I looked away and played with my nails.Nobody sat across the table and a nearly deserted cafe wasn’t the best ally.It was the second time I had been caught staring and ignored.My object of interest was engrossed in wiping the formica tables clean.His desire for shine was clearly unmistaken. I  wondered when he was going to wipe all twenty-two tables at such snail’s pace.

Well, it was almost seven p.m. When it struck nine, Mama was sure to call. When she did, I had to leave and Kwaku knew this too.

” Kwaku, should I take the lead?”

He looked up begrudgingly from the table he was bent over, threw the key and with a gentle flick of his fingers, gestured to leave.So I did.

The house was empty as expected. His father had passed on and his mother was away on a trip as usual.Sometimes, I felt I was replacing his mother because I spent more time with him than she did, I  spoke to him more than she did and I was certain I had cooked for him more than she ever had. I took pleasure in being there for him albeit I received no thanks.God forbid such uncouth words fell from his lips! Not that it mattered too much,only I felt people ought to appreciate life’s little blessings.

The blessing of living in such luxury,for starters. My eyes combed the living room in awe.People like me did not stumble upon  grandeur on the regular. If we did, we needed time to adjust and that was exactly what I was doing, adjusting. 

The doorknob clicked open, jolting me out of my reverie. When the footsteps drew nearer, I tiptoed into the kitchen for cover. By the click of the heels and rhythm of the strides I could guess it was Kwaku. I wasn’t too sure though.Anyway, he gave himself away to my relief, when he shouted my name. I could not have mistakened his raspy barritone for anyone else’s. Before I could respond,  he was already in the kitchen.

” Thought you had left. Good you’re here.What have you cooked? “He said,with raised eyebrows and jaws busily working on a wad of chewing gum.His eyes held the  sparkle of a two-year old who had found a stray coin.

” Young man, have you forgotten what your wife looks like?”  I said, exhibiting my ill sense of humour. 

A little smile danced on his lips. In approximately two microseconds later, I felt his overpowering frame behind me as he held my hands together firmly at the back 

” Oh no my darling, I know what she looks like.She’s right before me.”

I laughed, genuinely tickled by his words.” I’m not your wife o,I will not  and will never be!”

My red-belted taekwondo reflexes were activated. I gave him a sharp reverse kick in the knee, pulled my hands free from his grasp and ran.He scowled  in pain.

” Abena, I’m coming to get you!” He yelled, running after me. Before long, we were all about the house running,shouting and having a swell time.In my mind, we were back in time playing ‘hide and seek‘ with no cares. We destroyed a few paintings, broke some glasses and dented the wooden cabinet.But it was fun! Too much fun that at the crescendo of our excitement, we  bumped into each other. I do not know how but I do know that I tripped him unintentionally with my foot and his best shot at retaliation was to pull me along.What? I couldn’t contain myself. I laid on my back and laughed,and laughed and laughed. He was laughing too,or so I thought.

As my giggles subsided,he helped himself up onto his knees and lifted his hands.I thought it was to help me up too. That hand went to his mouth rather,signalling for my silence. His belt buckle went snap!

“Ei Kwaku!” I exclaimed.

“Shhhhh.I just want to say thank you for all you do. You’ve been an amazing friend. ” He said, inching closer. 

I rolled over onto all fours and attempted standing.  I was convinced it was another variant of our games but he shoved me back down.There and then, I knew playtime was over. He straddled my thighs and gagged me with one hand. His eyes had lost their sparkle. They were intense, lustful and even deadly. His long fingernails pierced my cheeks to sore but I couldn’t care less. Losing blood was the least of my worries.

He fumbled in futility with his flap,grunting. I wanted to plead for mercy. Maybe I could buy his conscience with my words.Maybe he would pause and think beyond his arousal.Maybe. Just maybe. Tears streamed down the corner of my eyes.”Abena, this is not the time to cry”, I scolded myself. 

I saw an opening in his struggle and garnered all strength to pushed him on the chest, determined not to go down without a fight. It must have felt like a feather pushing against a brick wall because he didn’t budge.I squirmed out beneath him but my squirms did nothing either to relieve me of the ton of weight I was accommodating unwillingly.

“Don’t fight it!” He chided, his minty breath scorched my dark brown skin. I scratched his face in response with both hands.

” You better be still,Abena. Let’s get it over with!” The tweak in his jaw and the sternnessof his look taught me better.

Beads of sweat formed on my brows, my neck, my thighs. My spine tingled with fear.My mind was racing. My heart beat caught up fast. He finally opened his flap and yanked my thighs apart.Warm air brushed my thighs. I kicked frantically, at no one in particular. This was my last shot. I had to do something now, or never. 
Instincts prompted me to scream but his hand was glued to my mouth. I turned  my head violently to the left to displace his hand and I screamed! Everyone had to hear me. But I think no one did. 

He caught hold of my underwear.That was when I lost it. That was when I stopped fighting.Every shred of hope I held was gone.All to nought—muffled screams,frantic kicks,squirms,tears. My eyes brimmed with fresh tears.I had never felt this way before—powerless,deranged,  numbed, defeated. And. With. Every. Stroke. I. Felt. A. Piece. Of. Me. Vapourize. But. He. Went. On. And.On. And. On. My tears broke free.

My dearest Kwame didn’t care that nature’s barrier hadn’t been broken. He didn’t think to use any barriers either.  Fortunately, he did remember to pour some sweet words of affirmation.

“I love you,Abena.”

I spat on his face.

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