“Yesterday, me and Ricardo spent the day together,” I whispered to Micah.
“You did huh?” his voice devoid of emotions, watching me intently, “was he good to you?” he let out, after moments of silence.
“Mhmm, he was. He sat next to me in English Lit, we started having conversations and mini debates. He asked me if I wanted to eat out with him so, we did that with a lot of talking. He took me to the Edge afterwards to see the views of Manhattan, we had a moment,” I lightly said, my body warmed up and my stomach butterflied at the moment me and Ricardo shared, still feeling his fingers and hands on mine.
“You did huh?” he repeated, “what happened?” he asked, wriggling his eyebrows.
“Nothing crazy, we just held hands,” the giggly kind of laugh came out of me, shaking my head at the mess I was becoming over a boy.
“Awe,” he teased, moving his mouth to imitate a kiss.
“Oh, shut up,” I returned, pushing his shoulder. “He took me to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to see the city lights afterwards, and dropped me off home,” I whispered, smiling at the remembrance, concluding that he is cute and my feelings for him are growing faster than anticipated.
“So, it was a date?” Micah smirked, “I knew what was up the moment you asked about him. Girl, did I know it,” he gloated, puffing his chest out, laughing at my expense. “As long as you’re good, then I’m good. Anytime it gets messy, shout me okay. Relationships and love are a whole ‘nother game ball, and fate can get twisted. Anytime you feel hurt, call me, text me, or come to my place, or you say the word and I’m coming to yours, okay? Don’t suffer alone,” he murmured.
“You have experience with all this?” I asked, wondering where his train of thoughts came from.
“I do, with past relationships I have been in and seen how messed up people around me can get after a break-up, it’s not nice and doesn’t feel nice to see. You need people in your corner, always. So yeah, Kali, just letting you know, if ever anything happens you have me,” he shrugged, his eyes looking around the street, taking in the sun over the tall trees, my butt hurting from sitting on the stoops.
“Thank you, Micah and my butt is hurting, can we go back inside please and finish off the project?”
“Damn, forgot about that.”
“Yeah right, you’ve been avoiding it the whole time since you came here.”
It was the third week of being part of the community, Aphrodite asked when I’ll be sharing with the community, the nerves creeped up at the idea of performing in front of people, I nonchalantly shrugged my shoulders “soon, maybe.” Aphrodite rehearsed her spoken word piece in front of the three of us, in our usual spot outside the gallery. Alejandro perceived her with lovey dove eyes, Micah’s eyes were closed as he listened to her work and I watched her rehearse, venerating the way she effortlessly put words together and was so confident in herself, smiling at her when she finished. “It’s powerful. Aphrodite. You’re gonna leave the crowd a mess,” I hyped.
“That’s the plan, Kali,” she squealed, her eyes beaming with joy. Aphrodite walked into Alejandro’s arms, her head leaning into his chest as he muttered in her ear. At that moment, I turned my head and I saw Ricardo with his usual hoodie, walking down the sidewalk leisurely, a mind of its own. He worn a jumper, which shaped his broad shoulders, his jeans fitted snugly against his legs, his head came up, his mouth forming a small smile.
“Hey, I started.
“Hey, are you okay?”
“I’m okay, I am with my friends, I saw you coming, and I wanted to say hey. Are you okay?”
“I’m good, Kalina.”
“Are you going to perform today?”
“Not today, I want to watch. Sometimes, it is nice to be away from home.”
“I get that, the stage is gonna miss you tonight.”
“That’s okay, it’ll understand that people need time to rest,” he replied, his grin widening, stretching his face.
“Want to hang out with me and my friends, or alone, or together?” I whispered, stammering over my words.
“Maybe, I can say ‘sup to your friends, I don’t mind. You busy afterwards?”
“No, not doing anything, usually after being with the community, I go home.”
“You got a curfew?”
“No, not really. As long as I am updating my Ma, I’m fine.”
“Any of your friend performing today?”
“Yes, Aphrodite, she was rehearsing in the group just before I saw you. I think she is in the third of the line-up today.”
“Oh, that’s cool, would you want to get a slice of pizza after her performance?” he slowly uttered, his eyes intently on me.
“Sure,” I said, making sure to not be quick with my response and keeping a cool collected face even though, my body was in a frenzy inside. We walked side by side towards the group, Micah was already looking at us, his eyes speculative towards us, the anxious feeling befriending me at the thought of eyes on me.
“Hey guys, this is Rico, we met each other in one of our classes in college, I figured he was part of the community when I saw him perform the first day I came to the event and then I saw him again in English Lit.” I said, tumbling over my words.
Micah started first with his staple grin, “sup Rico, I saw you around the community, your music is tight, Kalina did mention you here and there too,” he said, his eyes drifting to me. Alejandro came towards us with Aphrodite behind him, his hand falling on top of Micah’s shoulder, and then stretched his arm forward to shake Ricardo’s hand.
“Rico your actual name or stage name?” Alejandro asked.
“Ricardo is my name, I heard you last week, your joint is cool,” Ricardo complimented, bobbing his head with his words.
“Thanks bro, yours is too, you performing today?”
“No, will be chilling today, want to be part of the community. You are Aphrodite, right? You’re pretty cool too, it’s dope what you’re doing and how you are using your artistry.”
“Hey Ricardo, thanks, I appreciate it. Your stuff has a lot of heat too, you’re talented and I am glad you’re sharing it with us. Nice to finally meet you,” Aphrodite smiled, quirking an eyebrow at me when he wasn’t looking.
“Thanks, appreciate it,” Ricardo returned, his face smiling too, feeling happy that the introduction went smoothly and that they seemed to like each other.
“Alright, let’s go in. It’s about to start,” Micah began, already headed towards the entrance door, we all followed suit, me and Ricardo behind them.
“They seemed to like you,” I whispered to Ricardo, admiring his features, especially the eyes that are on me now.
“I like them too.”
“That’s cool, do you have any friends or anyone you talk to here?”
“Yeah, his name is Timba and he makes reggae beats, we started talking about music and seemed to connect. Most of my friends are from high school, they make music too and some in college. I’m not really a people talker, nor do I like socialising, I like being alone,” he explained.
“I get that, I knew Micah from school, I met the rest of them through him when Micah invited me here.”
“You seem to get along?” he posed as a question.
“We do, feel like I am part of the group, I’ve never been part of a group before or had real friends, it’s my first time being around genuine people, I know in my heart that they are my good friends especially, Micah. He already feels like family.”
“You never had genuine friends before?”
“No, the friends from school, were only friends with me because of convenience and would use me, I stopped talking to them when I left.”
“There’s a reason why they’re not in your life anymore. It’s good you found yourself a trio.”
“Me too,” I ended, throughout the community event, we were standing next to each other, his hand around me at the times I was pushed, thanking him in response. Micah smiled at me, his head shaking, when Ricardo wasn’t with me.
Micah shouted over the music “there is more than what you’re letting on, the energy crazy around you two and the way he looks at you woy. He seems like a good dude. You doing anything afterwards?” Micah questioned as if he knows already.
“He asked me if I want to get a slice of pizza with him, we’ll be going after Aphrodite’s set so, we’re not out too late.” I responded.
“Alright, that’s how it is. Be careful sis, text me when you’re at home, let me know how it goes.”
The lights dropped low, the presenter came onto the stage, the crowd screamed back at him. Micah was quiet beside me, turning my head at Ricardo to catch him staring at me. He dipped his head closer to me, my breath becoming shallow with quickness. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered, shivering when his breath crossed my skin, my eyes watering, one tear dropped down my cheek, too late to catch it and hide it, bowing my head down a little from his curious eyes. “I’m sorry if I did something wrong, it felt right to say at that moment.”
“No, no,” I abruptly said, halting his thoughts “nobody said that to me,” I admitted, my eyes blurring from the unshed tears.
“You’re beautiful, Kalina” he repeated, his eyes fixed on mine, running his eyes softly over my face, a gentle smile tugged his mouth, returning his eyes on me. “You’re beautiful,” he affirmed, my heart pumped harder, my breath became heavier, and my legs felt like jell o by his words, and at the way his eyes seemed to believe his words. I tiptoed to meet his face, I pecked him, holding my mouth for a few seconds on his smooth skin, the butterflies overworking and my heart warming, the bravery dying down, when I came in face with his eyes. The dark orbs glittered like milky ways from the bright lights, the dimples on his cheeks dented and enhanced his face, finding it hard to look elsewhere, not wanting our bubble to plop.
I could hear Aphrodite’s voice on stage, her passionate voice travelling through the ends of the room, the silence from the crowd added fuel to the intensity sifting from Ricardo and me. I moved my head to the front, the need to shift my focus on Aphrodite was important. “I gotta support Aphrodite,” I said, reasoning my change in attention.
“That’s fine,” he responded, I watched her performance, admiring her tenacity, strength and confidence. She was meant to be on that stage, for people to listen to her words, and take in her presence. I praised and applauded as loud as I can once she finished, and then said bye to Micah.
“Text me okay. Let me know when you get home, see you tomorrow,” Micah said when I informed him that I’m leaving, his eyes kind and knowing. He gave me a brief hug and shook hands with Ricardo, I waved at him as I walked forward, trying to follow Ricardo out the floor. I pushed past the people in the crowd, my eyes became cloudy from the claustrophobic atmosphere, my heart working harder to bring in oxygen, feeling arms around me, pushing me through the rows of people.
“Almost there, stay with me, you’ll be okay,” Ricardo urged, he encased me with his arms, letting out a breath once I felt the whoosh of air on my skin. “I thought you were going to faint on me,” Ricardo chuckled, staying close to me “are you okay?”
“I’m okay, thank you,” I murmured, closing my eyes, feeling the oxygen come in and out of me, grateful for the cool breeze. “Where are you taking us Ricardo?”
“Don’t know, let’s see where we go,” he chuckled, watching me from his side with a smile.
“You have a nice smile,” I complimented, my face warming and hopelessly smiling at my courage.
“Weirdo,” he threw back.
“What!” I exclaimed in defence. “It’s true, it makes you look nicer,” he shook his head, letting out a raspy laugh.
“You’re pretty too, you’re beautiful and you don’t even know it,” he whispered, staring at my eyes like he wanted to see through my soul. I didn’t say anything in response, I stared back at him, the words he shared with me felt foreign to my ears and my soul. I didn’t believe him, I couldn’t, those words weren’t what befriended me for half a decade. Those words were seeking to replenish the evils that had hurt me, that I carried with me.
“Beautiful is an intense and a deep word, Ricardo. You shouldn’t throw it around to anyone,” I finally said, meaning those words.
“You’re funny, never have been ashamed of yourself, you’re you. That is beautiful, a soul resembling beauty,” he murmured, talking to me seriously, trying to draw out the lies and buttery words. But his eyes displayed earnest along with his face and mouth.
“Thank you,” I responded, moving my head forward before he could see the prickling tears. We took the steps down the subway, hopping onto it, and sat in silence, I embraced the comforting and peaceful silence, I embraced the inflaming intensity that constantly ebbed between us, making it insufferable, I embraced the energy that he brought out of me and the sensations that he awakened that I had never felt before. I took in a sharp breath, when I felt cool fingers taking strands of hair and placing it around the back of my ear, my eyes closed unconsciously at the fiery blaze he provoked from his fingertips. Turned to look at him, wordlessly watching him, my eyes wondering over his face, from his eyes, down his nose, to his lips and back up his eyes.
“There was a strand of hair stuck in your eyelash, I’m sorry if I scared you.”
“You didn’t. You make me feel safe,” I voiced, the words true and honest as my feelings for him, I trusted him. He replied to the words with his own caress to my face, a small smile curved his cheeks, he truly was a beautiful boy. What did he want with me? He didn’t want me, so why was he here? He didn’t like me. Why me when he could have anyone? The insecurities made an appearance, paralysing my mind, thoughts, and emotions. ‘Ugly, Kalina is ugly, he is playing with me,” my mind shouted, bringing the past and slewing insecurities into the mix. “You playing with me Ricardo? What you getting out of this?” my words lashed out harsher than intended, regretting saying those words because his eyes were penetrating. He succumbed me like a weakling who had no power over her body, mind and soul.
“I don’t have no vicious motive, there’s nothing for me here. That doesn’t matter because I’m here anyways, wanting to spend my time with you, there is no game for me to play, Kalina. This is already getting me fucked up because I never planned for any of this. Who hurt you?” he said, without a drop of emotions.
“Nobody, nobody hurt me,” I said defensively, intentionally lying, he never needed to find out, he didn’t need to know the words that were mercilessly breached into me. He stood up, therefore I stood up, following cluelessly behind him. Hearing shouts and screams from the top of the subway, bowing my head down, all of a sudden feeling tired, my eyes on his Jordan’s, the only way I know that it was him and that I was behind him. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that, everyone has their own darkness they are dealing with, I guess I do too,” I muttered.
“Don’t worry about it, I know you are trying to protect yourself, I know,” he reassured, his eyes matching his mouth. We walked through Midtown Manhattan, the lights hypnotising and making me feel alive.
“I like you.”
“I like you too,” he smiled, his eyes were sparkling like stars, the lights illuminated his melanated skin like the moonlight.
This will be the last Chapter I will be posting until I finish the story. It is so tempting to post all of it but it’s not the right move. I hope you enjoyed the five chapters that have been posted and I hope to see you again soon. Kind Regards, Konijja