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It was a long trip from Akure.

Three days ago Sade returned from the United States, and she ran to Abuja. She had important contacts to hook up with. And she knew also that she had to see Ralph.

It rained on the evening she arrived at Ralph’s place: quiet neighborhood with trees adorning its streets. It featured no bustle.

Fatigue. Ralph sat at his table, head bowed in his hands, as if in meditation. An unfinished painting on an easel, opened ink jars, palettes, paint brushes, a bottle of wine, pastes, arranged in spontaneous fashion.

The door was unlocked.

Sade walked in. She saw Ralph at his own. She smiled. She thought she saw a halo resting on his form.

The room was space and colors, white colors emanating from the walls filling the ambience with sentience. Ralph loved white.

There was color from a shelf, the terrace of books on it. A nightstand, piece of furniture, frames hanging on the wall, a vase, an uncanny thing, a wood carving.

“Hello cognoscente,” she called, in a mix of twang and mimic of Italian accent spurring Ralph to consciousness.

They hugged. A peck here, a peck there.

“Didn’t know you were coming to town,” Ralph struck conversation.

“Yea, I did,” She sighed, “needed to catch up with near lost contacts. It’s important.”

“Hmm . . .,” Ralph chewed on nothing. “Career good?” he asked.

She had had it; enough of his laconic responses. It was going to stop today.

“I hate this,” she said.

The unwary Ralph startled, blurted “what?”

“We were good,” she was saying. “We were not like this. You always have something to catch up with; learning one new thing; traveling to wherenot . . .”

“Exactly,” Ralph said. “I am unstable, unpredictable, and that’s no man for a woman who wants to settle.”

“Then settle Ralph. Settle.”

She settled on her own on a lone cushion. She heaved once or twice. She clacked her tongue. She played with her phone.

In a shift of concentration, she saw, on the wall, a painting: the portrait of an ebony-complexioned girl with a wild smile. And she thought of children. She diverted her eyes to Ralph.

He was packing the painting things. There was another painting of a great hawk hovering in a white sky. Somehow the artist must have chosen – the hawk hovered over a stretch of grey sand littered with seashells.

She walked over to Ralph and stood tete-a-tete with the young man.

There was an IPod on the table. She punched play. . . now am in the limelight coz I rhyme tight . . . coz I rhyme coz I rhyme—coz I rhyme tight . . . Wrong music.

She reached for the wine bottle, popped the cap and gulped down about a pint.

There was no mistake, she was a teetotaler. Ralph knew. He was bemused.

Just then she inched closer to his body. He felt the heat. He could catch her breath. It wasn’t happening, he thought. She was cultured. Then her knee brushed his limbs angling up to his crotch . . .

He had daydreamed of a scenario like this uncountable times and he knew. He had planned the exact response.

He was going to—to take in, draw in that fire he saw in her. Her skin was dark chocolate that made appetite erupt within one’s wells. The valleys around her ankles and heel, arcs of her feet glowed with a paleness like cucumbers.

She was the perfect art.

And Ralph sucked in, pulled in every soul of Sade into himself as their lips stuck onto the other like snails on soft stalks.

And Sade gave; and Sade took. Quiet tears slid from her tear ducts.

In the wave of passion the two had ambled to the wall, Sade’s back against the wall.

They cooled.

Ralph calmed his breath; he tightened his eyelids as seconds passed. As he let them go Sade had turned her face away leaving a silver necklace to form an arc on the slope of her neck, bare.

Ralph gasped.

The young man took steps backward as he withdrew.

He shook his head the way a hen scattered its feathers in a fit, pressing his palms hard on his forehead till his head was in his hands.

Sade, still leaning against the wall, did not see him. Her eyes were closed.

Sade did not hear him say “I need to take a bath.”

Sade only heard an echo.

*********************

Kwesi Abbensetts’ is a recent discovery. His body of work is many kinds of marvelous. He describes himself as a New York based Guyanese photographer. Click HERE to see more of his work. 

About the Author

Carl Terver curates Afapinen, a literary blog of criticisms on life, art and culture. He’s a poet, writer and literary enthusiast. He arches his brows intermittently it has become a trait.

Follow him on Twitter @CarlTerver

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

3 Responses to ““She Was the Perfect Art” | Distance | By Carl Terver | A Vignette” Subscribe

  1. Catherine Onyemelukwe September 23, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    I admit I didn’t quite get this story. It eemed to head in a couple of different ways, but then diverted and went elsewhere. I don’t understand the ending.

    Look forward to someone else’s more positive response.

  2. Oyin Oludipe September 25, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    It’s a calm story. Intense and subtle. As are the lone and betrayal in the scene.

    The tragedy of distant relationships mostly is the “silver necklace” of an eloper and the shocked withdrawn “echo” of the cheated.

    Sade really had had it.

  3. Cheeynaw October 22, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Intereresting piece…

    But I truly cannot point at where the storyline went.

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