Dearest reader,
This short story marks as my first entry for the second season of Friends Who Write. It mentions, on very few occasions, rape of a minor, blood, pain and trauma. If these are sensitive areas for you, please read cautiously whilst still remembering to enjoy every bit of it.


The night, cool and vibrant with the soothing city noises that drone in and out every once in a while, drags on as I leave my cupcake dough to rise in a stainless bowl.

I'm giddy and more than ready to devour warm cupcakes with my best friend, Dele, of thirteen years, who is in fact awaiting some pastries in my living room.

I skip to him with two bottles of cake flavour in hand and it is funny I can guess exactly how he’ll be as I walk in.

He is lost in the mass of starless night sky my stripped window permits him eyecontact with.

I always call him Apollo because I see it in him— handsome, athletic, calm, intelligent, articulated— only melanated and with a high emotional quotient.

His clean-shaven face leans to the side leaving his jawline like an acute angle on full display. Laps set wide apart, away from each other, bulge from his carton-colour pants and in this posture with a thumb set to his lips, my fingers twitch to set this memory in painting.

In the front pocket of my apron, I dump the cake flavours, draw out my phone like a soldier unsheathing his sword for battle and take shots.

The loud click of my shutter stirs Dele. He is partly in a daze so I take advantage of that and shoot more shots until I have him grinning from ear to ear in realisation— probably ten pictures later.

I swipe from left to right in examination of my masterpiece and sway to his inviting laps like a toddler dancing to the tunes of Macarena. The rich blend of brown that is his complexion is majestic in the lighting in a way that leaves you longing to drink him up like hot chocolate.

Launching my weight on him, I show him my shots. He doesn't look at them straight away, just lets his eyes wander over my face with a lazy smile brightening his face.

The moment he spares my phone a glance, his face crumples with an exaggerated flare of his nose and I can't hold in my laughter.

“Delete them,” Dele says as he swipes through picture after picture. “My God!”

“I think they look amazing given my amazing photography abilities.” My words are mixed with ugly laughs and loud snorts.

“Plus these will serve as evidence to counter Dora’s claims of me being a single potato.” I snatch my phone from his grasp. “That single girl from work just knows how to be a menace for no reason,” I say then stare at him to share my sentiments. He doesn't though, he just smiles up at me like an idiot.

“Okay Dele,” I say and exhale, “what’s so funny? Why in God's name are you smiling when I'm half way flung into depression?”

He gives his signature half laugh that's too noiseless to be a laugh but too teethy to be a smile.

“You’re just a buffoon,” I say and try standing but he lightly tugs me back to my place on his laps and starts rubbing my arm. His smile is intact and eyes never once leave my face.

“What’s today Celeste?” he asks, his voice a silky deep timbre.

“Forget that one first. I came for something altogether.” I slip my hands into my apron’s pocket and dig out the bottles of cake flavour. “Which one? Strawberry or chocolate?” I ask, shaking the bottles in his face.

His eyes leave my face and squint at the bottle of chocolate. “Chocolate? Why not vanilla?” he asks. It doesn't take long before his eyes find their way back to my face.

“Why not vanilla?” I mimick him and he laughs. “There’s no vanilla because I ran out of vanilla, no thanks to your big head. I couldn't also go for a refill at the store, so yeah!” I give him googly eyes and he laughs. He's all smiles and laughs today. That's not news, it's really refreshing how it never gets old.

“What’s today Celeste?” Dele asks, persistent, and I'm willing to skillfully ignore him.

“Chocolate it is then!” I leap up and scuffle away.

“Celeste—” He sighs and I feel frustration roll off his expression.

I'm scared of going down memory lane and wielding memories I rather forget, memories I try for years to block out. But this talk must be had, knowing Dele and his indomitable spirit, we will have this talk.

I do not take another step neither do I face him, I'm indecisive on what to do. Walking away may frustrate him and talking about the significance of today will add salt to my wound. I'm honestly caught between a rock and a hard place.

“You are running Celeste like you have been doing for the longest, slipping through my fingers with every effort I make to see you,” I hear him say to me. His voice comes close and I think he's standing not far away. It is not like I haven't known for a while that I am running but having him spell it out to me stings.

I turn to him but avoid his eyes like a guilty child.

“What do you want me to say? That today, thirteen years ago, I was raped and left for dead? That I dread every twenty-ninth of June cause on this day every year I put on my best smile while I munch away on cupcakes in vanilla flavour like a greedy chipmunk and intoxicate my mind into forgetting the mental stress it's experiencing?” My eyes increasingly warm up. “I was only fifteen,” I say in a soulful whisper, bowing down and taking in a deep breath to bridge the flow of the tears which blur my sight.

For a bit there's no response, no sound whatsoever and I cannot help but look up. Dele has his eyes on me, draining me of the energy to move away and wiping my mind slate clean.

“That can't be the only thing you mark today by, it's more than just that,” he says but I'm not having it.

He says nothing more, taking his time and being intentional about the silence.


“We met that very day, on that faithful night when you were crawled into a ball in a pool of your own blood. I found you. Isn't that something to mark today by? Isn't it a good enough reason? Us, in our little serene world.” He stops for a breather and the staring game begins. I'm scared of what may come out of his mouth next. “Isn’t that enough?” His breath tickles my forehead.

“Our little happy world? Dele and his relentlessly optimistic self scores again in the ring of fantasies,” I say and make an imaginary high throw of a basketball. “Our world is anything but happy, it was practically built because I was traumatized and angry and at my worst. It's not enough that today marks the day you came into my life because with that sticks memories of trauma and pain and loss. It's not enough cause in this so-called happy little world of ours you're not happy. You're not satisfied with just being…here, like this.” My voice starts to wobble and I hate it.

Dele is a good guy. What else can you possibly call a man who looks like a model straight out of a gym instrument commercial, who stares at you like you are much more interesting than the Himalayas and speaks to you like his life depends on it? If I'm to be honest, he is more than just a good guy. He is amazing and wholesome. But I cannot possibly keep him to myself.

When his lips quaver in indecision out of habit as silence enshrouds us, I visualize all the flinches and retractions he earns whenever he tries to show me just how attractive I am to him.

I blame that gown. The one that was easily raised by that faceless man who smelled of burning weeds and gin, making me easily accessible to his full length in that overgrown grass field.

Maybe I should blame something else, my parents perhaps who let themselves slip through my fingers to death's grasp. But blame will not mend anything and most definitely will not forge my happily ever after in a day.

“I can't give you a happily ever after,” I say and at that moment a braid comes loose from the pack on my head, limping lazily in front of my eye. It feels like a finality, like the pound of a judge's gavel at the end of a sentence, the wakeup call that things are about to fall apart. The thought of it squeezes the blood out of my heart.

Dele nods. It's scary that he's speechless, he's not one to have nothing to say. His nods increase in tempo. The smile on his face forms then begins to widen and I'm just standing through it all feeling myself shrink away.

I'm waiting for the moment his face morphs into something out of a horror movie. It's really unnerving. I cannot wait around for that.

“Dele please—”

“Why would you think that?” Dele asks in giggles and I see a vein bulge in the middle of his forehead.

I take that as a good omen and try to lighten the mood. “Think wh—”

“Why would you think I expect a happily ever after from you?”

That knocks the breath out of my lungs. I find myself lucky enough to afford a breathless “What?”

“You are my happily ever after. I don't expect you to match your feelings with mine. I don't expect you to please me, your smile is enough to do that. As long as you're happy, I'm happy. When you're not, well…it feels like sinking into an abyss of pain. You are my Celeste,” he pauses and swipes the lone braid behind my ear then lets his palm rest on my cheek, warming it.

“The celestial body that gives me an identity. You are celestial. My celestial Celeste,” he says in a calmness that shakes my core and makes me shiver.
I stare at my flipflopped feet, fighting back tears that warm my eyes as Dele lets his thumb rub my cheek.

“Celeste, I don't need you to prove anything to me. I don't need you to promise anything. I don't need you to work on yourself because you wish to reach some certain imaginary standard you think I want.” A treacherous tear trails down my cheek and he smears it off. “I want you to be who you are for you.”

“So, yes,” Dele says as he puts space between us and rocks on his heels with his hands in fists shoving into his pockets. My face immediately feels the absence of his warmth and raises in pursuit.

Yes, our happy little world. And yes, you can't give me a happily ever after because I already have one. Knowing you is one hell of an ecstatic happily ever after,” he says with a chuckle. “So excuse me and my relentlessly optimistic self,” he moves backwards and sits on my couch, crossing his legs like a Parisian model awaiting a paint session, “as we sit in wait of your pastries and the fun only today can promote.” He smirks and winks at me at the end of his statement.

I cover my face and blush my way to the kitchen.

I maybe running but at least now I know what direction I'm running towards.


If you got to this part, THANK YOU!

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