This is the back story to the poem 2011. If you haven’t read it, click here
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person or place is purely coincidental.
My eyes flicked open suddenly. In the semi-darkness I groped for my earphones. Then I lurched towards the table where the extension board lay. The amber lights glowed insidiously. I unplugged my phone and pitched back into bed. I slid the phone up and started my music player. Then I hugged my pillow tight as the hot tears streaked down my cheeks. I bit into it, muffling my sobs.
I made my way towards my department. Head bowed, listening to music. I passed by Baffour and the gang at the carpark where they usually ogled the girls and catcalled them. I went through the gate and winced. The studio was in a mess again. The lecturer was certainly going to lay into me again. “Why did I even volunteer to be course rep?” I muttered to myself. I went and dumped my bag in my usual spot at the front of the class and grabbed a broom. Quickly I started sweeping. The talkative girls in the class hushed up at the sweeping strokes. I paused briefly to adjust the earphones.
“Hi.” I turned around. It was Mavis again. She flashed her gap-toothed smile at me. I grimaced. “Hey.” I replied. “Need a hand?” she motioned towards the part of the studio still unswept. I shrugged. “As for you di3.” She came for the broom and punched me playfully. Meanwhile the chatter had gone back up again. I stepped back as Mavis sashayed across the space. For a few minutes I watched her apple bottom going through the motions then I went back into the lecture hall.
A few minutes later she plonked into the seat right beside mine. Looking a bit disheveled but still beaming a wide smile at me. Mavis had big eyes and a snub nose. Her smile was electric though. She wore an orange t shirt with the inscription “Pinch me I’m cute”. I smiled, or tried to.
The lecturer curtly walked into class and I snapped forward, before Mavis could try to make any conversation.
I milled through the sea of students pouring out of the small department gate. I heard someone call my name. I turned. It was Mavis, all five foot-two of her pear figure swept underfoot in the rush. There was only one lecture on Fridays, so most people usually rushed to the bus station to catch the bus to Accra. I wasn’t going anywhere this weekend though. My immediate concern was brunch. I hadn’t had anything to eat. I went straight to the car park to wait for Mavis. I don’t know why she was calling me.
“Who you de chok, ma guy?” queried Baffour. He was seated on the short wall with his cronies. I looked him in the eye and shrugged. Baffour scratched his aquiline nose and glared back. He had a hawkish feel about him. His gold necklace glinted in the sunlight as he bobbed his head to some hip-hop music one of his friends was playing. “I sure say he de chok Mavis.” Frosty, one of his buds replied. I gave him the once over.
“That girl de feel you charle. If you no like a, tell me make I handle am cos the dull things you de do di3. The way she de bee san so get body, everybody en eye dey top.” I sighed. Not this again. “I no know what I go tell you sef.” I looked at him again. I towered over him. Presently I felt an arm wrap round my waist. I knew who it was without even looking. “Let’s go.” She whispered.
“Mavis.” Baffour called out. “Yes, Baffour. How can I help you.” Her shrill voice pitched almost musically. “You for come visit me sometime o. This jon boy you de follow no go help you. The way I de feel you, you for come make I show you some one-two bi like that.” Baffour made to hold her free hand. Mavis giggled, and side stepped. “No thank you Baffour. Besides aren’t you dating Mawusi? You know she’s my friend.” “Oh, abi you too you be ma friend. If you come visit me what go happen? You de do like I be some distin. You di3 e chill.”
“Mavis let’s go. I’m hungry.” I pulled her away from the car park and walked away. “Aww.” She rubbed my stomach. “Let’s go to my hostel. I cooked some food.” I nodded and let her lead me away.
As we made through the path to her hostel behind campus, we spoke. Mavis is my best friend’s girlfriend. He happened to be in another school. So I was kinda in charge of her wellbeing here. You’d never know, from the way she looked out for me. Not that I cared. Nothing really moved me.
I absentmindedly flicked my phone up. The love of my life beamed back at me. Penny. It had been ninety days since the incident. I reached for my earphones from my pocket almost immediately. Mavis smacked my hand. “I told you. When you’re walking with me no earphones.” She punched me in the shoulder again.
We reached the ruins of a wall which corralled her hostel. I reached across. “Help me over.” Mavis beckoned. Don’t look at me funny. It was either the wall or the main gate. The hostel manager didn’t like boys coming to the hostel for any reason. Everyone avoided him by using the ruined wall route. I picked her up like a child. There are advantages to being six foot-six. She snuggled right on my shoulder and I carried her to her room. It was an unspoken rule we had. I caught a whiff of her perfume. She smelled like frangipani blossoms.
Wordlessly we went right into the meal. Rice and gravy. Not like I was going to eat anything better if I had gone to my room. Mavis had no roommate. Who would? If their room was a cramped cubicle only twice as big as I was tall. Somehow though it seemed spacious. Maybe it was the way she arranged her stuff in the room. There was one window with twin shutters which filtered in rays of light. We never bother to turn the lights on. I went to her porch to do the dishes while she went to take a shower. I took the plates back inside. The curtain separating her bathroom from the rest of the room rustled. I looked up and saw Mavis.
Mavis had her towel wrapped around her. The ceiling fan creaked noisily in the silence that followed. A bead of sweat trickled down my temple. It was steamy all of a sudden. “Come here.” I croaked. Wordlessly she waltzed to me and unbuckled my trousers none too gently as I sat on her cot. She straddled me and I felt the hairy warmth between her legs. Her lips were slightly parted. We kissed furiously as her towel fell to the floor.
I picked up my clothes from the floor and put them on. Mavis was still sleeping. In the half light, she looked childlike. Her small breasts heaved rhythmically. I touched her cheek and she murmured her boyfriend’s name. I grabbed my bag and stole out of the room. I went to the bus stop and hailed a taxi headed to the shore. I needed to get my mind off this.
About half a kilometre from the beach, I got out and trekked. The sea gleamed turquoise today. The sea spray was cooling as it buffeted my clothes. I walked out to the waves. There was a cluster of rocks which showed at low tide. I perched atop it and looked into the great expanse. I pulled out my phone and flicked it open. I went to messages and immediately dialed in a familiar number. Message one hundred and seventy-eight. “I slept with Mavis again today. I don’t think its her fault. Maybe she misses her boyfriend that’s why she gets with me. She’s a good girl though. She’s funny and has a beautiful smile. But she got nothing on you. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. She’s my best friend’s girl. I miss you. I miss talking to you. Hearing your voice going loco over some stuff you really like. Please text me back.” My finger hovered over the send button. I pressed the “save as draft” button and pushed my phone back into my pocket. The breakers swirled at the bottom of the rock. It was a quiet beach day though. No one else was here. I grabbed my phone in my pocket and squeezed. I felt the plastic splinter a little. I wanted to throw something. I looked at the horizon and screamed.
The music blared across the hall floor. My vision swam, as I cradled a cup full of punch in my hand. Cup number twenty-six. The room was humid with the sweaty bodies of boys and girls dancing and groping. I withdrew into the inner room. It was dark. I reached out of support as I tottered in. I touched flesh and a girl squealed. “Charle you for make steady o.” a gruff voice intoned. “Boss sorry wai.” I apologized and sat on the floor.
I was holding Marvin’s room phone. He had a landline in the room. Perks of being an SRC rep. I dialed in the familiar number using my backlit phone as illumination. The dial tone buzzed in my ears.
“Hello?” her voice came through on the other end. “Penny.” I breathed, my tongue slurred. “Russell?” she sounded panicky. “Penny. I- I – I messed up again.” I spoke again. I heard her breathing at the other end. “I slept with my best friend’s girlfriend. I don’t even feel bad about it.”
Penny said nothing. “Penny!” I bawled into the phone. “I miss you. Talk to me. Say something please.” Penny’s breath quickened. “Please. I still love you. I need you. My life is empty without you.”
The couple making out in the room said something. I ignored them. “Russell. You can’t keep doing this to yourself.” Penny’s voice cracked. “I know. I’m lucky you picked up. I’m lucky we’re still talking. Please don’t go.” My voice suddenly pitched. I took a swig of the punch. “You had two Russells and you chose the wrong one, Penny. Can’t you see that I love you?”
“I have never had any feelings for you. I’m happy with Russ. I don’t understand why you can’t be happy for me. I just can’t” her voice broke. “Penny was sobbing. “Does it matter? I know he treats you like crap. Sleeping with other girls and other things. You know I’d never do that to you.”
Penny fell silent. “Penny? PENNY!” I screamed. “I gotta go. I’m sorry. I can’t keep talking to you if you’re just going to be like this.” She sounded hushed. “Penny. Please don’t go. I’m sorry. I’m- “the line clicked, and the phone went dead in my sweat slicked hand. I let the receiver go. It clacked to the floor.
I started laughing. It rose in crescendo, a raucous guffaw that unsettled the couple and they finally left the room; raining curses at me.
I laughed harder.
Drake – Marvin’s Room
image courtesy google images
© Sena Frost ‘17