Tell Me Something Happy

Mòje Ikpeme

There’s a saying in England: Where there’s smoke there’s fire.” – James Bond, From Russia with Love.

It is Obiageli who insists that you start therapy, and gives you her hours, as she is out of the country for the next month. It is also Obiageli who swallows the cost of transportation, effectively ending your last-ditch excuse, when Sanwo Olu suddenly bans okada and kekes in most of Lagos, leaving more than half the city stranded and throwing your already shitty life into more chaos.

The ban takes effect just as the month turns and a new one starts. It is a Saturday and everyone holds their breath, waiting to see how far down they will have to dig this particular pit to make more room for burying themselves, to make room for the shit the government throws on them. You stay home and follow the outrage on Twitter. You retweet every curse, retweet all the concern about how Monday will be worse. When you laugh at the jokes that turn up, you remind everyone with a quoted retweet:

It is not funny, but oh my gad! Ded.

In another tweet you write:

Fam, aswear I don’t even know how I will go to work on Monday!

But you do. On Monday, you’re up before 5am. By 6am you’re at the bus stop at Ebute Meta. There are no buses, only a stretch of people snaking down into the street you have just come from. It is almost fifteen minutes past 7 when the first bus arrives, a man hanging from the door, his voice like a cut in the morning air: Ikeja Iyana paja!

Two other buses arrive and this time, people abandon the queue and start to run aboard. You grab your bag tight before turning to warn the woman behind you not to step on you again, but your words are eaten by the bodies rushing around you. You abandon caution and scramble towards a new bus that is just arriving. This one has no conductor. By the time the buses move out, there are several women on the ground, with clasped hands between their bunched-up knees. Everyone is looking down the road for the next set of buses, but you realize you will never catch a bus here. So you turn towards Costain and start walking.

*

You call Henry twice before you call Obiageli. It is really Henry you want to talk to, but you know how he gets – he does not like phone calls. Especially this early in the morning. If you leave a third missed call he will be angry, and you don’t need that now. You dial Obiageli’s number on WhatsApp. She picks up on the third beep and you lounge at her.

“God will punish this yeye man! See! I will naked and swear for him. My god Obee, I have suffered.”

You are especially mad at yourself because you have managed to show up at work early, being the only person to have done so for that matter, except the cleaners. Which doesn’t count as they live here.

Breathe baby. Breathe… what did Henry do?” Obiageli’s voice is slow and compact in a bored way.

“Which Henry? What could Henry possibly do? He’s the only good thing this country has given me at this point honestly.” You imagine Obiageli rolling her eyes the way she does every time you start to talk about Henry, and it makes you laugh a little.

“It’s our Governor o. That man banned bikes and keke. Do you know how I got to work today? I trekked. Obee I trekked o.”

What? Be serious. Trek ke? You didn’t go from the house?” Obiageli is more animated. You imagine her sitting up on her bed – you imagine her still in bed, her face scrunching up with disbelief and concern. You wonder whether to switch to video call.

“That’s what I’m saying na, there were no buses. People were fighting at the bus stop. I walked till almost Surulere, no bus. I just got an Uber. Three thousand naira Obiageli, 3k! That is what I paid for transport.”

Obiageli says all the things that you love her for. You are a bit calmer, so calm you laugh about the women sitting at the bus-stop. Ola, who shares an office with you arrives, dumps her bag on the table and covers her face on her desk without even saying hi.

Are you going to see Temi?

“How kwa? How Obee? Uber is like three times the price today. I don’t even know how to go home without an okada right now, not to talk of Ikoyi.”

You wonder if Obee actually understands, doubting that anything like this would be any inconvenience to her. She had never pulled up a spreadsheet to stretch out her salary so it delivered her to the next one, hoping that some kind of emergency did not arrive.

So Obiageli gets you an Uber, or rather, sends you money for the Uber because she really doesn’t like the way you have been looking, Iri. I think there is so much you need to unpack that I may be too close to you to help. Go and see Temi, she’s great.

So you go. Trying at first to jump buses so you can save the 10k Obee sends. But after the bus dumps you off at Obalende, you realise you have no idea where to go next. Lara.ng suggests that you take a keke heading towards Falomo. You call an Uber. In the cab, you call Henry again. Surely he’s awake by now. But he doesn’t take the call so you text him on WhatsApp: hey Sunshine.

You wait for his reply through traffic, still looking at your phone as you sign in your name at the front desk. You wonder what he would say now, about you being here, about to go see this small woman who was probably just a few years older than you, and telling her all your problems. Which problems even? You just want a better job, why would you need therapy for that?

The first time you told him about Obiageli giving you her therapy sessions, he had sent you a face palm emoji and asked if she couldn’t give you the money instead? Surely the cost of five therapy sessions was enough to make anybody feel better?

Temi looks anything but small, even though her slender frame sits compact in a body that is almost a foot under yours, there is something commanding and easy that lengthens her out and fills the air around her. Her office is greyed out with whites and blacks and browns and greens and then her, standing up from behind her desk (who wears a white suit in Lagos, please?) and extending slender fingers to you. Her nails are bare and she doesn’t wear any jewellery. Her hair is pulled back in cornrows, pushing her face into sharp focus, forcing you to look at her – to really see her. Her face is soft and warm, and yet still blank so that you cannot guess at whatever she might be thinking. She makes you smile as you take her hand even though you’re not sure if she is smiling with you. You turn from her face to look at the rest of the room; the walls are bare except for the plants and a giant grey painting behind her desk. She comes around her table and leads you to the sofa. She goes to a small fridge across the room and takes out two bottles of water before settling across from you.

“How are you, Iripia?”

She actually says your name right; the way your mother would say it, the way Henry would not say it. The way Obiageli says it when she is angry at you. It makes you smile. You reach for the bottle of water on the table. When had your body decided it was thirsty? You tell her that you are fine and ask how she is before you realise you are in therapy and it should be about you. But she tells you that she is fine, and tells you the joke from Twitter that she was just laughing at. She gets up to pick up her phone and show it to you. You both laugh until you have to drink water again. She tells you how she loves your jacket, how she doesn’t honestly know if she can pull off that colour. You wonder if you could have been friends if you were not paying her to talk to you. When she asks what you want to talk about, you tell her that you are only here because Obiageli is paying for the session.

“Honestly, I’m fine. Really. I have a shitty job but who doesn’t? It’s not like I’m not coping well.”

“Maybe that’s what we should talk about? How are you coping?”

*

It takes two days and eight hours, almost a Thursday now, before Henry replies to your text. When he apologises for not responding sooner – he was busy, work had been tight on his neck, his book was finally going to press – you send him kisses and dancing emojis.

What are you wearing? Show me.

You sit up on the bed as his video call comes in. You are in an oversized t-shirt and panties. You pull the panties through your legs – you know from experience not to linger too much on your face, to guide the camera down your chest, trailing a finger, to bring it down your open thighs. You didn’t know he would call, you would have shaved.

“No panties! Hoe.” He pulls down his camera so you see him whip out his dick., round and hard in his hand. You wonder why you have to do this, why you haven’t seen him in two months even though he’s just over on the other side in Lagos. After all, you had come all this way to Lagos because he was here. But you don’t complain, he hates it when you complain. So you spread your legs wider, dig your fingers deeper, throw your head back and lift your legs. You angle the camera better for him, then you close your eyes and take your other hand down there, leading with two fingers. You hold your eyes closed and try to do this part for you. When you hear his oh shit oh shit, baby you know the call is ending. But this part is for yourself so you keep your eyes closed and go until you finish.

By now the call has ended. You wait for him to call back. You want to hear him talk about his book, to tell you how the editor wanted to take away his voice – the kind of bickering you imagined writers had with their editors. You want him to ask about your session with Temi so that you can laugh and tell him how you both just ‘gisted’ this first time. So that he would hear you laugh and see that you were fine – you were not sad – and he didn’t have to stay away from you to rid himself of that energy. So he would see you had snapped out of it, like he said.

Did you like it babe?

Yeah.

You wait for more. Nothing. How was your day? You watch the screen but the message stays on a single tick. You turn to your laptop and watch From Russia with Love.

*

You tell Temi about From Russia with Love at your third session. It has been almost a month and two protests in between since the ban, but nothing has changed and it cost you almost ₦4,000 to be here. This time, you pay out of your own pocket because you are starting to look forward to talking to Temi and cannot keep making Obiageli pay for that. Even though you don’t mean to be, you are upset by the time you are looking into Temi’s office, commuting through Lagos always leaves you upset.

When Temi stands up to greet you, coming around her desk in her usual floating fashion, she is wearing a chiffon gown the red of your jacket that first day.

“What do you think? Did I pull it off?”

Of course she looks beautiful, even though you prefer her in her whites and muted greys. You tell her the first part and hug her when she reaches you. She brews green tea for you, with lemon and ginger and you complain to her how you had spent a thousand naira for a trip that would cost ₦100 with a keke.

“I’m sorry, what should we be talking about today?”

“Do you always apologise?”

Last week, after you spent the entire session complaining about your job – about your salary; your poorly defined tasks; about your boss and how he had asked you why you didn’t take a cab if there were no buses, as if you were paid enough to afford cabs, and how one time, on a work trip in Abuja, he had asked you if you wanted to come to his room, that it was more comfortable than yours he was sure, and who knows, you just might get a raise if you can show me that you’re working hard— you had apologised.

“I’m sorry, I’ve been told I complain a lot.”

“You don’t have to apologise Iripia. And you’re not complaining, we’re just talking.”

Now, there is an awkward silence. You are sitting there, unsure where to go next. You don’t really know why you’re sitting here. Why do you keep coming? You live in Lagos and work for poor pay, six days a week because you have so much work that you have to come in on Saturday just to keep up, with a boss who talks about gratitude and loyalty like a tangible service you are expected to offer for merely having a job – of course you are irritated and angry most of the time. Who in Lagos isn’t? So why are you sitting in this office?

“Do you want to talk about the cutting?”

You freeze. Did Obiageli tell her?

“You scratch your upper arm when you’re anxious, at least I think it’s anxiety. Here” – she stretches out her hand to show you the place, just dipping under her elbow – “I noticed it the first time but I wasn’t sure. I saw them again last time and now. See—” She lifts the flowing sleeve of her own kimono and brings a finger to her arm, like a teacher holding a cane to a board. You follow the lines that criss-cross Temi’s arm; there are years’ worth of cutting – older but still years’ worth. You grab your own arm instinctively. She smiles at you with her eyes.

“It’s fine, we don’t have to talk about them. You could tell me something else. Tell me something happy.”

So you start to tell her about From Russia with Love, which is your favourite movie because of Sean Connery, who was the handsomest Bond. It is really a story about Henry, because it is really his favourite movie. James Bond is how you meet. He catches you reading Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger in class, a contraband in school at the time. He is the senior prefect and about to start SS3, and you are a tiny girl with a round cut in JSS1.

You plead with him, the books are your father’s books; you stole this one. And even though no one reads them anymore, if your mother discovered that any was missing, you would be in big trouble.

Did you say books?

Henry suddenly doesn’t look like an all-powerful school prefect any more.

Yes, books.

You tell him you have all the James Bond books.

So Henry proposes a trade. He would return this book, after he has read it of course, and you would bring him other copies. You agree. He keeps From Russia with Love.

Come on, it’s just one, I’m sure no one would miss it.

But you insist because he does not know who your mother is, and she has never thrown her slipper at him. He brings you the book, pulling it out of his bag and throwing it at you. The next day, you arrive at school just as the bell sounds for assembly, and he is standing at the gate with Nnamdi, the labour prefect who doesn’t smile at anybody. You greet him but he just walks away to a corner. Nnamdi tells you to stretch out your hand, why are you late? You have been later. You have come clear past 8.30 before and Henry never lets anyone touch you. But he stands there with his arms folded, watching as Nnamdi gives you six strokes on your palm.

You bring him the book. And you go home and your mother notices. She slaps you across the face until you cry. You want to throw away all your father’s things, ehn? What else do you think we’ll have in this house if you keep throwing everything away?

But you let Henry keep the book. You let him because it means you have access, you can still talk to him, and he doesn’t let anyone touch you again – however late you are. And years later, when he has just come back from NYSC and you’re starting University and you run into each other at Cameroun, the bar behind the Library where everyone goes, you take his number, and call him to ask for your book.

It is 2011 and they are selling pirated DVDs of old classics. He has bought one with old James Bond movies. He offers you this because you tell him you have never seen any of the Bonds except Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale, which you didn’t really like. So you pick a day when your GSS classes end at 8am to go and visit him and spend the day watching five of the twelve movies in the collection. He has watched From Russia with Love so much that he knows all the lines. When the day dies outside and oh shit! you need to go, he tells you to choose between the book and the DVD. You take the DVD.

“You know that’s how he proposed to me?” You raise your hand to show Temi the ring, even though you’re sure she had seen it earlier.

“After I went home with the DVD, I watched it every day until it went bad inside the player and wouldn’t go past a certain point – until I could hum the scores and say all the lines! He really liked that.” You’re laughing as you talk. “So we started this thing where we would just quote scenes during normal conversations and piss everyone else off.

“So it’s my birthday, yeah? And he comes to the house and says we should leave for dinner and I go all Tatiana Romanov like:

‘But darling, I have nothing to wear!’

He says:

‘One moment…’

Then makes his hands like he’s doing a magic trick and then hands me this beautiful blue dress, and I go and get dressed, come out, and he goes, like Kerim Bey:

‘Charming. Charming.’

You stop and laugh, and this time Temi is laughing with you.

“Now it’s my turn again and I have to go Romanova again, so I go:

‘Do I look right, Mr Somerset?’

“Mr Somerset?”

“Oh yes, so in this scene, James Bond and Tatiana are pretend couples on a train as he tries to smuggle her out of the country, you get? So they are Mr and Mrs Somerset. So they are going out for tea as an English couple, but she is Russian. Which is why she is asking if she looks right. So James turns and looks her over and then takes her hand and pulls a ring and puts it on her hand as he says:

Mrs. Somerset.’

“And that is what Henry does! Can you imagine it?”

Your laugh feels shorter than you thought it would. You remember the night a bit stronger now that you’re talking about it. You remember how the dinner went. You remember the film: James Bond coming back to slap Tatiana across the face after Kerim is murdered. You remember Henry shaking you in the car because he had come out of the restroom to see you giving your number to another man. You had tried to explain that the other man was a classmate from secondary school and you hadn’t seen each other in years. He screams at you to stop fucking lying to me! You think I’m foolish? We went to the same school for fucks sake! You can’t remember now if you had explained that you were in secondary school for five years after he left, or if you had stayed in character and cried like Tatianna: “You’re hurting me, you’re hurting me.”

But you see the laughter still spreading through Temi’s face so you finish the story, holding your hand out for her to look at the ring properly.

“It’s beautiful! Now I wish I had seen the film. What did you do after?”

You think about Daniela Bianchi singsonging ‘I love you, I love you, it’s true.’ You can’t remember if it was what you did. For a moment, you can’t remember anything else except sitting in the bathroom and crying and crying because you had done something stupid like giving Ndiana your number and upsetting Henry so much he put you out of the car and drove off.

“What?” The laughter drains from the corners of Temi’s face. You have to salvage this and explain things better so that Temi can see why Henry did what he did.

“It’s not like that.” You laugh so that she sees that it’s really not like that. “It was a big night for Henry, he had just asked me to marry him. I shouldn’t have been giving my number to anyone like that.”

“It was your engagement night and he kicked you out of his car!”

You don’t remember exactly how you started to tell Temi about that night, standing there on the curb as you were, outside Southern Sun, past 2am, the city dead around you. But you start explaining so that she could see things your way. Initially, you are sure he will come back for you, that maybe the farthest he will go would be Falomo and he would turn around for you. But you wait until almost 3am, until one of the security guards walks up and asks if you’re going back inside. You realise that Henry has also driven off with your phone. You saunter back into the hotel and pay for the cheapest room they have (which is understating it really, because you pay with more than half of your salary so that you end up living off Obiageli till the month ends). You sit in the bathroom crying until the day is bright outside.

It will take Obiageli calling Henry before he starts to take your calls and agrees to come meet you. He will come to your room and stand at the door until you burst into tears again. You will swear over everything that you did nothing with Ndiana, that you hadn’t seen him since that day. That you hadn’t seen him for years before that day. Henry will disagree, and ask you to stop lying to him. He’ll say he knows you went back to Ndiana that night; if not, without your phone, how had you been able to get home? But he was only here because he had chosen to forgive you. So you will hug his legs crying and say thank you.

“How long ago was this?” Temi’s face no longer has the almost-blankness, and this worries you because you don’t want her to only hear bad things about Henry. You want to show him to her as you know him, his softness and kindness, his brilliance and ease. You want her to understand that he would never hurt you like that if you didn’t do something to make him angry. And wasn’t it better that he had left rather than lose his temper on you?

“That was last year. We made up and we’re fine now.”

“Oh, so the engagement was at your birthday a year ago?”

“Yes. Henry thought we should calm down with things instead of rushing a wedding. He doesn’t want to feel under pressure.”

“What about you? What do you want? Do you feel under pressure?”

“We’re together, and I know we’ll get married. I’m not in a hurry.”

Temi wants to know more about Henry. Was he your only boyfriend? How old were you when you started dating? You tell her this part. The old days were easy and good. Henry had moved to Lagos while you stayed on for Uni in Calabar, but you talked every day. He told you he liked you, he sent you money and he asked you to send him pictures because he missed you.

You would send him photos every chance you got, and of everything that happened in your day.

I want thirst traps, Iri, something sexy.”

You’re not sure the first time he asks for this, so you go on Google.

“I can’t take photos like that.”

That was the first time he ghosted you. You realise it is the term for it now. Back then, still in Year One and fifteen years old, you had only spent your free hours in your room waiting for his message and crying yourself to sleep when the first week passed and he still wouldn’t talk to you.

The second week, you stand by the window with just your shimmy top and hold your phone above your head and click. He starts to type as soon as you send the message. You remember your heart beating and beating.

“Looool. You try sha.”

You’re confused. You open the photo and stare at it, trying to decide why he wouldn’t like it.

“Try this.”

He sends you another photo. The girl is sitting in front of a mirror, her body curved into an 8 with one hand holding up her top so that her bare breasts stand firm.

“Who sent you this?”

“Nobody, it’s an internet picture. Just do the same pose.”

“I can’t, my body is not like that.”

“Okay. bye.”

You spend the next two days messaging him even though you know he will not reply. You go on Google again and search thirst traps and then click on images. You go through pages and pages looking for the picture he sent you. On the third day, you set the timer on your phone and place it on the toilet sink. You take a few steps back and lift your top, waiting for the timer to count to ten.

Henry asks for other things, sends more photos, sends videos and ignores you until he gets what he wants. You know he is stronger and that he will always win so you learn to stop denying him. When he comes home for Christmas later that year and asks you over to his house again, you are ready for all the things he asks. You let him between your legs, you take him in your mouth, and you let him press his hands around your neck and you call him ‘Daddy’. Even when he lifts his head from your thighs and tries to wriggle into you but your body tenses, the pain burning through your legs and higher into your body. You start to tell him to stop but you see his face, know that he would leave you again if you deny him. So you put a palm over your mouth and bite down until he collapses besides you, his breath hot in your ears.

“You like how I fuck you?”

“Do you know you can’t bite through your own skin?” You put your hand in your mouth to show Temi, laughing a little at the small horror that runs across her eyes. “Unless you’re crazy or in love.” You bite a little for effect and raise the palm to show Temi.

“So we’re watching this movie one day. I can’t remember, I think Eddie Murphy is in it and they are talking about this biting thing and how you had to either be crazy or in love to bite through your own skin. So Henry asks me if I can prove that I love him by biting through my hand.”

“No way.” Temi is sitting straighter, “Oh dear. Please tell me you didn’t.”

“But I love him. And I wanted to show him.” You hold out your hand for Temi. She takes your hand in hers and looks it over, turning it over until her eyes fall at the bite scar on the back of your hand. When she starts to pull your sleeve to look at your other scars, you don’t draw your hand away. Instead, you look at her face. You look for the judgement in them that calls you foolish and crazy, or the pity you see every time Obiageli looks at you. Temi’s face stays firm, modulating a soft resolve and something like kindness.

“Was he why you started cutting?”

“No…no. That was just Lagos. This place gets too much.” There is more to the too-muchness of Lagos. There is Henry asking you to work your service here so you can be closer to him. There is Henry coming to pick you from the airport with another girl whom he introduces you to as his friend. He had told you earlier that he was coming with his cousin who was driving. You hadn’t guessed that the cousin was a girl or even the same girl in the mirror picture with her top held up to show her breasts.

There is you living in a single room in Shomolu, carved out of a corridor with no air and barely any light because it is the cheapest thing you can afford close enough to your job. There is you not seeing Henry at all for the first three months after camp because between his book and work, he really has no time and besides, you’re on the mainland.

There is Henry disappearing for weeks because why are you so stupid? How could you let yourself get pregnant? He took you to the clinic where he told them you were his little cousin and he was trying to help you.

It is Obiageli who saves your life. You girls meet in camp. She is six feet with skin like the inside of a pawpaw. Together, you are the tallest girls in your platoon, although your skin is the colour of chestnut. You don’t remember exactly how you become friends, but she comes and sees your house one day and insists that you have to get out of it. She lives in a two-bedroom serviced apartment at Charlie Boy and will let you pay your share of the rent in instalments (you insist you want to pay, even though Obiageli doesn’t mind).

At this point, you already sleep drunk every night, sending Henry messages and photos and videos – anything to make him reply, to bring him to see you. When the bottle is empty and he hasn’t finished with his work so he can have time for you, you clean out your razor and open up a new patch of skin to remember how much you love him.

Henry starts to visit more now that you are at Obiageli’s. He even spends a weekend sometimes, cooking eggs for both of you as breakfast. Obiageli makes the mistake of telling him she is worried about you and the cuts that are filling your arm. Henry disappears again, leaving you a text to better fix up your nonsense. Why are you sad and cutting yourself? You want to commit suicide? Snap out of this shit depression. You have people in your life doing everything for you, why are you so sad?

You fight with Obiageli for telling Henry. You shave yourself clean and take more photos. You make videos too. And when he doesn’t reply, you start to cut again in small slashes across your thighs. He texts you a few weeks later to ask if you would want to do a threesome. Even though you want to ask who the other girl was or why he thinks this is an okay thing to ask of you, when you reply, you say okay, cool.

The weekend passes and you come home and cut some more and send more pictures because Henry is busy again. After your fight, Obiageli learns to not get involved. She moves around you quietly, never mentioning or asking about Henry, or anything else – until Temi. You wonder what she really told Temi about you.

“Iripia.” There is a finality to Temi’s voice that brings you back into her office of muted greys and browns and greens. You are not sure how many sessions you two have had now, or which day it is anymore. You sit there looking at her big eyes looking back at you. You cover your head and start to cry. She puts an arm around you in a way that makes you start to laugh because she’s so small while you are so I don’t even know what you’re becoming so fat for, like Henry had said.

“You have to leave that man. Do you realise he groomed you? You were fifteen and he was twenty-two. What he is doing to you is manipulative and abusive. That’s not how people treat the people they love.

“Leave him. Do you have anything saved? You have to start applying for new jobs too because you should leave that job. Maybe even leave this town. You have to reclaim your life for you.”

“I can’t leave him.” You hold her eyes so she can see you mean it. “It will kill me.”

“Is From Russia with Love even your favourite movie? I mean, if Henry didn’t like it.”

“It’s a very good movie, Temi.”

*

When you come out of Temi’s office, past the turn and up through Gerard road, you are standing face to face with Southern-Sun and suddenly, the city is dead around you. You are back to almost a year ago, stranded and crying and waiting on the pavement for Henry to come back for you. His office is further down Osborne, but you know you are not allowed to go see him uninvited because his cousin works in the same office and she can be dramatic because she didn’t really like you so I don’t want her to be rude to you.

Your phone beeps and shows a debit alert for your morning Uber. It is still the first week of the month and your salary is already split down an uneven centre. You let your mind shut off until there is only one thing in focus, one thing you’re sure is what you want. You open the Uber app and call another cab, with luck you’ll catch one of the night buses at Jibowu. In the cab, you call Obiageli and talk about sending your things later when she is back. Obiageli makes you laugh, tells you to kiss mommy and promises to come visit herself as soon as she’s back next week.

 You are lucky, there is no traffic on the bridge. The Uber driver turns his music on and Koffee comes screaming through the speakers. He starts to reduce the volume, but you ask him to stop, to leave it alone. You close your eyes and hold yourself. There is something in the music that loosens your chest and unknots all the straits in your heart so that you become like a thing that can fly. You close your eyes tighter and step out of your skin in the way your mother used to pull off her shoes when she returned from her federal government civil servant job, which has refused to pay her gratuity and is part of why you are here, stepping out of your body. You leave through the window of the car and fly.

Your phone beeps and comes alive in your hands. It is Henry. Your heart does a thing like it is caught in a wind. The moments seem like forever. You open the message:

Hey babes! Got off work early. Come over?

You stare at the phone. You want to turn it off, bring down the windows and throw it out. But you just keep staring at it. Your fingers start to type. You tap the driver,

“Please turn around, I’ve updated the trip.”

Mòje Ikpeme is a visual artist, digital illustrator and writer. He fancies himself a literary polygamist and cooks to escape writing. He hopes to travel the world and teach creative writing someday. His short story ‘Stranger’ appears on the electronic journal, Arts & Africa.

 

*Illustration: ‘Ask for my life Henry, I’d give it to you’ by Sef Adeola.