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By the end of the evening I was thoroughly sated on all fronts. I was teeming with ecstasy so I didn’t notice Lenny clutching the door handle and glancing at the rear-view mirror on the drive home. What I did notice, with much annoyance, was a dark car behind me blinding me with its full lights. And what I noticed next floored my stomach.
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Postpartum had rocked my body like a volcano, changing its landscape irreversibly. My skin had become looser, streaked with stretchmarks in almost every direction. I had developed contours that curved out where they should’ve plateaued and curved in where they should’ve rounded.
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In one swift motion, he swang off the bike and pocketed his keys in time to greet all the boys who rushed over to gush over his toy. He momentarily brought the party to a standstill, chatting up everyone, kids and adults alike. I remember thinking, Ugh. He had the greasy ways of a politician. You’ve got to be a disingenuous person to be that popular. Or worse, a people pleaser.
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From that first sighting, the room seemed suddenly to pivot on him. Everyone else melded into the background. When he laughed, I could pick out the sound from the crowd. He struck me as a good listener, hardly ever looking up from his conversation. Every now and then he would clap someone’s shoulder merrily, and his eyes would disappear under the folds of his laugh lines.
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I immediately thought, Gosh, I’m a woman. Do women ever do anything for reasons you can put in five words or less? If we did, men would’ve figured us out in the Stone Age! I didn’t say that. It would’ve made for a good sound bite but it didn’t make it past my filters.
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Right around the quagmire that is the Southern Bypass joining Mombasa road, while on the extreme right lane, I hear a loud burst. I know the tire on my side has blown out because the car dips and veers slightly into the next lane. My mind registers vaguely that a small delivery truck in that lane tries to brake but they still bump into us, enough to send our car spinning into the inner lanes.
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On one hand, she smiles at me like I am the sun around which her world revolves. On the other hand, she has a fella waiting in the wings for when we don’t work out, like what we have needs a failsafe.
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“You look tired though. Hard day at the cockpit?” I smile, nuzzling my nose under his chin.
“Very, very hard,” he says trailing a finger from the nape of my neck, over my peach dress and the belt cinching it to my waist, down to the small of my back. I shiver and try to nibble on his ear but he pulls away and tucks it into his shoulder with a titter.
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He’s wearing a dashiki shirt and washed out jeans. The shirt has an intricate black print – no way there’s not a matching dress to go with it in his wife’s closet. The scruffy beard is gone. In its place is a round trim goatee to complete the husband look; a flattering and fitting look given how he’s now spotting a few more white hairs on his temple.
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There are two types of men. Men who subscribe to the maxims of deny, deny, deny and flat out lies, and good men. Keep in mind that the term good as used here is relative. Good men, eligible, marriageable men don’t flat out lie. They are economical with the truth. You know you have a good man in your grip if you have at some point had to learn the difference between lies of omission and lies of commission.
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