For four months they had been close like brother and sister, almost inseparable. For the last month after she announced that she would be transferring to another branch, Jojo had taken the opportunity to profess his love for her, adding the disclaimer that this meant no pressure whatsoever. Afia reciprocated his profession but never mentioned that she loved him in a different way. That, she could never truly love a man the way he needed to be loved. The entire time they had been friends, she had failed to share that although she identified as bi, women were what really rocked her boat.
Afia was chatting with her colleague and best friend, Ama, when she asked if she had come out to Jojo yet.
“How could I boldly make such a confession in a homophobic culture where the phrase ‘live and let live’ is just that—a phrase!” Afia said softly, rocking herself.
“Ei! Four months and you are still dragging the man along…aba…put him out of his misery already!” Ama said sucking air through her teeth.
“I long to share all of who I am with him. This closeting and quarantining parts of myself is too hectic, trust me.” Afia said as Ama rolled her eyes at her and planted both hands on her hips.
“He told me he loved me last week, asked me not to feel pressure to say or do anything differently. I told him I loved him but I didn’t add that he didn’t make my skin tingle like she did.”
“Yoo b3 me I have told you. Tell the man and let him move on o!” Ama had a flair for dramatics.
“What if he never speaks to me again?” Afia said, bursting into tears then laughter when she realized her transfer would be complete in a week. They’d never have to speak again if he didn’t want to.
“Somebody else makes my heart do triple time, and this someone else is a woman,” Afia said to Jojo watching his reaction closely. Was it hurt or betrayal she saw? Or was that sadness or anger lurking in the shadows of his wry smile? Would he walk away without sharing his thoughts with her? Say something, she wanted to yell, but she knew she had to give him time to process. She had had four months to think through her confession.
She watched as the admiration he’d nurtured for her over the four months slowly drained from his face. She had agonized over what his first words would be after hearing her confession, now she couldn’t wait to hear him speak them.