You are at the mall. You are at the mall time and again, even though you are in campus and you can’t afford anything more than ice cream. You crotchet clothes and so you find yourself in Woolworths, LC Waikiki, and Mr Price often—stealing ideas and looking at pieces thinking, “When I start making money, I will buy that.”

On this particular afternoon, you find yourself at Junction Mall. You are accompanied by a gentleman called Simon. Simon is big and well-dressed, and he is your classmate. He plays the role of a boyfriend a little too perfectly, but somehow you haven’t been able to see him as more than just a friend.

He carries your handbag as you sit next to each other on a bench at The Courtyard. Sometimes, you feel terrible; terrible that you are unable to reciprocate his affections. Terrible, because even though you know what he wants and you can’t give it to him, you still haven’t gotten the courage to shake him off.

“I will be a minute,” you tell him while getting up and leaving him with your handbag. You enter the mall, and your first stop is Levi’s. You have always wanted to enter the store, but it has been too intimidating until today. The prices jump at you. A simple t-shirt that you could get at Gikomba for 150/- is going for 9500/-. Jeans that you could get for 600/- are going for 22000/-. You leave hurriedly, as if someone will notice you can’t afford any of the items there, and chase you out of the store with a stick.

‘Where are you, Maya?’ Your phone buzzes. It’s Simon.

‘I’m coming to get you,’ another message follows before you can finish reading the first one.

‘I’m at the ladies,’ you lie. ‘I will join you in 15 min,’ you add as you enter Mr Price.

Mr Price always gets you excited. You get lost in the fabrics and the designs, like a kid in a candy store. You pick a couple of items to try out in the changing room, and as you do, your reflection catches your attention.

You are short and slender, your friends call you petite. Except for Mosko. That artsy guy you met at Alliance Francaise during an art exhibition that your friends dragged you to, Mosko calls you hot and the words literally make your toes curl. Speaking of which, he hasn’t called or texted since the last time you fucked. The avalanche of messages you have left him remains unanswered. If only he could be like Simon. You wish.

What is it about him? The mere question drives you nuts. Is it the fact that for your first date, he took you for archery lessons and taught you how to use a bow and arrow? You were clumsy the whole time because he was so close—you could feel his breath misting your neck as he spoke the instructions into your ear with a soft tremor.

Afterward, you visited him in your skimpiest miniskirt and blouse, and he remained nonchalant, playing his video game shirtless while smoking weed. His naked upper body got you wild, and his tattoo—a broken chain across his chest intrigued you even more, enough to try marijuana for the first time just to be close to him.

You dropped hints that you were interested in something more than friendship time and again, but nothing happened. Until one day, out of the blue, he told you to get up from the couch and do a slow spin, and after you did, he asked you to undress slowly because he wanted his eyes to feast on every inch of you. And you did as he instructed as if you were under his spell.

You look at the broken chain tattoo on your wrist as you get out of the changing room at Mr Price, and there he is, Simon, carrying your handbag. “I told you to give me fifteen minutes,” you snap at him. “It’s been an hour,” he says timidly, and you feel terrible again. 

You walk out of the store together in silence. “Do you want ice cream?” he asks as you pass Cold Stone, and you find yourself nodding even though you had vowed to stop accepting things from him.

You get back to The Courtyard and sit beside him for all of one second before you get up and head toward the swings. You eat your ice cream and swing back and forth, wondering when Mosko will respond to your messages, and remembering that day that is forever stained in your memory. 

After you undressed, he placed you on the couch and traced every part of your body with his hot tongue. And then, he took you over and over again. You wanted to preserve that moment so badly, you had the broken chain tattoo that was on his chest tattooed on your wrist the same day.

You swing some more and empty the can of ice cream, and as you come to a halt, you realize that you treat Simon the same way Mosko treats you, like something disposable. You should shake both of them off, you realize. ‘I have missed you, call me when you see this.’ You shoot Mosko another message instead while walking towards Simon, who you know will ask if you are hungry and end up buying you lunch. You will shake them off, just not today. You decide.


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