We heard the stories
Told the sorry’s
Scared of the stranger
Certainly a lone ranger
“Lock your doors,
Don’t you know he roars”
Beware, be aware
Of him steer clear
Turn the other way
From his smile any day.
Hide your face
Stay away from that place
We live in the secret fear
Of one about whom we only hear
Our windows shuttered close
Outside the wind blows
Yet we stay shut up
Afraid to hear a pin drop
We fear he is coming
That rapist he is coming
A friend draws near
One we have always held dear
We throw open our doors
Expose our flaws
Invite him in
We share a gin
We laugh, we talk
He teases, we sulk
A touch here
A tickle there
It goes unnoticed
For this can only be friendship
He tightens his grasp
“You are hurting me”, We gasp
His laughter mocks us
“Now don’t cause a ruckus”,
He says, “You know you want this”
“You’ve been begging for this.
Many signs, many signals
No allowance for a withdrawal
No, this fiend
He sneaked in
While a stranger we were awaiting
The pain as he tears
His way into the depth of our fears
He rips our bodies in two
And takes our dignity too.
After he commonizes what is Sacred in us
The beast, he laughs as he abases us
Dehumanised, his imprint remains
Even our dreams his smell invades
Our voices are loud but unheard
Our wounds don’t heal we are “The Smeared”
How much better for us
If you took that bus
And did the Deed
Yes, the deed
But in the end
It was this fiend of a friend
The one we trust
He whom we trust
It is he that wore the super hero cape
That is who we invited in to rape
She sat in the corner and tried her possible best to disappear; he was still in the other room. If I am really quiet maybe he will leave? She thought to herself. She put a shaky hand to her face and realized that it was wet with tears, This won’t do, she thought, I cant go in there like this, he is still there, he needs to hurry up and leave. She hugged herself and pressed further into the corner, rocking gently as she did so. She couldn’t focus, if she tried to think she felt her mind tilt dangerously.
“Uzo, are you ever going to come out?” She gave a gasp of fear and felt her sanity slide dangerously close to the edge. He has not left! Quiet, quiet! He has to go.
“UZO!” Footsteps, growing louder as the voice drew near.
She scrambled up in a blind panic, lifted a leg in indecision, dropped it again, and opened her mouth to form words. She felt her throat close up as the tears flowed incessantly, a strangled gasp escaped her mouth and she cleared her throat. Opening her mouth again, she said in a slightly husky voice,
“Don’t mind me, I entered the room and refused to turn on the lights so, of course I slammed into the edge of my bed, I’m just trying to get my breath back”.
“Oh! Ok! Was a bit worried for a while there”
Worried my foot! “Nope! Nothing to worry about.”
She walked shakily to the wall and turned on the switch, flooding the room with light. She was in a neat little bedroom with ivory walls. The long windows were shaded by grey venetian blinds and an ornamented bed head supported the queen-sized bed. A mini shelf was packed to capacity with books and a small mini fridge stood between the bed and the shelf. The walls were bare of all décor and an open wardrobe was also empty of clothes, the suitcase lying open beneath the wardrobe, however, was spilling out with a messy assortment of clothes. Shoes were arranged in soldierly fashion round the room.
Walking to the bed, she sank onto the white sheets. She held her head high and looked straight into the mirror that hung from the closed side of the wardrobe. She saw a naked woman, ordinary looking except for her light brown eyes. Her eyes! They were haunted; fear dwelled there now! She stood up leaving a small crimson stain on the sheets. She walked close to the mirror and looked at her body critically: Really, I don’t look any different, even now. She turned from the mirror and walked into the adjoining bathroom, stepped under the shower, turned it on and started to vigorously scrub her vaginal area and her legs. I said no! I said no! The thought rang out from all the corners of her head, I FREAKING SAID NO! She sobbed noiselessly as she finally gave in to the pull of memory and, hopefully, insanity.
The day had started out pleasantly with a phone call at work from Tonye whom she had not seen in a while. After a lengthy “catch up” conversation, he had asked if they could meet later that day, as he would be travelling over the weekend. They made plans to meet up at a mutual friend’s get together after work in the evening and she hung up the phone feeling very happy. The day had gone well with the director of her department nominating her for a raise; life was good and she was excited at the prospect of seeing Tonye again; working and living in Lagos did not give much time for a social life.
After wishing her friend happy birthday, Uzo tried to mingle with the party crowd, but it was difficult, she didn’t know any of the people there and she was rather shy. A voice at her elbow said, “Hello foundling!”
She turned, a quick smile pulling at her lips. Foundling! That was the nickname she had acquired in university because she always looked kind of lost. “Tonye!” She hugged him gleefully; “I haven’t heard that name in ages.”
“Well”, he said with a careless smile, “You looked so lost, I could not help but remember that we used to tease you about it”.
“Yes you did. Mercilessly too.”
“Look at this crowd!” He exclaimed with a low whistle.
“I know, yea? When Onyemowo said a get together…”
“She should have just said a house party. Meanwhile who are all these people? I don know a single one of them! I was kind of expecting a mini reunion”
Uzo laughed at that statement; “You were?”
“You want to leave?” He asked, “Cause I’m not having fun, and I remember you dislike crowds.”
“Cool, sure! But where will we go?” She asked.
“Hmm, I hadn’t thought about that.” He was quiet for a while, “Do you want to go to my place? My hotel, I mean! It is not too far from here.”
She felt a slight stirring of discomfort at this suggestion, she really disliked being out late, and it would be easy to ask him to leave if they were at her place. In his hotel, he would be more in control; she liked to be in control.
“Well…” she hesitated.
He raised his eyebrows in her direction.
“I live in the next street, that is how we have been able to keep in touch.”
“You do? That makes more sense than driving all the way to my hotel, and that way, you aren’t out too late.”
“So, you will drive behind me?”
“Sure, sure.” He said, taking her elbow and leading her outside.
The night was fun, they played catch up and it was her ideal version of a night with a friend. They discussed books they had read, talked about the state Nigeria was in, reminisced about school days talked about work and generally had a good time. It wasn’t until she stood to pour out a second helping of wine that everything went south.
As she bent over to pour into his glass, he leant over and kissed her. She gasped and withdrew, pouring some wine on the table in the process.
“That will leave a stain,” she mumbled as she hurried into the kitchen for a napkin.
After she had cleaned up the table she took up her glass and walked to the chair beside the sofa. She took a sip and feigned a yawn. “Had a long day at work today,” she said, hoping he would get the message and leave.
“Really?” He said standing up and strolling over to seat on the arm of her chair, “tell me about it.”
She gulped down some wine and started talking about her day as fast as she could, throwing on a yawn here and there for good measure. Half way through her narrative he interrupted, “Uzo, are we going to pretend I didn’t kiss you?”
“What? No! Of course not!” She said
“Then look me in he eye and tell me you didn’t enjoy it”.
That ridiculous statement floored her. She was left with nothing else to say, so she did the only thing that came to her mind; she stood up and said, “Look Tonye, it was really nice seeing you again and I had so much fun, but I’m really tired and I have to go in to the office tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow is Saturday!” he interjected, standing up and taking her in his arms.
She tried to get out of his embrace, “Yes, I know that, I still have to get in.”
“Why the hell are you struggling? Don’t you see you attract me? If you aren’t attracted to me why invite me to your place at night?”
Stupid, stupid man was all that kept ringing through her head. She tried to explain the thought process that led her to invite him over but was stalled as his lips pressed on her own. She opened her mouth o say stop and that was when his tongue slid into her mouth. She froze for a moment, paralyzed by the impossibility of her situation and in that moment, his hand moved to the back of her head keeping her still.
She bit down on his tongue, forcing him to loosen his hold on her and in that moment, she made a mistake. She stepped out of his embrace and told him, “Tonye leave I do not appreciate you forcing me to kiss you.”
He raised his head and looked at her and said, “you like it rough foundling? That is unexpected, but I can deliver”. Lunging at her, he ripped open her shirt in one powerful yank and began tugging at her skirt.
“Please Tonye, No!” she said trying to push him away. She could not believe how strong he was as he pinned her down with arm and pulled off her underwear with the other, she was crying now as she felt his finger insert itself into her. His breath was hot and sweetly sickening as he whispered in her ears, “Stop being such a prude, you like the feeling, and I can make you feel better than this, oh so much better.”
“No, please no!” she screamed, begging with all that she was able, “You haven’t gone too far yet, you can stop. Please.”
Such strength, such inhuman strength! She pushed at him, tried to wriggle out from underneath him, scratched at him, spat in his face but he was immovable. He grinned down at her and said, to her utter disbelief, “Don’t fight it, we are too close as friends for you to not want me”.
It was at this point that she felt her sanity slip; she lay there blubbering, as he pulled out his shaft and led her hand to it, “See how hard you make me? This is a compliment to your beauty.” Still holding her down, He spread her legs and thrust into her. The pain she felt at that moment was excruciating and it brought home to her, for the first time, what was really happening to her.
She tried to scramble away from him but he pulled her back with such force that she involuntarily let him go deeper into her. She finally understood that there was nothing she could do. She lay there on her cold, uncarpeted floor, her eyes staring dully at the white ceiling as the man she called friend, the man she had opened her door to, lay above her, humping away, grunting and sweating.
It isn’t happening to me! I’m watching some poor girl that looks like me have sex with Tonye. I’m dreaming that Tonye is having sex with me. Tonye? He was always so calm, funny and reliable. Did I say yes? How is this happening? Did I lead him on? How did I get on the floor? The tiles are so cold. He should do and finish! I think he tore me when he entered. She could not control the flow of thoughts in her mind, more than anything she wanted to pretend it was not happening, she wanted to pretend she was not hearing the ridiculous things he was saying.
“You could be a little more responsive you know? Why are you crying? We are too close for you to not want this. Come on. We are closer than this.”
Impossibly, he seemed to think that that friendship, their closeness a million years ago was enough reason for the liberties he was taking with her body. He was ripping her to bits and his excuse was ‘we are close?” she felt like laughing. She wanted him to kill her when he was done. She felt useless, worthless. With each thrust, her value decreased. Why couldn’t he see? When would he stop?
“Stop saying no, will you? We are too close for this.” It was at this point that she realized that she had been saying no all along. “No, Tonye No. No, No, No.”
Finally, he shuddered, his eyes rolling to the back of his head as he gave a sigh. He rolled of her, slapping her breast playfully, “Thanks Uzo, you are actually a good lay”.
Uzo scrambled to her feet and ran to her bedroom, locking the door behind her. Not bothering to turn on the light, she stumbled to the corner farthest from the door and curled up there. What have I done? How did I allow this to happen?
The deluge of water from the shower, was necessary, no matter how she scrubbed, she felt like she would always smell like expensive male perfume and sweat. The scrubbing motion her hands were making over her body had become mechanical. When the knocking began again, she cringed unconsciously. Stepping out of the shower reluctantly, he made her way to her locked bedroom door with her towel tied firmly around her body, “Uhm, Tonye?”
“Yes? Uzo, I hope you aren’t going to go childish on me and start acting awkward. What we just shared was a gift between friends. It was bound to happen someday.”
Who give you the right to decide what will happen and what will not happen in my life, little bastard!
“No Tonye,” She said, because for some reason, she felt the need to be conciliatory, like she was the one who had done something unforgiveable. “I promise I won’t. But, here’s the thing, can you let your self out? Because…” Because if I take one look at you I might go crazy! Because if I come out I’ll probably walk straight to the kitchen and look for a knife! “Because I wasn’t joking when I said I was tired, plus I have to take a shower. I will talk to you later ok?”
“Alright babe, take care of your self. My flight is tomorrow, but I’m sure I can squeeze in time to see you.”
“No, no,” she said quickly, “I told you I have to work tomorrow remember” I never want to see you again by the way.
“Oh yea! I thought you were just playing hard to get.”
“No I wasn’t Tonye. Good night!”
She waited until she heard the front door slam shut before she unlocked her bedroom door and ran to lock the front door.
Later that night, her last thought as the sleeping pills took her adrift was, I said no so it was rape. There is no justification for what he did. I said no! Friend or no, rape is rape.