She groaned in frustration when the zipper refused to budge. Infuriated with the idea of now having to inhale deeply and hold her breathe for the zippers to move, she kicked the pants off and stuck her head in the cabinet, fishing with her eyes for something that would fit. Meanwhile, she blamed herself for not coming up with a better excuse when Clair called in the morning to invite her for a night out with her girlfriends. With a chuckle, she had said, “I would love to but you know there’s no one else in the house to look after Damian? Maybe next time.” But Clair was quick to tell her that she would drop her nanny, Maria, at her place together with her daughter, so she could look after the two children. Eve had mumbled other incoherent excuses but Clair carried the day.
When she finally found a dress with a zipper that did not need cajoling for it to move, she sighed loudly and rubbed her palms together in delight. It was a short, sleeveless white dress which left her ass tagging behind her like a child reluctant to follow its mother. She tied a thin red belt around her waist and matched it with red heels. Later, when she opened the door for Clair, Clair held her waist, tilted her neck to the left and exclaimed, “Damn!”
Damian was happy to see his cousin, Sasha, that he did not cause a ruckus when it was time for his mother and aunt Clair to leave. Standing outside the door, Clair instructed Maria to make sure the kids did not stay up late.
“I don’t even know why I am wasting my breath giving her all these instructions, she will let the kids watch cartoons till morning anyway,” she said to Eve as they walked away. “But before I forget, what happened to you? Last time I saw you flesh was falling off your body and I was worried one of these days wind will blow you away. Yet today you look like you have been under a special feeding program, in which you are excelling at, no offence!”
“I lost my appetite when Tony was jailed but after visiting him and seeing that he was doing better than I was, my appetite not only returned but tripled. It’s like I have been eating out my frustration since he has refused to let Christopher appeal the case. Something about him paying for what he did.” Her voice trailed off.
Three of Clair’s girlfriends, all skimpily dressed, were standing beside Clair’s Toyota Harrier, clutching to their handbags. Eve had met them before and hadn’t liked any of them, mostly because she thought they were a bad influence. All of them unmarried, they lived life on the free lane, drinking and smoking like a chimney. But later in the night, she would reconsider her opinion about them especially since, together, they were a good sport. She started with non-alcoholic drinks in the first club they hit because she did not want to get wasted. Then they moved to a different club because one of the girls, Laura, tall with a nose ring, said she wasn’t feeling the one they were in. “The music here is boring and men even worse. I need to be roughly handled tonight and there doesn’t seem to be a man in here who is into choking for foreplay!”
Eve wasn’t sure what was funny about that statement, but she found laughter spilling out of her mouth as did the other girls who, she suspected, were already drunk.
The next club they went to was at the outskirts of the CBD near Clair’s place. Driving through the night with street lights spilt over the tarmac was therapeutic. Eve sat with her arm on the open window, staring outside dreamily. Occasionally, they would drive past a group of street children huddled together in a pavement, trying to catch some sleep. Or past a nightclub with music spilling over from its walls. Laura, the loudest among them all, was narrating a story about his ex who was louder in bed than she was.
“Every time we had sex, I had to come on top so I can cover his face with a pillow to avoid waking the neighbours. I swear that man was meant to be a woman, but God gave him the wrong tools!”
Everyone laughed. But Eve could only manage a smile. This talk reminded her of Tony and how much she missed him. In the second nightclub, the girls finally managed to convince her to drink beer. She started with Tusker Malt, then tried a shot of whiskey whose name she couldn’t pronounce, followed by another shot, followed by another bottle of Tusker Malt, and soon she was downing anything that was served without asking what it was. It wasn’t long before two of the girls, Laura and Sophia, found themselves in the arms of men. The other one, Janet, was too drunk to be still. She was whining her waist on the dance floor in the middle of hungry looking men. Clair inched closer to Eve and because the music was loud, they resorted to shouting to hear each other.
“I have never seen a woman who loves sex more than Laura,” Clair said.
“Not even yourself?”
“I love sex, but not as much as Laura. And she is always landing the hot guys.” Clair paused. “You miss sex, don’t you?”
“Between your legs, I am sure, cobwebs must be crawling out. When was Tony locked up again?”
Eve laughed but did not respond, not immediately.
“You know, I hear if a woman doesn’t have sex in a long time, she becomes a virgin again, which means Tony will have to break yours, again.”
“But you can avoid all that hassle if you keep yourself busy with a good toy. You have one, yes? Every woman has one.”
“There’s no toy that can replace what Tony does in bed,” Eve said before excusing herself to go to the bathroom.
While walking back to their table, Eve tripped and stumbled directly into this man holding a glass of scotch, knocking the glass off his hand. She struggled to regain her balance and then looked up, hoping to see an upset man, but she couldn’t see the man’s face clearly because the room was dimly lit and he was wearing a cap.
“I-I am so sorry, I should be more careful,” she said.
She realized she was still tagging onto his sweater when the man’s face dropped to her hand, so she quickly let go and apologized again.
He removed his cap. “How much have you had to drink?”
“What are you doing here?” she asked in a giggly voice, her face lightening up as if she had been dying to see him.
It probably was the alcohol, because immediately after pulling him in for a tight hug, she did not understand why she had done that. It just felt like the right thing to do at the time and she only knew it wasn’t when he eyed her sceptically with narrowed eyes. She let him hold her hand and lead her to an empty seat next to his. It was when he flagged down a waitress and was ordering a bottle of water that she remembered she had dreaded their next meeting because of the last text message he sent her, in which he called her beautiful. It was probably nothing, but coming from Christopher, a man who preferred to leave many things unsaid, it was probably something. She had debated whether to ask him if he called her beautiful deliberately or if it was something he did without thinking, but now, she decided to wait and see if he would do something else that would raise her eyebrows.
When the water was brought, he pushed it her way.
“I didn’t ask for water,” she said.
“But you need it. You are too drunk, Eve,” he said, almost as if he was disappointed in her. Almost as if he was holding her to something, and she was coming short.
“Tony will be disappointed if he finds out I am out here partying while he is rotting in jail.” She took the water bottle and peeled off the label with a faraway look in her eyes. “Please don’t tell him.”
“There’s nothing to tell.” He placed his palm over her hand. “There’s nothing wrong with you having a drink but I think you’ve had enough. Did you come with someone or should I drop you home?”
“I came with Clair and her friends.”
“I will walk you to them then.”
He pushed his chair before holding her hand, pulled her up and walked her back to her table with his arm around her waist. She still wasn’t sure, but she thought he was hitting on her. This calling her beautiful, placing of his palm on her hand and now holding her waist, was surely a sign that he wanted her, and it bothered her that she wasn’t entirely outraged by the fact that he would even consider hitting on her. Maybe it was because she was missing the company of a man. And that nowadays whenever her loins were on fire, the best she could do is slant under her sheets and touch herself while imagining it was Tony doing it. She clearly needed someone else’s finger to touch her, which is why she was entertaining the thought that Christopher, Tony’s lawyer, was into her. She made a mental note to pray when sober so that God can remove such thoughts from her head.
“Thank you, I hope to see you soon,” she said as he wished her a lovely night and turned around to walk away. He smiled, nodded, and walked away.
“WHO. WAS. THAT!” Clair asked, hands raised.
“Calm down. That was Christopher, Tony’s lawyer.”
“Uuuuuu!” Clair and girls, who were all back at the table, recoiled.
“We need to go,” Eve said.
“I won’t be leaving with you,” Laura said. “I just found a man who looks like he is going to tie me on his bed and do things to me that I want to be done to me. So you girls go ahead and enjoy your lonely night.” She grabbed her handbag, placed some money on the table for her share of the bill and walked away, swaying her hips.
“Let’s go to my place,” Clair said, “It’s nearer.”
They spent the night at Clair’s. In the morning, Eve did not bother to freshen up or have breakfast. Being the first time she had spent the night away from home, she was worried that Damian was worried and probably giving Maria a hard time. Clair promised to come for her daughter later on as Eve stepped out of the house and hurried down to the parking lot, onto the waiting Taxi. She sat next to the driver and spent the better part of the drive looking at herself in the rearview mirror. She was a mess.
When she stepped out of the taxi, her feet were killing her from all the dancing with heels the previous night. She kicked off the heels and carried them. She rang the bell and when Maria came to open, she only opened the door a crack and looked at Eve as if she was a stranger.
“Good morning, Maria, will you please let me in?”
Maria mouthed something in response that Eve couldn’t make out.
She mouthed something again. Irritated, Eve gently pushed her way in and soon realized what Maria was trying to tell her. Seated at the Dining table was Tony’s mother, holding one of Damian’s storybooks. She was probably reading the story to him before Damian saw her mother and came running to her. Dropping her heels to scoop up Damian, she could feel her mother-in-law’s sharp and demeaning stare. She could feel the hatred Eve knew she now harboured for her and she tried not to stare right back, but her desire to meet her gaze with her own defiant gaze overpowered her, so she stared at her and the air thickened with anxiety, with them looking like sworn enemies ready to come to blows.
Editor: Nyarinda Moraa
Model: Rael Tomboy
Photographer: Otieno Nyadimo