I arrived the cinema thirty minutes before the movie was billed to start and she followed two minutes later. That rarely happened.
I was used to being kept waiting, sometimes till the movie had started before a breathless but unapologetic date showed up wanting popcorn and drinks.
This kind of punctuality was strange to me.
We made our way up to the last row of seats – she was walking in front. She stopped at the top of the steps and I almost crashed into her. I had been following the rhythmic roll of her buttocks and when she stopped, it took a fraction if a second to register.
‘Where will you have us sit?’ she asked waving her flattened palm left and right.
I smiled. This was clearly a test: left to the two seats in the corner would imply a little more privacy and an opportunity to grope her. I pointed right. I couldn’t see her face, but I was almost certain she smiled.
The movie was fantasy and the way she leaned forward in her seat, barely eating her popcorn, her grasp of mythology and the progression of the story impressed me further.
After the movie we strolled around the Yaba area, neither one wanting the evening to end. When I finally put her in a cab, I slipped the driver the fare when she was getting in.
I walked back to my car and drove home, windows down and the warm evening breeze on my face. I knew I was going to see her again.
We hung out five more times before I invited her over to my place.
I spent the morning of her visiting cleaning house; I had walked through the house that day looking at my apartment through a stranger’s eyes.
I gave her a tour of the place and she seemed genuinely impressed. Back in the living room she sat down on the carpet and I laid out the food I ordered from The Place.
When she saw the bottle of wine she joked if I planned on taking advantage of an inebriated woman. We laughed, but there was a look on her face that made me wonder if the joke was on me.
‘Are you afraid I’ll jump you?’ she cut into my thoughts.
‘I don’t bite jare. Abi what are you doing all the way over there?’ she waved with her glass, the contents sloshing about.
She had only taken a few sips and was nursing her first glass, so I was sure it wasn’t alcohol talking. I, on the other hand, was on my third glass. I wasn’t a lightweight, but still I wondered if that was alcohol hearing.
I cleared the plates and sat next to her. We sat there, our backs against the sofa, bare arms and clothed sides touching. Me focusing hard on the TV, her doing what I don’t know.
‘Thanks for having me over,’ she said not looking at me.
‘Leaving already?’ I was embarrassed by the disappointment I heard in my voice.
‘Sadly yes, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.’ She said. ‘Maybe next time you’ll be less stiff… or not.’ She turned to look at me then and I felt a warmth creep up my neck.
After that, we spent whatever day of the weekend I was off work at mine – we would sometimes sit side by side or facing each other and talk while listening to music, or she would lie in my arms on the carpet as we watched a movie.
On one of those visits, emboldened by how things had progressed, I leaned in and kissed her. I was aiming for her lips, but she moved her head at the last moment so my lips grazed her cheek.
‘Bobo,’ she said, ‘there’s no stealing kisses with me. You’ll have to ask me out first.’
I heard her, through the loud hammering of my heart, as though from a far off place.
‘Don’t do it. Don’t fall for it.’ But even as I warned myself, I knew it was too late.
I heard a voice ask her to be its girlfriend, and it took a moment to realise the raspy voice was mine.