Amanda Nechesa is sucker for the fictional world, she always has been.
"Can we please talk?" he says.
His voice has some kind of intensity in it, some kind of urgency.
My eyes find his, and in them I see what I thought I could never see in him.
In them I see regret.
Without warning, my right hand is in his left, and it stays there as we walk towards Jivanjee Park. I think of my husband and my kids back at home, waiting for me, loving me, caring for me and then as his hold on my hand gets tighter, I don't think of any of them. I only think of him.
We find an empty bench. It's one of those green Safaricom Blaze benches that have a couple of youth smiling into their social gadjets. I don't read the message on it, I don't have to. We are already seated before I have a chance.
"I missed you," he utters the second sentence since we randomly met on Moi Avenue ten minutes ago.
I look at him, and then they come back. Us meeting at the school cafeteria back in Uni, Him with his physicality as Biko Zulu would describe, asking me out without really asking me out, kissing me without really kissing me, giving me his soul without really giving me his soul.
"You diasppeared."I say and look away.
There is a small girl in a very white dress playing a few metres from our green Safaricom Blaze bench. She has two dolls, and I imagine she's playing Pretend.
There is a small boy watching her. He is wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt. I watch him watch her.
A few minutes pass. The boy approaches the girl. Violently and with such anger, the boy takes the dolls away from the girl and throws them as far as his small hands could reach.
I gasp and then my eyes are back at him. He is smiling one of those smiles of his that tells you he finds something amusing.
"You find that funny?" I ask.
He has always been a man of few words.
My head is shaking as I watch the girl run back to her parents crying.
"You wanted to talk."
We sit in silence after that. I try to imagine what he is thinking about, what he wants to talk about.
"How is your husband?" he surprises me.
"How is your wife?" I surprise him.
One of those smiles of his is back. I stare at it. It is sadder than the rest. I have never seen that kind of smiile on his long lean face before.
My eyes are travelling, exploring him. Age has aged him without really aging him. Seems like he treats life as he treated me. His face now has a beard, but it's not the kind of thing you notice at first. In fact, none of his aging features make you notice him at first. With him, it's the kind of presence he radiates. You first sense him without seeing him. And when you finally see him, the feautures don't matter, the past doesn't matter, the future doesn't matter. When you see him, nothing matters except fot the fact that you are seeing him, and you want to be his.
"I missed you," he repeats.
His eyes are on me now. They send something down my spine, something I haven't felt for a long time. My thoughts are back to my husband and my eyes find themselves back to the small girl, happy and playing with the violent doll-thrower boy now.
"What did you want to talk about?"
He sighs, and it's been long since I had one of those sighs. Whatever this is, it has to be something important.
I continue looking at the two small children, tensely aware of his eyes boring into me, into my soul.
"Linda," he is saying as he takes both of my hands and places them in his.
There is not enough air in this park. There is no enough blood in my brain.
"Linda," his voice again, pleading with me to look at him, and like a slave to his master, my eyes obey his voice.
"I need you not to freak out."
"Why would I freak out?"
He is quiet for a moment, and I take time to really see him. His body seems skinnier than before, his voice softer, his lips less full, his eyes sunken, part of his dark hair is gone from the forehead, his ring finger seems too small for his wedding ring, his cheeks seem tired of supporting his skinny face.
"Linda, I got tested. I am HIV positive."
I think of one month ago, that Saturday night, in that hotel room. I think of those white sheets that the hotel staff had to have a hard time cleaning after we sinned on them. I think of the kisses, the slow one, then the hard passionate ones.
"When did you find out?" I ask.
"Two months ago," he says.
I think of nothing as I go under.
© 2019 Amanda Nechesa