You were fascinated by the flair with which she blew the smoke rings, a feat most boys hobbled around the pot of shisha tried vainly to do. Shortly afterwards, when the music had gotten so loud that the decibels thudded against the walls of the club, everyone was dancing, and she too was. You sat alone, either too exhausted to dance or just uninterested. She had wiggled her way out of a murk of sweaty half-drunk guys who struggled to latch their groins to her bum, like a gazelle slipping away from a predatory pride, and had walked over to pull you up from your seat.
‘No dull this party’, she said, yelling over the loud music that now seemed like a rhythmical raucous. ‘Come dance with me’, she said, a smell of beer and tobacco accompanying her every word.
Reluctantly, you got up to dance with her. It was the way she looked at you while you danced, her eyes pinned on you with a derisive expression, like how a mischievous groom looks at a young unwilling bride on the night he consummates her. No, it was her perfume, which when mixed with the smell of sweat, alcohol and tobacco wafting through the humid air in the club, gave an odd smell of sexual incense. She had leaned over and kissed you, and you did not resist it, because you loved it. But you hated that you loved it, because it was wrong, so you learnt.
Much later that night, you kissed him under the deep-blue sky, hoping that it would make you feel better. As if attempting to erase the stains of the exotic pleasure her kiss left on you. But it didn’t. Instead, it revealed to you, that you had enjoyed kissing her more than you did with him.
How possible? You thought. How is it that you once thought he was the best kisser in the world, but then you kissed a girl and you felt a more sublime tingling inside of you, like pink butterflies fluttering inside of your stomach?
In his room, you were cupped in his warmth, but your heart was split unevenly between him and her. Even when his dick slithered into you afterwards, and the cap of his erection plunged against your cervix so that you squirted, you did not feel the deeper connection that accompanied the post-coital cuddle. No butterflies.
When Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud came on and washed over you like warm water soothing cold blisters, it was her thoughts that filled your heart, and not his. You had tried to fight it. You had tried to invoke his images back into your head, as if to dispossess her of the power she had over your mind. But you failed woefully. So, you shut your eyes and prayed to God, to save you from the abomination you are becoming.
But the Devil came in form of the girl you had kissed in a fun-drunken indulgence, sitting across from you at the eatery, with a man who kissed her repeatedly. Instantly, you started to feel a pulse of anger rising inside of you every time he fiddled her earlobe and she giggled childishly. Then you realised God had left you to fight your most difficult adversary— yourself.
Tired and irritated at playing an unappreciated audience to their excited invidiousness, you got up to leave, even though you had not finished your meal. But just as you walked past her, half-hoping she would recognise you, a soft palm clasped around your hand.
‘I remember you’, she said, a curious smile spreading mildly across her face. You were at Nimat’s birthday, right? You asked, your heart thudding against the walls of your chest, threatening to breakout and reveal to her how much of her she had left in you with her wild, drunken kiss. At the same time, shocked at her forwardness.
She took your name. And your number. And gave you hers before you even asked. Zully, she said her name was. I’ll call you, she said, her bright almond eyes forking into your most sensual consciousness.
She did not call. And you quivered in an unending desperation. You felt the paroxysmal waves creeping all over you insidiously, eating into your life like termites to a soft wood. It was paradoxical, how you hated yourself for feeling that way about another girl, yet you enjoyed the way it consumed you. You checked your contacts on WhatsApp, and she was right there, her black lipstick accentuating her fierceness. She was online, and you started to type a message. Just to say hi. And perhaps, ask why she hadn’t gotten back to you like she promised. But that would seem too desperate, so you deleted the H-E-L-L-O you had typed and tossed your phone on the bed. But you would find yourself going back there, to her profile, to her pictures, melting in the steam of her hotness.
‘You are changing’, he said. ‘You are distant’, he said. He was right, you knew that. When you were with him, you were no longer you, but someone else watching from aloofness as his hands ran over your body. Sex became an obligatory procedure, so you just choreographed the moves with him. Shallow. Nothing deeper than it is supposed to be. No pink butterflies fluttering inside of you.
One night, exhausted from a rather one-sided round of copulation, you were spooned to him, and your phone rang from the inside of your bag. You ignored the call, because it you were in no mood to have a conversation. Yet the phone rang again, and he urged you to pick the phone. So, you did, and when you saw the name flash on your screen, your eyes brightened up, and a shy smile lit your face.
You forgot about me, you said, your sense of entitlement betraying the indifference you had long rehearsed to put on if she finally called.
‘I’m sorry jor. I’ve not been chanced much’, she said.
You both talked a bit, exchanging the most basic of details about yourselves. Where you stayed and what course you studied. She said she would call you some other time. You dropped the call, your eyes glittering in the light of your excitement.
‘Who’s he?’ He asked.
‘Who’s the guy you just finished talking with?’
It took a moment before it settled on you. ‘Oh, that was a lady, a friend.’
‘Look at the name nau’, you said, showing him the screen of your phone so that it displayed the name on your call log.
‘Oh, you seem really excited sha’, he said, his voice fully dipped in the embarrassment of his insecurity. You giggled, and with a new energy birthed by the call you had just ended, you flopped on the bed and for the first time in a while, you sent him to bliss with a self-conscious, passionate coitus.
On a moist Friday night, when the remnant of the downpour still drizzled, intertwined with competing sounds of generators from the other rooms on the compound, you were in your room, swaddled in your sweatshirt, laying on your belly in bed while watching 13 Reasons Why on your laptop. Then a knock rapped on your steel door. You hesitated for a while, thinking it was your neighbour Ojoma again, coming to ask for something everyone else but her has. But the knock persisted, and so you went to get the door.
‘Who is it?’ You asked as you gripped the door handle from inside.
‘Zuleihat’, came the response.
You paused for a moment, trying to absorb the name, searching your memory for it. You couldn’t remember anyone by the name, but you decided to open up anyway. You opened the door, and standing before you in a cropped top and a skirt miles above her knees was the girl whose kiss had shifted your reality. Her bag clutched in her arm.
Without waiting for an invitation, she breezed past you into your room with a stench of alcohol and weed flying in behind her, almost knocking you off.
‘H-how did you get here?’ You asked, still standing at the door.
‘Well, you told me the name of your lodge when we talked on Wednesday. I was in a party in the next lodge and so I decided to drop in.’
‘And how did you get my room?’
‘I just asked the first person I met at the gate if he knew you and he said yes, before leading me to your room.’
You were in the kitchen, boiling water and scooping dusts of chocolate into a cup, trying to make tea for a girl you had met only twice in your life, who had arrived your doorstep uninvited, like an illegal immigrant at the harbour. She was in your room, pulling and puffing a stick of cigarette for warmth, while the smoke danced as if in mockery of you before they disintegrated into the air. It did not feel right, yet, you wanted it. Her. The company, or just a little more taste of her magic. Maybe you were just curious, so you conceded so easily to your self-pronounced immorality.
It was past 10, and so even though she did not say it, and you did not say it, you both knew she was staying the night. So, you made her tea, and the cold had slithered through the pores of her overly expose skin. You gave her a hoodie. Your black hoodie. Your favourite one. While she sipped the tea and you swept off the ashes she left on the tiles, she ran an unpaid commentary on the party she just left. About the boys, about the drinks, about the weed that did not go around enough to get to her and she had to settle for cheap cigars, about the dress of the celebrant and about the gift her boyfriend gave to her.
She filled the room in person and in presence. Every hollow in the room seemed to reverberate her coarse voice. Somehow, her unnatural confidence and quick adaptability to her new environment made you fret, and suddenly you seemed like the stranger in the room. Her presence birthed a subliminal desire in you that soon started to burn, like it did in that night she first kissed you. You wanted to know if she remembered that night. You wanted to know how she felt when she kissed you. You wanted to know if she had been kissing other girls before. You wanted to know if she in fact kissed a girl at the party she just came from. But you didn’t ask. Instead, you sank into the bed, beside her, and pretended to resume the movie you were watching, even while you clearly could no longer make meaning of the movie, because you had a breathing trial chewing a gum nonchalantly beside you while tapping on the screen of her phone.
The stars and the moon hid behind the gray-black clouds. Lightning flashed and thunder roared. Slowly, what was just a drizzle moments before started to intensify into an army of slanting rain, clattering against the steel roofing of houses with a deafening ferocity. The wind was so powerful it blew your curtains to the ceiling, and sent every light object in the room flying to places they had no business with. You rushed to slide close your windows, and she got up to join you. A thick, almost solid darkness filled the room, and not even the lights from the screen of your phones could do create an illuminating glow. Your laptop’s battery died, and not long later your phone’s too, forcing you to resign to yourself and to the battle that raged in your hormones, which had now intensified for lack of distractions.
‘You have a blanket?’ She asked.
You pulled up the duvet you had been laying on. It was not so big, yet it was enough for you. But now that you had become two, it became a bit too small, so you both had to close up for it to fit, like two big carrots trying to fit into an undersized cellophane bag. You were both cupped inside the fabric, and her warm breath cosied the back your neck while her small but pointed breasts pressed against your back. Overcame with a feverish desire to be consumed, you shivered in the cold of the night and the heat of a perverted expectation. You shut your eyes, and silently hoped something happened. Anything. You became torn between your conservatory binds and your sheer sexual curiosity. Nothing happened. And you started to drift into slumber, with waxes of dawdled hormonal charges melting into a mere fantasy.
Then she pressed her lips to the back of your neck.
They were hard and cold, like the barrel of a gun. You shivered, and your heart thumped further against your rib cages. You shut your eyes, and hoped for more. Then she passed her hand across your belly and raised your shirt a little, then placed it on your belly. Just below your navel. It was cold, yet soothing. She hesitated, as if waiting for some validation from you to continue. You laid still, not wanting to assist the abomination that was about to happen, because it gave you some moral gratification. You wanted to be still. You wanted her to do it all, so you could tell yourself that you were not party to it. So you stayed still. Then she rubbed your belly and something tickled inside of you such that you moaned. You did not plan to. It just came out of your mouth, like air escaping from a sudden tiny opening. You moaned, and that was the permission she needed.
Her finger fondled your slightly protruding navel and suddenly you started to feel a moist gathering in a hollow between your thighs. You loved it and hated it, but loved it more. You shivered under the oppression of her fingers, which had cruised its way up to your breasts and fondled it. And you, accompanying its smooth sail with a moan here and there. She flipped you over, such that your face pressed against hers. Such that you inhaled her breath, and tasted her aura.
Then, she kissed you.
On your lips. A little tongue and a little fluid exchanged. Without realising, your hand was inside of her hoodie—your hoodie. Inside of it, working its way up her soft skin until it grabbed the fullness of her breast. She moaned, even with her tongue still in yours. The moist between your thighs increased, and in the heat of the passion you could perceive the sour smell of sex. This filled you with a new kind of excitement. A kind you had never felt before. Then you realised that the pleasure was accentuated by the fact that you were going against what you thought was a rule of nature. Something you had never thought you’d do. Another kind of love making. Different. Charming, in a dangerous way.
Then she slid her hand into your pants.
You woke up the next morning with a nostalgic sensation thumping against your head like a blinding headache. It wrapped itself around you, like a blanket, and filled the room so solidly you could almost taste it. A sense of shame, pleasure and satisfaction overwhelmed you, giving you the exact sensation you felt on the morning after your first sex. Memories of the night flashed inside of your head. Of you, laying perfectly still, like a willing sacrifice, as she dissected your virtue with her tongue. Just relax, she said, as she worked her magic on you while you shivered. Tongue. Finger. More tongue. A little finger. Lips. Repeat. Until you jerked in climax and pushed her face from between your thighs, which now glistened in the dark with your cum smeared over it.
You still felt her strongly; through the ache in your nipples and the mint in your areola. Through the afterthrust slackness of your pussy. Through the taste of her the she left in your mouth. Through the smell of her soaked in the sheets. Then you turned over to her, but she was no longer there.
Days glided by like a filmstrip of unfortunate events. They glided past with a series of unreplied WhatsApp messages, unreturned texts, unanswered calls, unsatisfied cravings and a severe emotional rollercoaster. She seemed like a dream. Or, a vanishing spray in your consciousness. She fiddled your sanity and caressed your insecurities. She was there when you least expected and wasn’t when you wanted her. So, you got out of the emotional mess you were becoming and headed straight to his house for an angry sex. The type of sex you execute on someone for the wrong of another. A transfer-of-aggression type of sex. The type he would know was not meant for him.
He stood in front of you, towel tied loosely around his waist, hand on the door and shock on his face, transfixed. His mouth opened and closed, yet no words came out. Very familiar. You had seen this before. It was like an agonising déjà vu.
‘Someone is inside, right?’ You asked.
He said nothing, so you knew. Unlike the first time it happened, you were not hurt. You felt nothing. Not anger. Not hurt. It felt as though you had not been with him for the past eight months. So, you turned around and left, never to return. You never would have thought leaving would be so easy. Not leaving him as he stood there with an erection poking against his towel, but leaving the relationship in its entirety. Bloated in indifference, you floated out of the gate. Out of his life. To a lodge at the other side of town. To the gate of a luxury lodge that housed a lady who had awoken the butterflies inside of you.
You walked through the unmanned gate into the compound, and you asked the first person you met about Zully. He said he didn’t know anyone by that name. You asked another lady. She said she knew everyone in the lodge, and that she was certain there was no one who bore that name. Then it dawned on you, the game you had been a pawn of.
Cheated on by him, played by her.
But in all of these you were grateful, for fate’s answer to an unasked question. You were grateful for the glow that had now awoken in a dark, empty, curious part of your heart. You were grateful for the kiss that had awoken the beautiful butterflies inside of you, that you did know of their existence. You were grateful because the glowing butterflies had illuminated a new path for you to thread in search of happiness.
So, it happened, just like it started, that you were in a party. Inebriated from alcohol. Dancing with this other girl. And you leaned over, and kissed her decorously. And she withdrew immediately, and walked away, licking her lips. But it was too late. A glint had appeared in her eyes and brightened them. And you smiled to yourself, knowing that you might have just awoken the butterflies inside of her.