Love Bite: Entry #1
It had become my favorite place— lying beneath the beautiful, twinkling Lagos night sky, on the bonnet of my old Corolla, listening to the sounds of the city night. We lived on Garrison street, a small community tucked away in a matrix of Lagos Mainland residential neighborhoods.
In the yellow hue of the street lights, stood the magnificent houses of Garrison, most of them Georgian style with columns and towering gates of intricate detail and designs.
We lived in the only two-bedroom apartment on the street and shared the building with three other families, each in their unit of the landlord's "four-flat".
In the distance, a horn honked, an odd bird cawed, and a wandering okada whirred into the night.
Soon, everything seemed to fade out to the low rumble of static and music from Ernest’s radio, and to the delicate tink-tink-tink of the crazed insects slamming their bodies against the fluorescent tube above Ernest’s gatehouse, like drunken worshippers.
I glanced at my phone sitting on the bonnet next to me. Its screen was still dark. I lit it up with a click.
It was 10:39pm.
My heart thumped against my chest.
No rush, Lani. I took a deep breath and leaned my head on my windscreen, sure about the residue of the coconut oil and leave-in conditioner cloud from my twist-outs. A gentle breeze carried by, filling my maxi dress with its coolness and a few mosquitoes too.
After getting rid of the confused mosquitoes lost beneath my dress, my back rested against the windscreen and my gaze wandered to the neighbor's window across the street.
The Salamis' window showed the lights from their TV bouncing off their ceiling. They were probably asleep on their sofa. I tried to keep my mind focused on the lights at the Salamis’. That didn’t work. My gaze turned to another window. The window of the house which shared a fence with the Salamis on the right. The windows were dark, except one; the upper window of the room on the left. Its curtains were drawn and warm light spewed from the edges. A familiar shadow glided across the curtains.
My phone lit up next to me. My fingers scrambled for it.
💬 J.R.K: Hey
A chill rippled down my back. My thumbs hovered over my keypad. I looked from my phone to the neighbors’ window and back again, staring into the blue light. When I looked up again, the light had gone out. The darkness became intimate, my heart throbbed, my breath, deep and quick.
💬 Me: Hey
I dropped the phone back in its place with a clatter— like it burnt my hands.
A whole minute passed before my screen lit up again. I may have forgotten to breathe.
💬 J.R.K : Come over
I picked up my phone and slid off the slippery bonnet, willing my feet one pace at a time, one foot in front of the other. My chest ached and my heart beat wild and uncontrolled. I tapped on Ernest’s door. After a heartbeat, he stumbled outside his gatehouse, still groggy, one arm fought into a sleeve of his shirt, while the other searched for the gate keys in his trouser pocket, he dragged his feet in worn slippers with the prongs of his slippers between the wrong toes.
“Well done, Ma.” He said, as he fiddled with the gate padlock.
He held the gate open and I stepped into the yellow glow of the street lamps that lined Garrison street. The gate closed behind me.
Twenty long strides brought me to the gate of the neighbor’s home. It was tall and black, imposing and comforting all at once.
💬 Me: here
In a few seconds, the pedestrian section in the big black gate opened without a creak and I slipped in. The gateman said nothing.
His silence judged me.
Why are you here? It seemed to say.
Do you not know Madam is in the house?
Aren’t you the wife of a holy man?
But a gate man wouldn't know such a word and that was comforting. It wasn't anyone's business anyhow.
I slipped around the dark house to the backyard, keeping to the shadows of the wall and trees. In the distance, a dog barked and a silent generator rumbled ever so lightly.
The Boys’ Quarters in the backyard had two front doors, each leading into two separate rooms. I turned the knob on the first door, and stepped in, quiet as air. The familiar damp, dusty smell of the room tickled my nostril hairs. My pulse quickened and my heart pushed against my chest in steady throbs. The security lights streamed through the bare windows, lighting the path past the large pool table. Just then, my phone screen lit up, like Christmas lights, its vibrations loud and incessant, like a fussy child. It fell out of my hand on the tiled floor in a loud clatter. I paused for a moment, frozen in the dark. When the stillness echoed, I picked it up and kept walking, past the bar and around the sofa, into the bedroom and into its en-suite bathroom.
My hands felt for the cool ceramic sink and my right hand found the tap. The cool water on my face seemed to calm me. I exhaled, blowing drops of water on my darkened reflection in the mirror.
Deep breath, Lani.
The water was still trickling in a silent stream, when the front door opened.
I stopped, my eyes wide in the dark. Faint footsteps approached the bedroom. I didn't move. My breath quickened and I heard my heart beat in my ears. He appeared in the doorway of the bathroom. Jare. He was here. His silhouette against the filtered light was dark and tall. He stepped into the small bathroom, surrounding me with his fresh masculine fragrance. I was lost in its haze. His arm drew me into himself. His lips found mine. He tasted sweet, like a fruit.
“I’ve missed you.” He whispered.
His breathing heavy and fast. His lips traced my neck. His hands lost under the train of my dress, pushing and lifting.
He lifted me unto the bathroom sink, my bare thighs tingling against the sink. I had just wrapped my legs around him, when a quick flash of light shone through the bathroom window.
We jerked apart, but my legs still hung on his waist. His hands hidden in the cascade of my dress.
We froze in its glare, like two deer.
There was silence.
The light swung by again, then steadied, boring in through the closed window, straight at us. The light bearer seemed to take in the moment, as we squinted into the light. Suddenly it went off.
“You need to go.”Jare said. He lifted me off the sink.
“No…” I protested, struggling against him.
“This isn't the time. Just go.” He whispered, his voice husky and firm.
We stumbled through the living area, tripping over my maxi dress twice. The door swung open, we burst into the compound, keeping to the shadows until we got to the gate.
“Ajibade” Jare whispered, his voice frayed with urgency. He called his gateman again. The gatehouse was still and quiet, as the rest of the house. Jare tapped on the door.
The door opened and Ajibade stepped out.
“Well done, sir.” He stifled a yawn.
“Open the gate.”Jare ordered,”Nah you dey flash light for BQ?”
“No sir.” Ajibade stepped out of his gatehouse peeping round the back of the house, the fuzzy ball on top of his head warmer flopped around.
Jare ushered me out of the gate. His smile apologetic. The gate closed in my face before I could say goodnight. I walked home under the yellow street lamps, my heart still pounding.
Somebody had known we were there, but who?
Copyright ©2017 by IkeOluwapo Adegboye
Entry #2 out soon...