I Told You a Night Before
“Don’t tell me you did not use condom?” Jane says in a voice that is better left without analysis. She looks broken as she searches for truth in the eyes of the man who said to her only yesterday that he would go to hell and back for her. Her face is dark with disappointment.
“Udo, why?” Her Voice shakes. “I thought you said we’re going to play by my rules?”
Sex has not been a priority in their relationship. In fact, talking, laughing, falling asleep in each other’s arms and going to the theatre were the climax of their love and loving. They agreed to the no-sex rule. Everyone was happy about it. Udo had said himself that the idea was the greatest he had ever gotten from someone since his childhood. This is their third year on campus and they have dated for three months.
Udo once said that meeting Jane was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was optimistic about the future with Jane. He told his elder brother that he might end up marrying Jane but his brother had dismissed the talk, telling him that it was normal for him to feel that way, especially in the first phase of the relationship.
“Bro, it’s not what you think–believe me this is true love,” he boasted.
“Well, let’s see. Time brings all things to being.”
Now, as he faces Jane, he feels no remorse for what he did. Is it not his right to have unprotected sex with his girlfriend? Why is she acting weird? He is not talking, rather he walks to the window and adjusts the blinds. He picks up a stick of Benson & Hedges and lights it. The smoke from his cigarette travels in see-saw manner and finally gets out like a masked ghost through the window.
“Baby, take it easy. Just relax,” he blurts–that is perhaps, the only thing he has to say about the situation.
He knows, just like every other women he had slept in the past, they get angry, shout, break down and after that, they are back to normal and life goes on. Jane’s case is not going to be different. Of course, hers can’t be.
“It’s nothing baby. Don’t be scared, you’re not gonna get pregnant and moreover, I am clean.”
She is weeping.
“Udo just this thing that I asked of you–use protection.”
“I’m sorry sweetie. I will, next time.”
“Udo, I am HIV/AIDS positive”
“What?” He widens his gaze and his dropped lower jaw dangles carelessly.
“I tried saving you from this,” she breaks down in tears again.
He is quiet and his face lacks life or any known expression. Halos of smoke move out from his nose and mouth. He takes the cigarette out and takes a glance at it as if it is what advised him against adhering to instructions. He throws it into a tray on the table and walks to the wardrobe to get his green Nigeria Football Federation tracksuit. He changes quickly. Picks his Nike Air canvas and his iPod and runs off from the room into the cold misty morning like someone whose house is on fire. He runs as far as he can from the lonely paths of his street to the major roads. He runs till his whole veins and bones cry out in pains.
By the time he thinks of quitting, a speeding red Toyota Corolla whose driver is having a quarrel with his wife runs him down from behind.
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Akpa Arinzechukwu is a Nigerian photographer and writer. His works have appeared or will feature on Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper, Visual Verse, Eastlit, Fundza and elsewhere. www.akpaarinzechukwu.