A crimson-cheeked rose, almost abloom; high on anticipation pains and consistently massaging cocoa butter into her slight hips to ward off cringe-worthy stretch marks. Delicately picked, perfectly rounded. Warda.
She drew in a sharp breath, her back arching in a quick jolt as she hit the side of her swollen abdomen. Amir was at it again, playing the expert boxer, kicking in swift succession in her side.
“Warya! Stop that. You’re hurting me,” she said in the sternest tone she could muster. She tapped the left side three times and stared down at her bump, admiring its sheen. ‘My baby’s in there,’ she thought, ‘all bundled up warm and safe from the harms of this world. Curled up, precious and protected.’ She placed a hand on either side, closed her eyes and sipped deep, measured breaths.
‘Some for me,’ she thought, ‘and some for you, honey.’
Just then her eyes flew open. She had lost track of time, immersed in deep thought of how her little bundle would look that she forgot she needed to replenish her supplies. She waddled over to the telephone, perched quaintly on a small, round glass table beside the cream leather armchair. It was an antique phone that she had managed to grab at an auction for a laughably cheap price. She remembered that day well, Suleiman thought she had lost her mind.
“What are you doing?” He said through gritted teeth. “We could easily get a replica from a catalogue for half the price!”
“No, sweetie,” she said, raising her hand once again.
“£110,” the auctioneer called.
“It’s a beautiful piece. Just look at that gold trim on the mouthpiece.” Warda’s eyes glazed over as she imagined holding the phone to her ear. “We’d be crazy not to get it.”
“No, you’re crazy for trying to get it!” Suleiman whispered again. Warda rolled her eyes, pouted and fixed her gaze on the phone on the auctioneer’s podium.
“Do we have £120?” The auctioneer called, scanning the packed room for head nods or raised hands. “£120? £110. £110, going once. Twice. £110 sold to the lady at the back,” and he slammed gavel. The deal was done.
Warda did a little dance on her seat. “Yes! It’s ours!” She squeezed her husband’s hand, as he shook his head slightly. ‘She’s crazy,’ he thought. ‘But, God do I love her!’
Back in the present she picked up the marble-cream mouthpiece, placing her finger into each number’s slot as she dialled her husband’s number. He picked up after just four short rings.
“Hey, sweetie,” she beamed. “What’re you doing?” She shifted her weight onto her right leg and lent against the armchair.
“Just finishing up. Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, everything’s fine. Amir’s getting a little excited today, though. Won’t stopping jabbing and left hooking!”
“Ah,” Suleiman laughed, “that’s my little boxer. Blow him a kiss from me.”
“I will. Erm… I need you to pick up some stuff for me. Please?” She pinched a bite at her bottom lip. She knew she should stop, but she missed the tangy cheese residue on her tongue.
“Uh-huh, just four packets. Should last me two days if I eat them slowly,” she teased.
“I doubt it! If you keep eating them at this rate, Amir’s gonna come out orange!”
“Don’t say that! It’s his fault, you know. I never used to eat Wotsits before.”
Her addiction to the cheese-flavoured puffy crisps had reached an all-new high, and while she tried to preoccupy her mouth by eating grapes, they just didn’t carry the same appeal.
“Okay, three packets? Better?”
“I’m playing, hon. I’ll get you four, cos I’m not going out at midnight again! I’ll be home in about half an hour. That okay?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. See you then.”
And with that she placed the mouthpiece into its cradle, a smile lingering on her thin pink lips.
‘He’s a sweetheart,’ she thought, ‘Suleiman is my sweetheart’. She knew that he would be hers the moment she did a double-take of him when he walked into the college cafeteria years ago. She wasn’t sure if he noticed her back then, if he noticed her ogling and how her face looked like a butternut squash in red light. She whispered rushed prayers to God that he didn’t notice, because her blushes are blush-worthy themselves; she has always hated how hot she gets when she blushes, how blood hurries to her cheeks and makes her look puffy, and scatters her honeycomb cheeks with crimson blotches. But he didn’t notice her. In fact, Mr Suleiman Darko sauntered straight past her to the drinks machine.
She couldn’t figure him out or what it was the made her feel connected to him. He wasn’t the hunk she had often dreamt of: silky smooth caramel skin with rippled muscles that sent waves of butterflies through her stomach and up her chest, giving her a head rush. He wasn’t like that at all. Maybe that was it. Maybe it was because he was nothing like she had dreamt of that made her flop into her seat and exhale. She looked down at her long slender fingers and exhaled once more.
His heart skipped several beats as he pressed the end-call button on his phone. It thumped at the thought of arriving home to his crown jewel and how she was his redemption when he was certain that he was to drown. Suleiman’s eyebrows slowly knotted. He couldn’t believe that through his redemption he was slipping ever-closer to that which he ran away from. It had to stop. But how?
© The Londoner, August 2010
This is a piece I wrote a while ago, in the hope of it being part of a novel. I’ve scrapped that idea (I like shorts better), but I’ll write and post sequels here for you to read, because there is a story to be told. ~ T. L.