“Is that clock correct?”
“Jesus!” The floor came up to meet Adaku’s knee. She pulled the wrapper from around her ankle and got to her feet.
“Jiri nwayo, now. What’s the rush? You’re going to injure yourself.” Adaku heard the bed creak as Uzodinma got to his feet. “Let me see,” he said squatting to examine her knee.
“I don’t need a doctor. Where’s my shirt?”
“Relax now, what’s the rush?” Uzodinma pushed his glasses up his face and felt around Adaku’s leg. “Hold still. The way you just rolled off and landed on the floor, you could have seriously hurt yourself.”
“It will serve me right. What we’re doing is wrong, wrong wrong.” Adaku pulled her skirt out from where it was wedged behind a cupboard. How had it got in there?
“That wasn’t what you were saying ten minutes ago.” Uzodinma prodded. “In fact, you seemed to agree with me a lot of times.”
“Biko, it’s not funny. If you have no fear for your mortal soul, please have some for mine.” The back of her hand burned from the friction but she didn’t stop until her shirt was tucked fully into the waistband of her skirt.
“Hey, I was only joking. Are you…are you crying?”
“No.” Adaku picked up her bag.
“You’re crying. Why?”
“I knew it was a mistake being with you. You Anglicans never understand anything. What do you expect from a church that came about from a king wanting to marry his mistress?”
“What’s there to understand? We did what we did, we both liked it and I will not apologise for that. It was a religious experience. If that is the way to hell then I’ll gladly take it. And stop calling me ‘Anglican’ to make yourself feel better. We both know I don’t believe in God.. Not anymore. Not after all that’s happened.”
“Not really.” Uzodinma moved his shoulders and adjusted his glasses again. “And I feel pressed to say ‘Glass house’ and ‘stones’.”
“I’m going.” Adaku felt a crawling sensation on her face and swiped at it with the back of her hand. He was right. There was no point. “And…”
“And what now?” Uzodinma put his hands on his hips. Adaku felt the movement draw her eyes towards the flesh of his nethers. She looked past him to the door.
“I won’t be coming here anymore. Not during this period, during Lent.”
“I am giving you up for Lent, Uzo.”
“Adaku, you’re overreacting.”
“We’re supposed to give up all wordly pleasures, everything that we desire.”
“I resent that. I just told you that what we do is spiritual.”
“Uzodinma, I am trying to tell you something. Please be serious.” Adaku crossed her arms. “I can’t come here again after Lent either. I can’t see you anymore.”
He mirrored her motions. “May I ask why?”
“You know why.”
“Yes, but I want to hear it from you.”
“What we’re doing…”
“Oh, shut up Adaku. I’ve been wanting to marry you forever. I asked you, you said you could not marry a non-Catholic. But it’s OK being with me in this way and going for confession afterwards? Can you not see how mad this is?”
“I am going. You can insult my back if you want to.”
“I am not insulting you. I merely wish to understand. What is so bad about me that you cannot marry but choose me to sleep with?” Uzodinma closed the gap between them and grabbed her upper arms. “Do you know what we’re doing, each time we do it? I am binding myself to you, tighter than the church, than religion, than God even. I am infiltrating your very soul. This is my religion. This is my God. What we are doing is natural, sacred. How can you not see that? The way we are linked right now…being with other people…”
“It’s a mistake.”
“No, it’s a mistake what we are doing. I am going Uzo. You know my terms. You know what you have to do.”
“And if I refuse?”
“I have to go. I don’t want to miss the last mass. I am already late.” Adaku realised her eyes were closed when she felt Uzodinma drop his hands from her arms. She felt a shiver curl its way up her spine. Adaku wanted to rub her arms but instead she walked past Uzodinma. She felt for the door knob.
She turned. Uzodinma pointed. “I think you’re forgetting something.” Adaku saw her pants swinging from the fan like strange fruit on a strange tree. Uzodinma retrieved them and threw them to her. Adaku placed them in her bag, swinging the door with more force than she anticipated.
Adaku closed her eyes, waiting for the priest’s cool thumb to mark her forehead with ash and the moment of peace which signalled the renouncement of her flesh. She pushed her weight onto her injured knee, relishing the pain shooting all over her leg. All she could think about was that she had forgotten her bag of fish in Uzodinma’s fridge. The market was closed. Her mother was going to kill her.