Papers lay strewn, covering every inch of the table. Namdi sat at his chair, two fingers rubbing his temple in an attempt to stave an impending headache. The fire marshals report on the fire had come in that morning. After slogging through pages of bureaucratic nonsense, he had seen the definitive conclusion. An electrical outlet had been the spark.
It had been a busy day. Between ordering the mahogany door to replace the current front entrance of their home and fielding the many many well wishes of his co-workers, he found little time to relax. How they had found out about his condition left him perplexed. At first he suspected his father-in-law but it just wasn’t the style of the man. Pushing the thought aside, he fiddled with the controls at his desk to increase the opacity of the floor to ceiling windows that covered one wall of his office. His goal, to let in some natural light to brighten the stifling atmosphere. Rather than sunlight he was greeted with a city at night.
Surprised, Namdi reached for his phone to confirm what nature had already stated. In a hurry he packed his things. Ignoring the papers still scattered on his desk, he made his way out of the office, his thumb in a flurry of motion as he ordered an Uber. Closing the door to his office, he noticed the quiet of an empty building floor. Being last in the office had not happened in ages. It was at that moment he realised he would not want to give up this life. Walking to the elevator his thoughts returned to Zainab and their morning together. Reaching into his pocket, he brought out the ribbon she had stuffed into it, his fingers holding onto it tightly. She was probably at home now waiting for him. With a ding the elevator doors opened. It was not empty.
In front of Namdi was one who had ceased to be a stranger. In her hands was a pair of shoes he was familiar with. They were his, forgotten in a time when his mind had buckled. There were no words spoken, merely an exchange of a gaze that held in it more information than speech could contain. A connection brought into existence only through the union of two bodies in carnal bliss.
Bisi swept past him, a storm of fragrance lingering in her wake. She did not look back, an underlying tacit agreement thick in the air, leaving a trail for him to follow.
Namdi stood there in front of the open elevator knowing he only needed to take a step forward into its open maw. With a ding the doors began to close. It was salvation he both wanted to grasp and needed to let slip away. The allure of the forbidden fruit having too strong a hold for one to step from. The mind rationalizes to fulfill one’s desires. In his fingers the ribbon remained firmly clasped as he followed the fragrance to his office.
Within, she set herself before the glass; staring out into the city, her reflection faint and as beautiful as the physical specimen she was. An untamed forest of hair stood up, adding a wildness to her. A wildness he had both seen and experienced. Much of her smooth caramel coloured back and shoulders lay bare thanks to the purple halterneck she wore. He saw no strap running horizontally along her back. Namdi remained at the door quietly watching, his shoes now resting on a stack of papers that had temporarily lost all significance. Her apple bottom remained covered by a black miniskirt reaching her mid thigh, leaving the rest of her toned legs for the gods to see.
“The city is gorgeous at night.”
“I thought so too, my first night here.”
“You should come look.”
Namdi hesitated, then slowly walked up beside her, an arms length between them. Together they looked out into the city unable to hear the sounds. Lights twinkled to rival those in the skies above. A long line of red stretched for miles over the water in the distance, commuters stuck in traffic as they raced home to empty or loving homes. The city beat a steady rhythm unlike the hearts within the two who watched from their lofty perch between the earth and the heavens.
“Met your wife today.”
Namdi’s soul shook, a million thoughts a second racing through his mind.
“She is even prettier in person. You never told me her name.”
A sudden insignificant detail suddenly held meaning beyond compare. From his fingers, the ribbon fluttered to land unnoticed on the floor.
“Zainab, her name is Zainab.”
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