A Late Tale of Bemusement by Madukwe Anthony

 

I met your twin sister today and now I am confused. She looked and smiled like you. The crinkles you have by the side of your eyes – the ones that spread like 6 willow branches – were also in hers, squeezing her face into similar lines of beauty when she smiled. I walked up to her and hugged her, called her the name I had reserved for you and tickled her lightly in the ribs. Then I asked what she was doing away from the office where she worked as a legal secretary. She smiled at me, an apparent stranger, nonplussed at the unwanted hug I had given her and she said hello. At this time we had both disengaged from the hug, there was now a respectable distance between us and the world apparently stood still as we regarded each other in slowly settling confusion. But this was it for me. Hello?

 

You would never say hello to me. You would never, seeing me, stand staring like I was someone you were trying to help out of a problem. You would be pressing your body to mine, my neck would be straining against the strength of your inter-locked arms and I would be wondering what it was they put in your perfume. Not this perfunctory – yet awfully polite – pleasantry.

 

You must be talking about my twin she says. Her voice is steady and calm. I get the idea she has offered this explanation too many times before but is somehow not tired of it. I nod slowly, my smile quickly disappearing, my eyes running through the clothes she has on her body and confirming for myself that indeed this is not you. I am looking at the red blazer she has over black jeans and I am remembering the two red gowns I bought you as gifts. The ones you turned down because you said they reminded you too much of blood. And that reminded you too much of your father’s last moments.

 

You really should have told me you were a twin. Seeing her today, the studious way she carried herself, the humility in her beauty, I had the tiniest idea why you didn’t, but you should have told me. As hard as you may have found it. I should have had a chance to prepare myself for the reality that there was another like you and that in the many ways I found you irresistible, I could be confronted with a five foot nine test of the exclusivity of our mutual attraction. I am not happy with how much I enjoyed looking at your sister today, or how perfect I found her teeth or how easy it was to forget that I had things to do at the office even after I had confirmed that she wasn’t you.

 

There were too many similarities with how we both met. It was at the mall, on a weekday when people didn’t have as much need for movies and ice-cream. I was there with Janice, the female colleague I was courting at the time and you were behind the counter taking our orders for Jollof rice and chicken. Your hair was in braids, packed neatly behind your head and half-covered by the eatery’s customized red cap. Janice was the object of my interest at the time and all I wanted was for her to see how perfectly I smiled and how good a conversationalist I was. So, even while you dished the food, I was telling her about my love for afang soup and for girls who made them well.

 

I only noticed you when Janice got angry. Not with me but with the food. We had eaten half of it when she noticed the tiny trickle of what seemed to be blood coming from inside the chicken on my plate. I wanted to simply stop eating and abandon the food but not Janice. Not that ball of fire who had a strange delight in throwing her voice into the air. She waited for when you came to clear out the plates and she tapped your arm lightly and asked you to take a look at the chicken you had served me. It was still lying half-eaten on my plate and there was still the pinkish hue visible from its center. She never waited for you to reply before she poured her bile on you. The rest of the world quickly invited into her anger, I watched you take the heat for a cook’s negligence and I wondered how you remained calm, smiling at words like “useless” and “incompetent” as they left Janice’s lips and bounced off the logo on your apron.

 

This was how we met. How a two-year journey of knowing you and your freckled body began. Of stolen kisses at the back of taxis, early morning texts about our daily plans and cryptic comments left on Facebook pictures. On some nights, just after I have negotiated the walls of your vagina, slowly kneading your clitoris into a climax that shakes both your body and the bed, we talk about that day. And the day after that. When I returned to apologize on behalf of my friend and offered to buy you a meal at another eatery whenever you happened to have the chance. We laugh about how silly it was that it was a girl’s annoyance for my sake that brought me you. We laugh at how weird life usually is in matters of the heart.

 

You talked to me about your family but never in enough specificity. You lost your father to a home robbery when you were ten and this seemed to overshadow every conversation we tried to have about the people you grew up with. There were sprinkled childhood memories. I learned you had two sisters who you were not very close to. They stayed with your mother in Enugu and you hadn’t seen them in years. But that was all. It was not a discussion you enjoyed having and not one I was excited to press.

 

Today, I was again at the mall, but this time, I was alone. I spent more time there than I planned and I left with your sister’s number saved in my phone as “Moonshine”. I am not proud to admit that I enjoyed the 83 minutes we spent together. I am not proud that when we roll up together later this night and I start telling you how my day went, I doubt very much I would include this tiny detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madukwe Anthony is a lawyer living in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt. Most of his spare time is spent writing and reading mostly stressful prose. He won the 2018 AFREADA Valentine’s Day Competition as well as the Random Thoughts Creative Fiction Prize, 2017. He blogs at thesesilentspaces.wordpress.com.

 

1 Comment

  • Asuru Meredith July 1, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    Nice use of description and sensory imagery. Please don’t tell her you’ve got a number saved as moonshine even though she is your sunshine. Good one Anthony.

    Reply

Leave a Comment