My right hand clutches, tightly, against my left upper arm, just beneath the shoulder. The white piece of cloth against the skin is coming under the weight of my blood, and within moments, drops of red start dripping to the floor, staining my white jeans that stand in the pathway.
I struggle to maintain a straight face; a painless face, even when my insides are churning. Even when there is a whirlwind in my head. Even when I have lost count of my heartbeat. Even when I am battling with my body and soul; each wanting different things.
From the corner of my eyes, I see the guy in charge headed towards me. His baggy black jeans and an equally oversized red T-shirt trail him, making his otherwise frail frame look pushed. Please don’t come here. Please don’t come here. Please. Please. Please…
“I am sorry, Binti. This was totally my fault,” he says, his left hand reaching for my bleeding upper arm.
I shove him aside, partly because his breath smells like garlic, but mainly because I am hiding my tears; both from myself and from him. I push him away because I am afraid he will see the storm slowly breeding in my eyes. Afraid he will smell the weight of sleeplessness against my skin. Afraid that his words will do nothing but add salt to injury.
“Binti, I am sorry. If I had secured your hand strong enough, then right now, you would be okay. It is my fault the bit slipped.”
I do not speak because I am afraid my voice will shake if I do. Then the tears will fall. Then I will lean against a stranger’s chest, begging myself to pull together. I do not speak because deep down, I know it was my fault. That the bit did not slip. That I moved my hand, suddenly, because I couldn’t yet pick what I really wanted. I couldn’t decide, yet, what was my greatest pain. What was my biggest failure. What was my greatest misgiving.
I do not speak because I know I am yet to identify an emotional scar, deep enough to be transformed into a physical one.
The guy in charge walks away, mumbling under his breath, and disappears into the chamber where all this had started.
Alone with my thoughts, my thoughts wander to Bree. I see her smile, looking down at me and laughing so softly like the wind. Her voice finds the crevices on my skin and seeps into me. Her laughter patches up the torn canvas of my heart and soul, and reminds me that I am still whole, even when I am broken at so many points. Her hands cup my cheeks, as her thumbs wipe the warm tears at the corners of my eyes. She pulls me to herself, and holds me so close I smell her chamomile shampoo. This here feels like home, and I want this to last forever. But then I feel the warmth of her tears against my face, and I know things will never be the same.
That I will wake up from this reverie, and she won’t be there. That I will see a woman in town with her same build, her same hair, her same calm; and I will follow the woman with the hope that it turns out to be my Bree.
That I will wake up from this reverie, try my hand at writing, and fail terribly because she will not be there. She will not be there to push me around. To remind me that I have a way with words, even when almost always, my words just break people’s hearts. She will not be there to constantly ask, ‘When is your book coming out? Am I in it?’ She will not be there to say, ‘I could help you with the writing, but you know me; I cannot write to save my life.” She will not be there to laugh with me, as we laugh at her. She will not be there to cut the laughter midway, saying, ‘That’s it; you should get back to writing.’
That one day, when I will think that I have forgotten about her, I wIll find myself along Kenyatta avenue and I will almost lose my breath. That my heart will almost stop beating, as the I&M building comes into sight. That I will beg my friends to use another route, and fail to find the right words to explain why I cannot bring myself to pass in front of the building.
That one day, when I will think I have forgotten it all, I will find myself along Thika Road and break into a sweat. That my tongue will suddenly go heavy, making it difficult to tell the tout why I want to get off before I reach my destination. That when my other friend will call asking why I no longer go visiting, I will cry my heart out to them, and they will know, just then, that my heart is still heavy with grief. That my soul is still angry at Thika Road and the helplessness that comes with the memory.
That one day, if all goes as planned, it will be my wedding day and I may not let anyone touch my face. Why? Because it was our small agreement that she would do my makeup on that day. That she would be my side throughout. That she would love to see my smile, and know that I was happy on my big day. That I will probably be sad on my big day, because a vital part of me will be missing.
I pull back the blood-stained white cloth from my upper left arm, rub the soles of my shoes against the blood droplets on the floor, and head towards the chamber.
“I need a capital B. Make it as bold as possible. And add a period at the end of it.” I say immediately the guy in charge spots me and starts walking towards me.
“You sure about that?”
It is not the first scar I will have. Only that it is a beautiful scar; hurts me on the inside, makes me proud on the outside. It takes me back to 2016 when Bree and I sat along the beach, as some guy in charge drew a henna tattoo on my left upper arm, all the while asking, ‘Huskii uchungu darling?’
It, the scar, will take me back to my reverie with Bree, when the world comes crashing at me.