The Call

Verity shook her head as if to clear it.

She glanced around her as it dawned on her that once again, she was the sole audience to the performance going on in her head.

Discordant yet rhythmical, the tunes rose and fell.

And then, it began to crescendo,

Now it rose, now it fell. Again and again, she tried to banish it by gently shaking her head. To no avail, the rhythm persisted. It was here to stay. It pulsated with every beat of her heart and as she looked around at the expectant faces staring enquiringly at her, she knew she needed a respite, and fast.

Beyond the heads, she glanced at her assistant standing at the back of the conference room, behind the whirring projection equipments, and mouthing to her:

“What’s up?”

She shook her head at the assistant and reached out a shaky hand to the glass of water standing beside the laptop on the podium. She took a sip and then another, then without pausing for air, gulped down the entire contents of the glass. She willed her mind to take control of her shaky hands as she poured the rest of the water in the bottle into the glass and again, gulped the entire contents down.

As if in response to a magic word, the rhythm sharply subsided: finally, reluctantly, crawling to a halt. Beads of sweat stood out on her forehead as she struggled to focus her eyes back on the group seated in front of her. She needed this deal to seal her promotion, almost as badly as she needed air itself, and knew she would need to call up her best skills to talk around what just transpired.

“Sorry”, she trilled to her clients, “Seems like a little piece of that marvellous fried fish we had for lunch went down the wrong way”.

She flashed her hundred watt smile at the baffled group and turned her attention briskly back to the projected slides.

“Now, I would like to crave your indulgence to flip through the documents you hold to slide 18. Here is where we look at the SWOT of the proposed alliance between your firms and how we intend to nurture a seamless transfer into a mega holding that would best mine the inherent USPs of the individual firms. These we would then consolidate into a mega ……”

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As she turned into the shopping complex on her way back from work, she sighted the couple on the rubbish dump. She had first noticed them about three months ago when they had suddenly materialised as if from thin air and proceeded to make themselves as comfortable as you may please. Setting up home amidst the stench and rot, the male unit would lay back and stretch out his legs. Sometimes, he would sit up suddenly, look up into the stars and commence an excited and highly animated interchange with some unseen being. He would fling his hands around to buttress his point, now he would scream, now he would listen. Now he would curse and spit and at some other time, he would seem almost penitent.

Setting up home amidst the stench and rot, the male unit would lay back and stretch out his legs. Sometimes, he would sit up suddenly, look up into the stars and commence an excited and highly animated interchange with some unseen being. He would fling his hands around to buttress his point, now he would scream, now he would listen. Now he would curse and spit and at some other time, he would seem almost penitent.

In the background, the female unit would hustle and bustle, rummaging through the shopping mall, food court’s contribution to the rubbish dump. From her scavengings, she would put together a meal fit for a king, arrange them in any receptacle that came to hand and take them over to her spouse. Going down on her knees, she would coyly present it with a

From her scavengings, she would put together a meal fit for a king, arrange them in any receptacle that came to hand and take them over to her spouse. Going down on her knees, she would coyly present it with a flourish, remaining there until, rant exhausted, he would look down and notice her.

Washing his hands in an imaginary bowl of water, he would tuck in, selecting one or two morsels and delicately placing them in her mouth, he would tickle her chin, tousle her hair and stroke her dimples. Suddenly, in the middle of the meal, he reached out and gave her a sharp jab with his heels, sending her tumbling off the rubbish heap. He fished around in his mouth, extracted something alien he had encountered in his meal, maybe a piece of meat more decomposed than its ilk, and proceeded to wave it at her, shouting curses and threatening brimstone.

Verity smiled to herself as she got out of her car and walked briskly into the supermarket.

Watching the couple in their lucid lunacy, was akin to a night at the movies. The cosy comfort of their interaction, always perversely heartwarming. An attempt to intervene at the instance of the mall owners and relocate them from the rubbish heap by the state welfare authorities had met with such stiff resistance and when they had eventually been forcefully taken away, had resurfaced after a couple of days, and continued “life” as if the interruption never happened.

Shopping done, Verity stepped up to her car and inserted the key in the lock. At that instant, the skin on the back of her neck prickled and she turned to find herself staring, across the distance, into the eyes of the madman. As if transfixed, they locked gazes for a stretch of time. In the far reaches of her mind, the call started.

She could not tear her eyes off him.

Suddenly, he stood and moved towards her. That movement seemed to break the spell. Hurriedly, she turned the key in the lock and tore open the car door, flung her shopping into the car, launched herself after them and dragged the door shut. Pinning the lock just in time.

Heart racing, she fearfully glanced at the face pressed up close to the window. He jabbered at her, motioning for her to open the door, turn down the window, he hammered on the glass with both hands and attempted to snatch open the door. As she glanced around for help, he ran around the car towards the passenger side and seizing the moment, Verity threw her car in reverse and screeched out of the mall.

The sound in her head conflicted with her racing thoughts and her heartbeat seemed magnified so much that she could separate its loud beatings from the clashing rhythm in her head.

As she turned the car towards home, she glanced in the rearview mirror and saw him, standing with palms open wide, face turned towards heaven and wailing a lament. She hoped the mall authorities would intervene and get them off that rubbish heap before morning

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Driving into her compound, for once since that crazy day had begun, a wide smile stretched across Verity’s face. The sight of the silver Sienna parked in her compound, engine running, always brought a smile to her face. She slid her car smoothly in behind it and as she turned off the ignition, opened the door and stepped out of the car, she stepped straight into the arms of love. Her love!

Her love!

She gazed up expectantly and he obliged. Careless of prying eyes, he took her lips into his mouth and kissed her like she was the giver of life.

After a few seconds, he released her and stepped back, holding her at arm’s length.

“I missed you, my love.”

“Missed you too my own. How was your day?”

“Great, my love. Yours?”

“As well as could be, since I spent the whole day thinking of you…” She flashed her smile as she answered and leant back into the car to retrieve her bag and shopping.

He took the car keys from her and motioning her towards the house, began to pick the shopping from the car.  Once inside the house, he pushed the door closed with his feet, dumped the bags on the floor, ignoring her shriek of “careful, there are eggs in there”, and walked purposefully towards her. Once again, he took her into his arms and proceeded to, as he always laughingly called it, kiss her properly.

In his arms, she always felt safe. Safe from the call that followed her around all day, safe from the cares and worries of the world, safe from the “big girl, professional, working class lady” persona, safe from her private thoughts.

She was to him, a heady scent. Rising and filling his senses when he least expected, yet once his back was turned, he wanted more of her. He could never get his fill of her. One year into their relationship and the passion between them was still as raw as ever.

He had intended it to be a conquest. Woo her, wine her, win her. Once he had breached the castle defence, he intended to continue on his merry way. He had not reckoned on love.

With her calm, mature ways, intelligent and spirited conversations and instinctive actions, he had found himself falling deeper and deeper into her spell until one day, he turned around and realised he was trapped. It was sweet surrender as he released himself into a proper relationship with as wide a range of feelings as he had prevented himself from ever experiencing in the past.

This was bliss.

This was heaven.

This was….. home.

He broke the kiss, stepped back and surveyed her once again. He had never been one for the skinny girls and her buxomy confidence always knocked him for six.

“Nke mu nwa”

He leant in for another kiss, slower and more sensuous this time, his hands began to undo the buttons in her shirt. Soon, the shirt lay on the floor and his hands found the clasp and zip at the back of her skirt. As the skirt pooled around her ankles and she stepped out of them, he disengaged from her lips and began to trail kisses down her body, heading towards her secret place.

He pulled her down into the soft pile carpet, pulled up her knees and sunk his face inbetween her hips. Her back arched in pleasure and the moans escaping her lips grew louder and louder as he teased her special spot. Finally, he looked up at her and held her gaze as he began to disrobe. He held her, still clad in her lacy, low cut bra and thongs, just the way he liked it, against his now naked body for a few seconds, then slowly, he plunged into pleasure.

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Verity suddenly sat up as if doused in ice water. It was just gone past midnight. At first, she could not place a finger on what had pulled her out of the deep slumber. She looked around and slowly brought the room into focus. They were still lying on her living room floor, passion spent, clothes strewn all over the place, shopping still lying where they had been abandoned on the floor. From one of the bags, she could see a trail of egg albumen. Tammy was still deep in slumber. His arm in which she had been cuddled a few seconds earlier, still flung out beside him.

All seemed normal, yet nothing was.

It had begun again. The call in her head. The wild rhythm, the crazy beats. She looked around her in terror, searching for the source of this music that now seemed to be playing far within the deepest enclaves of her soul, now without. She shook her head furiously trying to clear it and suddenly, she felt a pull.

The pull.

She felt herself lifted as if by unseen hands and reaching out tremblingly, she unlocked the door and stepped into the enveloping arms of the velvety rich darkness that lay beyond.

Now she jerked along as if manipulated by a puppeteer’s string, now she tried to resist, but the pull was stronger than her. She screamed and shrieked until her vocal cords felt sore, yet no sound escaped her lips. The noise was all around her, yet nobody heard but her. The cacophony within swelled until the rhythm began to play out in the gyrations of her body. Now hesitant, now determined. Now arhythmic, suddenly composed. Eyes darting

Now hesitant, now determined. Now arhythmic, suddenly composed. Eyes darting helter-skelter, the mind searching for escape from the clutches of the call, the heart pressing on, following the pull to..

Whatever awaited beyond.

Blissfully unaware, that in her bra and thongs, with her voluptuous and plush figure, hers was indeed a sight for sore eyes.

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At the break of dawn, three figures were seen slowly making their way out of the town.

On closer inspection, the first two were the couple from the shopping mall dungheap, cradling and cuddling a third, slightly familiar figure, dressed in a shabbily poked through garbage can liner, underneath which the faint outlines of a high end shop lingerie set could be seen.

Head clasped in her hands, she went…. willingly, hestitantly, sometimes she would stop and look back as if searching for something left behind.

Then she would jerk as if responding to a pull, a call…. and then plough resolutely ahead.

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Tammy struggled out of sleep as the alarm shrilled.

Groggily, he reached out to pull Veri closer into his embrace. They always had a few minutes after the alarm went off each morning to snuggle, and for him to get his “Veri fix” for the day. He fumbled around a bit and when he realised she was not there, he sat up, switched on the light and noticed the disarray in the room. Everything was exactly where it had been abandoned while they gave in to the passion yesterday but for one small detail, the door was thrown wide open.

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