To Love Her Forever . . . Or Not – A Short Story by Darlington Chibuzor
“You are the sugar in my tea, the skeleton in my cupboard, the orange in my orange juice. You are my tomato Jos. You are the love of my life.”
These were the words I sang to you everyday at school, words I had picked from the movies I saw on TV. We didn’t rush home after school like the others.
We stayed back, chasing ourselves round empty classrooms, tattooing love signs on our skins with white chalk. I wrote ‘I will love you forever’ on your palm and you wrote ‘till death do us part’ on my left arm. I didn’t bathe at night anytime we wrote things on our bodies. I wanted your handwriting to last forever on my skin, I wanted to carry it everywhere I went.
We were lovebirds. We were always hanging on cashew trees, listening to birdsongs. I liked reading you poems on the trees with one hand holding the paper, the other balancing my weight on a branch. I always ended the poems with ‘I love you,’ watching you smile. Soft grins that always widened your beautiful face, and you would say ‘I love you too’ shyly, your stare thrown at green leaves.
Whenever my lips stretched out for a kiss, you looked left and right and left again, making sure no one was watching. Then you would lock your lips in mine in a rush and we would both laugh and laugh and laugh.
Our love was young, blooming into the future. I was going to be the father you never had and you promised to replace my mother who had died years ago.
One day, we sneaked out of school while others practiced for Inter-house sports. We tiptoed into the house through the backdoor. We lay on my bed, clothes carpeting the floor.
Seeing your nakedness was like a dream come true. Your beauty beneath marched the one outside, you were perfect.
Your waist was full of flesh; your butt was round, shaped like a big pillow. Your skin was spotless, the colour of fresh egg yolk. I marvelled at the size of your breasts, they had looked so small in school uniform. At fifteen you had grown breasts so big at that they could not fit in well in my mouth.
When I bit your nipples, you flinched, telling me to stop that I bit them too hard. You cried when I entered you, making loud grousing sounds because it was rough and painful, because I was breaking the walls of your Jericho.
‘Did you come inside?’ you asked while we redressed, searching all over the room for your underwear.
I said no.
The next time you came to my house was a month later. You were hunched on a bench wiping tears off your eyes. The principal had sent you home after you vomited twice in class. Your mother was hitting her foot restlessly on our carpet, tearing it. My father was telling her to calm down. I was standing beside him trying so hard not to shake. The air was heavy with tension and at that very moment I began to delete every memory of you, of us. I began to erase everything I knew of you. You looked like a stranger to me now, even your name was nowhere to be found in my head.
‘Do you know this girl?’ My father asked me.
I said no. You shouted in shock. My father told you to shut up, your mother countered him.
‘So are you trying to tell me you don’t know Ugochi.’ Your mother’s voice was so loud that I feared it would break down the house.
‘I only see her in school. I think She’s in SS2.’ I said.
‘Swear you don’t know what happened to my daught…’
‘He said he doesn’t know her. Let him be!’ My father cut her short.
‘I know all my son’s friends but I have never for one day seen him with this girl, so how dare you walk into my house accusing him of impregnating her!’ I had no idea why my father supported me but I realized it later – he had four mouths to feed already, three bodies to cloth, three heads to educate on his meagre pension. He did not want to add two more to the count. ‘Maybe you should ask all those Youth Corpers I see with these girls every day.’
Your mother left pulling you by the ear, raining heavy curses on the person that planted the seed in you, spit leaking comfortably from her gap tooth.
Later we heard your mother took you to a roadside chemist who didn’t attend any health school to flush it out. We heard you bled uncontrollably for days after, that the blood was rushing like a leaking pipe. Your mother then took you to and old woman in the village who dipped her wrinkled hands inside your womb and squeezed out what remained of the seed.
For weeks we didn’t hear anything so we assumed you were fine now, that your mistake had been corrected, lucky you.
Then we heard you were dead. We didn’t see you again.
Darlington Chibuzor was born in Lagos and raised in Enugu, Nigeria. He was awarded the Yusuf Ali Prize for Creative Writing in 2016 and was 2nd runner up for the ANA Bayelsa Poetry 2016. He was shortlisted for the 2017 JB Afenfia prize for Flash Fiction Prize and has contributed fiction in The Mariner, Storried and michaelafenfia.com. He lives in Lagos where he’s currently working short story collection. He strongly believes he will successfully be able to tell the story of not just Africa but of the world through writing, photography and film.