“Well, do you like your new apartment?” he asked over the FaceTime with a smile.
She returned the gesture, hers a bit more stifled, “I like it. But also, it’s kinda what was easily available.” He nodded. The delay in connection over the phone made his head look like it wobbled as it went up and down. She had been on the phone with him for less than twenty minutes and somehow it felt longer. She wondered if this was due to the choppy network connections or if she had to admit some other deep-seated truths to herself.

She was about to confront that truth when his voice came through the phone. “Up Nepa!” he exclaimed. She smiled and then let out a little chuckle. “I bet you don’t miss this part of Naija, right?” She knew what he was referring to but somehow, she could only afford him a smile and a perfunctory head shake. “Yeah, thought as much,” he went on, “last week, we didn’t have light for four days straight. No explanation as to why.” She wasn’t paying any attention to what he said but she still managed a smile and another head shake. She hoped it would give him the sense of attention from her that she reckoned he believed he was getting. He continued speaking. “I think if I ever travel abroad, that’s the one thing I’ll miss more. Never having to shout ‘Up Nepa’ whenever power is restored,” he said this and laughed. The choppy network made his laughter sound a bit off but she managed a smile regardless. “Enough about me and my woes of Nepa over here, how have you been… really?”

The last part kind of caught Isis off guard for a brief moment. She wasn’t sure if what she sensed in his tone was one of sincerity or just some perfunctory curiosity. She had known him for nearly eight months now. Having only actually sat across from him physically on two occasions throughout that time. Yet, as she remembered it, she was drawn to him in a way that she wasn’t to anyone else. There was a sense that in his own awkward way, he was always being his very self in the moment. There was little pretence to his personality. He enjoyed the sound of his own voice—but who doesn’t? And yet, he somehow was still able to find a way to listen to others.


Isis remembered their first date. It was at a restaurant called Alice Garden somewhere in the Ikeja GRA environs of Lagos. “I really didn’t think this would happen so soon,” she said to him as they sat waiting on their order. She remembered being shy but still trying to put up a look of bravery. It was her first time on an official date in a while and she hoped he wouldn’t notice how nervous she was.
“I hope you’re not nervous, cause if you are, that’s going to be a problem.”
She felt a sting as he said this. She gave him an incredulous stare. “How do you mean?” she managed to ask after taking a sip of water from the glass in front of her.
“Well, I know I look like the best thing since jollof rice, but right now, I am nervous as fuck. And two nervous people on a date would mean we will just look at the menu until one of us folds and calls it a day.” As he said those words, a warm smile spread across his face. She couldn’t help herself from breaking into a smile too. She knew he was just trying to make her feel comfortable and he did it without making it feel weird.
“I promise,” she replied, “you look better than the menu.” He burst into laughter. There was kindness in his eyes and he seemed to pay attention to what she said. The rest of the date went without any hiccups and something about the way he looked at her made her feel seen. As the date progressed, they even took pictures, and in each one, she noticed the warmth in her smile. It felt natural. Unforced. There was also an undertone of passion; one she hadn’t felt in quite some time. Apparently, he felt a lot of it too—that passion.

“You know I was so close to wanting to kiss you,” he had said to her over the phone later that night.
She remembered smiling as she asked, “Why didn’t you?”
“Hmmm, I dunno… but I guess as badly as I wanted to, I also badly wanted to ensure you didn’t think of me as just being physically interested in you.”
“Hmm, so you’re not physically interested in me?” she teased.
“Jesus, no o.”
“Oh wow! You even had to invoke Jesus. That’s fine.”
“Ah, I don’t mean it like that o.”
“No it’s fine, I guess I am not sexy enough.”
“Ah, my god! I have gone to misyan.” She burst into laughter. She knew she had him and it felt really good seeing him try to clarify his point.
“You are a goddess and of course, I am interested in your body. Jesus! Who wouldn’t be? Have you seen you?” he added, almost shouting. It made her smile as she listened to him spew adulations over the phone. She found it cute how he never seemed short of words to tell her just how much he adored and wanted her. At that moment, she remembered thinking to herself, “If only you knew what I wanted to do to you too.” The first date was a good precursor to the possibility of what they could be and so they decided to see where it went. Isis knew there wasn’t much she could hope for besides being hopeful. She also knew she needed the companionship his presence provided. Having just gotten out of a terrible situationship a few months prior, it felt like she could sink her teeth into something more serious and with defined boundaries. Eight months later and sometimes it still felt as though all she had was that same hopefulness.


“Isis… hey, can you hear me?” his voice broke into her thoughts.
She smiled, “Yeah, I’m sorry babe. I was sort of lost in my head for a bit.”
She could hear him shift in his seat. “Glad you found your way back.”
“So, what did you ask again?” She remembered but she hoped that he didn’t. He did.
“Yeah, I asked how you’ve been?”
“Fine, fine. No complaints here.”
He smiled, “That sounds like something you would say to a stranger, babe. Not me.”
She could see his cheeky smile on the screen. It was the same cheeky smile he had the second time they met physically.


She was seated across from him and she looked as ravishing as she knew she could be. It was two days before she was to leave for the United Kingdom for her Master’s. Her leaving had forced his hands to find time and money to meet up and despite how selfless the act seemed, she wasn’t very happy with him about it. “You know we could have seen much sooner than this right?”
She remembered the look of mild embarrassment on his face when she said that. “Yeah, I know.”
“So, why did it have to be now? Until this time when I am almost leaving?”
He sighed, “Look, it’s no excuse, I know. But after our first date, I just… I wanted the next one to be perfect.” He sighed again, this time looking away from her intense stare.
“You’re right, it’s no excuse. Here we are, and there’s nothing perfect about this but we are here, which is what matters?”
He smiled, “I know, babe. I guess, with the whole looking for another job thing, I’ve been really stressed and every time I think of spending time with you, I think of making it something worth remembering.”
She remembered giving him a reassuring smile as she reached across the table and held his hand. “I know you are under a lot of pressure. But one of the things I love about you is how positive you are. Try not to lose that.”
He smiled, “With you by my side, that shouldn’t be hard.” She remembered smiling. She knew he meant every word. When they first began dating, he’d ask for her pictures, saying to her, “Whenever you send me pictures, my day becomes a hundred times better.” She never quite believed him. She reckoned it was one of those things men say. Yet, each time she did send him pictures, he would go on a lyrical bender with the most exuberant affirmations and adulations. And even though most of these were via text, she could almost feel the excitement in his tone when she read through them. It made her shy. But not shy enough not to send more pictures.


“But it’s okay if you’re non-verbal today, babe,” his voice broke into Isis’ thoughts once again. “When you feel you’re up for it, just know I’m here to listen.”
Those words sent a sense of calm through her body. She smiled. But this time her smile was accompanied by a little tear at the corner of her eyes. She looked away from her phone quickly as she wiped the tears. She turned back and looked at him. She took in every bit of his face. His small eyes, which always looked more intense even when he was being unserious. The way he had a tendency to touch the tip of his nose when he spoke and when the silence in a conversation lingered too much. She noticed his hair. It was a lot longer than when they had first met. The color was different too. She remembered once having a sex dream about him and running her hands through his hair.

Isis knew she was sexual. She never hid from that part of herself. Meeting him was different though. She became less concerned about physical intimacy. Some of her best short erotica stories were inspired by the way he would go off waxing lyrical about her body and her beauty.
“Your body is perfection. A testament of the gods and goddesses, of which, you are a descendant.”
“Oh wow!” she would burst into laughter.
“I tell ya. The contours of your body, mirror the resplendent crevices and manifestations of Mother Earth’s beautiful sceneries. You are Mother Earth, personified.” She recalled bursting into a fit as he said these words. Despite how ridiculous as such adulations sounded, they got her going. In no time, she would find herself biting her lips tenderly as he described each bit of her body as though he sculpted it with the gods. His descriptions of her stoked a fire of passion in her head that sent her spiraling to write enthralling tales of erotica that were as vivid as her imagination. Yet, they never shared a single kiss. The closest they ever came to some form of intimacy was holding hands while watching Greta Gerwig’s Barbie at the cinema. After the movie, he wrote her a poem.

“Oh, by the way,” his voice breaking into Isis’ thoughts again, “I was going through your pictures on my phone and I realized something…” He paused.
She knew he was waiting for her to ask. She smiled, “What did you realize?”
That familiar cheeky smile spread across his face, “I realized it’s been a week since I last worshipped at your feet.” Isis chuckled as she shook her head. “No, seriously. It’s been a week since you last sent me pictures or videos, which means I can’t even come to you and worship the goddess that is your beauty. I feel numb, to be honest.”
“Babe, you have almost all my pictures on your phone,” she said in feigned protest.
“Ah, the keyword is ‘almost’ babe. Until I have everything, which is impossible because as a goddess that you are, you’re infinite — beauty and all — I cannot for certain say I have everything.”
Isis paused for a moment, a quizzical look on her face. “None of that makes any sense.”
“You see, that’s what starving your faithful worshiper would do. Makes me stop making sense.” As he said those words, Isis burst into a fit of laughter. “Oh, there she is… a goddess laughing. I’ve missed that sound.”
“You know you’re crazy, right?”
“Crazy for you!? Yes, please.”
“I love you, babe,” those words left her mouth with the same ease that had pushed her to laugh. She looked at the time and they had been on the phone for almost an hour and a half. Somehow the time felt shorter.
“I love you more, babe,” he replied.

A sense of calm spread across her body. Those words coming from him felt as sincere as him asking her about how she’s been. It felt as sincere as him noting that she was particularly non-verbal on this occasion but being comfortable with letting her be herself.
“Thank you for…,” Isis felt a lump in her throat as she took a deep breath, “…for always being there.”
“Thank you, for being amazing, babe.”
She chuckled. “Babe, you really suck at taking compliments. You just had to throw back the thank you to me too, huh?” He burst into laughter. She too missed the sound of his laughter. She missed him. And for the first time in the two weeks since moving to the UK she felt a sense of optimism about life. The past week had been one long bout of issues and angst, most of which she was unable to process properly. She had always been quite non-verbal about her struggles, even so with him. Yet, each day since she moved, he texted her. It didn’t matter if she responded or not.
“I am sorry that I haven’t been responding to your text as I should.” Isis felt her voice quiver with emotion.
“You don’t have to apologize, mi amore. I completely understand.”
Isis was sure he didn’t quite understand, but it was reassuring to hear him try. “It’s been tough but I will be fine.” The words sounded like they were meant for him. They weren’t. She needed the reassurance. She remembered once sitting alone in the dark of her room crying when her phone chimed and it was a text from him simply asking “How are you doing?” It was nothing groundbreaking but, in that moment, even in the dark, she felt less alone. Explaining her sadness was daunting because it never really made sense to her and she reckoned it wouldn’t make sense to anyone else. But somehow, knowing he was always there — nonjudgmental and just being human — made her feel a little bit seen.

“As long as you have me, you can be rest assured, I’ll be here to bore you to death with my attention.”
Isis smiled, “Thank you, babe.”
“We are in this together. I’m always here for you.” A little tear escaped from the corner of her eyes and this time she didn’t hide it. A warm smile spread across her face as she blew him a kiss through the phone. He mimicked catching it and then instead of placing it on his face or his heart, he swallowed it. It made her burst into laughter. In that moment, she reckoned that the only deeper truth she had to admit to herself was the simplest one: she deserved to be happy.
A smile spread across her face.
“So, not to be that irksome guy but um, your goddessness, about those pictures, when can I expect them?”
Isis chuckled. She pretended to consider the question for a minute before answering.
“For being such a sweetheart, I’ll do you one better. Do you remember that silk blue dress I wore to a party the other week with some friends and I sent you pictures of?”
“Yes,” he nodded.
She paused and bit her lip, a cheeky smirk escaped the side of her mouth. “I think what I’ll do is send you a picture of the lingerie I had under that dress.” The next sound she heard was a scream. And then a tumbling sound. She was shocked but then burst into laughter when she realized her statement had made him roll off his bed, crashing to the floor.









Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash