Someone was touching her.
She had been dreaming of being swallowed by a dark thing with wings. But she slept on with the snug realization of knowing you were dreaming in a cozy bed while it rained outside. So when she felt the clammy run of flesh sliding up her thighs and that dream of a cavernous mouth waiting to swallow her fled in an instant, she opened her eyes.
The ceiling fan turned lazily because the voltage was so low. The single light bulb is shown like a very ripe tomato. The muffled sounds of heavy breathing drifted to her. Too close. She felt hot air on her neck.
She turned her head slowly to the side where the bed met the wall to see the round face of her cousin Andrew.
The first time Adeola saw something come to an end right before it began she was 16.
Adetutu, the eldest girl of the family was getting married that morning of September to her fiance of five years. Their modest home in Sagamu was filled with people who had come to be a part of it. Adeola didn’t know most of them.
There was her uncle, an important person at a university who had come with his wife, a raucous tall woman everyone called mama show. Then there was their two boys, very handsome boys who looked like their mom. There were also an assortment of others; nephews, aunts and their in-laws. Friends too.
“I don’t like that boy,” Adeola told her elder brother Shola.
“That one.” Adeola pointed out one of mama shows son. She and her brother were sitting by the caterer, slicing onions for the rice. The boy stood by the entrance into the house.
“He is our brother, Bolaji,” Shola said.
“I know. He has been following me around.”
Shola looked at her sister and shook his head. His friends always talked about her in school. There’s a piece of paper still in his school bag from a classmate who thought Adeola was the most beautiful girl he ever saw. He had forgotten about the piece of paper until now.
“Maybe he wants to know you,” Shola said.
Adeola was getting her Asoebi from the room she shared with her elder sister soon after. She had gone around the house in several detours trying to lose his stalker, Bolaji, and had come into the room without being noticed. Outside the room her sister sat under the hands of her friends who were applying makeup to her face, getting her ready for church.
Adeola got her clothes as quietly as she could. Bolaji may just be outside the door. And she was right. She went to the door to see if the coast was clear or she might just go out the back again, and there was Bolaji waiting.
She went back in. She sat on the corner of the bed. She got up and went over to the large mirror where her sister always stood to admire herself. Maybe Bolaji thought she was beautiful too. John in school always told her she was beautiful. He sometimes stalked her too. He tried to put his around her waist the other in school. Adeola had pushed him away but soon wanted him to fry again. He didn’t. But John had stared at her all day – the same way Bolaji has been doing since yesterday when his family arrived.
It seemed that all the boys he knew wanted to touch her. All of them except his brother Shola who was himself preoccupied with pictures of kemi, the house help in the next compound. Adeola smiled thinking about the night she caught her brother talking to the girl in a dark corner in the backyard. John tried to take her to the backyard too.
Adeola looked at herself, wondering what it was about her that made the boys obsessed with her body. John always joked about her nose. They were her dad’s nose, pointed, aquiline. Or maybe it had something to do with her hips. Her sister always called her ‘omoge omi’ —water girl.
She placed her hands straight beside her. Her hips were a round bulge under her gown.
She heard her sister and her friend talking.
“What! You slept with him again?!”
“Ssh don’t shout.” Her sister whispered.
Adeola tiptoed to the door. She could see the outline of her sister seated on a small bench and the two friends standing in shock.
“Yes.” Said her sister.
“You went to his place? And you did it with Kunle, again?”
“Are you crazy, Tutu?”
“Today is your wedding and you went and..”
“I don’t love him.” Adeola heard sister say.
Who didn’t her sister not love, her fiance or the Kunle fellow? Who was Kunle?
Adeola witnessed her sister exchange vows with her husband 3 hours later on that Saturday in September. Her sister Adetutu danced with her husband at the reception. Her friends took pictures with them in a celebration that went on into the night. A night that would stay with her for most of her life. That was the night Bolaji, her cousin touched her.
“Have you done it before?” the handsome boy had asked in a hushed tone.
Adeola shook her head slowly. The boy let his hand feel his way up to her panties. His hands were cold. Her bed was warm. Outside, it rained. Her sister wasn’t here anymore, she was now in her husband’s place. Or was she at that fellow called Kunle’s place?
The rain had started not long after the adults who had been having a good time outside the room turned in. Adeola, so used to sharing the room with her sister, had forgotten to shut and bolt the door from inside. She had expected her sister to do that when she turned in herself.
She wondered how long his cousin had been in the room with her. The thing her sister did with Kunle, was that what Bolaji wanted to do with her?
Bolajis cold fingers had found their way into her panties. His fingers caressed the hair. Adeola recalled the first time she noticed the hairs. But it was not as foreign as the first trickle of blood. In time she came to love the little tufts. The monthly ritual of blood still needed getting used to though. Adeola’s body twitched, the muscles in her inner thighs contracted, Bolajis fingers were stroking a part of her that she had only read about in her biology textbook.
Adeola wanted the boy to stop. She knew something was wrong about the night. But she also wanted him not to stop. She closed her eyes and thought about her sister. Somehow, a part of her told her that they would be seeing her soon and not because she came to visit but because there was someone called Kunle. She felt Bolajis lips against hers and her eyes flew open. She stiffened. Bolaji stopped touching her between her thighs.
“You are my brother.” She said.
The room was plunged into darkness that moment. The power was out. Adeola wanted to see the boy’s face, to see his reaction. She reached out to touch him but he was not there. She heard the sound of his feet as he left the room. Rain pelted the glass windows, they made a lulling sound that reminded her of the choir in Church. The practice session when they hummed to warm up. Joseph, the choir leader once asked her to be his girlfriend. She was ten at the time. Joseph was embarrassed when she told him she was 12. Joseph, 19, had always thought her older. He hadn’t been able to look at her for a while.
Adeola curled up in the bed, listening to the rain outside and missing her sister. She felt a curious wetness in her panties. That was a new one.
READ: I LOVE HIM BUT ALL HE TALKS ABOUT IS SEX
A month later, her sister was back home. The marriage had ended.