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  • Nina Mma

SUB ROSA


I was staring out the window into the night, lit by the dim, almost romantic street lights, watching the nightlife from the top of my tower where I’ve chosen to be locked up, although not in penance. The floor-to-ceiling window is my favourite place to be in; it gives me the perfect view of the outside world and a tiny reflection of the inside. And right now, while it looks like I’m observing the outside, watching the hustle and bustle of the nightlife in our city that never sleeps, while it seems like I care about what’s going on outside, I don’t. Instead, I’m staring at the reflection of my lover’s silhouette, who is sprawled on the bed, wrapped up in silk sheets. She’s sound asleep, and I know I should be too, but I can’t. And who can blame me? We have limited time together and the little moments we steal for ourselves are my favourite.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with our various partners. We’ll pretend that this isn’t happening, that we’re best friends and not madly in love. I guess, in a sense, she is my best friend since she’s the only one I tell everything and she gets to see certain parts of me that even my partner doesn’t see. It kills me that we’re both married and to people we’re not particularly attracted to. And I know it’s unfair to them, but we did what we had to do. When you’re a queer couple in a country that criminalises your existence, it doesn’t particularly leave you with numerous choices.

We met at my sister’s wedding reception, about three years after mine; her partner was one of the groomsmen. The way she looked that day remains a constant memory in my head. I’d seen her by the bar, and I could have said that she was the most beautiful, but that’s a line that has been used one too many times. So I just stood there and stared, and for the first few seconds, I had no particular train of thought; the woman was too stunned to think, and over the years, I’ve found that she still makes me feel that way. She has me smitten, and sometimes, I find myself just staring at her, wondering how I got so lucky. She looks at me and winks as she did at the wedding when she noticed me staring, and it still has the same effects on me. It sends tingles down my toes, leaving me giddy with excitement and blushing like a schoolgirl. She makes me feel like a girl and not a woman.

I sigh and walk back to the bed and lie down next to her, I still can’t fall asleep, so I stare up at the mirror over the bed and take in the moment—the curve of her petite body, covered in nothing but the silk sheet that she sleeps under. I often wonder what would happen when we get caught, how much longer it’ll take, and how no one has found out by now. I mean, we’ve not exactly been as discreet as we’d like to believe that we are. It worries me even more that our partners already know but are just biding their time.

I trail a finger down her face, and she stirs a little. She smiles and says, “go to sleep, creepy”.

I close my eyes, and images of her flash as I try to sleep; her smile as she says, “you’re so full of shit” when I say something she doesn’t believe. And as I drift off to sleep, I hear her whisper, “I love you”. I thought she was asleep. Who’s the creepy one now?


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