They say love can be found at the oddest places and at the oddest points in time.
This was true for me, it had happened to me a couple of times before, but the most recent was a meeting between two volcanoes whose lava formed the bed of a gentle sea.
I sat at the edge of my bed, the last ember of a Pall Mall dying between my fingers. I sucked it again, letting the mint of its flavour cloud my lungs…
My eyes though, were fixed on the letter I had hung on the wall with a nail. Annie’s farewell letter.
I’m masochistic, so every morning before I go about the business of the day I read a word or two from it. It was a constant reminder of how alcohol and cigarettes can become the bane of a lovely relationship. So if I ever found love again, it’d try my hardest to bury their influences from my life.
‘I thought I could change you’ the last lines of the letter read ‘I hope you find someone who can stand the smell of your breath and wash you off each time fall in one of those gutters. As for me, I can’t, not anymore
Shattered love, Annie’
Again, for the umpteenth time, the tears that left my eyes killed the cigarette in my hand. It’d been a month now since she left, I remember returning from the bar, drunk, to find a nearly empty house. Most of the possessions in the house belonged to her.
I loved her, but love apparently wasn’t enough to keep a girlfriend, it had never been, not with me. I was more obsessed with the satisfaction from my beer and cigar, and the comfort I felt when I poured out words from my pen on paper.
My beer, my cigar, and my literature. Three friends who would never leave my side, even though I had tried hard in the past to flee them. They held on to me like lizards on a wall. They lived and fed on me, laid their eggs on me, and in them I found life in my life, a sense of where I belonged, I felt alive.
The doc said they would kill me, literature would make me go insane, but how else would a man want to die . When life turned itself into a sea that would drown me, they made me a ship for me to sail and find the shores.
That night, when returning from my art workshop, I stopped at the bar again. But this time, not for a drink. Maybe a stick of Pall Mall but definitely not a drink. I took my seat at an isolated corner, far enough from the deafening beats of the loud speakers but perfect enough to get a paranormal view of the bubbling environment. The lights glowed green red and blue but non was white. It was fitting for a bar.
A television sat atop a shelve, protected by an iron cage. The Big Brother Naija was playing on the TV, but I had no interest in that.
I stared at the many girls huddled at various tables, they were all engaged in merry chatter and drinking.
It was then that I saw her,
sitting alone, with neither a beer on her table nor a cigarette in her hands. She wasn’t paying an ounce of attention to the TV either. She looked like she didn’t belong here, she looked like a butterfly among bees.
But she couldn’t have strayed here by accident. Like me, she must have had a purpose. If then she is a butterfly among bees, I might as well be the flower on which she would rest.
I studied her a bit. She folded her hands across her breasts and she had those long legs covered in leggings, her head rested on the chair while her gaze was pegged at a point I couldn’t spot.. Her hair fell below her chin.
I stood up and took a few strides toward her.
“Hey, what’s up” I began
When she looked up at me, I saw a glint of welcome flickered in her eyes and her smile, as if I was some good news, the look that says I-knew-you’d-come. As if she had been waiting for my arrival all these while.
“Fine fine, she announced, still wearing the smile.
I sat gingerly
I had no intention of drinking that night, so I asked..
“Yeah, but not heavily”
“Nice, I do Pall Mall, what do you do?”
“Marlboro, it’s flavour is just perfect for my emotions”
Three hours later, half a pack of Pall Mall and Marlboro had turned into ashes, and the sticks were still glowing red in our hands.
Our conversation had dug deep into our private lives. She was as open as I was. With her, I felt a strange freedom to unfurl the dirt and dusts of my heart without the phobia of being judged. I told her about my darkness, my fears, my happiness and my joy. I opened the lid to the pit of my soul and let her in because she had first led me into her world, so I had no fear exposing mine to her.
Just like me, she had had a break up a month ago. And just like me, she had come here to find a heart which her soul could have a cuddle with. Maybe just for the night , or maybe for forever…
“Ever had a one night stand?” she asked
“About twice” I said maybe tonight it’d be thrice”
She giggled at my every word as we chatted all the way to my apartment.
The city of Warri usually fell to sleep before the hour of twelve. But the city was awake in me that night, it was awake her, it was awake in us. It was awake with every motion of our body from the moment she undressed until she had only her panties left to the moment I finally pulled off my boxer. Maybe she had left the panties part for me, so I drew her close into a warm embrace and slid it off her hips with one stroke of my index finger.
We threw ourselves on the bed in one swift motion, she giggled, the night was full of her giggles..
A moan eloped her lips as I penetrated her tightness.
The night rolled by while we explored our secrets. She was joy and pleasure in wrapped in human form. And for the first time in as long as my memory could travel, there was a feeling of warmth inside me.
When morning arrived, I opened my eyes to find her curled up beside me. I inched closer, her bum welcomed my loin and I threw my arm around her. Her skin was warm.
Touching her skin felt like lightening meeting earth. She was electricity and I absorbed all of her.
It was when she moved her fingers to interlock with mine that I knew she was awake.
I brought my lips close to her ear
“Good morning baby”
“Hey…. is it morning already?”
“Owh, good morning then”
I stood up from the bed to wash off, she held back my hand before I could take the next step.
“Luke?” her voice was still as sensual as her moans last night.
“Debby?” I tried my best to replicate the sensuality of her tone
“Where’re you going?”
” to the shower”
“Okay baby, wait for me”
When she stood, completely unclad just as I was, we didn’t walk to the shower, instead we became imprisoned by the sheer nakedness of the moment. It was like seeing the stars in broad daylight. Strange, but beyond worldly beauty.
We hugged and her warm softness pressed against me..
“Last night you told you are a writer” she said into my ears
“Then write about us, here and now, in this moment where we are both naked, I want to witness you pouring your heart on a piece of paper, I want to witness a god at work”
My eyes dart to the letter on the wall, a bitter memory hit me and I shook it off at once. I walked there and plucked it from the nail, fetched a pen and a fresh book from my drawer, grabbed the cigarette and lighter from the desk.
She watched me with the look of incomprehension.
Then I led her to a corner in the room, I sat on the floor with my bare bum, and I made her sit between my legs, her bum glued to my loin.
“Care for a stick?” I asked.
“Pall Mall, though”
“I’ll have it”
I slid one between her lips and have it lit up with the lighter. I broke another and poured the tobacco onto Annie’s letter, rolling it into a perfect joint. I burnt one of it’s end and slid it’s other end in my mouth. I didn’t know why I was doing that, but I guessed I was smoking away the memory, the hurt, because I had finally found a soul like mine.
She turned back and watched me with raised brows, I explained the best I could.
Then, I placed the fresh notebook in front of her bare kitty, sunk my chin into her shoulder blade, scribbled and turned our moments into words.…..
I found myself in Debby and I knew she found herself in me, too. With her I felt the freedom to be the devil I am that I was once afraid to be with Annie and the rest that had come before her.
She was the volcano that I was, and when our love erupted, it spilled on the alter and it formed the bed on which Danny and Rose would lay.
Rose however, is still a beautiful bulge in Debby’s Belle.