Dancing in the Dark

   The electric bulbs blinked twice with a glitch-screech before becoming black balls entirely. I sat comfy in the sofa and watched Bola scamper for the giant led, wallowing in the darkness.

  "This NEPA ehn," he sang before leaving the arms of the bed toward the table, where he usually kept the lamp. His legs jittered from the darkness, it came creeping on his shoulders until his shaking hand palmed on the plastic table.

   Nengi catwalked out of the bathroom with a towel around her chest, slightly sagging to the top of her breasts.

She came before me and untied her towel and began to dance to the song from the MP3 player. Her skin was glazed with water heads, running down to the top of her bottom, and into the cracks too. She turned to face me, and opened her legs like a stripper against a pole in a country club.

  "You know I can see you, Nengi?" I echoed into the emptiness of the typical student room.

  "I know," she replied with a supposed sexy grim.

  "Then, stop doing that. It disgusts me."

  "What is she doing," Bola retorted, stumbling on the led.

  "She is dancing..." I scoffed loudly.

  "Is that true?" Bola turned on the lamp, flashing it at Nengi who quickly wrapped herself in her wet towel. "You were dancing in the dark?"

  "And so what?" Nengi whisked at him.

  "And so, do you know what happens when somebody dances in the dark?"

  "What happens?" She stopped from all her hurrying.

  "I will tell you," I cleared my throat like an elder before a long speech.

  "When a child dances in the dark, the moon screeches with a bat's voice, outside, hiding in heavy, rattled clouds. Then there's a voice, a voice that whispers with a thousand more voices. It sings, it hums a lullaby and the child seeks to sleep behind a pillow of feathers and in an old red blanket. 

But for me," I continued. "I am a different child with tribal marks that are longer than my years on earth, so, when an owl flies onto my windowpane and hoots, I hurry from my black mat, up with my Graymalkin, dip my exhaling fingers into the bowl of wood ash and native chalk that have been pasted with a chicken's blood, and mark across my temple, and on my cheeks, and on my feet, and on my chest, and blow the smoke of the incense into the box, and say—the ancestors are here.

Do you know the song?" I turned to Bola..

"When the box begins to creak and it begins to smell like a cadaver, of a goat that was slaughtered behind papa's clay statue —above the head of his grave —and whisper chants of obsequious moods, the sacred songs of jujus drinking the blood of innocent virgins, and the milk that comes out of my body when my little cocoon erects like the Iroko, when the boys of the shrine gather together for the ritual that the naked women come to our rooms and sit on our nakedness and ride us like bicycles, do you know what it says?" I sank my pupils into Bola's and, goosebumps ravaged his skin.

"It calls out for the souls of the males —the cubs of the greatest tiger, the god of pleasure, sanctity and spirits —to jive around the bonfire of grace, that bleeds and cries with many screaming voices; screams of raped women, molested boys and mutilated girls, screams of papa when mama cut his manliness and chewed it, screams of Emeka and his family who were burnt in a hut for refusing the ancient ways, it calls for us and we prepare..

I hear the dirges from the hollow of the wind that sneaks into the room, I snarl at the owl and it flies into the external darkness, to return when it needs to. I joggle my tail till it flops on my abdomen and beneath my waist, I spin and say two words to the old walls: obele agu!—small lion, for the gods."

  "Are you serious?" Nengi grinned from a casual shock. Her eyes glimmered from the dazes of rays from the lamp. Her head tilted to her right as she spewed a loud and hysterical laughter and, her wrapper slacked from the knot above her left breast.

  I looked at her in the way elders of the old days looked at babes straying into lost paths —she didn't understand.

  "Your spirits are still with you," Bola whispered onto my bare neck. "And I am scared they might hurt you." He continued, with his eyes glaring into mine and, they were the most shaded brown eyes I had ever known.

  Bola had been my friend for only three years—we had met in school—and he knew me almost better than everyone. He knew my favorite colours, my passion for allamandas and wild roses. He knew my deepest secret, the one I had not told to anyone except him, the secret I kept from papa Nnukwu, the priest of the vulture's nest.

  "What's the meaning of all this drama, sef?" Nengi snapped into the mood. I had been looking into Bola's eyes, and his focus was on the bugs that hovered around the lamp. It left her out..

She dragged two paces toward the kitchen area and stopped to say, "You should try to admire me sometimes, I'm trying my best to get you."

Bola's and my eyes met in a scathing amazement, and swayed to view Nengi, bouncing her well carved behind into the kitchen area.

  "Why did she say that," Bola asked with a queer grim, trimming his eyes to a thin line.

  "I don't know," I moved from the wall where I relaxed, to lie on my pillow. "Probably, because she was dancing naked in the darkness, for me, earlier." 

  "Naked?!" Bola jolted over my stomach.

I heaved a burdened sigh and closed my eyes.

  "You should talk to her," Bola added. 

He stood, to go get dinner before Nengi marched out of the kitchen after creating lauding nuisances to the apartment with the dishes and pots, with a tray of the food she had warmed and arranged —beans and custard. She still had the wrapper on, but now with a black crop-top that arranged her fore rudiments into fine bollules, giving her a highlight to her amazing African figure of eight.


  Ten minutes into munching Nengi's delicacy, I mustered a quick gut to tell her how I felt about her.

  "Nengi," I called. She looked at me with the spoon in her mouth, Bola did too. 

  "I want to bring some clarity about our feelings." I rolled my eyes into both of their eyes, bowing.

  "About earlier, I am happy you tried to get your dream man but, you know me better by now," she did. "I don't like it when a woman unclads herself before me, I hate the memories it brings. It rues me and twists my mind from a point of positivity and I become narcissistic, you know this well." I peered into her frowned face that smouldered like an ember, from the white fluorescence of the led lamp. 

  "I like you, very much, because you're my friend too, as Bola." I turned to him and met his eyes gleaming with a wetness of a cozy confusion.

  "Stop trying to force yourself on me, I am not into you." I swallowed a gag and chimed my cutlery against my plate.

A long silence ensued, giving a crescendo to the screeching of crickets and croaking of frogs from the muddy backyard.

  "So you don't find me attractive," her voice coarsely flowed out of her mouth. She looked at me with a bed of tears in her eyes and let her mouth spew more of her heart's content.

  "You don't find me attractive," she repeated, "but you find Bola, right?"

Bola trembled with a swift head spin and our eyes sank in her words and countenance, with the loops of our surprise, dropping in sweat-bead lines from our foreheads.

  "Are you okay?" Bola muttered, rarely loquacious.

  "I am perfectly fine," she yelled, standing up from the floor we had all sat, to eat on. "I am fine! So you think I don't know?" She raved at me, her hair almost lacing with my tongue.

  "I know all your feelings for my brother, that's why I have tried so hard to seduce you to have sex with me. I wanted you to be mine." She danced around the room. "I have watched your relationship with Bola since the very first time I met you, I've had a whole year and six months.

I know you're gay and you're in love with Bola!"

  "Well, fine. I am!" I bantered her.

  "You are?" Bola jerked from the floor. "What are you guys even saying?" he waved his hands tirelessly in the air and I could hear his heart pace with a loud bass.

  "I am saying he's gay and inlove with you!"

  "I'm saying I'm gay and inlove with you!"

We echoed in unison.

  "Why didn't you tell me all this while? I've always loved and wanted you, everyday since I knew you better." Bola let his tears flow.

  "Really?" I stood from the floor, reaching for his hands.

  "You're gay too?" Nengi jaw-dropped in a slight shock.

  "I am," he sighed and stilled his emotions.

  "Why did you not tell me, Ikem?" He looked into my eyes, grabbing my hands tightly.

  "I couldn't. I was scared I'd be hated and rejected like before, it was the reason I was initiated into the vulture's nest. My parents thought it was the best option to cure me, so they had me tortured in that place, molested by women I could call my mothers and exposed to brutal sights. My mother cut my father's manhood because he supported my resilience to join the cult, she forced me to hide my emotions, to burn them in my candle flickers so, I couldn't tell you how I felt, I was scared of reliving my dark days."

  "It's over now, and we now know better." He said, hugging me tightly.

  "Oh! no, it isn't," Nengi cut the mood. "You can't be with my gay step brother, you must be with me because I am pregnant for you."

  "That's impossible and stupid!" I retorted. "Don't stoop so low!"

  "I am not," she cleared her throat. "Last four weeks, on Bola's birthday, when you had both woken head-ached in the morning after, I had drugged you both and had sex with you, Ikem."

  "Lies, dear!" I hushed her. "You can't ruin this gift the Lord has given to me for my birthday," I held Bola on his shoulder.

  "I am not ruining it, I'm only adding." She said confidently. "I am two weeks pregnant," she said, flinging some papers at me.

  I picked them up and read their content with Bola's eyes prying in, too, and saw the truth that started to crumble my world, starting from my jittering feet.


Ukata Edwardson Ameluzu, (U.A Edwardson) is a student of the University of Nigeria. He writes from Ahoada, Rivers state, with poems appearing in Ngiga review, forthcoming in African writer. When he is not writing, you can find him swimming in an ocean of hobbies. He writes on Instagram@eddie.watson2 | Twitter @eddiewatson3


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