Amina’s eyes flew open and she was awake, startled. Her heartbeat drummed out all sound, and for a few seconds, she couldn’t breathe. She was terrified. She had no idea why. Focus eluded her as stared into the darkness. Then she heard a sound louder than her heart, piercing the silence. “Wake up sleepy head! Wake up sleepy head” She stretched an arm, grabbed her cell phone and tossed it with all her strength. There was a sickening crunch and the sound died down, but she could still hear the loud vibrations. At least it wasn’t broken.

Amina shut her eyes and steadied her breathing. Her sleep was gone. The alarm was annoying, but effective. She reached for her bedside radio and switched it on. “Oh what a beautiful morning, it sang. She groaned and flipped to another station. “I want to get away, I want to flyyyyyy away!” Me too, she sighed She spread her arms, searching for an abandoned pillow. If only she could go back to sleep…

“Monday mornings are the worst, aren’t they?”

Amina froze. Something in her blocked. Slowly, she sat up and reached for her lamp. Her fingers hesitated, afraid, then she pressed the switch. It took a second for her eyes to adjust to the light, and a few more to adjust to the sight. He was just over six feet, dark skin, broad shoulders, muscled chest, strong legs. He stood in a towel, droplets sliding down his gorgeous body, eyes intently fixed on her. And she had no idea who he was.

Amina had a million questions in her mind, but none of them would form. She opened her mouth, shut it, tried again, stopped herself. Then she noticed that his eyes had shifted from her face, and she followed his gaze. The sheet had slipped, exposing her skin. She grabbed it and covered herself. Not sure why. The stranger laughed, a loud, hearty laugh that made her want to join him.

“A bit late to be shy isn’t it?” he teased, a twinkle in his eye. He started to fiddle with the towel at his waist, and Amina blushed, looking away. Finally, she gathered her courage.

“Who are you?”

The man didn’t answer, and Amina looked up. He was quiet, and his eyes looked almost…hurt. He stared at her for a long moment, then sighed dramatically.

“You could at least pretend to remember my name. Call me sweetie or gorgeous – it’s what I would do.”

Amina took a deep breath, feeling overwhelmed, and just a little irritated.

“Who are you, and what are you doing in my room?”

He grinned. “What do half naked men usually do in your room?” he asked.

Amina resisted the urge to throw something at him. This was wrong. It didn’t add up. Here she was in her bedroom with a gorgeous naked man – half naked – and yet she wasn’t scared. She had no idea who he was, but he was quite comfortable…so he must know her – but then how could he, she had never seen him in her life.

The man just watched her as these thoughts whirled through her mind. He had the oddest smile on his lips, and the most delicious look in his eyes. But who the hell was he, and what was he doing in her room?

Amina’s thoughts were interrupted by a loud swing as the door flew open.

“Kim ! Thank God you’re still here! I thought you had…ooooh hi Mina”

Amina stared at her best friend, Stacy. Stacy was fully dressed, and her make-up was in place. She was, clearly, a morning person. She also never missed a beat.

“I see you’ve met. Good. We’ll just get out of your way now,” she said, grabbing Kim’s arm and pulling him out of the room. Kim, for his part, was reluctant.

“Stacy – what the hell-”

“I’ll explain later. Promise. I’ll call you.” And with that they were both gone.

Amina stared at the door, her mind in a frustrating fuzz. What on earth had just happened? And who was that gorgeous boy? Then the thought registered. Stacy. He was with Stacy. Whoever that beautiful man was, it didn’t matter; he was with Stacy.

Amina sat at the table sipping her tea. The paper lay in front of her, and her eyes stared absently at the TV. Stacy sat next to her, picking at her muesli. Amina hated muesli. She kept a pack specifically for Stacy. Stacy had a habit of showing up unannounced, and leaving the same way. After years of being woken in the middle of the night to open the door to the ever gorgeous Stacy and some random date, Amina had given her a spare key.

“ I met him at the club last night. Isn’t he beautiful?”

Amina mumbled a response.

“We didn’t do anything though. He was too tired. He fell right asleep. I’ve never known a guy to do that.”

“Maybe he blacked out.”

“That’s just it, he didn’t touch a drink all night. He just sat there being gorgeous and brooding over his meal. If he wasn’t such an Adonis I’d never have brought him home.”

“Shame” Amina mumbled.

“I don’t think I’m going to keep him…”

“You’re not?”

“No…too serious. He’s more your type. I like them blonde and beautiful not dark and creepy. He looks like the type who’d spend hours on a chess game.”

Amina’s heart rate rose slightly, but she kept her eyes on the screen.

“Then why’d you bring him here?”

“Thought I might get lucky. They say those dark types are VERY talented.”

“I’ll bet.”

“He asked for your number.”

Amina tried to control her voice. “He did?!”

Stacy’s laugh was only half mocking. “And here I thought you weren’t a morning person.”

“I’m not.”

“You noticed him didn’t you, and you were half asleep.”

“Stacy, you could be half dead and you’d notice that boy. A stone straight man would notice that boy.”

“He is beautiful, isn’t he.” Stacy sighed. “Well, you can have him. I refuse to waste my time. He makes me feel blonde.”

“Stacy, you ARE blonde.”

“Exactly. I don’t need a man to rub it in!!”

Case of the ex… and the ex… and the ex… and the ex…

What is this, some kind of convention? Did someone send a memo out calling all formers? Was there a public announcement on Kiss this morning, or Nyambane’s salaams show? [Does that still air?]

Lets begin at the beginning. Entrance. Gypsy. White top, lace, bare shoulders, puff sleeves, and just a touch of cleavage. Nice solid corset inside to keep everything in place – but he’s seen me without it, and he doesn’t mind. Floral skirt, tiered, chocolate brown, matches my skin. Sash at the waist, other sash at the hair, coyly wrapped around the dreads. I skipped the shawl wrap, that’s tacky. Boots, black, calf length, drowned in the skirt. No spikes, I need to walk, and maybe even dance.

He looks gorgeous as always in a ripped jeans and a vest with that shirt open over it. I love that shirt. How I love that shirt. The shoes are cool too. Suede, deep brown, and none of that elfin pointy-tip or open toe that so annoys me. He smells great, probably Calvin Klein. Or maybe Boss. Nah, probably some non-descript thing he grabbed off an Uchumi shelf. He’s sweet like that, not into branding. I’m on Nivea floral, the fresh one. I usually wear the blue scent, but not tonight. He likes this one. He says I smell girly.

I shouldn’t really be here. It’s a work thing. But his boss said to bring a date, and you know I can’t say no. That’s why I’m here. Coz I’m an idiot and I can’t say no. And also coz he wore that shirt.

It’s not like I had any plans. Just ice cream and DVDs. No biggie. Godfather, the Underworld, then LOTR. We could have stayed home and watched them. It took me ten minutes to get ready. Ten minutes!! He likes that about me, I never make him wait. Damn that shirt.

He strolls in, bounces really, with that spring that so annoys me, all casual, arm on my bare shoulders. I can smell him, and I want to melt, but it doesn’t mean anything. I look around, spot the bar, squint. YES! They have malta.

‘It’s kinda warm in here. I’m going to go over there and-’

I don’t get beyond that as I hear the squeal. Some girl – she must be a girl – all I saw was ribbons and hair – flies off the ground and onto my date. I’m bumped off his arm and onto the gr…no wait, there’s a sofa to cushion my fall. Phew. I consider my options. I could gracefully [heeeheee] get up and cover. Or drop my gypsy hankie and feign picking it up. Or I could sit back and watch the fun…

Thank heavens for bohemia. My skirt’s a floor sweeper, so no embarrassing sights. My dignity’s intact, I’m all covered up. My hair’s still in place. She squeaking now, and covering him with kisses. Red lipstick. And she didn’t blot. Drat.

…she’s missed him so, he looks fabulous, love the shirt, why didn’t he call her, what’s he been up to…and who is…that!?

She ‘notices’ me, finally, gives me the once over. I’ve somehow arranged myself into a pose, legs crossed under my skirt, boots peeping out underneath, hands…well I couldn’t think what to do with my hands.

‘That your new girl?’ she asks. She’s not worried. I’m half the girl she is, she reckons. Her dress is shorter, and tighter, her claws are longer. I am so not taking this one. They proceed pleasantries, and she whisks him off to some corner somewhere, but he’s nice, a gentleman, one of the good ones. I liiiiiiike hiiiiim. He stops in mid-whisk, takes my hand, pulls me to my feet and asks, ‘thirsty?’ He gives me this look, and in that second, I’m the belle of the ball.

Short-skirt gets mad and storms off someplace, not noticing that he didn’t introduce me, or answer her question : that’s your new girl?

We’re part way to the bar when the next one comes. Power suit, short and sweet. The legs. He has a thing for legs. It’s why I hide mine. I hear the heels before I see them, and hands slip over his eyes. She’s little, she has to tiptoe to reach. The suit is red. I don’t stand a chance.

She giggles, she flips the bob, she drops her hands. He hugs her and she’s lost in his arms. Literally. She’s so tiny! How he ever fit is…none of my business. Get a grip CB !! She doesn’t notice me, not openly, but I can see the glances and jabs. I’m starting to inch away when she looks me straight in the eye. It’s a stare-down. Three seconds – I was never any good at this game. She wins, dismisses me, walks away. I don’t cut it. I’m not good enough. ‘Baaayeeeeee!’ I hate the way they draw those syllables.

A few more pounce between the floor and the bar. All shapes and sizes. He’s been around, this one! Hotshots, wallflowers, shy girls, prom queens, the lot. They all have him in common. They all suss out his new girl. And in all their eyes, I don’t pass. Must be the skirt.

I’m just sipping my drink when she appears. Ooooooh HER. I can’t fight her. Coz he’s not over her. I can see it in his eyes, the way he looks at her, the way he hugs his glass when he looks at her, the way he grips it’s misty curves like…get a grip woman!!

She’s simply dressed. Jeans and a tee. Boots, like mine. But brown suede. Matching his. They smile at each other, they hug, a warm easy hug that’s way too long. She sits between us and looks at me. She sizes me up for a second while I panic. What to do? Should I speak? Should I stare? Should I drink? Should I walk away?

“Hi. I’m Sue.”


Her hand is stretched out, so I can’t ignore it. She made the first move, so she has advantage. I can’t be a bitch, coz she’s ‘nice’ compared. I can’t claim she’s being mean to me, dissing me, bullying me. I can’t describe the subtle tone in her voice without being paranoid. I can’t win! I return the handshake. ‘CB.’ She smiles.

I want to hate her. I need to hate her. I’m trying so hard to hate her. But she’s so damn nice! Everyone adores her. The others avoid her. He’s all over her, and she never oversteps. She leaves me ‘my space’. But while she’s seated there, I’m nothing but a skirted, booted bar stool.

The night is over, he drives me home. He’ll notice if I’m quiet, so I fake it. Cheerful, grinning, lots of stories. ‘Did you see the guy at the pool table? He’s crazy! Who makes shots like that?’ That’s Mo, he explains, champion snookist. ‘And the guy on the bass? He was awesome! I’d love to jam with him sometime.’ He can organize a session, naturally. He can do anything. He’s just amazing like that. ‘Did you have fun tonight? It was a great party. The food was great.’ He’s glad. He was sure I’d love the cake. He knows I can’t resist a blackforest.

We’re at my door. He’s thanking me. He hasn’t mentioned them. He didn’t know they’d be there. He hasn’t mentioned her. We’re talking. It’s a pretty night. The stars are out, the moon is twinkling – or something like that. There’s a gentle breeze. Lots of mosquitoes too. My shrouded legs are safe, but my poor arms! I’m scratching like it’s lice ! I hate mosquitoes.

He’s laughing. I love it when he laughs. I’m slapping them off, but I keep missing. He’s staring at my shoulder. He’s gone still. He’s inching closer, concentrating. I can’t breathe. He’s raising a finger ever so slowly, inching to my skin. I’m trembling- I must be. Then PAP. He slaps the shoulder and I jump. He caught one. I don’t know what look is on my face, but he looks at it and laughs harder. Then he moves his head to my shoulder and blows off the dead thing. It doesn’t move, so he flicks it off. I tingle at his touch.

His phone rings, and he checks to see who’s calling. I see the smile. I know it’s her. But he doesn’t answer. He talks a bit more, then he hugs me. Firm and long. I like the way he hugs. Thanks for the night, you’re a lifesaver. A true pal. My tummy just broke. Shattered in a million pieces. I hope he didn’t hear it. ‘Anytime’.

He leans forward and I shut my eyes, but the kiss doesn’t come. Not where I want it anyway. It’s on my cheek. He pulls back and the phone rings again. He turns and heads for the car. I can see him answer as he gets into it and drives away, still with that smile on his lips.

In the movies, the girl is supposed to get into the house, slam the door shut, lean against it and sink to the floor crying. But I feel kinda numb, and this isn’t really a movie. So I sit on the step, stare at the moon, curse the mosquitoes and sigh. This is going to be a looooooong night.

PS : Fiction. Had you going for a while there, no?