The skies look like they are going to cry tonight. There’s a gloominess stuck in the clouds that almost seems to infect the whole world. Everyone walks with heads bowed and shoulders hunched, probably more from the cold inside than from the chill that hangs in the air. With the exception of an occasional gathering of murmurs, everyone else walks alone. Everyone follows a path, a pattern carved of sadness.

And of all days, it was today that you chose to come. Clad in your printed sweatshirt that I could never get and a tight black skirt that clings so tightly to your skin and ends abruptly just below your knees, almost as if in an attempt to defy the weather gods. I wonder how you can possibly not feel the cold. When I come to get you, I offer you my jumper, but you decline. You are okay. Or so you say. So we walk towards my room. Almost touching, but not quite hand in hand.

I make a point of avoiding your eyes all through the walk and pray that you don’t notice. I laugh a little when you joke about how my favourite weather is slowly killing you. But I thought you said you weren’t cold. Of course you are cold, how can you not be? But you lie ever so smoothly, like and expert skater on ice, falling into this routine we’ve made for ourselves. I think you do know that I know you are cold, but vulnerability and weakness are the last things you’d ever let me see in you. You are always that marble pillar in the middle of a castle. Holding everything together. I know that too. You could be falling to a million pieces with a killer smile and a lonesome dimple. So I say nothing and we keep on walking, two stick figures in the grey evening. You were lost in thought and I was almost strangely blank.

When we get to the stairs, you almost crash into a guy coming down four steps at a time. He reeks of fresh burning weed and tobacco, wearing that ambiguous half smile that characterize such sessions. And for the first time, I catch your gaze and we smile knowingly to each other. Small smiles that linger for a while. Almost warming its way past the cold and into our hearts. I can now afford to pull you a little closer and skate my hand across your shoulders. You lean in almost gratefully and it kind of feels like home once again. The rest of the climb is however as quiet as the hallways, conspicuously empty and hollow.

Apart from one person, my room is also empty. Almost, we could say. Small greetings follow before we both patch upon my bed (which is insanely huge thanks to this oversized 2 ply mattress that almost falls out on both ends) and I ask about how you have been. The following conversation is characteristically baseless and about random things. We do not talk about anything that could create any uncomfortable tension because that is just what we have come to be. Always cruising just half a mile away from the safe shores. I cannot afford to tell you how it really feels deep down and you cannot afford to ask either. It is almost because I don’t want to find out what we will excavate once we go digging. I have some feeling that we will not like it. That I won’t like it. But we should really go digging because I haven’t the faintest what lies beneath. I can feel its presence gnawing and clawing at the bottom of my belly, but by some almost protective instinct, my brain decides to not perceive it at all. It is almost as if by revealing what that feeling truly is, I could crumble to dust in the aftermath. So there it stays, almost as the tips of my lid but just sufficiently out of reach.

Almost by magic cue, the other guy in the room finds a place to go. Suddenly. Like it just hit him. As he shuffles for his sandals at the door, my heart kind of sinks a little. The awkwardness of his presence had prevented me from having to confront the silence that will undoubtedly fall when it’s just us two.

“Umm… I’m gonna go get some stuff from the canteen.” He says. “You guys want anything?”

We shake our heads in negation simultaneously. As he slips out, I can almost see the squint of a smile at the corner of his lips. Sneaky bastard, I think to myself. Now it’s just you and I. And the empty room with Adele lamenting over the sound system. I realize that the music is almost too loud and I have to get up to reduce its volume, (in the process locking the door). People walking in on us in compromising positions has been sort of the norm lately. Trust me, it sucks. Everything is finally in place. Nothing more to fix. Except us.

Ignoring all the warning shots in my head, I walk up to your lips and hold them hostage in mine. Sparks are almost sent to my nerves by the nicotine stains in your breath. You taste like fine, old wine and assurance. I dare not look you in the eyes as you pull me down to the bed and for a moment, I think that maybe you need this just as much as I do.

This is how we fix us.

I am walking you to catch a Matatu to your place roughly an hour later. Your hand is in my jumper pocket, entwined with mine this time. It would simply be too cruel otherwise. I feel so guilty that my heart is almost drowning in my own blood. I almost shiver. I think I do a little, and you squeeze my hand softly. I steal a glance, only to meet your eyes on my face, and a sad, sad smile playing on your lips.
Oh, the pain it bears. But a small hint of recognition almost lights up at the back of those lovely orbs.

“Shh…they say. We will be okay.”

4 thoughts on “Almost

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