There was no sound to its tapping. If it produced any, it was swallowed up in the noise around.
It continued to tap. Not in impatience, but with a somewhat restful rhythm. Maybe the rhythm of a soul music. Or jazz. But definitely not afro-pop.
In a sudden twist, the hand steadied to a stop, revealing a bulge of muscle which ran up the wrist of the soft brown hand. Its owner, Ekanem, reached for the muscle. She ran her index finger over it. It bulged right back out as she let go and she hissed. The ostentatiousness of that muscle at the back of her right hand wasn’t something she found flattering.
Her eyes trailed to the knuckles of the same hand. They are too puffy, she thought. A perfect hand is my left. A direct contrast of my right.
A wrangle across the airport’s terminal got Ekanem looking up. Travellers were becoming restless after a two-hour delay of their flight. Many were piqued by the airline’s insolent and uncaring attitude toward its waiting passengers. It was the same flight that had Ekanem sitting on that bench waiting. She would have been irritated if she was going to Lagos for something she considered important. Given an option, she would have opted for a quiet weekend alone in her apartment with some books and lots of cakes and cookies and two jumbo pizzas; maybe pepperoni and half and half. And lots of chicken drumsticks. But her mother had not given her any option. She’d been quite cutely persistent about her attending the grand opening of her high-end boutique.
Ekanem recognised love and pride in her mother’s insistence. She knew she wanted to show her off at the event, and spend time with her in the process. That she treasured. The former she could do without. She loved her mother no doubt but was indifferent whether the flight was delayed, cancelled or not.
Her attention returned to her right hand. She reached into her bag and dug out a moisturiser from it. She squeezed a generous amount into her palm. A lump of hair escaped the back of her ears to cover most of her face. She threw her head back in a bid to drive it behind her shoulder, as she rubbed the moisturiser into her right hand, pressing and tugging, with a quiet resolve to make it as perfect as her left.
In that sweeping movement, her eye caught a sight far down the space. He stood like a five-star Mannequin. His bones were neatly cut and tastefully connected. His face bore a soft yet manly feel. His brow was wild and full, the eyes under it, boasting a rare deep brown. A hollow sat beneath his lips. Those lips spoke pleasures only. Everything around him grovelled to his graces. Ekanem stared, totally enamoured by how one man could look like that.
She wasn’t mindful when his eyes turned to meet hers. But continued to stare, completely lost in the pleasant force that danced around him, until he smiled and her heart skipped a beat, then raced to her throat, compressing her lungs, blocking the flow of air. She then managed a smile and, with a drag, tore her eyes away.
The space suddenly felt hot and congested. Air seemed to have been sucked out of it. An irregular rhythm coloured her heartbeat. She fought the urge to glance at him again but lost. When she looked, his eyes were on her. And he smiled, again, as soon as their eyes met, again.
She felt herself blush; heat rising in her chest. She lowered her eyes, away from everything.
Get a hold of yourself, Ekanem; you’ve seen a fine man before, she chastised herself.
And in a bid to douse the growing uneasiness she was feeling, she reached for her phone in her bag, brought it up, only to have it slip out of her trembling hand and crash on the floor. She swore quietly, and reached for the dismembered part. She’d finished putting it together, but her mind was dancing around the sight she’d just seen, that she kept staring at the dark idle screen, absentmindedly, until his face, laced with the same charming smile, formed on it and she jerked her head up to find him, standing by her with a casual assurance, oozing power and sex.
A soft and warm energy coursed over Ekanem’s skin. Its movement was rapid and sudden. She ignored it and raised an eyebrow at him.
“I think we should kiss and date. That’s the right thing to do when you have this kind of electrifying moment with someone, especially when you are in a crowd like this and you just can’t take your eyes off one particular person and you find out that they can’t take their eyes off you too…you shouldn’t just walk away from it. You should explore it. Something good can come out of it.”
He sounded like he was speaking more to himself than to her. Before she could come up with a response, he settled beside her and her eyes went down with him.
“…I’m going to kiss you now. You could slap and tell me off or you could kiss me back.”
Her tongue still lacked words. He searched her eyes deeply, seeking the truth. He saw glistening want floating over it.
Without a care as to who was watching and who was not, he drew his head, until it was only an inch from hers and closed his eyes, waiting for her to complete the arc.
Ekanem sat, transfixed by shock and admiration, all in one. When she did nothing, he searched her eyes again, to find want still in it, and moved until his lips brushed hers.
It was only a light unsure brush, but something in her pubic region responded with tingles.
Ekanem fought hard to clear her mind of the fog that was coming from him. In weak resistance, she placed both hands against his chest and pushed, reluctantly. She found his chest stronger than she’d imagined it. Her palm felt the rising and falling of its outlines. The beatings of his heart were urgent. Finally she muttered, “Don’t you dare”.
She wasn’t going to give herself to this stranger, so easily.
“Your eyes say otherwise” He smirked and made space between them, then added, “Look, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say or do, but I just can’t walk away without exploring what this moment can birth”
“Don’t waste your time. You’re not my type”
“What’s your type?”
“Everything you are not”
He threw his head around, looking through the crowd. “Is your type here somewhere? I wouldn’t expect anyone to be flustered at the sight of someone who isn’t their type…You shouldn’t let fear rob you of things”
“Fear of what, exactly? Prudence is sometimes mistaken for fear”
“I love prudence; she has wealth in her right hand and long life in her left, but I don’t write off folly because, sometimes God uses it to confound the wise”
“Your life; your choice”, she answered, feigning disinterest.
“Applies to you too. At least I had enough faith to take a chance”
“Churchiness won’t help you change my mind”
“Neither will your stubbornness stop you from desiring me”
“Keep flattering yourself”
“Keep deceiving yourself…You don’t desire me? Prove it. Get up and walk away”
“This is my seat. You get u,p and walk away!”
His eyes steadied on her. There was defiance in the way he looked at her. And in a fit of frustration, he got up and walked away, rolling his suitcase behind him.
She watched him go and didn’t know how to feel as he did.
Her eyes followed him till he got to the other end of the space, and followed him when he turned right back toward her. Her heart leaped with joy, when he did. But he didn’t come back to sit with her. Or say anything to her. He left a wide space between them that failed to suck up the tension created by two throbbing hearts.
Ekanem waited patiently for the tension to subside. The more she resisted, the more she felt weakened by it. Her misery was hitting the roof. She stole him a glance to find his lips puckered out in a pout and his mind far from the airport.
What is he thinking about? Has he moved on so quickly? No, he must be thinking of me… wait, what will it matter if he considers me an easy catch or if it doesn’t work out? Why am I resisting this prospect of a happy ending, again? Before an answer surfaced, she threw her head back and got up, walking to him, swaying her hip in wild abandon.
“Is that offer still on the table?”
He looked up. “No. But I can make you a new offer”
“What will it be?”
“There are children within earshot. We could discuss it at the back of a taxi to somewhere with no infant eyes.”
She lowered herself and wiggled between him and the wall beside him. The brushing of their body together confirmed her decision. She reached for him and whispered.
“Or we could kiss and hold hands and kiss some more until take-off?”
“You desperately want to kiss me, huh?”
She nodded and covered his mouth with hers before he could say another word.
It was as demanding as it was fulfilling. She continued until he disengaged to say, “do you have to go to Lagos? I don’t! We could go to the cattle ranch instead… what do you think?”
“I think we should take it slow”
“I think so too, but I can’t…I think we should get married”
“I think we should get to know each other first. What’s your name?”
“Otu Orok. What’s yours?”
“Nice name…I think we should name our first daughter Nkoyo, our first son, Etinyin”
“We’ll get to that after we discuss money”, she answered him firmly.
He chuckled. “Marry me when you are ready”
“Okay! For now let’s just kiss and date”
“See, I’m melting.”
“You talk too much”
“I’m an OAP… What do you do?”
“I’m a Drilling Specialist”
“Ehn ehn …you must marry me o”
“Stop fooling around…let’s kiss again”
“I don’t indulge in pre-marital kissing. Marry me first”
“Let’s see how you treat my heart first”
“Fair enough…let me have it”, he stretched his open palm before her.
“Here, take” Ekanem dropped air on it.
He folded his palm, protectively and moved to place “her heart” inside his box beside him. Ekanem laughed at the gesture until tears formed in her eyes.
“Now, take mine”, he said, holding out his hand.
Ekanem did as he did…And lips went for lips; locking in the longest, deepest, and most coveted kiss, ever!
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov | Dreamstime.com