*****Ten years earlier*****
Nneoma stirred on the bed. Then she welcomed the new day with a quiet ‘thank you, Jesus’. She counted herself lucky, being a nursing mother, yet being able to sleep through the night, without a cry from her baby. The first six days after her baby was born had been, as anticipated, challenging. But the little girl was quick to make up for all the trouble, adopting a new routine that Nneoma readily welcomed. Six months after, Nneoma was grateful her baby had maintained same pattern: sleep early, remain asleep all night, and wake once the morning prayer began in a mosque nearby. Nneoma was sure God had blessed her with a good child. Her previous experience, raising her sons, had not been that easy. It had even taken her a longer time to completely wean her boys off her breasts.
Nneoma moved her husband’s hand, rubbing it gently, before placing it on the bed. Chukwuma’s hand had been on her stomach. As Nneoma sat up, she noticed the beads of sweat on her husband’s forehead; and with the loose end of her wrapper she dabbed at them. Nneoma smiled as she peered at her husband’s face. Chukwuma rarely smiled, except when he slept. She loved the smile; she also loved the playful look Chukwuma would put up each time she teased him about it. Nneoma wished she had a means to capture that look, because most times Chukwuma did not believe her claim; other times he would raise a defence: I’m sure I was dreaming about you, he would say. Nneoma touched his hand again, pressed with the desire to feel his hands touch her, to take in the strong scent of his muscular body, to surrender to his thrusts and finally his strength. Nneoma wished that she could wake Chukwuma and openly express her need. But it had not been so with them. She was his wife. She was there to respond to his needs, not the other way round. Nneoma eased her frame from the bed, recognizing other pressing needs. She tied her loose wrapper firmly as she walked towards the door. She had a full bladder to ease, and a six year old son whose temperature she had to check.
Nneoma knocked on the door for the second time. She had waited a while after the first knock, but when no response seemed to be forthcoming, she had knocked again. The second knock lasted a little longer. Nneoma heard footsteps, and she restrained herself from knocking the third time.
“Who is that?” she heard.
“It’s Mama Jerry.” Nneoma answered.
Nneoma heard the sound the door bolt made, then she adjusted the baby tied to her back. Evans who had been standing by her side she pulled close. Evans tightened his grip on the food flask he held.
“Good morning.” he greeted, his voice croaky. The sixteen year old boy looked very handsome, though he had just woken up from sleep. Nneoma was sure Steve would be of help that morning.
“Good morning dear,” Nneoma began. “I’m sorry for disturbing your sleep, but I want to ask for your assistance.” The worried look Steve put up did not tamper his handsome face, neither did it discourage Nneoma from making her request. “Evans has been sick all weekend, though he is better now. But he’s still not strong enough to go to school this morning. Please, I will like him to stay with you. I don’t want Evans to go with me to my shop, the market is usually rowdy on Monday.” She quickly added, “But I’ll come back early, in the afternoon.”
“No problem. He will be fine with me.”
Though Nneoma had not expected a contrary response, still she heaved to show her relief. “Thank you.”
Evans roused, opened his eyes, then he looked around. He was quick to recognise the unfamiliarity of the room. Evans sat up quickly, fear written on his face. Then he remembered: his mother had left him with a neighbour; Steve had led the way to a room, asking him a few questions as they walked; Steve had taken the food flask from him when they got there, placing it on a table; Evans had found a pack of cards which he played with, after Steve had crawled back to bed, covering himself with a thick blanket. Evans also remembered that he had felt drowsy after a while; he had snuggled beside Steve, feeling the warmth the thick blanket provided.
The room was close to the living room, and Evans was sure he could hear low sounds from a television set. He ushered himself off the bed. He saw the food flask on the table, but he continued his walk. Steve’s flat was similar to his, so it was quite easy locating the living room, and locating Steve too. Evans had never seen a matured naked body before. But, as he stepped into the living room, he was welcomed by three naked bodies—two, male and female, from the television set; and one in front of him, Steve.
Steve promptly switched the television off, immediately he recognized Evans’ presence. He did not do much to cover his own nakedness.
“Hey, you are awake.”
Evans nodded, a bit confused by all the images he had seen.
“Are you scared?” Steve asked.
Evans shook his head, indicating he was not. He turned slowly, heading back to the room, still dazed.
“Hey, Evans,” Steve called. “it’s quite a challenge getting this thing down fully.” Steve said, pointing at his near flaccid penis. “Can you help me out?”
Evans did not know what to do, or say. His look revealed his ignorance. Steve recognised it; he seized the opportunity too. “Come. Let me show you.” As Evans walked towards him, Steve’s penis made a slow progression unto an erect state.
The duo were robbed off words: Steve allowed only occasional moans; while Evans had a mouthful, inhaling the musky smell of pubic hair.
“Swallow it.” Steve instructed.
Evans complied. He was not sure what he had swallowed, but he was sure he had noticed a white fluid on the tip of Steve’s penis when Steve took steps away from him. Steve had kissed him briefly on his cheek to show his appreciation—Evans’ first kiss.