On this side of the world, your clothes stick to your body in an uncomfortable embrace and the sun is not familiar with mercy. The nights are no different as the moon and sun are in an eternal conversation; they hardly ever disagree and hardly ever give us respite from the heat. The clouds on the other hand are quite sympathetic…empathic to unfriendly degrees. The clouds shed tears because the Sun and Moon are not merciful to us. Somehow, their tears become unmerciful to us; taking houses away, children too I heard in the news last night and grandparents. What use are tears if they aren’t shed in moderation? They just cause more pain and heartache.
It is unusual how I woke up this morning thinking about the elements.
Maybe it was because I could not get more than two hours of sleep just a little before dawn. If it were possible to shed even my skin so I could have gotten proper sleep, I would have without thinking twice.
My name is Teniola Red. I’m half Nigerian and the other half of me is British and French. I have fair skin and hair that is strawberry red. Both my parents are dead and I have lived most of my life in France but a few months ago I moved to Nigeria with the hope that I will find myself here. I have tried modelling, acting, singing even dancing and failed terribly so now I’m trying my hands at writing. The publishing firm wants the first draft of my book in a month and I don’t even have a plot yet.
“Ugh.” I fling the pen out my flat window and light a cigarette while finding myself a spot beside the window. My neighbor’s husband all but drops his briefcase when he sees me barely clad in underwear and a cigarette. He rearranges his face before his wife sees him gawking.
“Good morning, Mrs Akinyemi!” I call from my window with mischief shining brightly in my eyes.
“Good mo-“, her greeting catches in her throat as she raises her eyes from her phone to look in my direction…ultimately at my body.
I see shock, jealousy, anger and malice flash in her eyes in quick succession before she hisses and says: “Dapo je ka ma lo. Ki lo n ranju mo?! Wonu moto fun mi, my friend!”
I wink at Mr Akinyemi shamelessly and continue puffing my cigarette as husband and wife hastily enter their car and drive off.
“Hahahahaha! That was a good one. Totally worth it.”
My laughter is hollow and it echoes through my house reminding me that I’m the one who is alone and not Mrs Akinyemi. I trudge towards the refrigerator and pour myself some vodka, letting it burn a trail down my throat and allowing it make a fireplace in my stomach.
What is wrong with me?
I rummage through the untidy pile of clothes on my bed for something comfortable to wear in this heat. I finally settle for a tank top and a pair of shorts. I reach for my wallet on top of my wardrobe, feeling around for the leather possession. My hand finds a nylon bag.
A smile claims my lips as I grasp the nylon bag in my hand, walking towards the living room table.
I may not have to go out after all.
I remember Nike left her coke here before she traveled to Abuja. I watched her snort some of the stuff before she collapsed on my sofa swearing softly.
“What is it with you and this stuff?” I asked her as I offered her a glass of juice.
She was looking at me but she wasn’t really seeing me. Her eyes were hazy and she had a new moustache of white.
“You can’t understand till you’ve tried it”
“Pshht! Not my thing.”
I eyed her as she lay on the sofa with her head thrown back. She looked content.
I arrange the powdery substance into three lines as I saw her do that day. Only the lines are thicker and a little shorter.
Was this how she did it?
I can’t be precise in these things. I am not familiar with them. I close my eyes and count to three preparing myself for the euphoria.
Oh my God…
Is this euphoria?
My head feels light. Very light…
Did Nike snort all three lines at once?
Did the room spin?
Were her fingers tingling?
Was her skin cold?
Did her heart threaten to burst out of her ribcage?
Realizing that I still have control of my legs, I hurry to the kitchen and run water over my head, hoping it will return me to normal condition. But now the kitchen is spinning and the water won’t stop running.
Am I turning the tap the right way?
I hold on to the kitchen sink for dear life before the water, the flood, pulls me under.
Why is it so dark?
Am I dying?! Oh my God! Am I dying?!!
Oh my God! Oh my God!
The darkness is suffocating. The darkness is thick. The darkness is palpable. The darkness is an entity.
Somebody help me!
The darkness is coming for me! It’s coming inside me!
Can anybody hear me?!
There is a…bright light.
A very bright light
Photo credit: http://www.creativefan.com