Also, we’re taking a short break until September
Hope you’re excited to be reading this letter as much as I am to send it. I missed you!
Speaking of missed…
Carefree is going on a short break and will be back in September 2021!
I know the storyletter has become less consistent over the past month or so. I’m not happy about it, but such is life when you have a ton of competing priorities. So instead of continuing to be inconsistent, I want to pause, let you know that we’ll be back soon, and use the time to reconfigure, come back, and make Carefree better than ever!
Think of it as a season break when your favorite show or podcast finishes its final episode and you know you’ll have to wait until next season to learn what happened to so-and-so.
By the way, it’ll be our official one-year launch anniversary in 7 days (June 8, 2020)! Thank you so much to this community for reading and listening to our stories every week, and to our dynamic authors from around the world for sharing their vulnerable and personal essays on life, love, adventure, and everything in between!
Also, this week’s story?! I’m leaving you with a banger—trust me. Nigerian author Olakitan is giving us sensual, intimate, and mischievous with this one, and you’re going to feel it in more ways than one.
Enjoy and talk soon,
EIC of Carefree Mag
Finding Love in the Back of a Tricycle: One Kẹ̀kẹ́, Three and a Half Lovers
by Olákìtán T. Aládéṣuyì
“Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
I leave my laptop running and head into the conference room where Jo is working on his computer. He looks up and smiles as I enter. I take the seat next to him, peer into his laptop for a minute and ask,
“What are you doing?”
“I’m training an algorithm for that trading stuff I told you about.”
I remember the trading stuff but I am not interested in it. As much as I love algorithms and all things machine learning, I stay away from trading algorithms. Forex confuses me. I take the seat next to him and draw a line, lightly, around his face. His round and somewhat square face. His lips are halfway between thin and full and his eyes are tiny balls in his head.
Recently, I have been associating his face with beauty. And even more recently, the smattering of beards around his chin. He has a moustache like someone from the nineties. I am wondering how he has come to be my lover. He is not my type.
I leave the conference room and return a minute later with my laptop. I need an excuse to be with him. I sit across the table from him and resume watching my coding tutorial as he returns to his algorithm.
“Come, let me touch you,” I say after a few minutes.
He comes around to my side of the table without hesitation.
“You won’t even say no?” I tease.
“Why will I say no? Please touch me,” he replies, laughing.
His joy is infectious. He brings his computer to my side of the table and I resume touching his face.
My mind keeps telling me I’m in love with him, but I refuse to think about it. Love is a stormy thing for me, and I do not want to hurt him. I do not want to hurt myself. I do not want to ruin this beautiful thing we have going on so, no. No love for now.
I stop touching him and he puts his arm around my shoulder, his hand resting on my chest. We stay that way for some time. Me, watching my tutorial, him, training his model. I kiss his palm and place it flat on my chest, fingers spreading into the V of my blouse, fingers drumming lightly on my chest.
“I love where your hands are going.”
I want his hands deeper inside my blouse and he obliges. His fingers find the mound of my breasts but my bra is in the way. In one deft move, I unclasp my bra behind me. He approaches with caution, lightly tracing a finger at the beginning of my breasts. He does this for a few seconds before finding a nipple and expelling all rational thought from my head. I cannot focus on the tutorial again. I am staring at it but my body is rippling with pleasure and it does not matter whether the function is taking an argument or a parameter. I am about to have a nipple orgasm. He stops with his fingers and cups my round mould of flesh in his hand.
I look at him. He is looking at me with a smile on his face. He is enjoying this as much as I am. He starts with the nipple again and my hand finds his thigh. I want to reach inside his zipper and play with him but, I don’t know how so I settle for stroking his inner thigh. I just want to make him as happy as he makes me. Our lips find each other in an instant. His lips are soft like I imagined, and his beard feels weird against my face. He lifts my legs into the air and wraps them around his sides. He must have done this a lot. Can I trust him? The thought passes through my mind. I want to straddle him and ride him as those women do in porn videos, but we are in the office and I settle for kissing him some more.
Two days later, he would ask me, “Do you like cunnilingus? Because I want to eat you out. But you have to shave everything because I take my time with that shit.”
Two weeks later, I would be sitting at the edge of his bed and he would be on the floor, between my legs, eating me out like he promised.
I do not know what to do with this kind of love. This love that does not require me to do much other than accept it. All the loves I have known always tried to take something from me. Something I couldn’t give. Something that required me to fight and deny myself and eventually break. But not this one.
On a fine weekday evening, we decide to give words to the butterflies in our bellies. It is my attempt at curtailing the hormones knocking around in my body. I had planned to tell him that I am unlucky when it comes to love—that I am tired of love and just want to focus on work and staying alive. But, he starts talking and I just know I cannot focus on work and staying alive without him. I know I will go ahead and do the things I vowed never to do again.
I know I will have him and love him and give myself to him without respite. And I will break if I must, but I will not stop loving him. We end up making out in the boardroom again.
“I want you. I want us to be more than this but no pressure. I don’t have any expectations of you. I just want you to know I’m down for you.” He says while tracing a circle around my areola.
The last guy that told me something similar about expectations left because I could not meet his expectations of a good Christian wife. He had wanted me to take his name. To forsake my identity so the whole world would see that I had become his possession. I refused and the relationship crashed.
It will end in tears. I whisper under my breath.
We leave the office shortly before 9 pm.
I slip my hand in his as soon as we get out of the gate. It’s not the darkness. Even if it was just evening, I would have put my hands in his. It has become our thing now—the sneaky hand-holding.
The road to the bus stop is filled with fumes from rolled joints, overlapping sounds from competing loudspeakers and angry cars, women selling food on the sidewalk, men buying food and other things from these women, men harassing teenage girls for sex, members of the state task force “clearing” the area of unwanted elements, said unwanted elements running helter-skelter, and confused passers-by like Jo and I.
We increase our pace.
The pungent odour of tear gas hit my nostrils first and, inexperienced as I am, I do not recognize it. It is not until my eyes start to tear up and Jo points this out that I realize what it is. Somehow, my feet swing into motion and I find myself running alongside Jo, to the bus stop.
We stop after some distance, tired and panting, beside a car that has a man, a woman, and two kids sleeping in the back. They look like a family, and they are stuck in traffic, on a road where someone just randomly released tear gas into the air.
“This city is toxic. What the fuck was that?!”
“Oh my God!”
“How can this even be happening? This country is so useless. What the fuck?”
We express our angst while still walking rapidly to the bus stop. My thighs hurt but I keep walking. A month ago, I would have considered filling my lungs with tear gas and ending my miserable existence. I mention this to Jo, saying something about how death does not visit when we want it and we laugh about it. I laugh about it. He doesn’t. Jo loves life.
The boys walking in front of us have wares on their shoulders and are walking rapidly too. I catch up with them and ask what’s going on. They cannot speak good English but they understand my question. They keep repeating the words, “Task force, task force.”
We make it to the bus stop in one piece, where the world is normal again. Restaurants are open, traffic wardens are doing their job, and people are walking unbothered. Jo and I hold hands as we wait for a ride.
We board a kẹ̀kẹ́ with one passenger; a young woman, sitting beside the driver, a young man obviously in his twenties.
It is not immediately obvious that something is going on between them. Not even when we encounter traffic and he leaves the tricycle in her care to go gossip with a fellow tricycle driver ahead of us. When the traffic clears and we are moving again, she places her hands on the steering alongside his and he says something mildly romantic in response to her attempt to hijack his tricycle. I think to myself, no, this ain’t it.
“You people should reach home before you start playing mummy and daddy. Na person pikin you carry abeg o.” I say in a bid to get the driver’s attention back on the road.
Jo and I exchange looks. What is it about this night? Why is death so bent on showing its ugly face on this beautiful night when my body is filling with light and desire?
The lady says something about love and her man. I do not hear her, but I see her hands on the man’s body, gently loving him. I look at my hand in Jo’s.
What if we die tonight? What if this kẹ̀kẹ́ runs into another car and we all die immediately? The thought of death fills me with a certain kind of urgency. Not to say goodbye to my mother or thank my sister for all her care, but to fill the boy beside me with love. Any other night, I would have welcomed death but tonight, I want death to hold on. I do not want to die without loving Jo fully. I place a hand on his nipple and rub gently. He’s blushing.
“If I die, at least I will die happy. I will die rubbing your nipples,” I say.
He says nothing in return.
A few days ago I had told him I wasn’t looking for a relationship, neither was I looking to encourage the feelings happening between us but faced with the possibility of death and the slender woman giving love to her man, I let go of my inhibitions. Love has always been a stormy thing for me but on this night, death is an even bigger storm, and love, a privilege.
I take his lips in mine for a second or two. He does not taste like someone who is on the run from death. He tastes like life. Large, warm, inviting. We kiss again, slowly this time. His tongue frolicking inside my mouth. My hands exploring his body. I need more time to fully travel the length and breadth of this man. I need more time to love him. I want to go home with him and touch him all night, but we are approaching our bus stop. We stop kissing.
Nigerians do not take kindly to public display of affection. Only when it’s a marriage proposal where the man goes down on one knee, brandishing an almost gold ring at a flummoxed woman, in front of a crowd of strangers urging her to accept the ring, to feed their need for happy endings. Anything outside of this is likely to draw more ire than admiration.
Jo waits with me at the bus stop. His house is just down the road while I stay about three stops away. His gaze on my body feels like his touch, intense and tender.
In my head, I am writing a story about how, just a few weeks ago, I was writing about love and breaking. Now, I am holding this boy in my eyes, fingers twirling on his nipples, lips on his, loving him with reckless abandon in the back of a moving tricycle having just escaped being tear-gassed to death.
In my body, I am longing to exchange a copious amount of body fluid with him. His fingers thread through mine, his hands soft against mine.
A poem sings itself in the back of my mind:
on the bus, we are holding love in our eyes.
your hands, soft on mine;
your body, soft next to me;
your love, soft for me.
we have the rest of our lives, if we don’t die young.
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Ọlákìtán is a writer who works as a Software Developer/ Data Analyst by day and writes at odd hours. Her works have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Watershed Review, Agbowó Art, Memento, The Lit Quarterly, Newfound Journal, Kissing Dynamite, Down River Road, Praxis magazine and others. In 2019, she won the Lawrence Foundation award for best story in Prairie Schooner.