By Niyi Ademoroti
I want to love you.
I am staring at you, all these tubes running in and out of your body like wires dangling off a piece of electronic equipment, and I desperately want to love you. Why don’t you want to love me too?
It is two days ago and I’m looking at you looking at me. You’re several metres away, but even though I can’t see the way your nutmeg-coloured cheeks push your purple eyes upwards, I know you’re wearing that smile that makes me go weak at the knees.
You alight from your race car. You saunter my way, your boots raising red dust with every step. You look like a god walking amidst the clouds. An indescribable sound escapes me, but I hold myself; I can’t let anyone know.
You’re in front of me now. You smile that toothy smile, and I want to kiss you. I swear by Esu, I want to kiss you. But I hold myself. You tell me this is for me. I tell you to fuck off, I’m only your mechanic and that is all I’ll ever be. Joking, you grab your chest and ask why I enjoy hurting you; I hiss and say no one is invested in your safety as much as I am. You say you’re not talking about your stupid car, and I ask why you would call it stupid. You laugh. By Esu, you laugh. Your breath smells like petrichor; I bury myself in it.
They call the Ife anti-gravity racers to the tracks. You wink, your eyelashes fluttering like butterfly wings. You run back to the tracks: one two, one two, your steps like a gazelle making away. If I had known then what I know now, I’d have screamed for you and held you close. But I let you go, shaking my head and smiling ever so slightly.
You’re in your race car now and you wave at me before you seal the doors. I sigh. The race is on, and the 20 of you take off. The first lap is over and you’re fourth place, but I know you’ll win.
It’s the fourth lap, and you’re second place. You reach the dangerous bend three where people have already yielded to. You’ve passed it three times before, and you pass it again. The racer close behind doesn’t. Her race car hits yours as it somersaults. I hear a screech as I snap my eyes shut, I can’t watch this. They tell me later that your car spun 43 times in the air before landing on the dusty steel racetrack. I pray to Esu that you are fine, but the sound of your crashing tells me that my hope is futile. I retch.
Now you’re on the hospital bed, you’ve lost one leg and both arms, so you’ve asked to be turned into a robot. You know robots don’t feel, yet you’ve made the decision. I ask you if I will ever find a guy like you again, and you smile that smile and say a good guy like me will always find someone else. My tears flow freely as I leave your hospital room. I pray to Esu to make you change your mind, but I know it is futile.
I should have let myself love you when we both had a chance.