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.
Love Drops is a collaboration between Block 20 Media and Seun Odukoya. It is a collection of short stories and an Extended Play album by the rapper Psalmurai. Love Drops contains different thoughts and perspectives on this timeless part of humanity – our shared humanity.
I hope we’ll be there together – we look forward to walking with you.
Thank you so much!!!!
I am in my apartment; a two bedroom flat. Right now I am seated on the bedroom floor, back against the bed looking at the screen of my Samsung Galaxy. The hum of the air conditioner is the only sound that interrupts the silence. That; and the occasional rustle of clothing.
I am hungry.
I wonder how that sounds to you. You would probably say; or at least think ehn go and eat na.
Or something like that.
Some of you may start to feel sorry for me. You may begin to think about the times you were hungry – the times you were weak with hunger and didn’t have a way out or even a consolation.
Heh. Sorry o.
You should look in my refrigerator one day, and the day it does not look like the best-stocked food shelf in Shoprite, Addide, SuperSaver, Spendless and any of those megastores – you can carry the fridge and anything else that catches your fancy. Including me.
Okay. So maybe I am kidding about the last part.
But you get the picture.
As I was saying – I am hungry.
And it has been a while since I have eaten, so I am entitled to some supping tonight. I have been good – I have been really good for a while, and I want some refreshment. I deserve it.
The smart thing to do would be to look for a meal somewhere conveniently far off – somewhere remote where I am unknown and can go and come as I please…
But I do not have the power I need to take down fair game- especially a vigorous young thing only such as can satiate me tonight. I may have to consider –
His heavy tread takes me to my window and I look in between panes as he walks past. I can smell him from here – a curious mix of cologne, deodorant, sweat and cigarette smoke. The combination suggests something exotic and I find my oral juice flowing. I sniff some more and his scents create an image in my mind; five nine, solid shoulder and chest muscles, pot belly, strong thigh muscles, huge behind.
The last bit stretches my lips in a feral grin. This will be a meal to enjoy.
I hear the key begin to turn the tumblers in the lock and I move from my bedroom window to my sitting room door – and out. The cold air stirs the hairs on the back of my neck, my arms and I look exactly how I feel – a feral jungle being stalking dinner.
‘Dinner’ straightens from his door, opens it – and then turns in my direction. I have never met him before; this neighbor of mine – at least not as I am meeting him now. He leaves too early and returns too late and he is never around on weekends. I usually just hear him come and go; the same measured heavy tread. Never in a hurry, never sluggish. Just paced.
He looks at me. “Hey,” he says uncertainly. I step from my shadowy doorway into the light on the ‘porch’ – and I see something shine in his eyes. I don’t know what it is; but I like it. I step out further and smile softly, liking the way his eyes travel down and up me. They linger somewhere around my chest area – and then he looks away guiltily. I laugh.
“You live here?” he asks, managing to meet my eyes. I lower them demurely and smile with one corner of my mouth.
“Yes – for the past four months,” I respond. “I am your next-door neighbor; the one you entertain with Coldplay every night.”
A strange look appears on his face; one of guilt. It doesn’t belong there.
“I’m – I’m so sorry. I had no idea – “ he breaks off and I interrupt him before he can start again. “It’s not necessary. I like Coldplay and I’d rather not play music myself. And besides, I’m grateful that’s all you disturb me with.”
I grin at him and he smiles back. He has a pretty smile; something that transforms his entire face just like that. He looks a lot younger and therefore cuter – and I begin to wonder if indeed this should be dinner.
“Do you want to come over? I just made some spaghetti – “ I applaud myself as perfectly-cooked spaghetti appears on my cooker – appears as clearly as though I just placed it there myself, “ and meat sauce. You must be hungry.”
He slowly shakes his head, consciously trying not to look at my breasts. “Honestly, I’m really too tired to eat – but I really appreciate the gesture and hope we would still be able to do that some other less inappropriate time.” He stretches his hand towards me. “I’m Seun by the way.”
I take the warm hand firmly in mine and give it a solid pump. “Evelyn.”
He looks at the hand I am still holding, a small smile on his face – and then looks me fully in the face. I smile and wink at him, eliciting rumbling laughter from his belly. It is the laughter of someone who enjoys life, and before I can argue with the decision I find myself laughing back.
“You’re pretty direct, aren’t you?”
I chuckle smugly and let go of his hand. “I don’t see why quibble when it’s something I want. Life is short.”
He looks directly at me again, and this time there is a hint of uncertainty – of doubt. I can almost hear the wheels in his head turning; he takes a few unconscious steps back.
Again, he shakes his head. “No. I just don’t like something I do not understand. And you, I do not understand. Not yet anyway.”
“What’s not to understand? You’re one of those guys who think too much about everything, abi?” I shake my head slowly. “That’s not a lot of fun.”
He nods in agreement, “So they tell me – but I cannot seem to stop it. Besides, it works.”
I am fascinated in spite of myself; in spite of my hunger. I would like to know him more, to learn of him more. Learn of this place through his eyes and maybe learn what he thinks of me; my kind. I decide to go hungry; one more night won’t kill me. I decide to let him be, and then I make a man the most unselfish offer I have made in a long time.
“You sure you’re not hungry?” I ask again. “You’re completely safe – I give you my word.”
He’s quiet for a moment – and then he smiles that innocently devastating smile. Oh mother; I mumble silently, oh mother, you did not tell me they came like this!
I look at his smile again and I am reminded of that song – ‘Say You, Say Me’ by Lionel something-or-the-other –
Wait. Did I just say a smile reminds me of a song?
What kind of idea is that? I must be hungrier than I thought!
“….maybe next time,” he finishes as I return from my journey. “I’m sorry – what did you say?”
“Did someone say hungry?”
The voice comes from behind me; from another of our neighbors, Jide. A lousy fool who seems to think he was made solely for the fairer sex. Seun’s frown tells me he shares my sentiments – or at least some of it and I begin to –
“Wassup Seun? Looking good – Evelyn baby,” he says and crushes me to his chest. He smells good – some anti-shave but I am so mad at him I cannot appreciate the fragrance; the masculinity of it.
Seun nods quietly. “Goodnight,” he says, disgruntled by Jide’s behavior but too nice to say anything about it. I push away from Jide and smile. “Good night, Seun. Some other time would be nice.”
He waves and steps into his room, locking the door almost immediately. I turn to glare at Jide –
“Sure,” I answer. “Thanks. Sure, I have spaghetti. Are you hungry?”
Jide opens my house door and steps in, having invited himself.
I smile. Maybe I do not have to go hungry tonight after all.
Excerpt from my horror story collections ‘Tales From My Other Parts’.
There’s this feeling of looseness…of unwholesomeness I get when I wake up in a strange bed.
Not this time.
Which was entirely strange – because I am sure I have never slept in this bed before.
Anywho – I felt totally together and relaxed as I lay there, random beams of sunlight highlighting the lavender bedclothes that enwrap me somewhat neatly. Then, remembering what happened last night I sit up –
And the first thing that meets my startled gaze is the underwear I purchased off Konga.
As though on cue, the door opens and in she comes.
Instinctively, I touch the back of my head. I’m checking if I’m still plugged into the Matrix.
This cannot be real. This is not happening – not in 2013; not in Nigeria. Definitely not in Lagos.
I’m at a loss for words.
She comes in looking like shawarma – hot steaming shawarma. She’s not wearing a nightdress like the herione in Bond movies – or romance stories for that matter. She’s wearing a loose-fitting t-shirt and shorts. But she’s nothing like the General Manager I have meetings with.
She looks like…she’s a woman.
She smiles and I’m doomed. My heart’s doing things I didn’t know it is still capable of doing. My head…has become a bowl of mush. I try to think. I remember what I say to myself about not having relationships around work.
And then the bed dips under her weight, she places a too-cool hand on my forehead and ask;
“So what happened to you last night?”
She wanted to take me out for lunch, and she said so with a hand on the sleeve of my jacket.
I acted like the warmth from her fingers was too slight to make a difference to me and looked everywhere but at her mouth as she spoke. She came to the office at the behest of one of our latest clients – she was the company’s legal adviser.
Normally I wouldn’t be involved in such a meeting – signing official documents and what nots. But in light of several recent events…
I told her no. I didn’t – don’t fraternize with clients and seeing how they were new I’d rather not.
A smile appeared on her too-thin lips and she said she understood.
“I understand,” she said.
I still have a hell of a lot to learn about women.
So it’s been three months. Three of the craziest get-out-here months of my life.
But it’s over.
And so I was once again that guy who wore suits and walked back and forth Opebi, looking at beautiful girls and thinking ‘is it really worth the trouble’?
I sigh and walk on. I like the way my life is – the part where I just become part of the background. The part where I’m of no significance to anyone but my computer and my boss.
I am done with lies. Romance. Heartbreak. Done with confusion and double-dealing. Like that suddenly-trending article online, ‘Marriage Is Not For Me‘.
Mine is just a bit more literal. I am done with love and all related things.
But love is far from done with me…
- Swift Scribbles: Gobe a.k.a E Don Happen! (seunodukoya.wordpress.com)
To say I was shocked would be the understatement of the century.
Understand; I don’t philander. I am no saint but there are some lines you just don’t cross. Forget morals. Forget religion and concepts like ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ – just for a moment. This is life.
There are some lines you don’t cross.
Kissing your girlfriend’s lookalike in your girlfriend’s house is one of such lines. Actually enjoying it, is NOT ONLY crossing the line but erasing it entirely. Such a man deserved to be shot.
But of course, I did not know I was doing anything wrong. I looked like Joseph must have looked when the angel told him not to let his pregnant virgin wife go. I mean, could it be more ‘Face Off’ than this?
I was kissing a girl when the girl I thought I was kissing walked in, looking at me like she didn’t know I thought I was kissing her.
Confused? Join the club.
I backed away as though the girl I was kissing had suddenly become a live wire. I felt like I’d just hugged a transformer.
My girl turned on her heel – did a 180. The one I was kissing just rubbed her fingers on her lips and sashayed away in the opposite direction.
Me? I think I floated home and hugged a transformer along the way. After several shots of Alomo, I started to think properly again. Why the hell was I feeling guilty? I wasn’t to blame for anything.
In fact I was a victim. But what the hell was happening?
I needed explanations. And I was going to get them.