Friday, June 8, 2012


Image from here
I come out from the dream clutching my neck, my mouth open in a soundless scream, and I don’t know where I am. I look out into the blackness that fills this place. It’s the kind of thick, malignant black that feels like it could swallow any light. I can still feel it throbbing in my neck, the bottle the madman had stuck in it, and so I cannot take my hand away. I blink, trying to make out a wall, a window, but the darkness won’t let me. So I close my eyes, take deep breaths and count the numbers off in my head till the pain stops. I count to forty.

I open my eyes and I remember where I am. The darkness hasn’t given way, but the pain in my neck is gone now so I can hear his gentle snoring. It was the last thing I heard before I fell asleep last night; that whisper of a snore that had begun almost as soon as he’d rolled off me. I grope on the floor around me in the dark. When I find my phone I press a button for light. It’s one forty-five. I slide off the bed and to the floor and notice that my head is pounding. I crawl onto last night’s condom just as I reach my hand bag. It sticks to my knee and I brush it off with an impatient motion. Still holding my phone for light, I rummage through my bag till I find my lighter and pack of cigarettes. There’s only one left. It will have to do until he wakes up. I light it with shaky hands. I shine my phone light towards the bed and I can make out his figure splayed on it. I smoke my cigarette and try not to think. I pretend not to hear the voices in my head; those mocking, probing voices that know my past, that tell me about my future.

My cigarette is gone and the fool still isn’t awake. I crawl to the bed and slap his thigh hard; once, three times. He grunts and rolls over, and the snoring continues. To hell with this. With my phone light I find the pile of his clothes on the floor and go through his trouser pockets. The weight of the smooth leather wallet is promising in my palm. I open it and rifle through the naira notes. There is much more in there than the fee we had agreed on. I take it all, stuff it in my bag. I find my clothes and get dressed, and I walk out of the room and through the gates of Paradise Hotel.

The air is hard and nippy, and the street is wet. It must have rained sometime during the night. It should be rowdy here, even at this hour, with men and wannabe men drinking manpower, smoking weed and dancing swor, baiting me and every other female in sight with sneered promises of money or unspeakable pleasures. But the street is empty.

My feet move on, taking me to the place where I will buy silence. But till then, the voices in my head rule.