Psi had stopped talking to her. She wasn’t sure she would see him again. They had met for a month and a half and had completed their business. They had shared a beautiful snog. They had gotten involved in some other kinky stuff, but she had refused to give in to s3x. The first reason had been Kelv, and later, the knowledge that nothing more was going to ever happen between them. There had been Vonech. Theirs had been an attraction based on proximity. After the seminar had ended, everyone had gone their own way. They had met later but nothing major had happened. Besides, she had seen Kelv, and just as she had expected, he had taken over her like whirlwind does to chaff. She’d narrated the ordeal to Sam, though she always made it sound hypothetical. In moments like this, she told Angela endless stories, but sometimes she wanted to think like a man; to understand a man’s perspective, and those were the times she talked to Sam.
After visiting Ali’s house, she looked for Sam, on phone, and told him about Ali. Sam’s advice was simple, “You have been through a lot, take your time.”
The relationship between V and Sam was an interesting one. V viewed him as a brother at times, and as a friend most of the time. She would tell him just about anything, except when secrecy was top priority. Sam had betrayed her trust before, and though she’d forgiven him, she hadn’t forgotten. What made V free with Sam was the knowledge that he would never hurt her on purpose. He made mistakes, alright, but he would give a sincere and remorseful apology. V trusted him, she loved him. V had other male friends, but most of her friendships didn’t last long. With Sam, the more time passed, the more she got comfortable and attached.
Her first instinct was to tell him about Ali because she knew she could trust him. As usual, though, she had withheld the name. V had a thing with names. She cared about people’s names when she cared about them. For her, attaching a name to a character made them more real.
V went to Angela’s place that night and spent it telling her about Ali. The name never came up in the conversation either. They talked and giggled. They shared about their lives. They sulked as they told sad stories. They had been together for over four years but none of this grew old. They always had something to talk about, something to laugh about, something to brag about, something to learn about each other. And even the old stories never lost their humor. V loved Angela. She was a cheerful introvert, who shared almost everything with V. V loved to listen and help her solve her petty problems as well as the serious ones. She also felt free enough to share hers with Angela. They knew a lot about each other, and they grew closer with every event. Of course, like all other girls, they had things they envied about each other, but they never let these things distract them. They were so different, yet so alike. They had different tastes, different preferences, different priorities, different characters, different backgrounds, yet every bit of their lives had a similarity.
Angela was a very pretty girl. The kind of girl boys drooled over. She had almost all the guys, including some who V thought she had. V had her own kind of stuff. Angela had been there for her during her pregnancy and for that she felt grateful. They made fun of each other, laughed at each other, but most importantly, laughed with each other. V was an impatient person, but she enjoyed shopping with Angela. They did girly stuff together sometimes. The only thing they did not do together was go out. V wasn’t exactly a party girl, and she loved her life that way. Angela had tried to get her to go out a couple of times with no success and had soon given up. That is why the idea of V going out to meet people had been welcome. Angela was like that part of the conscience that makes sure things pledged to get done actually get done. When this new Stephen-with-a-name-he-didn’t-deserve called, Angela had pushed her to go, and she’d agreed. It is why going to Ali’s place was such a big deal for both girls.
Aside from Angela and Sam, the only other person she was going to talk to about Ali was Florence. They had not been in touch and so she decided to withhold the story till the day they would meet to catch up. With her other friends, she shared different context; say money matters, class matters, Ara matters and other matters. V had a friend she would tell something but not the other. That way she made sure nobody knew her inside out. Privacy, that was what it all came down to. The more people kept out of her personal life, the safer she felt.
V and Ali kept in touch. She found out from him that he too had enjoyed the evening. “The only problem is, you talk too much about this ex of yours. He must have been special.”
“Ow, he was! He was the best. Am scared I wont find anyone else as good.”
“That is stupid reasoning.”
“I’d like to believe so, but let’s face it. How many guys do you think are out there that good?”
“Countless. And most of them would be lucky to have you.”
“Calm down, spokesman! How many of them are you talking for as we speak?”
“Just the one.”
She laughed loudly. He didn’t. She liked Ali, but that was all. She couldn’t picture herself in bed with him. Especially not after pouring her heart out to him the last time she’d been with him. Ali wasn’t a quiet guy. He listened when he wanted to. He did not try to pretend to be a gentle man. He told V about how he had grown up in a family where men were not allowed in the kitchen. A traditional and original family. V loved original. She hated phonies, she hated pretense. She hated a guy who went online to research about how to please a woman. She hated a man who treated everyone and everything right. She hated perfect people, who seemed to get everything right; they always made her feel inadequate. V wanted to be with a man whose every sweet sentiment counted for something, because there weren’t that many. She wanted a guy who made her feel special by bringing out his soft side with her. Ali was this kind of guy. One drag, he wasn’t the guy for her.
Ali hadn’t tried to hit on V directly. V noted with triumph that she intimidated him to some level. She loved that. It gave her control. When he invited her the second time, she didn’t overthink it, she pulled on some tight leggings and a loose top then grabbed a coat and left. No makeup, no unnecessary freshening, no worries, no nothing. She didn’t carry any bags either. She took out a note from her purse, pulled on some rubber shoes and left. She didn’t tell anyone the truth about where she was going though, she didn’t want them making a big deal out of it. She took a bus and endured the forty-minute-long drive to his place, then found her way to his apartment. She hadn’t even noted the setup the last time she’d been there because she didn’t care. Ali had been out of school for a year and was still trying to get his feet on the ground. He worked for a relative, an uncle, but the job was decent. He refused to discuss it and V refused to implore.
“Are you Muslim?”
“How come your name is Ali?”
“Who said my name is Ali?”
“Maybe I didn’t like you then, and so I lied.”
“And now you do?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Well, whatever!” She paused then continued.”You said maybe, so there is some truth to it.”
“My friends gave that to me. They said my talking will one day get me into trouble, like Mohamed Ali of Jicho Pevu. Know him?”
“No, not really. I am a neanderthal who is yet to move on to TV. So there is no chance I know one of the few guys in the country who have a price tag on their balls.”
“You don’t have to be so sarcastic. And FYI, all men have tagged balls.”
“Like you would know!”
He knew perfectly what she was insinuating and decided to ignore. V noticed fast that he wasn’t the kind of guy that indulged in power plays. That could only mean one thing. He was a confident guy. A manly man. The kind that she has been over the years been unable to resist. She looked up at him. He was looking at her. Her eyes met his. He curved one corner of his mouth to a smile. A casual one. She smiled back in the same fashion then dropped her head.
“I need to go. It’s getting late.”
“My friends are coming over for a guy’s night. Join us.”
It wasn’t a question. It was an invite. It wasn’t an order either, just a statement. It carried power in it. She wasn’t going to say no to that. Not to this alpha-male she was just discovering.
“Am not exactly a guy.”
“You say ‘exactly’ like to some extent you were.”
“You get my point.”
“If you were in any way a guy, you wouldn’t be here.”
She smiled, but soon dropped it. He was just a tough guy with a few sweet -ish words. But bottom line, he was Ali. No, wait, he wasn’t Ali. Not any more. Who was he?
“Who are you, really?”
“Am the guy whose name you will not find out if you leave now.”
So she stayed. He had extroverted friends. In their presence, he was the quietest. She decided the theory about the origin of his nickname was hoax. But she was okay with it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and V had learned to let some things go.
She had blended in and they had had fun. One of his friends had tried to hit on her but had soon backed up. At some point, they became true boys and she left them alone. She stood to exit the room and one smitten John whistled as he stared at her ass. Her outfit was exaggerating it’s immensity. She smiled and left for bed. She was going to rest there till they left, then she would leave, as per Ali’s orders. He said they wouldn’t stay long. Nevertheless, she was a night walker, she was not afraid of the dark. She’d once been hustled by petty phone thieves but that hadn’t counted for that much. It didn’t change her one bit.