The situation felt like the disclaimer put by writers in the beginning of novels. Any resemblance to the names of real characters was only coincidental and everything else fictional. But how could I expect the old man to understand that while the only book he knew about was the bible. It was the only book he believed to carry the truth and thus worth reading. The only thing that made sense was that one day I would become a writer and create a great story out of it. I visualized myself writing the disclaimer on the first page. It was only me who would know the truth in the story. Not even Sidney Sheldon could come up with such a clever plot.
I continued painting the setting of the great story in my mind. The wooden table between us holding two cups of steaming Nyeri coffee, the rhythm of his white beard dancing rhythmically in front of my eyes and mind gave the setting a relaxed feeling. I could also write about the soft evening breeze that made everything sound like classical music. I tried to search for an appropriate metaphor to compare the white beard to, maybe that of a he-goat-
This time he was louder, and his hand started moving towards me.
“Maybe it could win the Caine Prize!” I blurted out, stuck between my imagination and reality.
His hand stopped and moved back to its place on the table. The bewildered look on his face was soon dissolved to a ‘Whoa!’, as his hand moved to the bible.
“Your first name is very important, and you should be responding to it. Speaking about Cain, he killed his brother Abel and was rewarded with a punishment. If that is what you call a prize, then we have the law.” He made up a face and used his hands to show that he had no objection or option. “But I don’t think you deserve to be punished for just a minor mistake of lust. Carol is a good girl whom I have brought up well and you two should get married. Your parents think so too.”
Carol brought out the pancakes that had taken a lifetime to get ready. I wondered which kind of menu took a whole hour to prepare just pancakes. She placed them at the centre of the table and refilled her father’s cup. She leaned a little more than I thought necessary to refill my cup. I caught the fragrance of her sweet perfume as I peered between her partially unbuttoned white blouse. Her chocolate breasts were supple and fresh, the ripe age of sixteen. She filled my cup and straightened up before I could see the nipples. Her belly showed no signs of pregnancy. Maybe the small visible lump was just due to overeating.
I could feel his stern vampire eyes drill into my neck, and I was afraid to turn. She waved her spider shaped behind covered in a grey plaited skirt and disappeared into the kitchen. I wondered how the awkwardness of the moment could be described on paper. Maybe I could say that even Picasso would run out of ideas and paint on how to put it on canvas.
Marrying her was hard and making an attempt to run away was the rock. I was squeezed between the two and they left me with no enough time to think. My parents would meet her parents the next day and I did not want to wait for the shame that would befell me, the most promising son of the village. I could not lower my ego to marry Carol. She had rejected me for four years despite my Herculean efforts to get her even give me a peck on the cheek. I had resulted to giving her some private tuition in order to be close to her. Of course her father approved. I was the brightest boy in the village. I decided that I would go for the rock. Maybe there was a chance of some precious mineral in it.
He shifted his gaze and took a sip of his coffee. He blew it in long and hard, making a sweet sound that attracted me to have a sip from my cup.
“Such sweet coffee, our land is truly blessed.”
He didn’t seem to hear the words. He was absorbed in his own thoughts, the cup of coffee still touching his lips. I wondered whether he was writing his own story too, or whether he had realised that the whole story leaked.
“It’s getting dark. I have to go.”
He turned towards the kitchen and motioned with his hand. The sweetness of the coffee had no effect on the deep lines that had formed on his face.
“Carol can escort you.”
The weight of his tone worried me. I was tempted to hold her and walk out with her hand in hand. It would have been such a sweet victory for me, defeating the devil in his own backyard, except for the seriousness on that face. It was as if hell had lodged inside his temple, waiting to burst and consume us.
The walk to the gate was a long silent one and the air stung my eyes as if full of teargas. Every thought in my body rioted against compliance. The pink bougainvillea flowers on each side of the path bowed towards us. Each seemed to be in deep meditation wondering whether the story was true. Maybe they sympathised with me. Maybe they just didn’t care.
No one noticed that I hadn’t even finished my cup of coffee.
I leaned on the gate and watched her submissive eyes silently plead with my softer parts. Her face was a silent well of emotion. Her beauty glowed even in the encroaching darkness. I hadn’t held another girl so close and I wouldn’t have wished to hold another before her. Carol was my first girl to hold; except that she wasn’t my girl. I was nothing more than her school friend helping with her education. I had shared my dreams of one day becoming a great writer, in the hope of winning her. I had even narrated to her great stories and plot twists, tried sharing with her some of my favourite novels. She was intrigued by my genius as I seemed to understand everything, from calculus in mathematics to mole ratios in chemistry and stylistic devices in literature. But when it came to dating, there were others. There was Peter the village boy who hadn’t even gone to school, John her rich but dumb classmate and many more that I didn’t know about. I wondered whether her father did not know about them or simply ignored them. Was he even aware that Peter accompanied Carol to the overnight worship every Friday? And that the golden watch she wore on her hand was not a prize she won at school for being the best student in poetry, but a gift from John? I wondered whether he simply chose me because Abraham was greater than John and Peter, biblically and maybe in reality too. I pulled her close to feel her pointed breasts press against my virgin chest. My heart beat wildly with excitement as her round firm hips touched my groin. A part of me wished she could stay there forever.
Her lips resembled the crescent moon on the horizon and complemented her sky of a face with two bright stars. My finger was a single cloud in the sky that did a slow dance from one end to the other. Her breath came out in short even pulses, forming a sweet rhythm with the evening breeze. I imagined all the things that I could have done with her. I had lifted her in my dreams, caressed her breasts and slept with her. My hands instinctively moved towards her behind in order to feel the shapely curves that had caused me nightmares. I intended to pull her closer and lift one of her legs, just like I had read in the novels. Her behind felt like a rock and bruised my hands. The pole began feeling hard on my back and made it sore. My hands found freedom past her behind and cooled in the evening breeze. I pushed her away forcefully and walked past her shocked frame. Abraham had a child in form of a great writer who would be nurtured regardless of the mountain he was commanded to sacrifice it on. He didn’t care whether a ram would be provided. A figure moved in the maize field nearby as I rushed towards the road, making me wonder where her father was. This time Abraham would not follow the scriptures. Instead he would run away and build a great nation of stories based on his life. He didn’t expect faith to move the mountain, but his effort would. The village could contain him no more.