The coffee was getting cold again. Nneka sighed and stared absentmindedly at the brown liquid in her cup. The milky foam floating on the surface strangely soothed her nerves. Yesterday had been unbelievably chaotic.
The specific element that gave the picture of her life 24-hours ago its chaotic tint was still not something she could place her finger on. All she knew was that by the time she flopped onto the patchwork handmade comforter, ten minutes to midnight, the thoughts in her mind were dismal enough to momentarily urge her to make a permanent stop in the afterlife.
She sighed and took a sip, covertly sweeping the near-empty coffee shop over the mug’s rim.
Her eyes landed on the wall clock at the other end of the room; it was almost ten o’clock. She had barely gotten any sleep all night – having the bed all to herself was very distracting. He’d responded to her 6am text, promising to meet up before her shift at the hospital. But from the looks of things, he was probably going to stand her up…
I bet she’s brewing up an earful for me the moment I step through that door. Kola brooded glumly to himself while peeping over the top of his glass of Heineken at the emptying bar. Fifth? Sixth? It struck him suddenly that he’d lost count. He was a lightweight when it came to alcohol but after that particularly bitter row yesterday, he needed the extra dutch courage to face Nneka.
The barman had been shuffling in futile circles around the few laggard regulars, re-wiping the nearby tables – a polite reminder of his closing hours. To Kola that was his cue to grab his keys. Standing up, he walked with an unsteady gait towards the exit. The barman started towards him, muttering something about an Uber but Kola waved him away. He’d take the scenic route home to brace himself for renewed hostilities.
“Oh wow, I didn’t think you remembered the way home anymore.” Her sarcasm wafted over to him from the kitchen the moment he shut the front door. It was past midnight. He’d driven very slowly from the bar. Who rushed excitedly to misery? Plus, everything seemed to be pairing before him, courtesy of his seven conversations too many with sparkling liquids.
He walked into the kitchen and stood watching her from the door. She wore her hair up in a bun and was swallowed in one of his old worn t-shirts; he couldn’t tell if she wore her signature bum shorts underneath or not. Not like it would make a difference tonight though_, he thought miserably. She wasn’t likely to give him even a friendly handshake any time soon. Not bothering to turn once to look at him, Kola silently watched her busily scrape something at the sink.
“I’m real sorry I didn’t show up this morning. I was out in Frank’s apartment and didn’t wake up until 2pm. And as for walking out yester night, Nneka I –.”
“Want some cake?”
His eyes widened appropriately at the question and he accepted the fact that she probably wanted an apology from someone who didn’t reek of booze.
“You made cake? This night?”
“Are mornings better? Sit down, I’ll cut you a slice.” He obeyed and sat on the high stool near the counter, a short distance from the sink.
She placed a saucer bearing puffy yellow solid before him.
“It’s a smiley cake. I wanted someone to smile at me and my reflection hasn’t been able to come through all day so…this.”
He stuffed his tongue in his cheek for a few seconds. “I swear I didn’t mean a thing I said yesternight Nene. I’m just an _idiot_ .”
“You’re not and I don’t believe you. Eat.”
He ate the cake in penitent silence. It was delicious and when it was all gone, he smiled sheepishly at her, raising the empty saucer cautiously. She’d finished up at the sink and sat facing him. Wordlessly, she came around the counter and cut him another placed slice.
She tried to return to her seat but Kola pulled her onto his lap and nuzzled her neck. Nneka sat stiffly and thinned her lips. She had no plans to make this easy for him – her hurt feelings would deride her. Yet after a few seconds of his warm nosed pleading, she caved and planted a very light kiss on his forehead. He buried his face in her neck again and she felt him smile. Everything was alright for now, all the hurt and bad feelings had momentarily dissipated. The cake had served its purpose.
© Sere & Kwiksie, 2017.