It’s about six in the evening, dusk is quickly setting in. My sister has just left for home, her shift for the day is up and now it’s my turn. We have to make a living. You know that, right?
I hear some footsteps, cautious ones, like those of someone trying to sneak in. I don’t give much attention to it, I’m thinking obviously it’s either a kid or one of those weird customers. You see, I’m sitting behind the counter, busy trying to study, to revise for this special exam that I have to sit before classes resume. I didn’t have to but unfortunately this is what I get from being careless. There’s this paper I missed because I didn’t have my exam card with me, and the invigilator was this cruel old woman who couldn’t allow me in the exam room.
I impulsively look up after not hearing from whoever walked into the shop. I don’t see anyone, it’s all quiet. I’m almost springing on my feet in alarm. You know recently we’ve had to deal with lots of insecurity issues. I believe it’s because of criminals migrating into the estate from Kayole, Dandora, Eastleigh and other hoods where their existence is being threatened by certain shoot-to-kill cops. Then I spot a silhouette through the glass on the counter, and it looks familiar.
“Melissa, I know it’s you down there!” I confidently called, trying to be as calm as humanly possible. I was about to add something when I heard giggles. I was right, it was her.
“How did you know it was me?” Asked Melissa, still giggling, as she continued, ” imagine I wanted to surprise you!”
“I see.” I said as I got up to serve a customer.
Meanwhile Melissa had already made herself at home. Pulled herself a chair close to mine, opened two bottles of soda and was already gulping down a Fanta, leaving the sprite one—obviously for me—on the floor, in front of me. She dipped two fingers into her tight jeans pocket and came out with a two-hundred shilling note which she dropped in the open cash drawer. After the customer had left, I sat down, silently picked up the soda and murmured a thank you. Behind my eyes I could see her staring at me, with this almost wicked expression.
“Kwani unafanya?” She asked, already bending over to have a closer look. She snatched away the note-book, I tried to resist in vain. I knew she wanted my attention, like always. I was forced to sit back and watch her peruse through the book for a while—certainly got bored with the many SQL terms— before she rose up, placed the book on her chair and placed her behind on it, oblivious to my complaints.
“Since hii ndiyo reason you are not listening to me, let me take it away.” Melissa firmly stated, looking me straight in the eye.
She looked beautiful. In fact that’s when it occurred to me I hadn’t looked at her, not once, since she had walked in. She looked gorgeous in that sleeveless blue top. Well plaited hair. It was natural—She knew I hated girls with those weaves that made girls smell like a wet sheep when it accidentally gets in contact with water—with a sweet fragrant. I felt awful. All I had to do was tell her you look awesome and I know she could have cried, amused.
“By the way, you look wonderful. Sorry I didn’t tell you at first.” I tried salvaging my ass at last, not like it actually mattered to me, but for her sake. She continued sulking. “I was busy…kuna hii Unit sikufanya exam yake.” I continued.
She said trying to look cheerful, but soon after left—without even her balance of ksh.140—still mad at me, and I couldn’t blame her. I felt bad. She was my friend, and I hated the fact that I was not that helpful, but what was I supposed to do?
Melissa is the “other gal”. I’ve known her for quite some time now. She usually talks to me about her world; campus life, experiences, love stories, her ex and how the idiot hurt her, then about this and that dude stalking her and so many other stuff. How her sister, the one she stays with doesn’t trust her…want her home before nine, et cetera, et cetera. All the time I just calmly listen, like a good dog. She leaves when I can no longer listen to her due to increased customers. Sometimes, when in good spirits, she helps me. She can stay long into the night, until her sister starts calling and then I will watch her reluctantly leave, but not before hugging and whispering in my ear,
“Dream of me!”
That’s how it has always been with Melissa. When we have nothing to talk about, we will just put on some soft (public acceptable) music and listen to it in silence. The other evening she was watching Game of Thrones 7, last episode from my phone when this guy we know walked in. Not sure if he wanted to embarrass me or what, because after greeting us he asked about the other beautiful girl he saw me with last week. Maybe he thought I will panic, but I just told him without fear of contradiction that was my girlfriend. You know most people don’t believe when I tell them Melissa is just a friend. At one time I had to explain to my girlfriend who she was, after she had stumbled upon her selfies while going through my phone’s photo gallery.
There’s this particular day also, while chatting, I called her babe, but with quotes. So she asked why the quotes and since I couldn’t think of a proper answer in time, I bluntly said, “you are not my babe.” Few seconds later I saw, “but you’ve never asked me to be your babe.”
I found myself explaining to her why I couldn’t do that. Told her we’re such great friends, and I will hate to see that messed up, plus she already knew I have someone else.
“That’s very true.”
Was all she said before going cold on the other end. I didn’t hear from her for almost a week after that but she later came around. I don’t know, but maybe this beautiful woman is not contented with being just a friend, which unfortunately is the best I can offer right now. But as they say, only time will tell.