Seun, don’t go near the water!
Chill jare, old woman is the response that jumps into his mind – but who born monkey? So he would just mumble a subdued yes mum and sit miserably while the adults laughed and swam and danced.
He sits unmoving now, trembling; his grown behind stuck in six inches of wet sand. He can see lights of various ships; winking and signaling their way through the wet darkness. The evening tide rushes forward and drenches him again – for the one millionth time.
It does not matter.
Seun; why are you in the water?
He almost shoves sand-sticky hands into his eyes in surprise. He looks heavenwards, self-consciousness hunching his shoulders. He comes back to himself – and laughs at his foolishness. Of course she cannot see you; he admonishes himself. Stop feeling guilty. At least you tried.
“I tried, mum…” he begins to say but cannot continue as the tears start all over again. He is convinced; more than anything else that his mother would be heartbroken if she could see him. In spite of the black sheep that had somehow made its way around his name – in spite of all the fights and yelling contests and other things – he was her favorite.
Ah mama, if you could see me now.
“…Caro your body necessary…ah necessary/Caro carry leave story….ah leave story/Caro dey make my head dey turn…” some ridiculously-named Dj’s speakers scream and yell somewhere on his left. He looks that way – and sees an indistinct blur of human bodies seemingly mashed together. He closes his eyes; an attempt to think of what is waiting – but the noise keeps intruding.
What a song to exit to.
He knows it will be days – even weeks – before anyone notices his disappearance. He couldn’t have planned it better. Usually his sister would know – because she once made it a point to talk to him in the morning and at night.
Or easier still, nothing lasts forever.
“Nothing lasts forever,” he says out loud, enjoying the feel of the words on his tongue. He says it again and again; as though repeating it will make it stay a while longer. He stops talking and immediately the words disappear.
Of course they will; he thinks, laughing at himself.
Finally he stops trembling. His racing mind slows down and finally stops. He smiles as he remembers the ‘will’ he’d scribbled and left on his table – as though he had a lot of worldly goods to share with anyone. A few thousand books, a few thousand comics, clothes, love letters –
His smile slips as he remembers his laptop – the stories on his laptop. He had insisted that it goes to his PA; she was about the only one he could trust to do anything with them. He smiles again; thinking of how he will be remembered.
Edgar Allen Poe?
His legs shake a little as he climbs to his feet – but there is no hesitation anywhere else. The water uncurls and spreads cold – cold but nonetheless loving – arms towards him in an eternal embrace. Something nags at his heart; slowing his steps – but he cannot stop thinking about the peaceful dark offered by the ocean’s hug. He starts to run –
And something smacks him in the knee.
It is not as painful as it unexpected. He cannot decide whether to keep running or to stop and inspect the knee – as though he can see anything; as though it actually matters.
In a second of indecisiveness, the tide surges and pushes him over. His flailing left hand lands on something – something that rolls away – and he splashes into the water.
Pushing free and spluttering, Seun staggers to his feet. Salt water stings his eyes, scratches his throat –
This is going to be harder than I thought.
Something gently bumps into his thigh and he looks down. There’s just enough illumination for him to see a huge bottle – a huge bottle with something inside it. Wiping his eyes best as he can, he carries the bottle and makes his way towards land.
I can die another day. This; I gotta contemplate.
Carrying his burden gently, he makes his way towards the lights, looking down every two seconds, checking how visible the bottle’s contents are. And as the blur that were human bodies becomes features and body parts, he stops and looks at the bottle, holding up against the lights from the distance.
It is a book.
It is THIS book.
Read tales spun from the finest of distaffs by fifteen of the best writers ANYWHERE.
He was staring at her.
Sade shivered in the midday sun, fingers stumbling and staggering as they tried to enter the 16-digit credit PIN into her phone. She swore silently at the guy responsible for her confusion.
He stood across the road, the picture of ‘tall dark and handsome’. She looked at him through the veil of her hair hoping it was thick enough for him not to notice her scrutiny. The red and white scarf he had wrapped around his neck was at complete variance with the rest of his somber-colored outfit – but somehow he pulled it off.
His stare was annoying. She had to ask what she found more annoying however; the smirk on his face which told her he knew she was staring or the dark glasses that hid his eyes from view. So she couldn’t say for certain –
Oh. He was staring at her undoubtedly. Else why would the fine hairs on her arms be stirring?
He cocked his head at her and at that moment she realized she had seen him before.
No; she corrected. I know him. But where?
A truck obscured her view of him, reminding her of her location – a roadside call centre. She hastily turned back to the card she was trying to load. She had punched all the digits so she just pressed the send button.
“Aunty, the credit don load?”
Sade smiled at the gap-toothed call booth attendant. “Yes o, I think network is really good today.”
The girl couldn’t help the shy giggle that burst from her mouth. “Na new year na. Dem suppose make us happy after all the suffer-suffer of last year!”
Sade’s laughter joined the girl’s as she dialed the most familiar number in the world to her.
“Hello darling,” she cooed as he picked on the second ring. “Last weekend of freedom abi?”
“So it seems o,” her boyfriend’s rambling baritone came rumbling down the line. “I’m seriously not looking forward to Monday. Can’t it just wait for one more week?”
“Sooner or later is sooner than you think!”
“So it would seem jare.” He paused. “How did it go?”
Sade smiled. “Better than I expected. They’re about ready to begin production and they want me on set with them on Monday. So it’s not only you starting work o.”
He chuckled. “That’s some consolation, I guess.” His voice became softer. “I’m proud and happy for you, baby. Go get ‘em!”
“Thanks honey – but I’m actually coming to get you.”
His breath quickened. “Yes?”
“Yes. Dinner and a walk underneath the stars.”
“Sounds like a date.” He paused. “I need to get a shave – “
“You know I like it when you look ruggedly handsome. Stay unshaven jo. It’s sexy.”
“Daddy warned me not to fall for a woman who still reads Mills & Boon romance novels o – I no gree hear word!”
They both laughed and soft warmth flooded her heart. I think I have fallen in love with this guy o.
“Hold on,” he said and for moment she returned to the call centre, becoming aware of the passing vehicles, the screaming horns, the dust that clouded the air –
And her ‘starer’. She swung quickly to look if he was still there.
Sound cut out again, and then she heard the opening strings of her favorite John Legend song and closed her eyes, remembering the last time she was with her boyfriend. Oh, I have definitely fallen in love o!
“Bros, I am on the road o!”
He laughed. “I know na. It’s just so you know there’s a whole lot of waiting for you. A whole lot waiting for you.”
She cleared her throat. “Then I shouldn’t keep you waiting,” she said as she rose from the stool that had been her perch for almost thirty minutes. “I’ll be home soon baby,” she finished.
“I’m going no place. Be careful,” he warned.
“I am. You know that.” She blew him a kiss down the line and hung up.
“Have I paid you?” she asked the girl as she swung her bag onto her shoulder. The girl grinned and lifted her left hand. It was holding a one thousand naira note.
“Oh okay. I don’t have change do I?”
The still-grinning girl shook her head slowly from left to right and back again. Sade grinned. “Okay o. Thank you!”
She turned to move and bumped into someone.
“Excuse me –“ she began and froze.
It was the guy from across the road.
As she fished for words while struggling through the overwhelming feeling that she knew him, he slowly took off his glasses and grinned at her.
“Hi Sade,” he intoned in a low-pitched voice.
She gave a horrified shriek. “Seun?!”she gasped.
Yup. That was me.