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SCALLOPED SURFACES: A short story by Crown Nwachukwu

“I slept with a man last night.

There was a kindness in his eyes that appealed to my sense of giving. But he was the one who gave and gave all.

Empathy was evident in the slight bend of his neck and the whispery hush in his voice when he asked me questions;
‘Are you okay?’
‘What do you care for?’.

He ordered me a full tilapia inside a bowl of afang soup with wheat and fresh juice. He is the kind of man who made a woman comfortable. The kind that pays the bill. A girl standing across the road levelled a glowering look on my big hand bag in his hands. He carried it happily and led the way while I sidestepped beside him swinging my arms to the sway of my hip.

But at midnight, when he placed a palm tentatively on my left thigh, I shrugged it off.
‘You don’t want me to touch you’ he asked
‘Yes, don’t!’
‘Why?’ He asked again, this time a sulking whisper
‘Cos it’s not necessary.

I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for his reaction. I don’t know what full blooded man accepted such lame reason from a girl at night.
‘OK’ he said and drew a long deep breath. The breath, hot and crisp blew across my nose. He drew the sheets and turned the other way.”

“That was it?’, Mrs Ebere asked.
“I couldn’t believe it too. His niceness made me weary. It bothered me. It bothered me because I couldn’t give him back. The attraction was zero mum.”

Nneka watched her mum’s expression dance to different anxieties. She had been listening with keen interest. Earlier, when she said she slept with a man last night, the knife she was cutting ‘ugu’ with fell off her hand and clinked on the tray.

That fake naivety of Nigerian mothers. The assumption that their daughters only thread on holy grounds and say hello to angels on the street until a man from heaven comes to marry them. A knowing naivety that didn’t help matters. But now, her brows were creased with concern.

“So, where’s he now?”, she inquired.
“He proposed and I said I will think about it but I’m never going back.”
‘You are stupid!’
Nneka jumped out of her skin.
“Mum I don’t have chemistry for him.”
“I said you are stupid!” She lashed out again, emphatically raising her voice at the word ‘stupid’.
“How can a rich gentleman come for you and you are blabbing about chemistry and physics?
” But….”
“These many books you read have distanced you from reality.”
“Mum…”
“You will go back and say yes to him!”

Sprawled on her bed later that night, Nneka wondered why. Why were things not just seamless and straight? Why are there too many scalloped surfaces in this world? If only Kenneth didn’t drool spit from the corners of his mouth like a mentally retarded when he spoke or run to the loo, twice in five minutes like a child about to wee on his pants. His niceness couldn’t cover for his slowness; A daft unassuming slowness to things.

Nneka knew, although her friends are going to say ‘congratulations’ to her and her mother will add another lacy buba to her collections, to further hide her womanness, she knew she would never be happy.
“You will go back and say yes to him!”. Her mothers voice rang in her head again and caused a sudden dizziness.

She pulled open a can of coke and never drank it all through the night.

Image credit: pixabay


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