“Ask him Thandiwe. Ask him.” I tell myself as I sit down next to him in Rhapsodys restaurant. A fresh glass of wine is put in front of me as I move my chair closer to the table. What good will it do to get him moody now? He is talking to his twin sister Patricia while I take a sip of my wine and pretend to listen to their weird chat about women in Solwezi.
It’s been six days since my birthday and we have spent four of those days together. After work of course. Not having sex but chilling like we used to before we blurred the lines of friendship and benefits. Funny part is I’ve slept over twice but the man never touches me or wakes me up for sex. Which is weird. Okay I’m weird. It’s like he’s a new man or maybe he’s afraid of losing me all over again. But in the time we have spent together, he has not once explained what he meant by telling me he loves me and I have been racking my brain hoping he will open up but nothing. He’s making this difficult for me and I wish I could be bold but I’m afraid of asking him because it would be too soon. We just fixed a part of our broken friendship. And gosh it’s only been six days since we started talking again so I would come out as clingy if I asked him. But he did make my birthday special. I smile when I think of my birthday. We stayed home and watched movies; we talked and caught up with each persons life in general; and in the evening he cooked dinner for the birthday lady. It was simply beautiful. I enjoyed it and I know he enjoyed it too. And of course he requested I sleep over and I readily accepted. Though he had to drive me home so that I could get a change of clothes and my car if I was going to make it to work on time the next day. Simple as that. But he never touched me. We slept and nothing ever happened. Better right? No complications anymore. Just straight forward friendship. Though I swear I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t touch me. Am I unattractive?
I choose not to dwell on that bit of information. But now it’s been six days and I want to know what he meant. Nobody utters I love you carelessly lest someone responds with a meaningful “I love you too.” Or maybe I should have said I love you too. But I know in what context my words would have been in, but his? Who knows? Plus, I mean I haven’t told him why I ended our contract and maybe he deserves to know. Should I tell him or not? Tell him that I am in love with him or not?
“Are you ok?”
I turn to look at him and smile.
He turns to look at Patricia. Ten minutes apart at birth with Patrick being older though you can tell Patricia should have been the older sibling because she was more mature of the two. Then again females matured faster. I have known her as long as I have known Patrick. And our friendship grew over the years. I was one of her bridemaids at her wedding years ago to a wonderful guy and then she left Lusaka and moved to Solwezi to be with her husband. I missed her so it was great to see her again, four months pregnant and totally happy. So when Patrick decided I could join him for dinner with Patricia last night I happily agreed. We are more like family after so many years of friendship. She looks at me like a younger sister; would it be awkward if she found out I was sleeping with her brother? Or maybe she knows. These two tell each other everything.
I blink and face them.
“Are you with us love?” Patricia asks
“Yes. I am.”
“You zoned out on us.”
“Too many things on my mind.” I respond.
Patricia smiles at me. She looks like him somehow. Traces of him in her and traces of her in him and yet they are total opposites in the word. Patricia is the soft spoken one yet bossy while Patrick is the noisy and be bold everywhere one. He is the outgoing one while she prefers to stay in the background at home; probably why she got married at the age of twenty-five. As teenagers she read while he played but they had their similar traits like when they got angry it was bad. Patrick’s temper stayed with him even in adulthood while Patricia’s mellowed down a bit. Motherhood changed her. It was her. And I am happy for her.
“I swear you two look good together.” Patricia says aloud. “Never saw it before but you two are so cute together.”
That gets me out of my thoughts as I look at her and smile.
“Besties don’t date.” I say
“Agreed.” Patrick says quickly
He agrees? Okay. That’s something.
“Oh come on. You two have been friends long enough don’t you think?”
“So?” He asks
“Don’t you guys think that maybe….. That… This…. You know.”
“Say it out loud.” He dares her
“Date. Get married. Something.”
Oh we did something alright. I smile at her waiting to hear his response.
“And our friendship?”
“Best friends make the best lovers.”
“Patricialet… That saying is pathetic. Let it go.” He says
“Why? Are you getting defensive on me?”
“You two are complicating something so simple.”
“How?” He asks her
“You two have been friends since high school or longer but still you avoid the topic of dating or taking this further.”
He avoids the topic? He’s been talking about me?
“With good reason.” He answers
“Come on. You might as well tell her you used to stare at her boobs for hours when you were younger.”
Oh my gosh.
“I swear why are we twins? I tell you things in confidence and you reveal it.” He asks aloud as he laughs.
Is he ashamed?
“Let’s be honest. You stared. Alot. Are too telling me you didn’t want to date her then? Take it further. Even in Uni.”
Are you talking about me in the third person? How awkward.
“Because there is nothing to take further and you know it.” He says.
Okay. Too much information. Take what further?
“Do you agree Thandiwe?”
“Me?” I ask surprised
“Yes you. We have been friends for the longest time. You can be honest with me. Don’t you think you and my Patrick can make it work in an actual relationship?”
I laugh. Not because it’s funny but because I want to avoid the question. But the look on her face tells me she’s waiting for my answer.
“Patrick is too far gone to be in a relationship and you know it.” I respond.
“See…” Patrick answers as he looks at me and smiles. That weird smile he gives me when he wants something from me. Oh.. Okay.
“Besides you have seen the girls he dates. The long ass weave, bleached skin, diet type of women. Look at me I am all curves and too smart for him.”
“Is that so?” He asks as he gives me a look over. Somebody please tell me why that makes me all giddy inside. His brown eyes meet mine and we smile.
“I guess you are right Thandiwe.” Patricia says. “He has dated pretty odd women. Hules.”
“Hules!!! Are you joking. They were okay. you say odd? I found them rather interesting.” He says slowly
“Really. What was interesting about them?”
Do I want to know? I am definitely not interested in his dating stories I think. Of course I saw his “interesting women” whenever he felt like introducing them to me which was a rare thing. And he stopped introducing them to me after we started our contract; probably because he didn’t want his contract and current lady to meet and share notes not that it was ever gonna happen. But these things happen. And to be honest I liked it that way, not knowing if there were more of us because it helped me sleep better at night. But that was then and this is now. I haven’t asked him if he is dating yet because I truly don’t want to know. And if we are on the path to the truth I’ll won’t lie to myself, if he said let’s start the contract again I would probably agree, consequences be damned. Yes I wanted it all again.
“Really? You think I’d tell you. My sister? Hell no! You can’t be trusted as it is.”
“Fine don’t tell me. But Patrick. Brother. You are over thirty-one and you still don’t want to settle with no sensible lady in sight..”
“Who said there was no sensible lady in sight?” He asks
“Oh!! She’s around? Where is she?”
Oh. Wow. Did he just imply there is a woman in his life? Is that why he kept his hand off me?
“I am not telling you obviously.”
“Thandiwe do you know her?” Patricia asks
“Of course she does. And she won’t tell you either.” He says before I open my mouth.
“Let her answer.” Patricia argues
“I swear let’s change the subject. Besides it’s late. I should take you home. Mum will be worried.”
“See how he avoids the topic? Mum will understand. Or I could stay at your house.”
His face looks horrified when she utters the words and l laugh with her while my heart wonders where I stand with her brother. Patricia does not bring up the topic again and soon after we take her home to Chudleigh where their Mum stays. I do not participate in the conversation in the car as my minds seems to be restless with one question: does he really love me?
We leave Patricia safely at home with a promise to visit her soon. The drive is silent with only the sound of the radio. I look at him in the drivers seat and in that moment I imagine us ten years from now happily married driving back home from a date or something and we can’t wait to get home and get down and dirty. I seriously got it bad. And it’s not gonna go anywhere if I don’t ask him the question that has been on my mind for days.
“Did you mean by what you said at the restaurant?” I ask
“All of it.”
“About the solwezi women? Yes. They are ridiculously hot in bed. No?”
I look at him and he laughs without looking at me.
“Very funny.” I say. “Get serious.”
“I’m sorry but I had to. I’m sorry. Which part are you talking about?”
“The part about besties not dating and not taking it further.”
“You’re the one who said besties don’t date.” He laughs
“You agreed with me.”
“Well.” He starts. “Look at what happened with our simple contract. Our friendship was messed up.”
Simple contract? Emotions aren’t simple. They are the most complicated things in the world.
“So what?” I ask
“You’re my friend and I don’t want to lose that. Yes the saying best friends make the best lovers but come on best friends make the best enemies too when tested.”
“So that’s your reason for sleeping with me and not dating me?”
“I didn’t say that. You left. Who knows maybe if you hadn’t we would have dated.”
“So it’s my fault?”
“It’s our fault.”
“So you can’t date me?”
“Thandi… You are an awesome person. That’s why we are so close. You know me so well. I know you so well. Things happened. Intimate things, but I’ll be honest with you, I am worried you will leave again if I don’t give you what you want. I will disappoint you and you hate me and our friendships will be on rocks.”
“Well that’s the thing about risks right?”
“Not one I’m willing to take. We blurred the lines. Are you going to tell me that if we date and we break up we shall be friends again? You can’t even guarantee me that if we sleep together again you won’t flip out and walk out again if I don’t bend to your will.”
Why does it have to be complicated? Why not take the risk? I am willing because I’m in love with him but is he willing to do the same? He’s already saying no. And a part of me hurts but maybe if I show him I’m worth it all then he can be happy with me, but I can’t force it either.
“So that’s why you haven’t made a move on me?” I ask
“Yes and no.” He says. “I am enjoying this. Our friendship getting back on track. I love this. We are getting along. No issues. No promises. Not hurt feelings. You are complicated. Women are complicated. I swear you women overlook into things. You can’t live in the moment and just enjoy the simple things. Besides maybe I’m not ready to date.”
“So then where do we stand? Friends with benefits again? Or just friends? Can I be your Bestman?”
“Thandiwe I don’t know.”
I keep silent and face the other side. He will not tell me anything sensible. Wasting my time even talking about this.
“Thandiwe.” He starts.
I increase the volume of the radio and pretend I’m listening to whatever is on the radio and he doesn’t say anything more. We get to his house and I leave the car before he does. I unlock the door to his house and I head to his bedroom. I should be angry. I really should but I’m not. This is my fault. Maybe if I had been honest with him months ago then maybe everything would be okay. Maybe if I hadn’t slept with him in the first place then maybe things would be better. We can make it work. Our friendship or whatever else we decided to make from this mess.
So I sit on the edge of the bed waiting but he doesn’t come through the bedroom door for half an hour when I undress and wear his T-Shirt and boxers, turn off the light and get into bed. I will not push him. Ill let him be alone till he’s ready to find me. This is the bed I made so I will lay in it and make the most out of it. Friends with benefits it is because I’m not willing to lose the benefit of the contract and our friendship line has already been blurred anyway. I just have make sure my emotions don’t get in the way. Much. I’ll tell him this when he comes to me.
Now I can’t sleep. I can’t close my eyes so the darkness is pretty much all I have and my imagination runs wild. Will he come to bed or will he act petty and avoid me all night? Or maybe he’s gone out to drink or he’s angry and he can’t bear to face me. I don’t know how long I stay awake but I finally get my answer when I hear the door open and I hear his footsteps. The bed takes his weight before his hands touch my back. He snuggles up close to me, my back to his front.
“Are you angry?” He whispers
“No.” I whisper back
“Why are you whispering?”
“I don’t know. Why are you?”
I smile. I know he’s smiling too. We will be okay. I feel his lips on the back of my neck. Oh…. He’s trying to get me in mood. Should I be feeling this good? Well I missed this. Is he finally going to do what I’ve been waiting for? Give in to me? He suddenly stops as I feel his hand squeezing my hip.
“I’m sorry.” I whisper
“For leaving. For breaking the contract without explaining why. For leaving our friendship in ruins.”
“I know you had a valid reason.”
Should I tell him? Now?
“It was complicated. You deserved better.” He continues.
I smile to myself.
“You’re an amazing friend Thandiwe. I love you for that. And yes you can be my Bestman.”
I laugh then. Typical of him to say this now. But he said he loves me again. I let it slide
“You love me?”
“Of course I do. And I know having another contract would be asking for another dent in our friendship.” He says
“We can make the contract work better.” I argue
“It will end our friendship.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
“I miss our contract but I won’t push my luck.” He says
“This is going to be hard but I need time. To think.” He says
“We need time. We both should know and be sure about what we want before we make decisions that will change our lives. I’m asking for time.” He says.
Am I supposed to say something? I simply keep silent. This is good right? He is going to think about it. Or maybe it’s an excuse. But why can’t the sex be part of the time used to make decisions? Can’t we talk about this tomorrow when we are both high on pleasure? I’m selfish.
“For now don’t leave me. Just stay. Please stay.” He whispers.
“Okay.” I respond finally as I turn to face him.
We keep silent. Nothing to say. But each dealing with their thoughts.
“Though do we have to stop talking again?” I ask
“Nope. I’ll still talk to you.” He answers. “Everyday.”
“Sleep overs?” I ask curiously
“Those are what got us into this mess. Let’s say we shall see.”
“Maybe one or two.”
I can tell he’s joking. So no friends with benefits then. I didn’t expect it would come down to this. I can’t see his face to know if he’s being sincere. I hope he is. I have no choice anyway but to wait. So I’ll wait.
“Okay.” I respond.
“You sure about this?” He asks
I feel his hand underneath my t-shirt on my back. He moves closer.
“It’s okay.” I say
From the bottom of my heart.
I feel his lips on my forehead. I’ll be bold. For the first time I’ll demand something from him before I end up losing it all.
“Can we start this thinking thing tomorrow though because I’d like to get this feeling out of my system.” I say
I will not be judged but that neck thing has me in knots.
He laughs out loud.
“You’re crazy.” He says as he caresses my back
“Stop it I like it.” I respond playfully
And we both laugh before he kisses me.
Note to self: Best friends make the best lovers.