The tap on my door is so light, it’s a miracle it awakens me. I open my eyes, not quite sure I heard it properly, but along comes another timid knock. I sit up abruptly. A cursory glance at my wall clock indicates it is about 5am in the morning, a clear hour earlier than when I would normally wake up on a weekday, talkies of a Saturday morning..
“Come in!” I call out, wondering why on earth Dili would be knocking on my door so early in the morning.
The door opens and a subdued Dili walks in. I am suddenly all too aware of my flimsy nightgown and raise my duvet higher to cover myself. He also looks unsure of himself.
“I’m so sorry to bother you so early in the morning.” he says, unable to look me in the eye. “I haven’t been able to sleep all night.”
“Are you okay? Is everything alright?” I ask in concern.
He shrugs. “I’ve just been thinking about the conversation we had at dinner. About what you asked me for.”
It is now my own turn to look away. Before I managed to fall asleep, I struggled to convince myself that I hadn’t made an absolute fool of myself with my crazy request, and was determined to pretend none of it ever happened. But here I am, being reminded of it by force.
“Ezioma, you’ve never asked me for anything before. All you’ve done is give and give. It was ungracious and ungrateful of me to have declined the way I did.” he continues. “What you have given me, I will never be able to repay you for. Giving you this thing you want is the least I can do.”
I look at him, stunned. “So you’re saying you’ll do it?”
He nods. “I will gladly do anything I can to express my appreciation.”
I find myself awash with happiness, excitement and agitation. “Don’t worry, nobody will ever know the child is yours. I promise.”
He nods. “Thank you, Ezioma. But Onyeka is much smarter than that. She’ll be able to figure everything out by the time the child is born. When the time is right, I’ll have to tell her. I’m sure she’ll understand that it’s the least we can do to express our gratitude for what you’re doing for us.”
Us. The word doesn’t miss me at all. So this is a favour Dili and Onyeka will be doing for me. Not quite the way I envisioned, but I guess a beggar has no choice.
“So…how do you want to go about it?” he asks. “Would you want me to donate my sperm? Or would you prefer we do it organically? I’m fine either way.”
I find myself suddenly on the spot. “A donation might be the more straightforward way, but that only gives me one or two chances in a cycle.”
“It would also be more expensive.” Dili agrees.
We look at each other awkwardly for a while. “I guess organic might be better. That’s if it’s okay for you.”
Dili shrugs. “Ezioma, I would do anything for you. Just tell me when, and I’ll be here.”
With my period just ending, I have a few more days before I enter my fertile window. “Tuesday is day 8 of my cycle. From what I read, I’m supposed to start having sex every other day from then, until about day 18 or so.”
Dili nods. “Tuesday it is then. Let me let you sleep some more. I know how much you cherish your Saturday morning shut eye.”
I am still in an upright sitting position long after he has left the room, unable to believe what we have just discussed, Dili and I. He has agreed to father my child…the old fashioned way. Meaning, come Tuesday, he and I are going to have sex.
The thought pleases and frightens me at the same time.
Somehow, I manage to get some more sleep, and by the time I awake at 10am, the silence in the apartment is an indicator that Dili has already left for his work-out. He doesn’t return until much later that day, during which time we make very stilted conversation before he retires to his room. Normally, the weekends are when we spend the most time together, gisting or surfing Netflix. I can already feel the strain on our relationship, even before the deed. The same thing happens on Sunday, with him being out of the house for most of the day and retiring to his room almost immediately. On Monday, by the time I am back from work, he has already retired to his bedroom.
Journeying to work on Tuesday morning, a part of me is tempted to just call the whole thing off. What is the point in getting him to father my child if I lose him as a friend in the process? But my selfishness spurs me on. Having a part of him with me for the rest of my life is much more important than whatever friendship I think we have. What is the use of the friendship if it will involve a lifetime of me watching him all loved up with another woman? No. That has less value to me than him giving me a child of my own.
I leave work at about lunch time and go shopping for sexy lingerie. He will probably not be turned on by me in my natural state, so wearing sexy lingerie should be able to speed things along. Getting to La Senza, I select a black organza slip that covers absolutely nothing. It is as transparent as glass and will have all my goods on display for him…which is exactly what I want.
From the shop, I head to my hair salon. I have decided to present myself in my most natural state, meaning without my wig. Yes, Dili has seen me in the untidy cornrowns I usually have underneath, but today I decide to treat and condition my own natural afro, all in a bid to give myself a different look.
I get home at about 4pm. Dili isn’t back from work yet, so I take the opportunity to luxuriate in the bath, more to relax my tense nerves than feel sexy. I tense even more when I hear him return from work at about 6:00pm, and have to shut my eyes to remind myself of why we are doing this in the first place. Getting out of the bath, I lather all sorts of scented creams on my body, primp my shiny afro into place, before slipping on my new nightgown. I decide against using makeup and instead pour myself a glass of wine to relax my nerves, before putting the Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo duet Nothing but you on repeat.
And then I sit on my bed…waiting.
At exactly 8pm, there is a knock on my door…and I know the hour has come. I rise to my feet and open the door for him. Our eyes meet, and I can see my nerves reflected in his. His eyes widen as he takes in my semi-nakedness and, feeling brazen, I stand back to let him into the bedroom, giving him a better look. He walks into the room, and once he’s inside I release the hooks used to fasten my slip and it drops to my feet, revealing me in my full nakedness. Whilst I am not endowed with the same full breasts and rounded hips I have seen him admire on other women, I know I have a beautiful body. Over the years, I have come to appreciate my slender body, with my small waist still giving it something of an hour-glass figure.
Without saying a word, I lie on my bed. I watch as he nervously takes off his t-shirt and joggers, and I am glad to see that his body is already ready for what lies ahead. He gets into bed with me and without any preamble…no kissing nor foreplay…he slips into me. But even without all that, I’m already ready for him. I’ve been ready for him all my life.
Maybe it’s the fact I haven’t been with a man in a long time…or maybe it’s the fact that my body is finally connecting with the first man it ever wanted to…I let out a soft moan as he silently thrusts. I grasp him by the shoulders as my own moaning intensifies and as I reach an earth shattering release. He moans as he reaches his, and we both lay still for a few moments, neither of us quite knowing what to do. He eventually rolls off me and we exchange a nervous look.
“I better go.” he says, as he sits up. “So…till when?”
“Thursday.” I answer, suddenly unable to look him in the eye. “The suggestion is every other day.”
He nods. “Okay then.” he smiles stiffly. “Good night, Ezioma.”
When he is gone, I close my eyes and savour the memory of the feel of his skin against mine. I relive the magical moments over and over again in my head and despite how awkward it was afterwards, I would not trade what just happened for anything in the world. That night I sleep more soundly than I have in a long, long time.
The next morning, I am tempted not to leave for work early, so I can see him. However, I think better of it, realising the he might need more time before seeing me. But when I get home that evening and realise he has continued his new pattern of retiring to his bedroom early, I know I have to do something about it.
So I walk to his door and knock. “Can I come in?” I ask, peering my head into the room.
He looks up from his study table and smiles. “Hi Ezi. I didn’t know you’d come back from work.”
“Dili, is this how things are going to be from now on?” I ask. “You doing everything you can to avoid me?”
His eyes drop for a moment and he shrugs. “I didn’t know if you’d need your space, considering…considering what we’ve decided to do.” he laughs awkwardly. “And I’m also ashamed of the way I rushed you last night. It was my first time in over 2 years, so I guess I got a little too excited.”
“Dili, I totally understand. Didn’t you hear the way I was groaning like a porn star?” I laugh. “We’re only human beings, and neither of us has had sex in a while. So it’s only normal.”
He laughs and is finally able to look me in the eye. “I suppose so.”
“It’s just sex, Okwudili. And not just casual sex, it’s sex for a purpose.” I say, trying to sound cavalier. “So let’s not let it spoil our friendship.”
“I’m sorry.” he apologises sincerely. “I promise not to act weird anymore.”
“You can start by coming to kitchen with me, and gisting me all about your day!” I say, taking him by the hand and leading him out of his room, so we can continue our typical after-work tradition.
Luckily, this works and by the time we both retire for bed that night, things are back to normal for us.
Lying in bed, I can’t deny the fact that my body is so much more aware of him now. As we ate and laughed in the kitchen, I found myself aware of every single movement of his body. I found myself stealing several glances at his toned and taut arms, remembering how they felt as I held him in the throes of passion. But each time my mind drifts, I find myself having to immediately recompose myself, so as not to scare him off. Because if he realises this is not quite as casual for me, it might destroy everything.
Luckily on Thursday, when he knocks on my door in the evening, things are not quite as awkward. Also like before, we do not waste any time on preambles and go straight to it. But it is just as enjoyable this time as the first, and even as we continue at it for the next week until I hit day 20 of my cycle the following Friday.
Everything in me wants to scream YES, but with my 28 day cycle, having sex on day 22 would most surely not be for baby making. In fact, going all the way to day 20 has even been unnecessary. “Nah, I think we’re good. I believe we’ve covered all the bases.” I answer.
He nods. “So fingers crossed from now until….?”
“Till I miss my period.” I smile at him. “I have a good feeling about this cycle. From everything I’ve read, I think we’ve done enough.”
And so we both return to life as normal, without having to have sex every other day. But even as I hope and pray that I have indeed conceived, I can not help but crave his body yet another time.
On the morning of June 6, right on the dot of the 28th day of my cycle, I get my period. I am saddened as I sit on the toilet bowl just before I insert a tampon, the full impact of the failure of the cycle hitting me hard.
I do not realise I am brooding all day until Dili takes his seat beside me as I absentmindedly pop grapes into my mouth. “You got your period?”
I look at him, shocked. “How did you know?”
“I saw an open box of tampons in the bathroom.” he answers.
I cover my face with my hands, and start to quietly sob. “I’m so sorry, Dili. This isn’t what I was expecting would happen.”
He puts his hand around my shoulder. “Ezi, even for couples who do this every day of their lives, these things take time. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s just one cycle. We have others to keep trying.”
I look at him quizzically. “You wouldn’t mind trying again?”
He shakes his head. “I made a promise to you, Ezi, and it doesn’t matter how long it will take.”
I hold him and it feels like a heavy weight has been lifted from chest. I go through the rest of my period uneventfully, and on the evening of June 13, exactly day 8 of my cycle, I hear a knock on my door…and I am so relieved, I could cry. I didn’t bother to remind him about it and didn’t expect him to remember, let alone show up. But as I open the door, there he is, Dili, ready to try again.
And as I yield my body to him, as I cling to him, I am more excited about this sexual reunion of ours than any desire of mine to have a baby.
After he has returned to his room, I pull out my laptop. For the last month, I have only been writing about generic topics, keeping my true feelings off my column. But that night, with my heart, soul and body all singing a symphony, it is all I can think of…and all I can write of.
I Can’t Help It (Michael Jackson) – June 13, 2015
Looking in my mirror
Took me by surprise
I can’t help but see you
Running often through my mind
Helpless like a baby
I can’t help but love you
It is getting better all the time
I can’t help it if I wanted to
I wouldn’t help it even if I could
I can’t help it if I wanted to
I wouldn’t help it, no
Is there really anything like casual sex? A friend with benefits? Isn’t there a time when lines become hazy…borders become crossed…and feelings reassessed? Isn’t there a time when you realise your feelings transcend the bedroom? A time when you discover you just can’t keep away? A time when you realize that no matter what you do, you just can’t help it…not even if you wanted to.
But the truth is, you really don’t want to…
I sit back in my chair, shake my head and laugh. “Ezioma! You better get it together.”
While I know I have no choice but to, in fact, get it together…a part of me knows that with each trip Dili makes to my bed, he takes away a little piece of my heart each time.
Catch up on Ezioma’s story here:
- A Love of Convenience! 1: Handbags & Gladrags
- A Love of Convenience! 2: There she goes
- A Love of Convenience! 3: The day will surely come
- A Love of Convenience! 4: Russian Farmer’s Song
- A Love of Convenience! 5: Moonlighting Strangers
- A Love of Convenience! 6: Knocks me off my feet
- A Love of Convenience! 7: A simple kind of life