There are a couple of places that I want to go to. The Sunday Park, the church, and the coffee shop that just opened near my place. I don’t know where to go exactly. I just don’t want to stay home and listen to the rowdy neighbors I have in the ghetto complex I live in. The houses are built in a rectangular shape, two rows that make the doors of each house face the other. Each row has four ghettos, each has two small rooms and one tiny living room with cement flooring. The kitchen is just outside in the compound. Everyone cooks from there except me. I have a 6kg gas that I put in one corner of the tiny living room so that I won’t have to face everyone watching me when I cook.
Since the landlord lives in a big house with a brick fence that separates the ghetto complex from his house, he/she doesn’t hear the sound so no complaints so far. Some of the neighbors - I don’t know all of them - are young guys who bring girls in the middle of the night even on workdays, some others are girls and one of them is a single mother with one child. They matched the vibe since the single mother came in. She looks like she has a lot of money. Which makes me wonder why she lives out here instead of somewhere else in a better house, better place. Since she has a bigger living room than the rest, she said she would be the host, the child still goes to her father’s place every Friday evening anyway. She proposed that every Friday, they would cook food, grill meat, and listen to music together, get drunk, and talk about life. It seems to work. I have never joined. I don’t plan to join.
Funny enough, I am planning to go to a house party my friend Kate invited me to, which is no less like the gathering in my yard. I am still going. This thing of staying at home makes my legs feel bleak the next time I have to go somewhere. All of my body feels fragile and paper-like.
There are still the remnants of the scorching hot sun outside. I slide out of bed and sit down on the mat on the floor. I pick up my phone, which might have fallen out of the bed at some point in my nap. For the thousandth time today, I look at the invitation my friend Sharon sent last night to join her at a house party. I have never really been an outgoing person, and at some point, some of the friends that I had decided to lay me off instead of keeping up with me. Sharon is not like that; she looks and sounds like she wants to include me in her life more than the fact that we share an office at the gallery where we both work as receptionists. She invites me to different events, and every time we go, it feels like she’s tried to study me and knows what I genuinely like. I am a hard person to please. She tries at least once a week, which I appreciate.
It’s already six pm when I finish getting ready. I know Sharon will say I did not even try a little bit. She thinks I have a killer body that I neglect. I am sure she’s wrong or I am wrong. Whatever. I close the door on my way out, and I have to go through and greet my neighbors who are cooking outside. There are hot meals on the big charcoal stove and some brochettes burning on the small grill. It smells yummy too. I keep going. I take a bike to get to the place, which is in Kabeza. a place I do not frequent. When I get to the house, I don’t have trouble locating it since some motorcycles are stopping there at the gate. People are clad in all sorts of ways, and for some reason, despite the fact that it is getting dark, some people are wearing designer shades, and I can tell you, they are the people who are dressed for the party.
The bike stops there. I pay the moto guy, who bids me a good evening politely. I realize that the place is remote and I ask him for his number so that he can call me later on so that if I need to go home, I can call him. He says it’s alright. We flash each other and he leaves. Everyone has already entered, and the loud music from the inside makes me tremble nervously. As I contemplate whether I should call Sharon so that she can take me inside, a moto pulls up at the gate. It stops. The passenger, a relatively tall guy with sleek braids protruding from the helmet, calls me.
“Excuse me, is this the place where there is a house party? My friend invited me, but she’s not picking the call. I heard music and wondered if it was here.” For some reason, he is speaking to me in English. I wonder if he is not Rwandan or if he just likes to use the language.
I nod my head. The guy looks at me.
“It’s here?” I nod again. The guy gets off the bike and pays quickly with Momo.
“So you’re also attending the party.” I nod “Do you speak? Can you please respond, I feel like I am bothering you.” His voice is nice, not too much of a baritone or high pitched. He smells like lavender.
“No, you’re not, I am just a bit silent sometimes.” “Oh alright! Thank God, I did not offend you in any way. Do you mind if we head inside together? It doesn’t look like you are waiting for anyone. My friend has left me to fend for myself as well.”
“Sure thing.” I fidget when he beckons me to enter through the gate and he comes in after me.
At the door, we find Sharon inviting people and ushering them to feel at home and take whatever they would like to drink as there are all varieties.
The guy sees Sharon and beams, which is the same as Sharon I am here with. “Wow, Kate, you made it! Davis, you’re here too!” She hugs me quickly and then hugs ‘Davis’ too.
“You weren’t picking up my calls so I headed in with this charming lady.” Davis says with a bright smile.
He looks at me as if meeting me is the best thing that happened to him the whole day. I feel my ears heat up and I stare at Sharon’s hair. She has a burgundy colored dye in this time and for some reason it still looks pretty on her. It’s so amazing how she manages to pull off any look she wants.
“Well, I am glad you came in together. Kate, it really means a lot that you made it. My cousin and I were planning this party for ages and you’re the only person that I was worried was not going to make it. Now everything is perfect. The night is young, and we are going to first eat, get to know one another, and then we party hard later, I am really glad…”
Sharon trails off when a child pulls at her hand.
“I am coming sweety!” She says. “Okay Sharon, just finish the stuff and let Kate and I get inside first. You are really occupied.” Sharon, who looks like she doesn’t want to leave, reaches on her tiptoes to kiss my cheek, and kisses Davis’s cheek as well and leaves with the toddler.
“So, you don’t mind, I'm holding you hostage now. I want to at least know someone else at this party before we start the party hard mode. If you know what I mean. It’s been ages since I did this.”
I am not a party animal. I don’t want to explain that I don’t like house parties or anything with so many people. He seems pretty excited. I go along with it or I try my best to. The party is going pretty well. We go through the delicious dinner, which is a buffet of different delicious foods, cakes, and fruits, seamlessly. I still minded my food and have not talked to anyone else. People are conversing, and I am there just staring. I feel Davis next to me though. He participates in the conversations, but he does not leave my side once. He has introduced himself multiple times to different people who looked at me and instantly asked my name. I answered like just two people and the rest, Davis would tell them my name.
Later on, when the partying hard starts, I can tell that Sharon is having a really good time with her cousin and their friends. People are dancing, ladies bending over, and guys dancing behind them. I do not feel like I should participate. Not that I can manage if I tried to. I do not know how to twerk, my small sized booty does not allow me to anyway. A notion that Sharon always says has nothing to do with big booties. Any booty can twerk, she says. I don’t know about that.
Davis keeps the drinks coming, but I am just taking Smirnoff which isn’t that strong to start with. So I can go longer. Around 12:00pm some people start to leave. I want to leave too.
“Hey, I think I might also leave at some point. It seems like the party is dying out.” I yell. I feel the alcohol, not much of it, but I feel it.
“Oh, no, you can’t just leave. We have all the time in the world don’t we? Do you have anyone waiting at home?” I shake my head no. Davis looks at me with a soft expression, takes my hand and says.
“Then stay,” I can’t bring myself to say no when he draws circles on the back of my hand. I don’t know what to say to him. I don’t even know this guy.
“If this is too loud for you, we can go outside. They have comfy loveseats outside in the garden.” Davis says.
He stands up, picks our drinks and heads outside. I can see that he is expecting me to follow him. We go through people who are dancing some afrobeats and we make it outside.
The cool air is refreshing, it is so hot inside. We make our way to the love seats in the gardens. We sit quietly for a few minutes taking in the city lights and the moon above our heads. Davis takes out his phone and takes a picture of it.
“I love moon photos.” He says and proceeds to show me a lot of the shoots in his gallery.
His gallery is full of nature pictures and screenshots of random memes about all sorts of things. We keep going through the pictures in his phone and at some point we laugh at memes. One meme about selling toes in Zimbabwe just makes me crack and I hold my hand on my mouth.
“Oh Lord, who would have known you are capable of laughing!” Davis says through a booming laugh that draws the attention of people who are smoking at the balcony.
“You don’t talk much do you? But I bet you never stop talking when you’re comfortable.”
“Do you mind-read as a side hustle or what?” I ask playfully.
“There you go! I knew it. So, I want to talk to you. I have been watching you the whole night. Here I am, and I can not figure out a single thing about you.”
“I am a mystery then. No need to figure me out.”
“I bet it would be fun to discover you.”
“Honestly, there is not much to discover.” I say. A shiver goes through me from the cool air.
Davis notices, true, he is really watching me tonight. I don’t know how to feel about it. It would have been really creepy but for some reason it is not. He scoots closer and holds my hands.
“Cold? We can head back inside if you want.”
“No, I like it out here.” My next words surprise me. “Less girls gawking at you.”
There is a little bit of silence. “Oops, that came out a little bit like cavewoman style.”
“I like cavewomen, but most especially when they’re mysterious cavewomen.” He adds smirking at me.
“Plural, I see.” I am jealous over a guy I met hours ago. Not cool, Kate.
“That was a lie, I don’t know any other cavewomen, only you. I don’t want to know other cavewomen after you anyway.”
“That’s a stretch, you barely know me.”
“I know Sharon, she hasn’t stopped talking about a particular lady she works with, who is enigmatic and kind. I have always wanted to meet that coworker. I like her even better in person.”
“Oh God, what did she tell you?”
“All good things, and some funny things too. She’s my best friend. I introduced her to her boyfriend.”
“So, you’re a mind reader, and a matchmaker.”
“What can I say, I am a man of many talents.”
“So what do you do, professionally?”
“I woo cavewomen for a living.”
“Okay okay, I am a software developer, I work remotely, and I am single.” He winks in the dark.
“Geez, you’re incorrigible.”
“No, I am cute, and you hate to admit it.”
I feel myself flushing. Our thighs are touching, and it doesn’t help my case that I am practically leaning into his lean and muscular torso.
“So since you’re so keen on talking about relationships, when was your last relationship?” I ask.
“2 months ago. I thought she didn’t really like me. She liked that I didn’t ask a lot about her or fuss about her when she saw other guys as well.”
“I am sorry.”
I really am. Especially about the lady who lost this guy who obviously is humorous, protective, and kind to people that he doesn’t even know. It doesn’t hurt that he takes care of himself as well.
“It’s okay. I just thought I was done with being with people who didn’t really care if I saw other women or not, some ladies who didn’t really mind being jealous over their boyfriend. I have never been a casual guy and I never will be. I am coming to terms with that side of me. I’d rather masturbate than fuck a lady instead of making love to her.”
I am looking at him transfixed with his rant. This guy is obviously hurting. I can’t help it. I hug him. He hugs me so tight and I feel him swallow his pain.
“I am so sorry for being like this. I swear I can be charming. I don’t know what came over me.” He says.
I don’t mind helping people rant about their issues. I wish I had the same openness to let go of my hurt.
“So what about you?”
“I haven’t been in a relationship in a while. I lost track of time.”
“I am having a hard time believing it. Why hasn’t nobody snatched you yet?”
“I don’t know.”
We are both silent for another long minute. The music had eventually slowed, which I hadn’t noticed.
Bad Dancer by Johnny Drille plays in the distance.
“Do you mind if we dance to this song?” He asks sweetly.
“I am not that good at dancing.” “I will teach you.”
“Okay, don’t say I warned you."
We stand up. He holds his hand out to me. I take it and look at him warily. He offers a small reassuring smile. We slow dance to the song which is not entirely audible to us. He tries to sing along but he can’t. He laughs at himself. This moment is sweet. I feel heat in my core. I haven’t realized how much of an effect he has on me. We keep on dancing until the song ends.
He stares at me, I stare at him. There is so much unspoken, I should tell him. I should tell him. But I don’t say anything. His mouth covers mine in a slow but swift swipe. It’s beautiful.
“I can’t believe I did that.”
“I can’t believe we hadn’t done that.” He retorts.
“We have had tension since we came. Sharon whispered to me why I was looking so mad when other guys checked you out.”
“Tongue tied?” He says, “I can relieve that.” He kisses me again, he touches my cheek, I can feel his request for permission to go farther.
I let him tease my mouth open into a full bloomed make out session.
“I am glad you came here tonight. You made me have a feeling I haven’t had in a long time. You make me feel wanted.” He says softly.
I breathe hard, pushing my tears and arousal back.
“Same here,” I manage.
I wonder who the heck made this amazing guy this insecure, if anything, I had assumed he’d be cocky. Apparently hot people can also have issues with validation and feeling wanted for who they are. I thought he’d be having all the girls out here.
“I can feel you thinking. I am thinking too. I am thinking about how I want to cuddle with you, and fall asleep fantasizing about the days I plan for our dates and I ask you to be my girlfriend.”
My tears threaten, I am not ready to hear that.
“I am too plain physically, you absolutely do not want me. It’s just a fantasy.”
“Well, that’s your opinion, which in this case I would call insulting because you are more than that.” “Um…” He touches his finger to my mouth. Shhhh…
"I am too broken for you to repair." I whisper.
“Can you let me worry about that? I mean give me the chance to explore." He says and quickly adds "Give me three dates.”
“I am not so sure.”
“Let me share my surety then. Anyway, it’s too chilly, let’s get inside, see if we can get more drinks and a blanket. I am sure Kevin has some in the house.” He concludes. It feels like he is not going to let my insecurities faze him.
He leads me inside. I can tell he is thinking that he found a magical person who fits his list, and it goes without a doubt that it’s the same for me. But, I just can’t do this. People are now sitting on the carpet, and others in the sofas, talking, smoking and others look like they’re about to go to the bedrooms.
It’s one thirty in the morning. The feeling of Davis’ hand on my back reminds me why I shouldn’t be here.
“Can I use the bathroom?” I say.
He looks at me, as if he doesn’t want the moment to be jinxed. He gives me a tight side hug and kisses my forehead and lets me go. His eyes follow me, I give him a small pained smile that he returns as he goes to find the blanket.
I see his braids bobbing as he walks away. I know it is the last time I might be seeing this guy.
Instead of going to the bathroom, I sneak outside at the back door, I let myself out, luckily there is a key in the gate as well, I let myself out and close it behind me.
I call the number of the moto guy from earlier. It goes through but he doesn’t pick it up at all. He must have gone home. I walk in the direction to my place, hoping that I find a bike at 2 am in the morning.
Luckily on the road, I find one that cost me three thousand Rwandan francs. I don’t bargain, I hoop on it. I leave behind the best guy I have met in almost five years because I cannot be so sure I can handle the profound love that he seems so desperate to give.