I looked at her and smiled. Dressed in a short flared red dress, she was ready for the date. Her eyelashes prominent for noticing, she was ready for tonight’s date. Seated across from me, she was silent awaiting the perfect moment to speak. This was my first time out after a series of failed relationships. I was here to have fun and most of all, throw myself back to the game. Nothing seemed to have changed, same old tricks and experiences. I looked around us and saw, shallow connections, shallow people, shallow feelings and it drowned me in my sorrows.

Gracefully dressed and evenly applied make up that toned her skin, she was beautiful. We had talked severally over the phone and we agreed to meet on this day, a day of the loving and loved ones. Though the mood felt right, I was out. The hotel was decorated ready to give love and show love to people. It was a once a year affair that had people going berserk in satisfying each other.

Petra, was her name and as beautiful as she was, the name suited her. The sound of it will forever remind me of her. As she walked in before settling down. I felt the doubt, the questions came crawling.

“Why am I here? Will my fate ever change? She is beautiful but then I may not be enough for her?”

She walked majestically towards me, her eyes settled on me, beckoning me to stare at her. She absorbed my soul. My heart was racing, my armpits slowly sweating as my eyes widen in awe.She kept on walking and all I could see was how I will eventually let her down, if at all we were to try this relationship thing.

I stood up to hug her as she extended her hand to greet me. This to me was a sign, maybe I had to watch my boundaries when talking to her. On the phone it had been smooth prompting me to meet her. For whatever reason we chose this day I still fail to fathom. I have never loved this day, not since my favourite aunt died. My aunt had serenaded this day with a rose ever since I started noticing positive gestures. She passed away a year later on this very day. 

I pulled out a chair and invited her to sit. 

“Thank you, Mbogo.” She sat down and took her time to adjust to the environment. I stared at her at intervals taking in every detail. 

“So here we are at long last. How are you holding up?” I asked to get the night moving.

She smiled and looked up, away from her phone.

“I am fine. By the look of things I may say I’m at peace.”

“Well, that’s great to hear. Today being Valentine’s day, I wanna see you lead the day. We will go by your choices.”

“Eish, that sounds like a set up for failure. Anyway, what the hell, let’s eat and go for a walk then we top it with a movie later into the night.

It was at seven in the evening when we left the hotel for a walk. She had an ideal scenario of what she wanted and she was going to get it. As we walked past the Haile Sellasie roundabout, I had an idea of where we could go and come back just in time for the movies.

Petra walked as if she was counting her steps, stealthily and in a calculated manner. She took her time, her precious time. 

“Where are we headed?”

“Upperhill then to Hurlingham. These sides always seem cool and peaceful for a walk at any time of the day.”

“Alright seems like the right idea. Are we gonna walk in silence or strike a conversation as we go?”

We walked in silence for the next fifteen minutes before she talked again . 

“Mbogo, what’s on your mind? What are you thinking right now?”

“To be honest, nothing. I am trying to avoid sinking deep into thinking about myself, my future and you. It is all scary.”
“Me? What have I done?”

“For now nothing, I like what we are having right now, I love this feeling of knowing not what will happen next. I love the idea that, being here with you at this very moment might be one of the best things.” 

“Well then let us make this moment unforgettable. Let us not push our minds beyond today. Let us live in today, after all, tomorrow is not guaranteed.”

“You strike me as someone who wants everything to be done with a plan and if you have chosen to go with the flow for today then let’s limbo.”

A minute passed before an urge to talk rose in me. It was getting colder as we climbed the hill headed towards KNH. I stayed back for a second to watch her walk from behind. She kept on walking without a care. 

“You said no future talk, what about the past?”

“Well, we can sink into that, but I feel that it is too dark for liking.”

“Probably but then sharing sheds light into the darkness.”

“Hey, why shed light when you can embrace it, shower in it and let it drown you. You can also mould it into your liking, after all it is your darkness.”

“Strangely enough, that makes sense. It may be just about time I walk in my darkness during the day. It is what I have known for quite a while now.”

“By the way, do you think if your parents hear what you have become, they will recognize you?”

“I don’t have an answer to that but most likely they will not. I surprise myself sometimes too.”

‘So basically at some point what they taught you become a fairy tale. It is a story you are ready to narrate with you a sa distant character.”

“What I know is that, every stage of my life might be a foundation for the next or just a skin for me to peel later. What I was taught as a child about life, is not what I have experienced in totality but it has helped me get here. Do you know I came to a point where if I had to tell my parents anything, we would both cry ourselves to sleep. I have had my darkest moments and lightest too but sharing those with them may break their hearts. What they consider good or right no longer applies to me.”

“Well put, still what they taught you lingers in a corner, ready to pop but you maybe too busy absorbed in self-pity and loathe. Speaking of which, do you hate yourself?”

“What? Now that you’ve mentioned it. I do, I do hate myself with passion.”

“And what’s holding you back from becoming what you desire? I mean you possess the greatest power.”

“Self-loathe is powerful but I have never thought of it in that angle. It is about time I get to propel myself by what brings me down.”

“Yes, take your own advice for a single moment.”

At KNH, we crossed to the other side and took a turn at Daystar University ready to head back to town. I was holding her hand and it didn’t feel awkward at all. I was comfortable with her fingers intertwined with mine. This night was turning out to be wonderful. We were supposed to head back via Uhuru park and so our target was in range.

“Mbogo, how many relationships have you failed to rise up to the occasion? Shit, that came out wrong. How many relationships have you had?”

I bursted into a constrained mirth, as I geared myself to answer her.

“Do you want a precise number or a justification?”

“Either way you put it, I’m good.”

“Well, fifteen, fifteen reltionships.”

“Wow, kwani what were you doing? How do you define a relationship? What was the interval between them?”

“You said no talking about the past. Anyway, as soon as I win a lady over I tend to see everything unfolding. The future especially, I see the girl in every scenario of my life, I include her in every aspect of my life and if she shows any sign of uninterest or something of the sort, I shield my heart from the heartbreak. Besides talking to people at an arm’s length is always beautiful and enticing, once you get to know them you realize sooner than ever that all was a sham. I really prefer these deep, decent talks since nowadays once you get close, people will start hiding stuff they were so comfortable telling you as a stranger. Whatever happens during the transition changes everything. So I have had fifteen of such failed relationships.”

“You know what they say, better a half a loaf of  bread than nothing. Listening to you rant seems like a justification.”

“What about you? How many have you had?”

“Four, only four. “

“Wow, for the first time a lady admitting she has had more than three relationships. Must be nice.”

“Huh, we are sharing the truth aren’t we?”

“Here we are at the movies, which one do you wanna watch?”

“I’m sorry to say this but I have to go.”

“It is understandable. Till we meet again, have a good night.”

“One more thing.”

She inched closer to me, leaning in a suggestive manner. This was my chance as my mind went blank. My hands were sweating, I couldn’t hold her. My heart was beating so fast. I had to relax. 

“Hey take it easy, relax.” I whispered as I went in for a kiss of my life. She paused mid-air and asked what I was saying but our minds connected. 

I was awed as our lips touched, tender and yummy. I went deeper for more as I embraced her in a warm hug. This was really turning out to be an awesome night. The kiss could not compare even to my first kiss, not by any range.

By the time I opened my eyes she was hurrying off. I saw her rushing to meet someone down by the road. They hugged as they stepped into the movies by another entrance. 

For a minute, the moon disappeared, streetlights seemed to be dimming as I watch her go. The walk to my Matatu stage was going to be long. “What the hell was I thinking, why was I even on this side of town on such a day.” I held onto the night not wanting one simple moment ruin it. It was twelve ten in the morning. I had to get home by any means.

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