My Little Girl – Reality Check
“Good night,” I say as I lean in slowly to kiss my date on the left cheek.
Crazy girl. Her rings dig in my chest as she puts her hands up, a barrier between me and her. Thinking I had presumed too much, I start to lean away – at the same time mumbling ‘sorry’ – but she pushes her mouth against mine and then, takes her hands away.
Her lips capture mine in a full kiss.
I make a sound deep in my throat – I don’t even know what sound it is; but it is one of excitement. I cup her neck in my hand and meet her eagerly, sighing as she pushes a small and excited probe into my mouth.
Her tongue. Hot and wet.
I push her against the wall and kiss her – as though I want to shrug off eighteen months of celibacy in a moment. She grabs my head and bites my lower lip – and almost in the same move sucks it into her oven of a mouth.
My. Good. Lord.
A miniature earthquake starts in my lower back – starts; and my legs begin to act like I’m riding a really fast okada down a slippery slope. I feel an urgent need to sit down; I feel as though my head, torso and legs are in three different places. I grab her shoulders; I grab and hold onto them for dear life else I slip away in this surreal moment of feeling.
She bites my tongue and unplugs her mouth from mine – and then she kisses me softly. “Good night, hot shot,” she smiles at me with her eyes, presses my hand and turns away into her doorway. I wait till she opens the door and then turn and float towards the exit, lighter than air. I frown at the grinning gateman and step past him – past the gate he is holding open and into the brightly-lit street where the cab that brought me is still waiting. I open the back door – inhale the fresh smell of not-too-long-ago ‘Tokunbo’ vehicle – before I duck inside and sprawl on the back seat.
“Take me home, Sunny.”
The cab starting is the response I get. My muscles – neck and back relax and I try not to think about the pepper-sting in my tongue and how it got there. My lips keep sticking together, and I smirk as I remember what I’d thought about her lipstick first time I saw her mouth that evening.
Whoa. What; there’s no mirror in your house?
Of course, I’d only thought it.
I look out the window as we go, but my mind is far – way far away from the Surulere lights and noise. I think what my little angel would think when I finally introduced them.
It comes to me slowly that she might not be happy as I expect – after all, she still nurses the idea her mum and I would end up together. But she’s also been pestering me to move on.
That does not mean she would like it though.
Some other active part of my mind tells me I haven’t looked at my phone since sometime after two – over eight hours ago. I prompt that part to reach for my phone and look at what I may have missed – while the bulk of the mind continues to think about her.
My little girl.
A hand – mine, actually – holds the phone in front of my face and I realize it’s off. I hold down the power button and I’m rewarded with a tiny vibration. I avert my eyes from the brightness of the screen, looking outside at the hurrying-past scenery while I wait patiently for the tone that announces that I can now use my phone.
It isn’t long in coming.
I flip my thumb across the screen, bypass the screensaver and open the lock screen. I rapidly enter the code, blink and my phone opens.
Almost instantly my hand starts to tremble from multiple vibrations. I look at the notifications icon and see text messages, WhatsApp messages, Twitter messages.
I open the text messages first of all. The bulk of them are from my network service provider – telling me I had several calls from my ex – wife.
Why has she been calling?
The remainder of the texts is from her. I am nervous as I open the first one – and my hand starts to shake as all thoughts of romance are driven from my head with the impact of a Mike Tyson punch.
It isn’t good. Not in the least.
I have to swallow twice before I can tell Sunny; “Eko Hospital, Now!”
The nurse behind the desk looks at me with the expression all goalkeepers have on their faces when Lionel Messi is charging towards them and there’s no defendant in sight.
“Please…where is emergency?” I ask in between gasps.
She points mutely to her left and I continue my charge. At some other time, I would laugh at the way people hurry out of the way at my approach. Some other time.
My eyes dart left and right, scanning and processing faces and bodies as I look for her – the person whose messages had me running to Ikeja at almost midnight…
I slow down as I see her back; standing as she is beside a man who looked like he was consulting an oracle between his feet. I hurry up to her and touch her shoulder lightly, jerking it away as she flinches. “It’s me,” I say softly. “
She turns and falls onto my shoulder, taking in huge draughts of air as tears roll down her face rapidly. I hold her around the shoulders, trying to still the trembling in my stomach and behind my legs. The lump is back in my throat and I have to swallow twice before I can speak.
“Is she…is…” my voice disappears again, and I am just mouthing words. She stays as she is, head on my shoulder, her shaking as though she was cold.
“She’s been vomiting and stooling – and her temperature is fluctuating. One moment she’s incredibly hot, the next she’s really cold. They don’t even know what’s wrong with her!”
The thought creeps up on me unbidden – but I keep a lid on it and hold my ex closer. She wraps her hands around my neck, relaxes against my body and I close my eyes as that familiar sweet-pain reaches out and massages my heart with fiery-hot fingers.
My eyes are closed – but I couldn’t see her any more clearer if they were open.
Warmth from her mouth tickles my ear as she starts to speak. “It’s not Ebola – first thing they asserted. They still don’t know what it is – but at least we know some things it isn’t. But it’s really bad.” She raises her head from my shoulder and I open my eyes to look into her tear-red and terrified ones.
“She’s dying. Our baby is dying.”