‘I love your curves. Every inch of your body is perfect’ – Manu says.

He’s clearly lost in the lustful moment of it all. His hands stroke my hip bone and he moves his fingers up to my ribs one by one like he is climbing up a wall.

I don’t have curves like the other women my age. I am straight like an iroko tree with a round fat belly; which is odd because I am skinny. My body dips where my hips should be and my breasts are two allergic swellings. This is why I’m shocked when Manu puts his mouth over them and seems to enjoy it. I tell him it’s pedophilic and he takes his mouth off even after I tell him I’m joking and beg him to continue because I like it.

‘You can’t joke about consent and rape, Titi’

Sometimes I can’t wrap my head around how moral he is.

He wouldn’t enter me because I told him one time that I wasn’t ready and now he thinks I want to only because he asked. I mean, it is; but it’s my decision, yes?

My mouth is tired from all the kissing and I want to sleep but I like his hands on me so I fight the drowsiness.

Manu knows how to make me feel good. Not just physically. He knows just the right words to say. It’s almost like he lives in my head.

His fingers stop when I murmur that I love him. He looks over my shoulder and pauses. My eyes are firmly shut. I pretend it was sleep talk but he knows. I feel him smile and kiss my ear. He pulls me closer and drifts into sleep.

I shouldn’t have said that. We’ve known each other for only three months. I know he will bring it up in the morning so I let my heart pound on my chest heavily at the fear of rejection.

****

I’m lifting up holy hands in church the next morning but I can still smell him and I wonder if everyone else can too. I try not to stay too close to the other choristers on stage but three of us are sharing one microphone so it’s hard.

I miss my cue to sing so Lydia jumps in. I’m distracted by the lingering smell and taste. I mean, I scrubbed myself vigorously before coming but I guess I need a long soak in the bath for him to leave.

I don’t stay for service. I am cheating on Christ for whom I just cried on stage singing about; even I am disgusted at my pretence. I sneak out through the back door so that the busy-body aunty who ushers every second Sunday doesn’t ask too many questions. I will need to lie to her and that means my sins are piling up.

Listen, I really want to stop. I want to turn back to God in repentance but my flesh has grown wings. It is a rebellious teenager with raging hormones on a fast train to destruction and I am not strong enough to fight.

Besides, I am enjoying it. Why does sin have to be so sweet?

****

For our six month-versary , Manu tells me that he has a surprise for me. I already know what it is because he asked for my bikini and flip flop sizes two weeks ago. It has to be a beach date. We’re not officially dating so I make sure to remind myself not to fall in love yet even though l have named our future three children. In my dreams we have two girls- Tiara, Desire and a mini Manu, Emmanuel.

I’m not a fan of the beach. I don’t like the way the water moves. I can’t tell whether it’s teasing me or yelling at me. I also don’t like it when the sand enters my bum crack and I have to pretend that I don’t feel it. I wonder if people wash their bums inside the water when they go in. That’s disgusting and one more reason I hate the beach. Why should I dive into and swallow tamba* water?

At the beach house, I try to lead his fingers into me but he turns it into a game and kisses my forehead. I try a couple more times but I realize soon enough that he isn’t budging.

A text comes to his phone as I am rubbing his head on my chest to sleep. It’s a woman. She’s thanking him for last night. I try not to think about it. Maybe he helped her with her car – he knows a lot about them. He gets up and goes into the bathroom. I hear him laughing but cars are not funny.

I try to stop thinking about the lady but can’t help myself so I pull out her Instagram profile when I get home. Her body is full. Her hips are round, her breasts sit perfectly on her chest like two obedient grapefruits – not too big, not too small, and her thick thighs can definitely save lives.

My heart hurts a bit but I don’t blame him. Even I would cheat on myself for her. I make a new account and follow her. I feel crazy because we’re not actually together so I can’t confront him.

The next time we meet, I force him to enter me. He wouldn’t cheat now that he can finally get everything from me.

****

I fall sick about three weeks later. I’m puking and nauseous so I can’t follow him to London for his birthday weekend. He wants to stay behind but I tell him to go. We planned this trip two months ago.

His pictures to me are sporadic and weirdly angled. I, the viewer can only see part of his head like a badly done crop. I tease him the next time he calls. He’s locked himself in the bathroom again.

‘Are your enemies after you? Should I send ten k urgently?’

He laughs, but I’m serious.

It is then that I hear her voice. It’s perfect – sultry and calming. She sounds confident and content. Like she’s experiencing the purest form of love with no worries.

Manu breaks into a coughing rage and flushes the toilet in a bid to drown her voice but it’s too late.

Why do men…what is… why are men…?

I scream into my pillow. Folding and moulding it into my face to withhold air from my nostrils. I don’t want to die – but I will like to pause for a bit and feel the pain and discomfort.

I usually am stronger than this but I can’t stop my self from crying. I think my period is about to start. Or wait. Oh God no.

***

I’m lifting up my hands in church again. This time with Manu next to me. He’s holding on to my side and counting my ribs like old times. On his other hand he’s holding a baby… our baby as the Pastor blesses her. Tiaraoluwa – From the body of God.

Manu smiles at me wearily. He has stayed with me and put a ring on my finger. I feel pitiful like a charity project even though he says it’s not true.

His moral compass made him stay. But where the fuck did morality go when he was laying with another woman?


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