The house was unusually quiet when I got home on Wednesday.
I felt for the switch and turned on the light but as I made to drop my car keys on the console; my eyes caught the red envelope.
I opened it.
It was a Valentine’s Day card from Cynthia and it read:
“Val is early, lover
Happy Valentine’s Day.”
There was a folded piece of paper inside on which she had left me a note
“Lover, it’s been an amazing few weeks sharing your bed and home, but I have to leave. I am not sure what plans you have for Valetine’s Day but I would love to be a part of it. Nothing has changed, just moving back home. See you soon. Miss you already.”
I read the note over and over again, trying to figure out whether there was a hidden meaning. Finding none, I picked up my work bag and headed to my room.
She had changed the sheets and the whole bed was covered in red roses. I looked at the bed and instead of pleasure at her romantic gesture, anger welled up as I remembered my first Valentine’s Day in Jos.
I was nineteen and going on twenty and I didn’t know shit.
I lived in Village hostels and for over one month since we resumed after the Christmas break I had been all over this babe like white on rice. Her name was Tracy and she was as cute as peach. She had long, jet black hair, full lips that said kiss me kiss me and these small and sexy eyes framed by thick lashes but it was her side burns that I loved, downy things that flanked her dimples.
We sat together on the flight from Lagos and shared a cab from the airport. She was in Sociology and had just moved to Village hostel.
I spent many nights in her room, talking when I ought to have been reading and generally doing the love and romance thing.
I thought it was love and I remember the night I came to her room and she had just come from the bathroom. She was naked, save for the red towel she had wrapped around herself. Her beautiful skin was speckled with water and I was a man in the grip of desire.
I kissed her full on the lips, enfolding her in my embrace and then as the kiss deepened I lifted the towel and traced trembling fingers to her kintus. It was bushy and I was trying to part the folds when the key turned in the lock and her roommates came in.
Tracy looked at me and then we burst out laughing.
“Valentine’s Day is coming,” she whispered before she pushed open the door to the wardrobe to shield herself from me as she dressed up.
On Valentine’s Day, I bought her a cake from Tiffins, selected the best card I could find from Celebrations, then I bought a pack of red rose petals. They were not real but I had seen enough movies to create an impression. Then on my way back to the hostel, I picked up a bottle of Calypso.
I changed my bed sheet, scattered the red petals all over my bed and waited.
My roommates looked in, saw the shrine of love I had created and hailed me.
“I go love o,” Desmond said.
“Today na today,” Fidel teased before they made themselves scarce.
There were no phones back then so I couldn’t text or whatsapp or bbm or fb her but we had agreed that she would come over at 6.30.
So, I knelt by the window and watched, waiting for her to come out.
I didn’t see her for a long time but then a few minutes past 7pm, I saw Tracy walk out but she didn’t stop at mine and she wasn’t alone. She was walking with a guy I had met in her room a few times. They walked hand in hand past my room and I waited, hoping that she would come back, telling myself to chill because maybe she was just seeing him off.
But I waited and waited and waited until I started drinking the Calypso all by myself.
I never spoke to Tracy ever again and I never forgot.
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