Issah turned into the parking space in front of Mona’s shop and pulled on the brakes violently. It was the beginnings of a wonderful night; he could smell it in the greying air about him, the cold wave that brushed across his face as he stepped out of his orange Picanto. He pulled off his shades and wiped the sweat off his brows with the insides of his tee-shirt. From inside the shop, Mona paused from attending to a client’s hair and gestured at him to come in.
“Good evening Babes”
The elderly woman seated in front of Mona squirmed a little – a not too discreet attempt at looking the man who had just come in over. She made a face and turned back to Mona’s naked abdomen. She was not impressed. Issah was not bothered. Rasta had no place in a hypocrite’s world. He fell into one of the cane chairs in the small space Mona used as a reception and took out his phone.
Slow jazz played through a turntable in a corner of the brightly lit room. Not too loud, not too quiet.
Mona had returned to her business with a renewed intensity. Even with the air conditioner on, sweat dripped down her locks unto her small chest, coursing its way through her crop top, down her exposed navel. The beads on her wrists and earrings rattled with every stroke of the comb. She turned the elderly woman’s head one way and then the other, only pausing to occasionally glance at the wall clock behind Issah.
It was 7:43 when she finshed. Forty-three minutes past her closing time. The woman waved her goodbye, looked Issah over one last time and walked out the shop in a limp.
“You’d almost think she didn’t like me.”
“No one ever does.”
She fell into the seat beside Issah and loosened the buttons on her jeans.
The high was wearing off and a discomforting stiffness settling in its stead. The euphoric feeling of naked abandonment being replaced with the awkwardness of being the only naked one in a room full of clothed women. Mona turned her gaze to Issah for a brief moment and smiled. Through the cars wind-screen, the white markings on the black-grey asphalt in front of them came as fast as they disappeared. She found herself counting them, refusing the urge to ask for another blunt.
“Are you okay?”
Mona pressed at a button on the dashboard and cautiously climbed up. Resting one foot on Issah’s seat and the other on hers, she lifted her head through the cars sunroof and was immediately hit by a gust of wind. She closed her eyes and smiled. Issah pressed his foot on the acceleration. From outside, his excited howl sounded distant…far away; like her problems, like life, like death.
The music was on full blast when they got to the house. It stood alone on top of a hill, hidden behind a clutter of cypress trees. Easy to miss, obvious only for all of its light and noise. They sat in the parked car a while before stepping out. She had missed the raw taste of his dark lips – soft against hers. His tongue was all of fire and passion. She imagined she was his gasoline, although he never said this, although he still hadn’t asked her out.
“Are we late?”
“I don’t think it matters.”
They were holding hands when they walked in on the group. Five cheery faces turned away from a campfire towards them, wet drops of water glistening on their luminous skins. They had retired from the pool it seemed. Perhaps they were late after all. Some still had towels around their necks. Wet bikinis clung desperately to the two women in the group. The bright wraps casually thrown about their waists exuded the radiance of the campfire. Martey, the host, got up and moved to welcome them. He was only in beach shorts. The fire cast a glow over his bearded face, giving his smile a friendly tint that was normally harder to figure out. Casually, he did a slapdash introduction and handed each of them a marshmallow.
Behind the group, the filter in the pool hummed quietly, forcing a chain of ripples across the face of the water. Issah squeezed at her hand, drawing Mona’s attention from the water.
Issah swam towards Mona. She was leaned up against the edge of the pool, absently sipping on a glass of wine. She did not notice him till he was underneath her, touching her in places he wasn’t supposed to – at least not in public. She almost choked.
He lifted his head out the water and wiped at his face with the insides of his palms.
She looked about her. Most of the others had tired of conversation and gone inside to dance. Martey and the girl with the cut hair were the only ones left. The lay cuddled up in a hammock near where the campfire had once burnt. From inside the house, muffled sounds of nostalgic 80’s hip-hop thumped through the air. Issah sunk his head inside the water again. This time she let him. With quivering palms she lifted the glass back to her already open lips.
“Did you cum?”
They were the only ones left outside. The music had stopped playing and one after the other, the others had said their goodbyes and left. Martey had stayed out with them as long as he could and then gone back inside. They were not in a hurry to leave yet.
Mona lay in the hammock smoking while Issah picked at the ashes. He brought his lighter to the fire and laughed as the small speck began to burn. Mona turned to face him. He sat down on the dirt and leaned against the log they had sat on earlier.
“Did you have fun?”
“You’re such a perv though.”
“And you’re slow to return a favour.”
Mona sat up in the hammock and smiled, playfully throwing her head back in mock agony.