“You’re a liar!” she bellows from across the room, her eyes the smolder of red coals, and glassy too, intensifying the glow therein.
“Ema please list_“
“Do not Ema me Nelson, do not!” she screams.
“Can you let me explain?” My voice slips out, calmer, surprising me. It is sounding less dejected than it should be and I am beginning to wish it isn’t so.
“Explain what Nelson? Explain what?”
“I swear Ema it isn’t what you think. Nothing happened and nothing was going to happen. I love you.”
Yes! Now that sounds pathetic enough.
“Then how else can you explain the lipstick on your shirt?” she coos.
Wow! I didn’t see that coming.
“Lipstick! What lipstick?” I stammer.
“Don’t you dare play dumb with me!”
She is perhaps sensing the uncertainty in my voice for hers bounces off the walls, probingly echoes into the rooms of other tenants, disrupting their darling privacies. It is a one room apartment in a two storeyed building; self contained but large enough to house me and my seven unruly brothers, and we’ve been living together for almost a year since we met at a fast-food joint three years ago. She was the immaculately seated, countryside but educated girl sipping coke from a plastic bottle and I had been the six-foot tall intruder, invading her private space. She was hostilely silent for the first few minutes of our one sided conversation. I rode solo, tongue twisting and fidgeting to the best of my ability while she nodded absentmindedly (still sipping her coke) and I think I had at some point wished I could switch places with the dark sizzling liquid. I had been surprised she didn’t gulp it all down and walk out on me as one would do a moronic salesman. My surprise had deepened even more when she giggled at my feeble attempts at making jokes. She was far too kind to have offered a stifled laugh. I wouldn’t even smile at my jokes if I wasn’t me, ergo, I was thankful for her virtuousness in as much as I was to later discover she only laughed at the undone zip of my denim trousers. I had been at the time, a janitor in a law firm and she managed a small chain of diary stores that belonged to her father. Now I am a clerk in the same law firm (don’t ask me how) and she still manages the diary stores which had eventually became hers since her father’s demise. That was three years ago. Things had led to other things and we’re now this estranged couple raising our voices in an almost over furnished apartment.
“You don’t have to shout Ema” I mellow “I can hear you. Let’s iron this out amicably”
“So you think I’m being unreasonable?”
“I did not say _”
“How do you explain this then?” she raves on, picking a white polo shirt from the laundry basket. She holds it up in midair; a snort escaping her as my eyes catches the faint reddish dots that look as if a child’s hand had been unsure with paintbrushes.
“Does that register as ‘reasonable’ to you?”
“Ermm… I don’t know how that got there Ema. I don’t know. It must have been from the hug.”
“The hug? You hugged her?”
“NO! She hugged me” I shrug in unavailing defense, my eyes widening in the mirror opposite, behind Ema.
“O my God Nelson! You are killing me!”
I can see the tears forming on the shorelines of her crinkled eyes, climbing down the Himalayas of her dimpled cheeks; her lips are set in a pout and I start to wish she wouldn’t do that for a woman who isn’t worth half a droplet of her tears; whom I am supposedly having an affair with, Or not. Nevertheless, there it is, already forming a fluvial thread that connects eyelid to chin.
“I was at your office the other day,” she stutters in between teary hiccups “and she was all over you and you swore you’ve never spoken to her; that you didn’t even know her name.”
“Ema it was the truth.” I almost croak.
“So you brought her here to make an obvious fool out of me right?” she says with a whimper.
“I didn’t. She just showed up.”
She lowers her head and shakes it in an improbable manner. I take a step forward.
“Don’t come any closer Nelson.” I ignore her.
“Don’t! I said don’t!” she flings a china at me. I duck though it misses me completely, bashing on the wall behind, bringing down a portrait or two with it.
“Thelma!” I heave as sheer astonishment like salt, starts to dissolve within. She slowly stares up at me; disbelieve melting into tears in her crimson eyes. Her lower lip quivers and I sense something new is coming.
“You called me Thelma. You never call me Thelma. You said everybody did and you didn’t want to be everybody, so you chose Ema. But now you called me Thelma, because of HER.”
She speaks as though there are lumps in her throat; her voice sounding squeakier than the rarely oiled brakes of my father’s rickety Peugeot. And I watch keenly; I follow each word leaving the delicate twitch of her lips, remembering how they had tasted last night; remembering the softness of her purr-like moan that drove sweet currents out of me.
What am I even doing? What is it that I am thinking? I am not climbing out of this ditch any more than I’m falling deeper into it. Why didn’t I push that whore out the door when I had the chance? Why did I let her have her way with me? Why did I stall? I slap the back of my neck and sigh. Her following words would be fatigued, solemn and calculated, and they wouldn’t come as a surprise to me.
“You need to leave. I need time to think.”
“Now!” The words involuntarily rip from her like lava from its crater, disturbing the pigeons that inhabit the ceiling as a frenzy of fluttering wings splatter above our heads. I stall and she apparently has her tit-for-tat mode on deactivation. She breezes past me and holds the door wide open and I begin to wonder, as I’ve always wondered, how she’s able to contain such extremities of anger within her, considering her smallish stature and translucent fragility, but then I shrug and under my breath, mumble “what do I know?” I was once a 26years old janitor who lived with his parents.
“Baby we can sought this out.” I say, trying rather too hard to muster enough sheepishness to placate the ice in her stern eyes.
“You should have thought of that before soiling your polo shirt and conscience with infidelity… or wait, I almost forgot, it was only your polo shirt!”
She sarcastically leaves her mouth hanging agape and widens her eyes, and with that, I suddenly feel an urge to keep my mouth shut. I’m overwhelmed by a certain reserve that without precision, justifies an enraged crescendo inside of me. She does not trust me and today would not be her first time of dishing out bouts of mistrust to me but I nonetheless say nothing and walk out briskly, in time for my left foot to lash out its frustration at a half-filled waste paper basket, hurling it across the passage as she unremorsefully slams the door behind me.
To be continued………..
Posted from WordPress for Android