“Hi. I’m Kuukua and this is my sister May.” I said, choosing to use Etornam’s English name. I knew mine was already complicated enough.
“I’m Mary. What did you say your name was?”
A nod here, a barely acknowledged glance there. I repeated my name several more times. I kept my polite Ghanaian smile up. We made our rounds and finally ended up at the bar stools. They were set too high for me to access so I stood next to you while you ordered a Guilder and Heineken for Etornam and me. We took our bottles and retreated to the railing on the side of the bar away from your posse. My sister busied herself on her phone while you and I talked. I was so shy and self-conscious asking why you liked me. And if your friends would like me. We talked for a while. You were very gracious including my sister in the conversation even as you struggled to take your eyes away from mine.
You had not quit smoking then. Soon you lit one and excused yourself to smoke it. Etornam asked me if you were the reason why I was so giddy. If you were the reason I had caused us to make that long trip. He is nice enough but he smokes, she remarked. I said I knew it was a bad habit. I told her I’d promised myself never to date a smoker after O. His friends seem uppity. I said my experience of expats was that they were usually uppity. Maybe he’s different I said. She wasn’t buying it. She continued. He is so tall and skinny she said. Like he doesn’t eat. She set about telling me what to do to fatten you up. I said he’s not mine to fatten. We were laughing so hard when you walked back to us; you joined in the joke once we explained how Etornam wanted me to fatten you up. I liked that you had a great sense of humor. The beer was starting to kick in. We talked for a little while longer; I was less shy now.
Then she and I decided to go wade in the ocean for a few minutes. The sun was beginning to dip and we needed to make that long journey back. She had to work the next morning. When we returned you were smoking another cigarette and talking to your best friend. The rest of the posse had wandered off. He politely wandered off to find the others when he saw you look at me. My sister melded into the background of the bar busying herself with the phone again. You asked if I liked to dance. I said very much but that I had clumsy feet. You said we should dance sometime. I blushed and smiled shyly. I looked at my bare feet peppered with the god-made salt scrub then looked up at you. You wore the most priceless of smiles. You began playing toesies with me. I surprised you when I brushed the soles of my feet over the tops of yours. Your breath was short, like it caught on its way out. You blushed. You said you wanted to kiss me so bad. I said I wasn’t ready to take it to that level. You sighed then nodded.
Etornam came over and gently nudged my elbow. I had been leaning against you as you were propped on the railing. We both looked up. We had momentarily lost track of time and other people. You apologized. She said we had to go. You said you’d walk us to the junction to get a taxi. I nodded and looked around for my flats. Etornam had them. She stopped to use the rest room when we walked up to the main compound. We reached for each other again. The fire burning in us was unbelievably real. Our limbs had only to brush for the flames to engulf our very beings. You held me close to you, my head on your chest while we waited for her. When she returned, we parted and you took hold of my hand as though your shyness was all an act and you wanted to show her you wished to be with me. We walked, butterflies in every cavity, to the junction. Luckily for us, the taxi driver who brought us in happened to be loading for his final return trip to the main street. Etornam hopped in and scooted over, waiting for me. You squeezed my hand not wanting to let go. I smiled and turned to reach in for a hug. You squeezed me tight and then when I was entangling from you, you tugged on my hand slightly, our fingers clasped. I turned and then you did it. Like a school boy, you planted a kiss on my left cheek. It burned right there and I couldn’t contain myself. I mouthed “see you soon” and crawled into the taxi before I could follow my instincts. I collapsed into Etornam; she waved.