Today, as you lie in bed listening to the noisy sound of the rain drumming on the roof, with intervals of storms slashing through the wind, her blue jacket continues to dangle in its hanger. It is there as always, like an ornament which has become a part of your room. You keep wondering why you only notice it at awkward times like when it rains heavily with thunderstorms threatening the earth or midnights when the room is lit by the moon’s brightness and mosquitoes continue to sing around your ears. Maybe it was nature’s own way of reminding you of her.
You recall now, that the very first time she had come visiting was on a Saturday evening. That day even though it was only 6pm, the moon stood like a white rock in the dark ruling over the sky. You had been a bit concerned that it was rather too late but she insisted that the night was still young and that the early darkness was as a result of the shorter days and longer nights condition. This had soothed your conscience and made you feel relaxed. You quickly fixed her the fastest thing possible, the Indomie and boiled egg you had bought from your caretaker’s wife.
She had not planned to stay long but the downpour came without warning. Her blue jacket could not keep her warm enough so you wrapped the blanket around her shoulders to shield her from the freezing wind. As you both waited for the rain to stop, you sat side by side watching Guardians of the Galaxy on your laptop. Then came the lingering stare that made you notice for the first time that her eyes were light brown. It wasn’t just the colour but the amusement in them when you told her you wished the superheroes Marvel comics created were truly real. You both share a laugh. It was the kind of laugh that was beyond the surface joke. The kind that made you reach for her hand and she leaned on your shoulder. The kind that led to whispers and then the taste of her lips that sent a rush into your head, making you shiver until your reasoning became numb and emotions took over the night.
You had woken up, at midnight, to the sound of mosquitoes hovering around your ear. You would have spent time smacking the piercing insects with your two palms but then you found her sleeping soundly next to you. You wondered how anyone could sleep peaceably in the mosquito invaded room. You observed the radiant glow the moon’s rays that penetrated through the wind gave her light skin. Prior to that time, you never knew you were attracted to light skinned girls until that night. Just watching her fascinated you and filled you with a rare awe. As her soft breathing warmed your neck, you forgot about the buzzing mosquitoes and the only thing you thought of then was a forever with her.
She had woken up very early the next day, with unreadable lines across her face, searching for her clothes. You tried to talk her into staying till the sun took full control but without a word to you, she dashed out of your room and into the mild morning.
In the weeks that followed, you thought of nothing else but her and her blue jacket which she had forgotten underneath the blanket. You had hung it in front of your wardrobe hoping she would come back to get it. You wanted her to come back. And she did.
The day she came back, you wanted to let out your joy but then the gloom that overshadowed her eyes made you wonder if they were ever light brown or just plain black. She had sat on the bed, for close to thirty minutes in silence, with her hands covering her face. You observed her quietly.
“Koffi, I’m two weeks in.”
“What?” you asked not sure what that was suppose to mean.
“I’m pregnant,” she snapped.
You wanted to say, but it was only once, just one time, but it was too much of a cliché to let roll out of your tongue. As you watched tears roll down her cheeks from those eyes you were no longer sure of their colour you wanted to scream, someone shoot me already. Never had you imagined being on this side. The side of getting a girl pregnant, of watching her cry accusingly that you were the only one that ever seen her thighs, of being a father at barely twenty. This sort of thing only happened in home videos your mother watched often. The home videos where either Ramsey Noah or Emeka Ike would impregnate only one girl, Genevieve Nnaji. It was never meant to happen in reality, at least not your reality, you thought to yourself.
You, more than her, wanted to break down and weep like a child whose mother would beat the living day light out of him for disobedience. You thought of your mother, how disappointed she would be. How she would be ready, if she could, to chase you round the compound with her long pestle for your carelessness. How she had expressly warned you wait till you were married before acquiring children like liabilities.
And your father? You shrunk at the thought of his sullen stare, that would question the very essence of your existence. You imagine his faith in you scattering to the ground like a glass. He had advised you to wait until you were a ‘big’ man before drawing any woman close to your family chamber. He had said it was easier to maintain a woman when one was successful because they were like cars that needed daily warming and high maintenance in order for one to have a smooth ride in life.
You wanted to run and hide from eyes that would soon come hunting for you. This can’t be happening you told yourself. You snapped out of your thoughts when her lips began to move.
“That’s the only solution, Koffi. We both can’t handle a child right now in our lives,” she said and switched back to the silence mood.
You kept trying to figure out what she had said before the solution part of her statement. You needed to stay alert in order to hear her words clearly. The silence that hung between the both you had been the thickest you had ever experienced until she broke it again.
“Aborting this child is the only way out!” she said stiffly.
Your eyes widened at the sound of abortion. That was a word that only actors used but not real humans like you. Your hands became cold and sweaty and unstable. They trembled controllably. All you heard in your head was murderer. You wanted to tell her not to but you didn’t have such power. You had been stripped of every power since the day you touched her and was not yet able to maintain the engine in the car. You had ridden in a borrowed car you couldn’t afford and it crashed.
The following week, you had gotten a call from her best friend informing she was dead. The word dead seemed to have stopped your breath for some seconds. Like a heart attack, it struck your being. You were now the murderer of two lives, you blamed yourself. Things had become all too messy. You became as cold as ice and as your eyes met her jacket, more chills ran down your spine. Simbi can’t be dead just like that, you whispered to yourself.
Now that you look at it, you know you should get rid of it after several years of the incident. You know it had over stayed its welcome and that it is there to haunt you for the rest of your life. Still you are afraid to let it go. You are afraid if you do you will be losing memories of her presence. You still want to inhale her scent and imagine her slender frame in the jacket. You still need a reminder about cars and maintenance. You never want to make the same mistake twice.
Suddenly, you hear a knock on your iron protector, after the rain, and go to see who it is. It’s the new girl who recently moved in. She has the same undeterminable eye colour, a light skin that had an elegant radiance any time of the day, small ears that would be deaf to the sound of mosquitoes. But what stands out is her jacket that looks exactly the same as Simbi’s.
She says she wants to watch the new Marvel blockbuster movie, Black Panther, in your laptop. You are tempted to let her in but then you remember the blue jacket that hangs boldly in front of your wardrobe. You check your wristwatch and it is 6 o’clock sharp, the same time Simbi had come. Goodness, not again , you mumble to yourself.
You think of giving her your laptop but that will only make her come back. You don’t want her to come back. So you simply tell her your laptop crashed last night and watch her leave with a long face. You are unapologetic about the lie because you still aren’t ready to maintain beautiful cars.
Written by: Jennifer Chioma Amadi
“IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER”…