Kemi tipped her head backwards to gulp down the new wine which she bought this evening. Her eyes were red from drinking, and her vision was too conscious, like she could understand all she could see. Her laptop sat open in front of her, an empty page -save for the title at the top of the page- staring back at her.
“Writer’s block,” her editor would say, in a way Kemi always thought to be mock-sympathy -slowly shaking her head while whispering the two words like they were two most dreaded illnesses belonging exclusively to a special group. Jacinta, her editor, with her chipped fake medically-prescribed glasses, and the exuberance of an overly excited kid.
“You should take some time off writing. Give yourself a break,” Jacinta would go on saying, like the month Kemi already spent ‘going with the flow’ was not enough time for oneself.
Kemi gulped down more alcohol, the hotness trickling hastily down her throat, and into her belly. This felt good, this ability to choose to douse oneself in a pool of drunkenness until it felt as powerful as a perfect elixir. This was good. She felt the numbness in her face, and in her hands and feet as she held the table to stand. She felt the hotness in her belly, and the thirst for more red wine. She felt the urge to laugh at her situation, just as much as she felt she would look stupid laughing. But I’m home alone, she thought. Pain shot through the side of her head, while the rest of her head throbbed in pleasurable rythm. She staggered, carefully though, to the other end of the room where a Turntable waited patiently for the touch of her drunk master to set the mood. Music began to boom through the speaker. Nina Simone’s voice bounced off the walls while Kemi danced, if her drunk staggers could pass for dance steps. She found her way back to her previous position, and when she sat down, she gulped some more wine, then began to type. She hit the backspace button soon afterwards. She was growing increasingly frustrated. There was the urge to throw the laptop off the table, but that would be too much tantrum. So she got up and began to dance again, dialling Kosi and offering to “make up for last time.” Kosi was pleased: yes, he could make it; no, she was not disturbing. They did not live so far apart, which was why he was surprised to find Kemi passed out on the bed when he came in. He sighed.
“Kemi,” he called, shaking her gently. She moved, turned to her left, and slept away. She was lying on the edge of the bed, her legs hanging down. Kosi placed his arms under her and moved her further into the bed. He stopped to catch his breath, then gave up. She was safer now anyway. Nina Simone’s Black is the Color (Of my True Love’s Hair) was playing now. The volume was low too, as low as Kemi had turned it down before she made her call to Kosi. The laptop still sat open on the table, the wine bottle by the bedside, and a condom on the chair, next to the bed. He sighed.
He looked around the room one more time: two pieces of painting hanging on opposite oxblood-coloured walls; a movable wardrobe stood next to a shelf, both made of mahogany and both standing against one of the oxblood walls; countless books stacked vertically inside the shelf; a neon red flamingo stood on a wooden extension on the yellow wall where the window considered home; beneath the window was the table with the laptop; and opposite, behind the door, was the dressing table and the mirror hanging above it. The door that led to the bathroom and the kitchen was fixed in the oxblood well where the shelf and wardrobe stood. Behind it was the Turntable.
Kosi searched with his eyes and found the bunch of keys to Kemi’s apartment. He slid one out of the bunch, left the room and locked the door. In the morning, after Kemi woke up to a silent room and a pounding head, she dialled him to know if he had been there.
“No,” he said. “I tried to call you to let you know I would not make it, but your line was not reachable.”
“Hmm,” Kemi sighed.
“I should have left a text. Sorry”
She said it was okay. And then she hung up. When she took a breath in, she caught his scent, and she burst into tears.