By: Bethelhem Teame
From the first time we met, I knew he would be a trouble with capital ’t’. But like a moth to a flame, here I am, unable to stop myself. He said a simple ‘Hi!’ like the one you and I often use on our daily lives; but it was quite difficult to reply. It was not what he said but how he said it that made it one of its kind. Maybe the sound of his voice made it such a unique, ‘hi’.
His eyes made all the deepest probing but his mouth uttered only one word and that is ‘Hi’. With that simple word, he asked all sorts of questions I need not answer and he shouldn’t have asked. With that ‘Hi!’ he asked me who, what, why and how I was my whole existence until that night. With that ‘Hi’ I let my soul get abducted and was left on the deserted crossroad of a strange town of some kind, left behind confused, challenged and questioning my whole life. That is probably when I jumped……
“Zee man! You made it…thanks man” shouted in exited tone John from my side. John was fun. John was a safe haven with no safari adventures or bungee jumps. John is my glue that keeps me down from the loose space of wild fantasies and adventures I seem to float on a lot. He is the gravity that pins me down to the reality on the ground.John was my safety net who catches me, when and if, I jump out, without a parachute or a second thought-I call it adventure, he calls it suicidal. He makes me swear an oath not to do that again to his heart-he says he experiences a slight heart attack when I do that. A sweet man- he gives his heart without receiving one. John didn’t understand the intense tension between his friend and I-maybe he chose to ignore it-that will probably make him look any human- for any argument sake between you and I.
“Babe, he is my friend from work. He is a nice guy…” he put his hands around me protectively and nudge me towards his friend to encourage me to say ‘hi’ to his ‘hi’. John need not do that, the magical, magnetic pull was already there, without any of us adding to that. John can sometimes be a little unperceptive, a little too trusting, blissfully ignorant. How can’t he tell that I am drowning in the pool of his friend’s eye? “This is when I need you John, this is the time when you pull me out of the damning spiral of flights I am falling in too fast. The good lifeguard you are. This is when you save me from me; because I keep playing with a fire now and another time with knife.”
Our eyes locked. They stayed locked for minutes to come. His eyes demanded answers, answers to questions I haven’t ever asked. What is wrong with this guy? Better yet, what is wrong with me for wanting to answer his questions, step by step, one by one?
“Zee man, this is my girl, the birthday girl.” John planted a kiss on my forehead. I shrunk and patted his arms away, all the while my eyes on the other man. I don’t know why I would do that. Should I feel guilty for kissing my man? Then why does it suddenly feel like he is the other man? Why does it feel like I am hurting the other man by being kissed by my own man? Why does it feel like I was found redhanded in the arms of another man by my man? I think that treacherous heart of mine is playing a trick of some kind. His eyes flare in some unfathomable emotion I am not quite sure to talk about. I see something flicker by, something intense and strange I couldn’t define. Could it be anger that I saw in Zee’s eye?
“Group pic…!” someone shouted and they all horde around me facing the camera man. He came to stand next to me on my other side. To my right is John and Zee is to my left side. Great! Just great! My future was about to be expressed in plain language of a picture that perfectly tells the story of my life.
He put his hand on my small back. His touch was scalding; like a bushfire spreading. Head to toe set blazing. My inner will melting. How can it both consumes and restores me, all at the same time molding me- into another woman strange to me? It still hurts where he caressed me, like unconventional fairytale magma, its sweet lava delights me. A crazy fool…you are-smirks my conscience and asks this, “Who has chosen and ever lived in the presence of a raging fire? You would choose to turn into an ash just for a pleasure of this kind? Just to set your heart on fire?”
“Thirsty?” John asks, inclining his head to one side, as if he is trying to read my mind. I nod my head twice to emphasis the urgency of a drink to my surprisingly dry throat. John moves fast, multitasking so many things all at once. Being a good host to the party he threw for my birthday and he is doing just great so far, surprising all of us. He is showing me another side tonight. Zee gets close, “You can have mine” he says as he whispers at my ears and I close my eyes to that. Everything is revolving, everything but him and I, everything is blur but us. OMG! John is also a blur, a figure with the rest of the blur subjects that are revolving around.
Immobile. I stood glued to the ground I occupied. All the voices around me are mute and I can only hear him now. I think my hands were shaking, because he hold mine with his large hands and I am on the seventh sky. “I’m taking you out to the patio…” he doesn’t wait for my answer and guides me out. He takes charge, my kind of man. You see what I am dealing with in life? My heart seems to know no shame of whatsoever and I am actually worrying now? Is there a doctor that fixes wanton hearts that justify everything in the name of love?
He came closer once we were out in the verandah, away from the magic of the music and the merriness around us, into the spell of the captivating night sky decorated with the twinkling stars. I chose to close my eyes, that way I could stay focused, but all my fortress is down tonight. I can tell I am falling down, who is on the other side- I sill haven’t figured that out. His hands lingered on my face, his fingers playing with the strand of my hair that escaped the braids. We were floating or everything else around us was sinking. We stood close to each other-unable to fight the temptations nor give in.
John, my family knows and approves. John, my friends know about. My comfort zone. The safe grounds. A smooth sail on the vast waters of the ocean on a clear sky. Four seasons and still counting, John by my side. It has been a while since my stories have started with ‘John and I’ till the line where I begin and he ends blurs out.
Zee, I know nothing about. Zee, the puzzle that intrigues and mystifies me in some odd ways, and I still do not know why. Zee, a question to my friends and families in my life. The one who makes me tick and makes me ask all the questions I have never asked. The unsafe territory like behind enemy lines. The fire that burns me down, specially when he looks at me like that, like he is drowning in the sight of my eyes….I levitate and start to float, I am flying without a parachute when I am with this guy. Will John rescue me this time? After all he is my safety net that catches me when I fall down?
Then I realized, John exists because of guys like Zee in a girl’s life. This curious mind of mine can’t help but ask, if I am falling from John into Zee’s arm, won’t their roles be reversed, at least this once? If the other is on the other’s end or side? But should it be held against the girl, if she enjoys the fall, that sweet, tormenting time between falling and landing into his arms- whoever is on the other side?