It had just gone past 4pm on a Friday and the City hall clock had done it’s chime announcing the same. I had not gone to work that day. I just couldn’t be bothered. Sindi, the woman who always came over asking for a free shoot, was threatening to come to the studio that same day with her whole extended family……again. They normally filled up the place and were so loud that they irritated the owners of the other businesses I shared the premises with. I have never heard a family swear so much, seen children so ill-mannered and parents who just don’t care. Rather than risk getting a headache, like I did the first time, I was staying in!
Well staying in seemed to have paid off. I was looking at the best thing I had seen in years…..if ever. The picture of my own shadow which did not mirror me and seemed to have a life of its own! At least its detachment from my feet would suggest this! As I studied the picture, I imagined how it would look on the gallery wall. The numbers of people who would stand and marvel in front of it, intrigued, wondering how the photographer had pulled it off! They would wonder what lighting I used, the angles and effects I had added. They would come to the same conclusion as I did. Absolutely no idea!
I don’t know how long I had been sitting on my couch, my take-away meal of chicken and chips having gone cold and damp. My lounge window faced the east, so the sun shone ever so intensely into the room as it began to set. All of a sudden a ray shot through the gap between my closed curtains and hit me directly in my eye. At the same time, it seemed a figure just crossed the room right in front of me. I was a little startled and sat there looking around trying to get my eyes and my mind to adjust so I could figure out what I had just seen. Everything seemed quite normal in the room. I finally decided it was the sun’s rays that caused the illusion and, since I had been staring at a picture of a shadow for almost an hour, my mind was probably playing tricks on me.
Just in case I was seeing things, I decided to call the girls over. It was a Friday after all, so a glass of wine, snacks, a movie and a chat about the craziest photo ever was in order. I got up to fetch my phone which was on my bedside table. Reaching the bedroom I sat on the side of the bed, picked up the cell phone and dialed my closest friends number. Rebecca was a photographer as well, the best I knew in fact. She would find the picture totally amazing. Her phone rang briefly then went to her voicemail. I always found that quite irritating. I guess that is why I always dialed again before I finally left a message, which is what I was forced to do. Disappointed, I carried my phone back to the lounge and threw myself back on the couch. I did not want to talk to the other girls until I had spoken to Becky first. So the only person I could speak to without spoiling my plans for the girl’s night would be my beloved Nkosi, my heartbeat, my gorgeous hunk of a man.
Nkosi stood a whole two heads taller than I, a lovely light shade of brown. He was well-built though he had not been to the gym for almost a year so a bit of a gut was starting to show. His gym membership was paid up but I was using it after begging the owner, who happened to be our mutual friend, to let me. Nkosi had the most beautiful smile, perfectly white teeth, and a head full of locks that he kept well shampooed and oil sprayed. The hair style was a little unconventional for an accountant but he had such a great reputation, and very big clients who trusted him entirely that it was not an issue at all. Actually, he was the most sought after accountant in Bulawayo, after the big companies that had been there for years of course. He would always say to me that he is just a few clients short of getting ahead of the competition. He would achieve it too, I was sure of it.
The greatest feature about him was his personality though. He had just one of those faces you meet and trust straight away. He was likable like that. I could never understand how he managed to have such a great sense of humor that accommodated every age and was never vulgar. His maturity caused him to be patient and to take his time to analyze situations without being too rash and yet was bold enough to act immediately and take very well calculated risks when needed.
By now I’m sure you can tell, I loved him dearly, and still do, perhaps now more than I ever did then. The love was mutual. I trusted him with everything. I told him everything but maybe too much at times. He was as open as a guy could be. Most guys fail at this but he spent time trying, that he had improved so much so, I could not fault him in any way. When we were together, we were pretty much the envy of most. See in a city where promiscuity is the norm, we posed a bit of a threat to the status quo. Often times some guys who knew us would pass a few little stupid remarks about how all men cheat and how our relationship was still at its beginning stages and soon ours too would just become another ‘broken but holding on’ type of relationship that they all were nursing. That was the norm. Well we had been going for a good year and a half with very little, if any drama. We decided to steer clear of such people. They would eventually try to come between us, as they had attempted before.
Nkosi picked up his phone just after a couple of rings. “Baby”, answered his voice on the other end of the line. “Hey hun”, I replied, “what are you up to? Will you be passing through tonight?” I had a habit of just cutting to the chase. That was to cut costs. Well, it was more important to do so before the free Watsapp calls were available to Bulawayo on the cellular networks. Now it is just a habit. A habit that seems to be coming in handy now that some of these cellular network companies are threatening to increase their tariffs, affecting app calls too! “Isn’t it girls night tonight?” he asked. “It is…but there is something I wanted to show you. I can’t wait for you to see it. I think I just found ‘the’ picture. Promise you’ll pass through. If you’re not doing anything, now would be just great” I pleaded. He was a bit of a softy when it came to me. It was knock-off time and since his offices were in town he could be at my place in less than fifteen minutes if he did not have much packing up to do. He agreed to come over, saying his usual “I love you” before hanging up. “I love you too” I responded as I hung up. We had taken to always saying that due to the last episode of interference we had to endure from outsiders.
As I put my cell phone down onto the coffee table I felt something rather odd all of a sudden. It was a weird creepy sensation which just got all my hairs standing and my skin crawling. There was a presence in the room. I could sense it and it kept getting stronger. I will be bold and say, I could actually feel a slight anger. I had always been very sensitive! There was very little in the room for anyone to hide behind. Looking around, there clearly was no one physically present for my eyes to see. However I could sense it, getting stronger, and heavier and just when I was about to get up and leave the room, there was a loud knock on the door. I knew it was not Nkosi! He would have just opened the door and if it was locked, he would have used his key. My heart had already started pounding. Part of me hoped it was one of my friends. I needed someone to distract me from what was going on in that room. I quickly opened the door! My heart stopped for a second as a whole pool of emotions hit me all at once. Fear, shock, anger, relief, surprise……all intense! I was looking straight into the eyes of the stranger I met just over an hour ago. It was smiling Frank!