SIX – 15

SIX – 15

Previously on SIX

*

You know how much I love you.

I pause.

When I started writing my vows, I thought of how it started. The genesis. The exodus it took to get here. The revelation of what my future would be if I stepped up and let you make an honest man out of me.

I chuckle.

So many times, I have thought of you as my coffee. You know how much I love it

Coffee is the great leveler. It has brought calm, quiet, contentment and warmth. Coffee is something to do, something I do.

Coffee – so normal, so mundane, so hot…

The heat and scent permeate my heart and clear my mind. It understands completely, the attraction of ceremonies grounded in the ritual of sanity and growth.

It requires both caution and abandonment of senses. It demands that I move into it slowly and savor the moment. And it rewards me with warmth and delicacy of taste and refreshment.

And after I am done, I could parse out my future with the uncertainties that come with it.

You, babe. You remind me of coffee.

I pause again.

You are my coffee.

I said yes. Even when I was dying of fear, because these paths we are about to go on are uncharted, because whatever I do, I’d be sorry for the rest of my life if I say no, I cheered my courage, my fall and gave myself to the honey and the fiery whirl-storm you brought with you.

I look into your eyes.

I stand here, looking at the future and understanding backwards, the extent of the growth I’m yet to reach.

Just as I take my breath, I’ll treat you like the promises I made to myself as I continually fall for you. The promise of learning to live and being the support you need.

The promise of leaning in to the trust I have given myself as I try to make sense of the realities and uncertainties that we’re about to become.

I promise to choose you when you snore.

I promise to choose you when you are annoying.

I choke on my sob. Then I chuckle again.

The promise of choosing the Reds over your Blues just so I’d upset you every season that comes with the years.

Above all, I promise to love every crinkle on your forehead when I drive you nuts.

Everyone laughs. I clear my throat.

I promise to cherish every pleasure I’ll get for being your husband. The pleasures of knowing that you make me content like my coffee. Like I have always told you, my most brilliant achievements would be my ability to remain rooted in your life, the worth I add to your existence and the total completeness you will always bring. I am king. And the well-being of my kingdom depends on my sound judgment and clear head. And those things depend on my state of happiness. And I have known for a long time that my state of happiness depends on you.

I have peeped at the future from the rear-view of my mistakes, and I realized that moving on with you is another way to fly and get on the highest pedestal of humanity.

I take you as I have taken everything I have believed to be sweeter than common sense.

I take you as my life.

I take you as the sky that’ll swallow my stars.

I take you as my backdrop of grace.

When the clock strikes twelve, I will envy the heat of my flames as you writhe with pleasure from the depth of my being. I’ll recapture the sounds of lost languages from your lips and build roots with your excitement, sculptured with my hands and placed on the highest peaks for the world to see.

I’ll love you now and always, my husband.

And the officiator’s voice thrums, “You may kiss the groom…”

***

“Are you okay?” Kareem asked. No hello. It was half-time and both teams had headed into their locker rooms. Kareem had called with his phone number.

“I should be asking you that.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t call you straight away.”

Straight away? Like he’d have left the pitch to check on me, his boyfriend? I don’t think so.

“You have no idea how crazy it’s been here,” he added.

I remembered my twitter feed and the notifications that kept on piling. You have no idea how crazy things are spiraling out of control here either, babe. I was distraught, so distraught, I was glad my friends were with me. But I wished I could be with Kareem in that very moment.

“I can imagine,” I said dryly.

“Talk to me, Peks. What’s going on with you?”

He was a very assertive and sensitive individual, I’d give him that. But how do I tell him I feel he’d hate me in the coming days because only a short time after coming into his life, I had ruined almost everything he’d worked hard to build. I couldn’t tell him of my fears over our new relationship – him possibly getting shunned by his family, his friends, his career most likely taking a nosedive.

“I’ve seen you on the news,” Kareem continued.

“I think everyone is watching me on every communication channel available to man. I’m certain my dad is recording everything.” It was then I remembered my father. “Oh my God! My dad! Fuck!”

“Dammit, Peka! I can’t talk to you over the phone like this. I want to see you.”

“No, Kar. Stay where you are. We can’t fuel the rumours.”

“I can’t do that, stay here away from you. You need me to be there right now. I know you do, because I do too.” I could hear the need in his voice. He took a long, deep breath. “I’m coming to meet you.”

“No!”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m on my way to you,” I said.

“No. I’m coming out.”

We paused momentarily before laughing at the same time at the double entendre.

“I’m glad that made you laugh,” he said with feeling.

“I don’t think I could ever stop laughing at your wit,” I said with a chuckle.

“I’m coming out though.”

Not sure what he meant, I asked, “You’re coming where?”

Out.”

That single word sent a chill up my spine. “You can’t be serious.”

“I’d like to think I am.”

My moment of relief was cut short as Derin’s sigh caught my attention. I followed his gaze and saw myself on the big screen again, talking on the phone.

Kareem didn’t miss my gasp. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” I said.

“You’re on the screens again, aren’t you? Babe, I’m coming to get you.”

I heard the finality in his voice. I quickly remembered there were televisions in the locker rooms too. “Stay, Kareem. You can’t afford the controversy.”

“You can’t either. I need you to get out of there. I can’t let you keep going through this shit.”

“I can and I will. I will not give them the satisfaction. The picture they have of us can be disregarded. Our faces can’t be seen. It’s just some grainy picture of us in the dark of, staring into–”

“Each other’s eyes. Yes, I know. But –”

“But nothing, Kareem. Nothing. Let them keep speculating.”

He paused for what appeared to be a long moment, before he said, “I love you so much right now.”

“I know.” I was certain he was expecting me to say the words back but I couldn’t. Admitting that I loved him would leave me raw and open. Agreed, we were in a relationship but I wasn’t ready to say those words and strip myself bare because of him just yet. “I know you do and –”

Mundi tapped me on the shoulder and gestured for me to look behind me.

I turned and saw Kareem. He was dressed in faded sweats and hoodie. He had his head lowered and his phone was pressed to his ear. And because the WAGs box was in the VIP section of the stadium and it led to the locker room, Kareem had gone against my request for him to stay away. He was staring at me through the tempered glass on the door. I realized I needed him more than ever in that moment. Luckily for me, I was no longer on the screens, so I did what my heart wanted and stood up and went forward into the arms of my man.

***

My bed dipped a little to the side and I was woken abruptly. Because I was scared, I flailed about until I heard his voice.

“Babe, it’s me,” Kareem whispered. His breath stank of alcohol.

“Don’t do that again. I was scared shitless.” I leaned over and flicked the switch beside me.  The room was bathed in low light and I could see he was clad in just his sweatpants. “Where have you been? And what are you doing here by this time? And why have you been drinking?”

“Nope. I wasn’t drinking,” he slurred.

“Right. You’re not drunk at all. I’ve been worried.”

After the match, Kareem had been unreachable. I was sick with worry that he had done something irrational like come out. I had surfed the internet, keeping tabs on every information that was related to the headlines we were making. My paranoia was at its full potential.

“I’m sorry. I just…I panicked. After the match, I just needed to get away,” he admitted.

“You could have let me know via text. You know I’d have respected your decision to –”

“I didn’t want to stress you more.”

“Yet you did.”

“I’m sorry. Ma binu.”

His Yoruba always had me laughing, the way the words came out marinated by his British accent.

“You don’t do that again. If I’m not sensitive enough to know you need something, you communicate. Okay?”

“Yes, mom.”

“Fuck off.” But I moved in to kiss him. “Ugh. Your breath stinks.” I tried to move away, but he held me firmly in his embrace and plastered my face with kisses.

His team had lost their first match that day. I couldn’t help but think it had something with the incident that had happened during the first half of the game. I had read vile comments on my social media accounts. How foremost celebrity blogger, Belinda, had gotten her hands on the minutest gist about me in a very short while still amazed me.

My boss, Mr. Etomi had assured me that I had nothing to worry about. He said he didn’t care if whatever had happened during the match was true or not.

“You have a wonderful track record. I wouldn’t let something as little as that dissuade me from giving you several opportunities to grow and shine. If I were you, I would in fact milk this global spotlight. You’re a journalist, you know what I’m talking about.”

I had not been expecting that though.

I’d called my father to reassure him of my safety. He assured me he was safe also. But I wasn’t buying it. I knew what Nigerians are capable of. I wouldn’t put it past them to harass everyone and everything remotely associated with me. I had my social media accounts as proof of their viciousness and ignorance.

I looked at Kareem. It might seem like he was secure or that we were fine, but I wasn’t so sure. Crazy thinking, I know. The truth was, I wanted him to blame me.

“What’s on your mind?”

“Nothing,” I said too quickly.

“Out with it.”

I sighed. “Are we okay?”

Kareem held my head in his palms and pinned me with the most sincere and affectionate stare. “We are.”

“Okay.” I made to look away.

“Hey.”

“Uh hmm.”

“We are very, very okay.”

“I know. You already said that.”

“I need you to believe it.”

I smiled. “I do believe it.”

But I didn’t. Kareem was tipsy, if not drunk. I was certain he wasn’t aware of what he was saying.

And I was right.

Written by Vhar

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4 Comments

  1. Mandy
    November 09, 06:59 Reply

    Those wedding vows at the beginning… Oh my God. Powerful, mehn! I swear, Vhar, when I’m getting married, I’m locating you through Pink Panther to help me write my vows to my husband. I keep reading these ones over and over again, and it’s just giving me the feels.

    I’m guessing Peka said them to Kareem, the lucky bastards.

  2. Queen Blue Fox
    November 09, 07:49 Reply

    Please they should not break up over this please. I love them together.

  3. Bee
    November 09, 08:55 Reply

    Thank goodness this is fiction; I’ve got no one to envy.

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