Wait. What’s that sound?
Sounds like….yes…footsteps where there shouldn’t be any –
I jerk awake like someone unexpectedly electrocuted. It’s 2:14am. I know because –
Wait. How do I know what time it is?
But that does not matter. I’m awake, and that is the time. I fell asleep barely twenty minutes ago trying to start writing an article I’m supposed to submit less than seven hours from now. I look at the notebook in front of me; it’s covered in scribbles and crossed out sentences.
My chest rises and falls as I sigh out loud in frustration. I thought sleep would help unlock whatever block it is I’m having – but no such luck. I’m still stuck.
Maybe my entire approach is the problem. How about I start from the bottom, and then make my way to the top –
“How about you leave that article alone, come over here and kiss me?”
I freeze; half from fear and half from confusion. There shouldn’t anybody here. I live alone. There shouldn’t be anybody here; least of all a woman, and most of all –
Yes; just as I thought. It is her.
“What are you doing here, Ese?”
She rises from the couch, raises her arms and fluffs her hair. Yeah; it is Ese for sure. She knows how that…that thing she does with the arms and the hair makes my belly tighten into a cold, hard knot. She used to do it to tease me in the beginning – and then, when wanted attention.
But she hadn’t done that in six months. Don’t worry, she isn’t dead. We just broke up.
She’s standing across the table from me, and it is painfully obvious that the filmy white shirt is the only thing she has on – at least, as far as her upper body goes. Her honey-brown skin gleams in the light from the rechargeable lamp to my right; it runs white light-fingers up and down her thighs.
Her thighs. I blink and repeat my question.
“You called me, lover. You said you were out of your medication and crawling up walls. You said you missed me, you said you just wanted to hear my voice. And then you hung up.” Her voice drops four octaves; she delivers the coup de grace.
“I missed you too, baby.”
“That’s impossible. I couldn’t have called you – not after what happened between us! I’m not crazy! I’m not – “
My voice fades in my throat; my questing hand had found my phone in my right pocket and I had been checking my calls log as I was speaking. But now, the evidence lay before my eyes in digital white;
And below that;
01:49am 18 Dec
But it is there no matter how hard I shake my head. She’s the only Ese I know; the other one is a friend’s sister and I have no reason to have her number. Speaking of numbers, I could have sworn I deleted hers from everything the day I dumped her six months ago.
This makes no sense.
I flinch as something warm touches my forehead. It is her hand, feeling my forehead for temperature of signs of a fever. Impatiently, I brush her hand away – but she puts it back immediately, and dumps herself in my lap. My eyes close (I swear I didn’t close them) as she rubs my temples gently; some curious heady scent streams from her cleavage and clouds my senses. I lay my head on her chest; it fits somewhere above her left breast like that is its home. The spirit is resistant but my body betrays me.
“Tell me about this article. What is it for?”
I start to tell her about an old boss who needs me to handle his company’s recruitment exercise. He wants me to come in, sit with the candidates and screen them. I intend to do something different.
“That plan is what makes it necessary for me to write this article. I want the candidates to be in a practical setting, instead of just answering a set of pre-prepared questions. But it’s proving harder than I – “
“No. Stop saying that. It is you; it is writing. Just writing. How hard could it be??”
She gets me. And that was the one thing that had scared me; made me end the relationship with her just after a particularly beautiful weekend. She got me.
“Can I have that kiss now?”
It maybe be imagination – but my mouth was pushing against hers; tongue pleading to be let in before she said the ‘now’ in that sentence.She tastes as good – no better; better than I remember.
Imagine having an endless supply of your favorite thing to chew on in your mouth. I mean, let’s say for instance you like gum. And so, someone somewhere gives you a piece of gum that never loses its flavor, never hardens too much or becomes sour. It remains as you like it for as long as you want it – and the moment you tire of it, it becomes everything it should be normally, so you can spit it out.
Kissing Ese is always like that; and nothing has changed.
She nibbles on my lower lip – and massages the slight sting with her tongue, alternating between the lip and the corner of my mouth. Her hands frame my face; I feel like a cup filled with the best ambrosia – or at least cold fruit wine about to be drunk by an excited princess. She holds me carefully and kisses me passionately; saying as much as an epistolary love letter with a simple touch of her lips.
By now, I was deep in the scent that seemed to be drugging me earlier – but instead of feeling sluggish and lethargic, all my senses are alive. I am so aware; I see tiny droplets of moisture as they appear, like magic on the tops of her creamy breasts. The silver necklace with the cross I gave her on her last birthday nestles softly in the curve of cleavage, moving gently with every caress. I hear her sighs. Her moans.
Embarrassingly, I hear mine too.
She moves her mouth away from mine and opens her eyes. She wipes my lips free of lipstick stains; she smiles in my face. “I miss that,” she says softly and continues to wipe. I don’t know what to do with my eyes so I close them.
I feel her hands move away from my face and I look at her. “Now write,” she says, straightening her blouse, fluffing her hair and stepping away from me. “I’ll be over there,” she says, pointing to the couch. “Call if you need anything.”
Her…em…her derriere moves gently as she walks away. I clear my throat, pick up my red pen –
And just like that, I jerk awake like someone unexpectedly electrocuted. It’s 4:12 am. I know because –
Wait. How do I know what time it is?
But that does not matter. I’m awake, and that is the time. I fell asleep barely twenty minutes ago trying to start writing an article I’m supposed to submit less than seven hours from now. I look at the notebook in front of me; it’s covered in scribbles and –
It is covered in words; words of a perfectly-written article.
My glance shifts to the couch; but of course there’s no one there. The heady scent is gone too; I don’t smell of perfume or woman smells. I must have dreamed the whole episode.
Except that –
Except that my lips tingle, like someone – like a woman wiped them with her fingers after smearing them with lipstick. It’s happened many times before, so I know what it feels like.
My phone is lying just beside my hand. I pick it up and look through my call log. Of course, the last call I made is to my ex-boss to promise delivery of the article. I sigh – and then smile.
And then, I power up my laptop. There’s work to be done.
But as I type, I cannot help but think about a girl who got me so much she unnerved me, and I pushed her away for doing nothing wrong except loving me. And my fingers falter on the keyboard; my sight blurs.
And after six months I allow myself the luxury of tears.