Just Like That

The party was lit! My friends were going crazy. We were all excited about completing our four-year programmes at the university but, clearly, they had more to celebrate than I did.  While almost every was on their feet jamming to Wutah’s Bronya, my butt was glued to the seat I sat on since we arrived at the party about two hours ago. The music was so loud that it made my skin tingle and my lungs feel like mush. The bass thumped in time with my heart beat as though they were one, filling me from head to toe with music. My soul liked the song but my body could not bring itself to dancing to it.

Over the roar of music, a distant, hazy argument could be heard. I couldn’t make out any words, but swear words rang in my ears and wouldn’t seem to stop. The song that was playing got louder as if the DJ was trying to prevent me from listening in on the quarrel. At this time, he was playing Shatta Wale’s Freedom which was my ultimate jam. The song pulled me in to join the crowd. Instead, I stood up and walked out of the room.

That’s when I saw him. He sat on the bench and looked into the nothingness of the dark night. He looked like he was stuck in a different world while his body was here. With each second I watched him, he sank deeper and deeper into whatever world he was in. I could see it in his eyes. They were getting more sunken with time. Though he did not notice my presence and said nothing to me, something about his demeanour screamed out for help.

“Superwoman to the rescue,” I thought to myself with a smile and took a step closer to the gentleman. “A-hem,” I cleared my throat.

It did the magic. Although startled, he was back in our world. He looked like he appreciated my intervention because he looked at me with a smile.

“Not much of a dancer?” I asked.

With the same smile he greeted me with stuck on his face, he turned to look into the restaurant through the transparent glass windows. “Nah, not today”. He responded with a shrug of a shoulder. “I’d rather reflect on a day like this than make merry,” he finished.

“Finally, someone agrees with me!” I exclaimed. “It’s been four tough years; so many ups and downs, lessons to glean from introspection and a good time to make plans for the future that has already started”.

He nodded in agreement. All the while, the unfading smile was still imprinted on his face. Then he stopped nodding and only looked into my face. It was awkward but liked it. Nobody looked at me like he did in a long time. It made me shy. I turned my head away to end the eye-lock momentarily. He was still looking at me when I turned to face him.

The way he looked at me made me feel like every ounce of breath was taken from my lungs, floating into the air like midnight smoke. It was as if space and time became the finest point imaginable; as if time collapsed into one tiny speck and exploded at light speed. It was as if my universe began and ended with him. I did not want him to stop looking at me the way he did. I did not know I had hungered for attention that much until now. I couldn’t bear to lose it – lose this thing that made me feel so complete.

My more sensible self kicked in – with questions and advice. Who is this guy I was getting unhealthily attracted to? It was too early. I did not even know his name. How could I even think I was attracted to him? I was being reckless. I knew it. I needed to stop it.

“Do you know what?” I asked, my smile broadening. “Let’s get out of this place. Let’s go somewhere quieter”. I disobeyed all the admonitions my rational self just gave me.

I was surprised at myself for my boldness and silliness. But his reaction was even more surprising. First, he cringed. Then, he shook his head in the negative. This is the first time another facial expression replaced his signature smile.

“I k–k–k–” he startled.

“Hey! There you are!”

I turned to look at the feminine voice that howled. She zoomed past me before I could do a 360-degree turn. He stood up to catch her in an embrace. She wrapped herself around him closer than a corn husk is enfolded around kenkey. She gazed at him through her overly made-up eyes with her cloying vapidity, simpering softly until he said something in a whisper. She giggled like she was three and a half. Then, they turned to leave.

Just like that!?

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