“will you love me forever? will you still love me tomorrow?” tamani looked deadpan at creon – the darkness in her mind fought desperately with the blueness of the room. they say musicians can see music, tamani can see loneliness.

        “hey! would i be here if i didn’t?” creon shot back, right eyebrow cocked. they were standing by the window in his first-floor bedroom. they had just dined. he left her by the window and noisily flops on the bed. he picked up the cd case by the bedside table and dropped it noisily. he was trying to make her hear that he was serious. just then john legend sang:

ah, alright.
ain’t this what you came for
don’t you wish you came, oh
girl what you’re playing for
ah, come on
come on, let me kiss that
ooh, i know you miss that
what’s wrong, let me fix that
twist that
,[1]

he changed the track. quickly. tamani turned away and looked outside the window, the garden was well manicured. the water from the sprinkler glistening in the subtle lighting in the garden. creon has good taste – inside out. he was one of these ‘tender boys’ as loose-limbed business men were known in gaborone. but he knew how to take care of himself. she held her hands to her face and smelled his cologne – fahrenheit. jeremih and 50 cent were singing about 5 senses.

can you hear me baby?
if it look this good, i wonder how it taste?
baby if i touch your body, hear you scream my name
would you whisper to me it’s yours? girl you smell so gentle and pure
you control, my senses. baby all, my senses
[2]

she turned away from the window to look at creon. the rest of the bedroom was lit by two bedside lamps, and the light from the bathroom that spilled into the room through the slightly ajar door. his sky-blue chambray shirt was open all the way revealing the white t-shirt underneath, and his undone belt. he was lying on his back on his bed in his tastefully decorated bedroom. the theme was navy-blue and white. he changed the track and teddy pendergrass crooned:

oh baby, you know i hate to beg
and i really hate to rush you girl

we’ve been knowin’ each other for so long
and i really think it’s time to let go, baby

oh baby, don’t you feel my heart
it’s missing some excitement and you’re the missing part
you’re the missing part that can heal my lonely nights
you’re the missing part that’s makes my day so bright
can we be lovers
?[3]

he changed the track. but not quick enough to stop tamani wondering whether to allow creon to ‘make love’ to her. she was aware what the entire cd was meant to say … she remembered tinashe, brix, sbu, earl, martin, lekgotla, oteng, and vini before him. hadn’t they also professed love and promised never to leave, but left all the same after ‘making love’? creon sat up in bed and stared straight at her. he said nothing, letting trey songz do all his talking for him. she didn’t move. he stretched out his hand to her, palm upturned. she is very pretty, he thought. she was the most beautiful woman he has laid his eyes on. not dark, not light, just right-skinned. she was motswana but she was exotic. gentle. slow-speeched. soft-faced, soft-lipped, soft-bodied. the faded jeans and loose ecru cardigan not doing her figure justice. in the muffled light of the table lamp beside the window, she looked sad. she has the most beautiful smile he has seen, but she looks sad when she is not smiling, and she wasn’t smiling now. she was staring at him with warm bleary eyes. his heart skipped a beat. he hasn’t been able to figure out what made such a beautiful person so sad. he beckoned to her to come close – she refused. she gestured to him to come to her. he did.

        “baby, i love you. i wanna make you my woman. maybe the songs send the wrong message. you know i would never do anything if you don’t  …” creon trailed off, embracing tamani affectionately. she smelled fresh – she was only wearing a deodorant. she swooned and exhaled. fahrenheit. cinnamon does things to her, and being in his arms sent shivers down her spine. it was pure bliss and pheromonally phenomenal.

there’s something about the words “i love you” that drives her hormones agog. there’s a ring to them that sends her blood racing, a jolt of joy that sends her on a natural high, that softens her incredibly. i’m sure he means it, he’s got to, thought tamani. after all, hadn’t he bought her a shimansky necklace, taken her to pretoria for a weekend in a villa? nobody spends that much money on someone they don’t feel for in any way. there were other reasons to do it. ‘if i don’t, i’ll lose him. lord knows that i can’t get any better than this,’ she rationalized. creon was incredibly handsome, he was mixed-raced with piercing hazel eyes. he completed her, made her feel special and perfect. each time they’ve met in the three weeks they’ve been dating, he had given her a cd with a theme of endearment. he called regularly and played her songs over the phone. this meant a lot to tamani, who, having grown up without her parents, was living with an aunt and an uncle who abused her in every sense of the word. the long years of abuse have ingrained in her feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, insecurity and tremendous anguish. sex became a form of escape, her therapy. it affirmed her as a person and dissolved all the doubts she had about herself. usually when it was over and done with, they went their way and she was left alone. even though it was an escape route, sex was an empty ritual, nothing more. she can’t remember ever wanting any of them. this time, she wanted so badly for creon to return after tonight, not to go forever like the rest. hoping for the best but expecting the worst, she gave in and allowed creon to ‘make love’ to her, as john legend spoke her mind:

i feel so alive, it won’t last but it’s alright,
fleeting joy and fading ecstasy, here it goes again, oh,
sneaking fruit from the forbidden tree, sweet taste of sin
[4]

as always john legend’s voice echoed in her mind, it always rang in her mind when she was in this state of delphic sacrifice. it was symbolic of the path she had taken, again and again. not because she truly wanted to, but because it was familiar to her, it was much easier for her to flow in this direction whether she wanted to or not.

love making is a tranquilizer, but that night, as she laid beside a snoring creon, tamani couldn’t sleep. tormented by flashbacks of her aunt, her uncle, and her previous eight lives she tossed and turned restlessly in bed. more than anything she longed to be loved, to be loved articulately and indefinitely. it was 05h53 in the morning. where’s the love teddy pendergrass, anita baker, luther vandross, aretha franklin, peabo bryson, and randy crawford sing about? she wondered. ‘can i really be somebody’s somebody, truly and forever belong to just one person?’ tamani looked at creon, he was with morpheus. happy. tamani wondered what song he was listening to in his sleep. maybe creon will love me, but do i want to risk his rejection? will i be able to start all over again? she had come prepared for rejection. tamani threw the navy-blue duvet back. got off the bed and onto her feet. she recalled henry grayson’s words that “love seems to be the last respectable place in our too-grown-up lives, where we allow ourselves to be idiots, ridiculous messes, dramatic, impulsive, less than our pc best.” she wasn’t ready for any of grayston’s philosophising today. she picked up her bag from beside the bed. her head ached from the wine she had earlier in the evening. she had drunk more than she normally did to prepare for this moment. ‘this time no one will make me unpretty.’ he had treated her to a meal he cooked himself. she looked at creon. he stirred, and then turned his back to where tamani had been lying. ‘god, i know you will make me happy.’ she walked into the bathroom, ran the water while she took a good look at herself in the mirror. she sighed, ‘they were right. i’m grotesque, nobody will ever love me.’ she reached for the bottle of bleach she had carried as precaution in her bag and carefully uncapped it … 

            “what’s that?”

she turned. creon was standing by the bathroom door. looking straight at her. she capped and put the bottle back in her bag.

            “nothing. i wanted to brush my teeth,” she lied.

       “i’ve listerine in the cupboard, you didn’t need to bring yours. there’s a new toothbrush in there as well.” he stepped into the bathroom and gave her a peck.

            “be quick and come to bed, love,” he said and then walked out of the bathroom to wait for her.

Copyright © Fani-Kayode Omoregie 2014

Author’s note: This short is reposted from my collected short stories – Gravity of Desire, in dedication to Dr. K.L. Register for the good she is doing with her blog ‘Ninth Life!’. Giving others hope to live one more day is a tough job.

[1] Legend, John. (2012). Tonight, (Best You Ever Had). Think Like a Man OST.

[2] 50 Cent ft Jeremih. (2010). 5 Senses.

[3] Pendergrass, Teddy. (1988). Can We Be Lovers. Joy. Elektra.

[4] Legend, John. (2006). Again. Once Again. GOOD.