“Your dress is too loose; you’re not going to sell any market if you go in there looking like Mary-Amaka”.
“Ehn what am I supposed to do? My stomach isn’t flat and everyone knows that flabby doesn’t cut it”.
“Wear a waist trainer”.
“I don’t have a waist trainer!”
“Wear my waist trainer”.
“I can’t wear your waist trainer!”
“Well whatever you do, just change that outfit. You’re not going out with me looking like that”
This was the conversation we had been having for the past two hours. I’d put on an outfit, and Marlene would talk my ear off until I tore them off just as fast as they had been worn. The bed beside me was a mountain of rejected piles but I was willing to keep trying…to keep changing. Deep down, I knew, there was no satisfaction for Marlene until breast and bumbum was revealed. “These bills won’t pay themselves,you have to emphasize your selling point so that you can sell market”, she’d say and I’d hiss.
It wasn’t that I was against the act of emphasizing one’s selling point; please, by all means, sell away! The difference between Marlene and I, however, was our belief of what constituted the selling point.
“What if I put on makeup, highlight my face, smile, show off my shapely legs, that’s just as enticing.”
“Oh you’d entice them alright…broke, helpless, college niggers, maybe even some rich ones, but that’s it. Makeup wont pay your bills. Yansh will”
We finally decide on an attire, a see-through sheath dress that hung precariously below my butt cheek. Discomfort mocks me as I clutch begrudging to its hems with each step, trying desperately to defy the stubbornness of the wind. I wonder what my neighbors would say if they saw me now, those ones that gathered idly at the beer parlor three transformers away from my family house.
Papa Amaka would cough out. “Hmm, Did you see Uju? That girl ehn, she has joined bad gang.” Uncle Iyke would follow up, “ I thought she was an S.U”. Aunty Sade would then add, “ Which S.U? Na all those church girls dey bad pass! I don already know say na so she dey, all those times wey she dey waka pass, she no fit greet.” The conversation would then end with, “Children of nowadays, if they can read their books the way they do shakara”.
It was a good thing they weren’t here. The guilt-filled words my head had conjured was burdensome enough, better not add physical representations to the mix. “Its not like I have a choice”, I say to myself. “These bills won’t pay themselves”. “Oh but you do, there’s always a choice”. That voice, whatever it was, was right. Anything was better than, the stark bearded man salivating on me, milky spit dripping down a side of his mouth. A night with his massive belly seemed too expensive a price to pay for cleared bills. Yet, I paid. The next morning with globs of semen, matted permanently into the memory of my dress, with the chunky handcuff confining me to the foot of the bed, with the distant snores, a tattle tale of saliva man’s drooling dreams, I paid. I shut my eyes and tried to convince myself that last night had not happened. I dreamt of a time when I didn’t have to be paid to be loved.
Bang! The alarming sound tore me out of my… Bang! There it was again, definitely a gun-shot. Disembodied wails followed succinctly, then , pattering footsteps. Bang! Bang! Bang! “Hey you! Wake up!”, I screamed at saliva man. He pulled himself groggily from the bed, an altar of spittle, heard the commotion, then, fled the room, pot belly dancing in the wind.
“What about my handcuffs, I screamed?” “Somebody come take off these handcuffs”. No one heard. No one came. In the midst of the commotion, my distant cries had become a whisper in the wind.
It was probably one of those were people that took it upon themselves to cause unnecessary wahala. Maybe a scrawny teenager in plain black hoodie who, stumbling upon his father’s gun, had taken this opportunity vent out years of misplaced hatred. I was very less concerned about what his own vendetta was; blacks? Immigrants? Or maybe quite obviously, prostitutes. This one would kill as much as he could before they police came, then, he would take his own life.
The shots were getting closer now, as were his self righteous rants. “Fuck America, Fuck y’all, fuck the fucking republic”.Then, rapid footsteps. He was what, two doors away? Somebody dial God.