door without asking who it was. He wore a pair of joggers which hung loosely from his waist. He was also shirtless.
“Kaitlyn?” The sound of my name shook me out of my reverie. I was happy to see the look of surprise mixed with happiness on his face as he lifted me up in a hug I was very eager to have. I could feel his muscles and the hardness of his chest; I resisted frowning when he released me.
He wanted to know everything. How school was going. How everyone at home was. He hoped I was in town for Christmas. I watched him talk with excitement and realized that nothing had changed about the way I felt; if anything, my feelings for him had heightened. I tried to match his level of excitement as I responded to his many questions. He was home for the day and so I made myself at home, lay on the sofa next to him and lost myself in the conversation. We talked and laughed about work, some new recruits that were trying to catch his eye, and finally, about the crew.
I knew I should have gotten up and gone home when he gently pulled me onto his chest. I felt my body stiffen. Kelvin must have noticed, because he asked what was wrong. In reply, I only sat up and shifted uncomfortably. He went on with the conversation as though nothing had happened, but I could no longer comprehend a single word. I thought about Oke then and how I still felt scared sometimes; then I remembered I was supposed to go see Abigail and my heartbeat sped up.
I stood, abruptly.
“Did I say something to offend you?” he looked confused. I wanted to tell him that I couldn’t even remember what he was saying but said instead that I had to go see Abigail. His expression didn’t change and I was grateful for that.
He walked me to the door and gave me a hug. I was caught between being grateful he had put on his shirt and wishing he hadn’t.
Abigail literally jumped on me as she opened the door to let me in. Her parents were home so I greeted them quickly before we ran into her room. After we talked about school, all she wanted to do was talk about Kelvin. It was all I could do not to yell.
“It’s like every time I see him, I like him even more.” She giggled. “Is that even possible?” The answer was yes. I knew exactly how she felt but I hid my thoughts behind a smile.
“Although he told me he was sorry about the kiss and that it’s best if we remain friends, I think he likes me too.”
“What? When did this happen?”
“About a day after he kissed me.” Abigail pouted.
“That long ago? Why didn’t you say anything?!” It’s not like you’ve been telling her anything yourself. I felt a twinge of guilt but dismissed it immediately. I couldn’t explain why Kelvin had done what he did but I was now sure he didn’t have feelings for Abigail. It made me sick to my stomach that knowing that made me so happy. I couldn’t look her in the eye as she talked and talked about Kelvin, filling my head with thoughts of him I was struggling to keep out. I was glad when she finally changed the topic.
My heart ached as I bade Abigail farewell. I was not sure I could continue lying to her but I was not ready to risk losing her friendship by telling her the truth either. She was my friend and I cared a great deal about her but at that moment, all I could think of was Kelvin.
I knew it was a mistake before the cab driver turned into the now familiar street. My feet walked into the compound even as my heart resisted, and lost. I knocked on the door and watched it open.
He was smiling, almost as if he expected to see me.
to be continued next week …
By Keren-Happuch Odinenu
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