He said he thought I was pretty, that my smile reminded him of his mother. I smiled even more.
It was at the park, this new space of comfort I had discovered. I’d often go there and listen to the wind, its music, notes dancing into each other, fading into nothingness. The trees, swaying to their melodies.
He came to sit beside me. His perfume, the smell of chamomile and maybe strawberry. I don’t even know if that’s a thing. There was a scar on his forehead, he said his mother gave him the scar. He had mistakenly toppled over a plate of soup, she took the plate and beat his face. I wanted to know more about this mother who beat her child on the face with a plate.
She used to see things, others did not see. Demons. Lies. Evil intents. Everything invisible. But she’s pretty and you smile just like her.” He said, tapped my shoulder and left.
I made nothing out of it. His mum is crazy and I smile like her, so?
He was at the Park the next day, the next and the next. Everyday, I’ll find him lodging underneath a tree, reading a book and we would have absurd conversations and he’d leave. He always left before me.
He was seated at same place when I got to the park today.
“A book a day….”
“Urr… Keeps the pretty girls away?”
“I sat beside him, and it felt like I had known him since ages past.”
“How are you pretty?”
“Pretty unwell.” He smiled. I continued “Why are you always here? You have a wife? A kid? A dog?”
“I have myself. Why are you always here too?”
“Me too, for escape.”
I rested my head on his shoulder, he leaned closer. I closed my eyes and listened for the music in the wind but found a new song,his heartbeat. We left together that day, he walked me home and promised to check on me often. It was the first time we exchange contacts. The next day we were together again, he took me to a luxury resort at the outskirt of the city. Quitting my job gave me ample time to move around like I didn’t have much of a future, it what about him? Who goes to a park everyday?
So when we settled on our comfy bamboo seats and his perfume filled my nostrils like his presence filled my life, the first question I asked him was if he had a job.
“I actually own my own business”
“But you should check up on your employees sometimes.”
“Yea, I do” he’s smiling again and I’m melting in my seat. “You are such a fine man” it comes out of my mouth before I think about it.
“You are pretty too.”
We talk about everything from family to books and celebrities and money. We talk about love and life and sex and children. And then he breaks it, without any warning signs, without preparing my heart for what is about to come.
“The doctors say I have less than 6 weeks to live, I’ve spent most of it trying to take in the environment”
I numb out for a second and then manage to bring myself back to reality.
“This is the 6th week”
“You are not leaving me” I entwined my fingers in his, he held onto me tightly and tears filled his eyes.
“I want to stay and do this with you”
“Then stay” my voice was shaking and tears filled my eyes as well.
“Words are just what they are” he said staring deeply into me. I fell into his arms again and let myself weep till my eyes hurt.
It was the last time we visited any park or resort, we’d spend the remaining days of his life hopping on boat cruises and seeing movies.
The night he left, he had just gotten home after dropping me off from our time at the cinema. I thought we’d have one more extra day, and another, and another but it was the last. When the call came through and I heard a strange voice on the other end of the line, I knew it was over.
by Farida Adamu
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