Relief in Breaking

by - September 11, 2018 
“A disgrace, that’s what you are!”
The words stab into his revving head. Cyprian’s tongue lies flaccid in his agape mouth, his eyelids batting as if the words whiff peppery sensation in his eyes. He tries to focus, staring at the red labial lobes of her lips. He can’t believe these lips could spill such bitterness, these lips he had nibbled and kissed often could stab him so hard, so deep.
5:10 pm.
“Uju…?” Cyprian said. He can feel his mouth shivering and his words coming out like a stutter. “D-Did you just call me that?”
Uju perches on the armrest of the two-in-one sofa in the room. The scowl, the knitted brows, the hundreds of wrinkles furrowing her forehead, the fiercely flapping eyelids smear every beauty Cyprian had once admired.  She clenches both hands together.
He can tell she is regretting her words. Yes, she certainly is, and I’ll not give her the relief of hasty forgiveness when she finally apologizes. She is becoming unacceptably arrogant these days.
“Who’re you calling?”
Uju holds her Apple 7 Phone to her right ear, the half-bitten apple logo visible between her spread index and middle fingers.
“Go on, call your fighters. I’m waiting for them. You think you know people,” Cyprian yells.
Even as he speaks, his mind taunts him. She houses him right from his first year and even now she got a house off campus in Samonda, she still harbours him. Since she brought him over, he has no worry again. He knows the ridiculous amount he could be paying for rent which of course he can never afford unless he would have to forfeit feeding for the entire semester. Yet somehow he feels he deserve her kindness, else why should she bother.
5:30 pm.
Cyprian shuffles his feet on the rug but Uju cannot turn. She is still dialling and placing her phone on her ear. He wants her to look at his face, to see his anger. There is a rush of dryness in his throat; he drags in a lump of semi-solid phlegm. On a normal day, it would only take few minutes for her to apologise, kissing, touching and dragging him to the bed. But it is not happening now. She is not normal, and he can sense it. She has been sitting like this for the past twenty minutes, and he, standing. He watches as she bends over her phone, hoping she is crying, or thinking a way to apologise. But when she finally raises her face, he doesn’t see those faint silvery films coating her eyes, no teardrops lingering below her lower eyelids, no streaked lines of caked tears on her cheeks.  
Her strange silence is heating up the air, even the ceiling fan seems to be whirring out heated air. This is not the type of silence he enjoys between them, the type that tells him she is about to surprise him, that remains every night when he takes himself out of her. This one has come to steal, to kill and to destroy. He sees this silence sweating out something of him from her body. He knows that nature abhors void, and he fears that something or someone will take over when she finish sweating him out her body.
No, she can’t quit, she can’t do without me, he thinks, remembering the first day she approached him. She was first to approach me. Yes, she was because she couldn’t take her fancy off me. I’m cute, brilliant and loving, what else does a lady in a man.
Uju had always been the one paying for the many cinema movies they saw at Shoprite; even taking up his schools after his father fell from a palm tree and died in his second year. It was in their third year that she first kissed him. It was brief as though their lips had merely brushed against each other. Uju would later tease him for being such a rookie kisser. They would wait behind after the cinema to fumble themselves in the darkness of the empty film house.
5:50 pm
His phone beeps and stairs on the screen: “We have found a good institute for your Master’s programme in Australia. We may need $800 to start…” He glowers at her before jamming it back into his pocket. He knows his chance of paying his way to Australia is now slimming and fading. She had promised to take him along for her Masters in Australia where her parents live.   
She turns to face the window, the long sunrays spilling through the parted drape. He sees three long welts sitting on her left cheek. He feels slightly sorry but quickly kills it. I’m a man, he thinks. Real men don’t feel remorse. He must show firmness of character else her respect for him will flutter away like chaff before the wind. After all, his father had always beaten his mother when he was alive.
Uju’s phone rings. She picks it, eases off a deep sigh before places it on her cheek.
“Ouch!” she squeaks and immediately changes to the other cheek. “I’m fine,” she answers the caller. “Yes, I said I’m fine…It was nothing I touched an old wound…Don’t bother calling Dada…” She drops the call.
“You called Dada?” Cyprian’s eyes are standing out in his head. “Why?” He knows what Dada can do. He had watched him pin down three members of Black Scorpion who harassed Uju in the Zoological guardian. Uju had only told him what happened and the next day when they came around, Dada burst out from nowhere and apprehended them. The only Uju told him about Dada was that he was her father’s junior in the Navy and that her father had assigned him to keep watch over her.
She turns and takes his gaze, and for the first time, he feels his eyes searing as he locks eyes with her.
“You shouldn’t have done what you did if you didn’t want his troubles,” Uju said.
“Look, what happened what a moment of fleeting passion and I just—”
“Fleeting what? Did I hear you say passion? Which one is fleeting: that you slept with my friend or that you just slapped me because you saw me speaking with Adewale?” Her voice seems to make the louvres clink.
Cyprian freezes with shock. It never occurred to him that Bisola, Uju’s best friend, could be so daft as to tell Uju such thing.
“Who said I slept with Bisola?” he tries to feign innocence.
“Nobody. I have my camera there. I had always suspected you. And the worst is that you did it the way I thought existed only between us. And the idiot was in my bed mourning.”
“I-I’m sorry.” He doesn’t know when the words spurt from his lips like a sneeze.
“I gave you time to apologise but you never said it. Maybe saying might chop off your manhood.”
Her phone chimes and she glances at the screen. “Look,” she holds up the screen to him. “He’s around, the best I can do for you is to allow you leave this moment.”
6:13 pm
Cyprian shuffles out of the bedroom, shame slowing his gait to a drag, his backpack on his back. He strokes his goatee, whispering. I am a man, he thinks. I can’t give her the joy of seeing me cower. She is rubbing her fingers gently on her chin as he enters the parlour.  
“That money can keep you somewhere till you find your own apartment,” she says, poking her jaw to the direction of the centre table. There is no taunt in her tone.
He wants to reject it, but how will he survive in this University of Ibadan where all his friends are crying hunger like an anthem? He bends and picks it. “T-Thank you…” he says and makes to leave, but lingers on the door. He feels something brittle in him wants to break. He wants to break away from his masculinity, just to be human for once.
He turns and holds her silvery eyes. “I’m sorry, Baby,” he mutters.
His eyes itch, and as he reaches out to scrub it with the base of his left palm, tears roll down in long streaks.
Uju throws her palms over her face and lets out a deep, painful cry. He falls on his knees. Uju rushes and holds his head between her thighs.   

                                                            THE END

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