BLACK SKIN LIKE ONYX
That child without a name behind his name, you shouldn’t have had him. I say to myself. You should have allowed him have a name, every child deserves that, deserves to know whom he or she belongs to. I tell myself for the hundredth time today that it’s not my fault. I remind myself of this before I go livid with guilt. It is all nature’s fault that the rain decided to drop on my parade. Blame it on the rain for pouring down so heavily and yet so heavenly that evening, causing me to yearn for my enemy. Causing all sensible thought to disappear, allowing my selfish desires to win.
And there he was, sleeping quietly before I reached out for him. I was standing ten feet away from where he slept when I whispered his name, “Fabian” in the dark. I could make out his peaceful face in the almost melted out candle light in its stands. He opened his eyes, those grey pairs that led me down the path of temptation with a testimony in thy mouth. While he wasn’t surprised to see me standing those feet away from him, he was rather taken aback that I’d come for him like that, as if I wanted something only he could give: Warmth from the coldness the rain had brought into my heart and bones.
I said, “Can I join you?”
“Oh yes, yes, sure.” he rose fully from sleep and patted the empty space next to him. I was doubtful for a moment. What if, just what if he doesn’t want me? What if I wasn’t the kind of girl he usually preferred to share his bed with and warm shoulders? What if he’d never thought of me once since our barely one month stay in this old house? But the one thing I was most scared of was this: What if he didn’t want this melting fountain of dark chocolate spilling all over him?
I shook off my fear and wished I could do the same to my red satin gown.
“So?” He said, clasping his fingers together with his elbows on his lap. But I knew he had more than that on his mind. I shivered when I heard another crash of thunder and he asked, like a gentleman I’d suspected he was. He asked, “Are you cold? Should I get you a blanket?” No, just you baby, I so badly wanted to say.
“Come, let me take you to bed, we have a long day tomorrow.” A long day of working, of having people yelling for us to give the right poses, a long day of having lights and cameras flashing on our faces. And yes, it was both our jobs but I hated it sincerely that night. He rose up and asked for my hand but I refused to give it. I know the room was dark but how couldn’t he see that I wanted to be with him and not alone in the dark, in a cold room with nightmares of things that have passed and things that have refused to come?
I saw his hands stretched out again for mine; I guess he really was blind. But I wasn’t. I had eyes like an eagle. I could clearly make out the fall and rise of his nicely cut abdominal muscles. So he likes to wear his trousers to bed, I examined and blushed.
“Ada, are you okay?” He must have seen my face well-lit on fire just now I thought. “But oh Fabian, I don’t, I don’t know how to put this, can’t you guess what it is I want?” I sounded concerned now and it worked. “Ada,” he said again and who would have thought that my name could sound like this; like melted blueband butter ready to be scooped up by a piece of freshly baked bread and ready to be devoured.
But back to what is most important, Fabian was scared. Of me? Or of the story told about people of my kind? I let him have my hand and he could have more if he allowed the rain beating on our roof do away with his worries. I knew he was fighting with himself, a battle I didn’t mind helping him lose. Our touch was breathless; with the tips of our fingers barely touching, only resting on the air between. Then again, how should I have known that there was more space between us than I’d seen? And that that space was filled with a summary of abomination.
Ernie came and the lies I’d told my mother about his father all came to light. He embarrassed me from the moment his large head pushed out: blooded covered but his blond hair and crystal clear grey eyes like the man I was with in Jamaica could not be hidden under the sun any longer. My own mother screamed so loud when Ernie opened his eyes that the nurse almost dropped him out of fright. I quickly collected my child, the one I’d made that night, and the one I’d carried secretly in my womb for seven months until I became broke in the last two months and had to call home for help.
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I cried with him as the questions came one by one, all too rushed, all too sudden, all too many. And my mother’s word lingered over his blond curls, “If only his father was Igbo like us…” Till the moment he came and while I was in labor, I’d prayed to God between every seconds of those God awful contractions for this child to come out with a striking likeness to me: Dark skinned with eyes that matched but he disgraced me instead, looking like a photograph of the man I’d met in Jamaica. The man who left me under a blanket with a goodbye, last night should have never happened note. But it did. It happened and everyone, including Ernie will go on forever regretting every second of it but me. Just me, alone with the memories of his eyes looking into mine with love.
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