I hear signs of life from the verandah. She drips into sight, bikini-clad, more naked than not. There’re people watching. She tugs me out of earshot.
‘”I don’t know what love is, but I know what it isn’t, Tony”, she said.
“I’m lost”, I shoot back.
“I thought I needed love, but now I need sleep”, her.
“Why doesn’t my name put a smile on your face, Tony?”
I fish for a response but I come up empty. In truth, I’m not all that into her, but she makes my 3 a.m.’s more bearable.
Sylvia, she comes from humble beginnings. But three years with me here in Lekki have made her a bit more blasé.
She’d lounge with me in the living room on off evenings when we were rained in, peeling through old scrapbooks, pages wan from neglect. Always making reference to a particular photo of her and her siblings, posing pretty behind a basin of rice flanked by bottles of Limca on her little brother’s third birthday. She hated the fact that she loved it.
“Tony”, she’d dart, “Why don’t we travel to the mainland this weekend to see my little brother. It’s been a week”.
“No”, I’d clip, “It’s high time we burnt that scrapbook, for our own good. Looking at it always sets you off on these whims. I can’t keep up, Sylvia. You’re stuck in an expired era.”
She’d gun back with a tirade, as is her wont. I’d stand as the invectives ricocheted and she’d exhaust herself back into bed with me. We’d f**k, in keeping with routine, and she’d forgive my ‘harsh’ by the next morning when breakfast was being fixed.
Sincerely, I was tired of the whole cycle. All she does is ~ ‘powder her nose’, f**k me, and spend my money. ~
My union with her was more a matter of charity than it was anything else. And oddly, it gave me a paternal sense of duty toward her. She wasn’t ‘the one’, but she filled the spaces between my escapades with something worthwhile.
Maybe I’d get used to her, and love’d creep in somewhere along the line.
This brand of worn optimism was what buoyed me.
The guests had all gone home, and she joined me by the pool, closer to sobriety than she was an hour ago.
“Tony, tell me, do you love me?”.
I mooted the possibility of it, and then stuttered something indeterminate before muttering, “The wine was righteous, Sylvia. Let’s put it to good use before the night gets tired”.
We sexed and I woke up to another morning of ‘what next and where to?’
And then I came to the realization that love or lust were the only choices I had with Sylvia.
But for now, I had to rest between options. Closure was jading at times.