by Charles Opara
She draws my attention to a young couple in a giggly group of five. “They have great sex,” she says.
I inquire how she knows this, just humoring her, and she says, “See the way she leans into him when she laughs, the way she touches him every chance she gets. Plus she’s glowing with vitamin S.” S for sex, I presume.
My wife, Theo, and I are guests at a friend’s promotion dinner. While couples arrive, she gives me the skinny on each one. No, she doesn’t know them and, no, she’s not psychic either. But get a load of this: she says a woman’s body language at social events gives clues to her sex life. And only another woman would be able to read the signs. Interesting. Women have been communicating behind our backs. I wonder how long this has been going on and if they can tell about us. From her. Let’s just say, lately, I haven’t exactly been knocking her socks off in that department. I’m always fagged out from data entry work.
“Honey, what’s your body language saying right now?” I ask, nervous.
She stares at me, and then looks away, stifling a grin.
“Is this something women do involuntarily, or deliberately?” I ask.
“Both,” she says, looking around us, at the other guests. “When it’s deliberate, we’re faking it.”
“Can you fake it? I mean…make it look like you married a helluva lover? I’ll owe you big.”
She glances at me and then at her shoes—heeled sandals with lots of straps—smiling, mocking, almost. “Remember the honeymoon beach incident?” she asks, brushing back her braids with one hand, her head still bowed.
“What you’re doing now reminds me of it.” At this point she’s suppressing a laugh, and still refusing to make eye contact. I don’t know what’s tickling her.
“What I’m doing now?”
The next thing that happens turns my top layer of skin into slough. She erupts in a maniacal laughing fit that forces her to sit down. Everyone’s looking at us. Heck. I don’t know what to do. Looks like she’s choking but, no, I can’t give her the liquor I’m holding. So I rush to the kitchen to get her a glass of water and, I swear to God, I will throw it on her face if she doesn’t stop her madness.
From the kitchen, I hear the guests simmer down and then—Theo’s high-pitched, cackling voice. I can’t make out what she’s saying with the gargling sound of water overflowing the tumbler I’m holding under the faucet. Her audience responds by laughing. By laughing real loud. Would you believe it? Strange. Very strange indeed. I wouldn’t describe Theo as jokey although she can be amusing at times. Funny thing is, she’s funny when she’s not trying to be, and hilarious when pathetic. Presently, I think ‘pathetic’ and I think… No. She wouldn’t. She couldn’t. I’m sure I turned off the faucet, but it’s my forehead that’s dripping water now.
I hurry back to the parlor and her audience slinks away as soon as I arrive. I hand her the glass.
“What’s that all about?” I mumble in her ear.
She offers me her phone. There’s a video on the homescreen ready-to-play. I remember it. It’s the one from our honeymoon. She’d asked me to take off my shirt for a picture, and I’d thought, Expose my jiggly bod on a beach full of people? No way! We’d gotten into a struggle, and after she’d won, she’d whispered, “Sexy is all about attitude. We need to work on yours. Not very sexy.”
Now she’s saying she doesn’t have to fake marrying a great lover because she did. “It doesn’t have to be all that all the time,” she finishes.
“Gee, thanks honey. That’s so sweet,” I say. “But you didn’t just show them that video, did you?”
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Charles Opara is a speculative fiction novelist currently finishing his first novel. He writes short stories on a much wider range of topics, some humorous. He is a programmer based in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors, who remains captivated by the logic involved in writing stories and programs.