Celebrating East African Writing!
It is three days after Valentine and you have finally decided to call. Everything in me knows better than to answer, this reads exactly like what any world smart girl would call an extension of a Vegas weekend. I have not visited Vegas, but I have watched enough Hollywood movies to know that a good time looks like and when it is time to bring a weekend trip to an end.
My friends say that I have started to suffer from over-exposure; that after four weeks in Vienna, I have awoken a sort of incurable wanderlust causing me to fantasize and talk constantly about road-trips. Naturally, I grew defensive and quoted Robin Sharma and listed the benefits of appreciating other cultures then went ahead to incite a few close friends into skipping town for the weekend. It was not all my idea, though. The said friends are either overworked or hungry for a new adventure to break the tired Monday-to-Sunday monotony of a Nairobi millennial’s existence.
Kagwi’s wedding stuck out as the perfect excuse to go away for a few days without needing to call in sick or postpone client meetings. Our mutual friend was getting married on a Saturday all the way in Meru. Neither of us had been to Meru, but we had heard the stories about winding smooth tarmac roads and speeding pickups overloaded with batches of khat. There was also the prospect of catching a glimpse of Mount Kenya before our August hike.
There were four main highlights of the weekend: how impressive the services offered at our hotel were when matched with what we paid, seeing our friend break down when she saw us because she had assumed that we would be unavailable to witness her out-of-town nuptials, the after-party where we danced and drunk with good-looking strangers until the wee hours of Sunday morning, and the comfortable free ride back into the city in the bride’s stretch limousine on account of her putting in a good word for us with the vehicle’s owner.
When I first saw you attempting to arrange the bride and groom’s family for pictures, I thought little of you. Any good master-of-ceremony should be loud and brash enough to get things done without actually annoying the general mass. I only took note of you at the reception where you kept the crowd sufficiently tickled so that there was always a large group of people dancing throughout the whole afternoon, all this in spite of the sweltering heat preceding an evening downpour and the two hour delay by the bridal party at their private photography session. I walked up to you, kept a slight distance, pretending to be searching for my friends, so you would talk to me.
“Hello there. I’m Kevin.”
“You didn’t let us dance with the bride. Who does that?”
Your forehead glistened from all your dancing and you wiped your hand on your Levi jeans before shaking mine. Soft hands and a good cologne. I decided then that I liked you.
“A man with a deadline. The administration would have kicked us out otherwise. Where’s your boyfie?”
“Who? Nah, Mark isn’t my boyfriend.”
You looked away and smiled. The sides of your glass frames read: Ray-Ban. I had already gleefully noticed that none of your fingers bore a gold band.
“I believe you.”
“I want cake. Me and my friends went to take pictures and missed cake.”
You looked towards the cake stand, called out the matron’s name and then took my hand. I liked that you got things done. I liked how daring and in-charge you were. I liked that I would be dancing with you later in the evening, because I was certain of it.
“We’re going to Anne’s for a while. Join me.”
“I can’t ditch my friends. And I need to shower and change.”
“Let me sort something. I’ll be back.”
You took too long to get back so I decided to leave with Mark and Muthoni. Lucy and Kawira had already left. I ran into you at the parking lot while Muthoni fished for something in her handbag. Now that I had cleared things up about Mark, you walked past him and pulled me aside.
“Are you leaving without me?”
“You can come with us and wait while I freshen up, if you want.”
I was pushing it. Even then, you seemed to consider it for a while and I was only too glad that you appeared so remorseful about turning me down.
“I can’t. You know I can’t. But I’ll see you at Shade-Net?”
You took my hand and looked up at me, leaving me a little flustered.
My friends went on and on about the obvious visibility of lust on his face and my laughable responsiveness to a stranger’s charm. It took some resolve to keep from showing my eagerness to leave our rooms. We left two hours behind schedule, giddy with excitement and expectation. You arrived almost two hours later, sweeping your eyes across the room and keeping your gaze locked on me while I danced a little more seductively and made as if I had not seen you. I also feigned surprise when you slowly made your way to me, stopping to exchange pleasantries along your way, and stood behind me and wrapped your hand around my waist and whispered something in my ear. I could not make out what it was, but you also asked whether I was hungry. I told you that I had eaten. When you asked me to dance with you I said that I was a little out of practice. You said you were not a great dancer either.
You kept a respectable distance and swayed with great ease. I remembered making silly jokes with my girlfriends about the parallel between men’s dancing abilities and their sexual prowess. When I tried to hide the smile resulting from this recollection, you pulled me to yourself and asked what I was thinking.
“I’ve never known nothingness to be that amusing.”
“You lied about being out of practice.”
“So did you. Now I’m curious about what else you haven’t told me.”
“What do you want to know?”
“I’ll let you decide. But first, we’ll go into the deejay’s booth so I can make one final announcement.”
“Lead the way.”
I could not stop thinking about how soft your hands were when you led me to the corner room with tinted windows. There was only one free seat and you insisted that I should sit and rest my feet so we could really set the dancefloor on fire. When you spoke into the microphone, informing the gathering that there was still plenty of food left, the huskiness of your voice startled me. Later, when we were not dancing, we stepped out for some fresh air. You said that you did not drink on the job and I sipped on a can of Red Bull like a good sobriety partner would, afraid of what I was capable of doing if I allowed myself to get even faintly tipsy around you.
“Where are you staying?”
“Nevada. Feeling tired?”
A small part of me died. I pulled out my phone and said something about having a cab driver’s number, that he was expecting my call anyway and that I needed to start thinking of Monday. You took my phone and slipped it into your pocket and looked squarely into my face, your hands in your pockets. My mind went to a movie scene where an art thief had visited the same museum he would eventually rob every single day for a month; he could not seem to get enough of a Picasso he had come across several years before as an awkward teenager.
“I’ll drop you off.”
“I might want to stay a little longer. Look, you’ve had a long day. Keep the phone. I mean, all my contacts are useless anyway.”
You laughed like a little boy, walked up to me and kissed the corner of my lips. It was such an effortless attempt, but I was drowning in your presence. Jah Cure’s Stronger started playing and you held me and swayed while whispering the lyrics in my ear. I cursed the desperate need to kiss you. When you suddenly pulled me to your car no words were spoken until we got to the reception where I picked my room key. It was my turn to be brazen.
“I booked a double, but I’m staying alone.”
You followed me to the room, sat on the edge of the large square bed with starchy white linen stretched out too firmly.
I stood over you while you took off my heels and pushed my dress up my thighs. I sat on your lap, facing you, letting you unzip my dress and kiss on my neck. We fell back on the bed and kissed a little deeper, a little longer, fondling and sighing. My phone rang. Muthoni sounded worried. I explained that I had found my way back to my room and had started to fall asleep. I noticed that you looked exhausted.
“Let’s just lie down for a bit.”
I fell asleep in your arms. The sun rose too soon and you left a little hurriedly. I did not see you again, but my caller identification tells me that you must have gotten my number from someone at the party – maybe even the bride herself – but I know better than to string you along any farther.
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