“No. No. No. Not Traffic again today.” I murmur to myself
I thought it would have passed by now. There are a few things I hate more than being stuck in a traffic jam, especially after a long day like the one I’ve had today.
“I don’t need this traffic. I just can’t deal with this right now” I complain to myself as I blare my horn to warn a keke napep driver that is trying to cut into the line in front of me.
My phone rings and I check to see who it is.Alex. My heart rate picks up. I am wary of speaking to him right now, but I put on my Bluetooth earpiece all the same. I might as well talk to him now; else he’ll run down my battery with his calls and get me irritated. I didn’t need to add irritation to the list of emotions i was feeling right now.
“Hi Alex” I say dryly
“Hello Sugar. You sound off. Are you okay?”
‘’I’m not okay. I’ve had a really hectic day and I just want to go home and eat something, have a hot bath and rest my tired bones. But I’m stuck in traffic along Ada-George road and I just feel like killing someone.”
“Whoa whoa. Hold up. How did we get from a hi Alex to killing someone?’’ he asks. I can hear the amusement in his voice
I smile. Typical Alex. Always finding a way to make me smile, even when I’m not in the mood. ‘’You won’t understand. All I’ve had to eat today are green tea, a slice of bread and a smoothie; and I’ve been on my feet almost for more hours than I’ve sat today. I want to go home and rest.”
I horn again. Sometimes you just have to drive like you’re the only sane driver on the road.
“Can I bring you dinner?’’ he asks
“It’s so nice of you to offer, but I’ll pass on that this night. I’m too tired for company.’’ I answer
“I won’t stay, I’ll just drop off the food and leave. I just want to see your beautiful smile.”
“Maybe some other time Alex, I really am tired”
“And when is this some other time going to be Anita?” his tone is pained ‘’I’ve been asking to see you now for the past two months and you’ve just been posting me. Why won’t you see me?”
“This is really not the time for us to be having this conversation.” I say tiredly
“Yeah, I know. I’m sorry but I’m sure you can understand how I feel. We’ve been friends for too long and I’m tired, tired of being your friend. I’ve never hidden how I feel about you. From the start, I’ve always let you know that I want more than friendship. It’s obvious we like our company, the chemistry is there and I know that there is no other man in the picture. Come on Anita, why do you want to keep insisting that there is nothing between us?” He asks exasperated
I honestly have nothing to say to that, mostly because he’s speaking the truth; so I keep quiet.
He talks on, “Listen babe, I want more. I want your heart, I want your time, and I sure as hell want your body. Why do you insist on torturing me like this? The last time I brought this up, you said we’ll talk when I get back from Abuja. I’ve been back for three months now and you’re deliberately avoiding me. Na so so phone conversation we go dey do?. Please Anita, give me a time, any time at all. Let’s sit down over lunch or dinner or even breakfast and talk about us. Just ‘us’. And if you tell me no this time, I promise to back off. Please you…’’
‘’Ok. Ok.” I say, cutting him short. I am really not in the mood for this kind of emotional blackmail. “Is Sunday evening a good time for you? We could do dinner.”
‘’Yeah. Sure. Where do you want to go?” he asks. He seems surprised
“I’m not sure yet. I’ll ping you tomorrow to let you know.”
“Great. I’ll talk to you tomorrow then. And try not to kill anyone before then” he says
‘Will do.’’ I smile ‘’Good night Alex”
“Good night sugar”
I know I said I couldn’t get any more tired that I already am…strike that. This call has just made me two times more tired. Emotionally tired, if that’s even a state.
I finally make it to my compound. When did Port Harcourt traffic get this crazy? It’s taken me more than an hour to drive from the hospital to my house, and this is a distance that would ordinarily take me between 15-20 minutes.
“Mtcheeew” I hiss at no one in particular and get out of my car.
I pull out my laptop bag and handbag, and make my way into the house. Thank God there’s power. At least I won’t have to go and struggle with that generator this night. I drop the bags on my dining table and head to the kitchen. I search in the freezer for the bowl containing the cat fish pepper soup with unripe plantain. I chuck it into the microwave and turn it on.
In my room, I shed my clothes and head into the shower. One of the advantages of being on a low cut is that I can cool off my head as well as my body after a long day. As I lather my body, my mind drifts back to Henry. Sunday is just 3 days away. I honestly don’t know what I will say to him when I see him.
I like Alex, a lot. I met him at the immigration office more than a year ago. He had been sitting beside me in the waiting area and had struck up a conversation. He was this really good looking stranger who smelt heavenly. I was drawn by his easy confidence and understated intelligence. He had asked for my number that day but I hadn’t given it to him, telling him that I’d give it to him if we happened to bump into each other again. As fate would have it, we indeed bumped into each other some months later at the Park n’ Shop, and I’d had to keep my word. For weeks after then, we had talked every day, gone on dates, and met each other’s friends. I had known where it was leading, I had known that I was leading him on but Alex wasn’t the kind of guy you just ignored or forgot about. Besides, it had been a while since I’d had that kind of attention from a man, so I selfishly savoured it.
Two months later, after we’d kissed and almost made out at his apartment, he’d asked me to be his girlfriend, officially, and I’d said no. I considered him a friend, I had told him and I didn’t want us to complicate things. I remember his response to that statement that night
“You don’t want us to complicate things? Seriously Anita. I honestly can’t believe you right now. Things are already fucking complicated. You’re struggling to arrange your bra, my dick is as hard as a rock and you think things are not already complicated? ‘
He had driven me home that night in silence, but has done everything in his power to convince me to be his girlfriend. He took every opportunity to tell me how he felt both through his words and his actions. Our friendship had continued though, a bit awkward, but it had grown all the same. We had continued talking almost every other day and continued hanging out once in a while.
On a number of occasions, my best friend Yvonne had even asked me what I was doing with Alex. One time I’d given her my normal ‘he’s just a friend’ mantra and she had hissed and said “Aunty Friendship. Stay there and be doing he’s just a friend, and another woman will come and help you catch your fish”.
Four months ago, I had invited him over for Sunday brunch at my place. One minute we were downing a bottle of white wine and the next, we were on the couch kissing the hell out of each other. Alex was a good kisser. No, strike that, a terrific kisser. He had divested me of my top and bra and was making sweet love to my breasts when my phone had rung and brought me back to my senses. That day had ended awkwardly for the both of us. From then on, I’d avoided him.
This is the first time that I’ve considered opening up to anyone after Femi. There are just too many secrets, too many stories that I have to tell. How do I tell him that I’m saying no to protect him?