Prompt: You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day—the one whom you often call “The One That Got Away.” What happens?
It’s a bad idea to go into a cake shop when you have curves like mine. It is suicide when you do so on Valentine’s day. Alone. Of all days I could crave cake; today the 14th of February had to be it! I was content to sit at home and watch Archer- seeing as I have been waiting forever for the complete season. And I still am going to watch Archer- right after I buy a large piece of cake and carry it home with me.
The single tiny problem is, the place that sells the best cakes I have tasted so far, The Coffee Café , is one of those places that’s super conscious about the month of love. Today , the décor is red themed and I mean a doorway consisting of intertwining tree branches and actual red roses growing on it! It’s like they plucked it fresh from a poor garden somewhere. Even the receptionist’s uniform which is usually plain black and white now has a red addition; a shiny silk textured strip of clothe that looks like a casual tie. And the red isn’t even the worst part- it’s the people. The couples who all got the same memo that there is nothing as romantic as coffee in a popular coffee place whose coffee does not really match up to its price.
These are the types of couples who probably think they’re the happiest bunch and that anyone walking alone today is to be pitied. And they are the reason I hesitate in my decision to get the cake I have come so far for, because one, I am plus size. Two, I am single (and happy for that I must say!) But do they know that? No! Each time I have ever bought cake, I’ve always gotten looks that seem to label me as a fat girl, depressed because no one loves her and who eats cake to drown her sorrows in food because all plus size people just can’t help but eat, eat and eat!
I can feel the looks right now as I walk in and head straight to the cakes at the furthest end of the reception counter where- oh mama! The cakes are all laid out…and there is so much red velvet. Fuck!
“Hey,” I wave at the small guy in that abhorrent red tie, who comes to my side smiling and greets me back before I point to a noticeably empty space among the cake display.
“Pineapple cake?” I enquire and hope against all hope they haven’t run out or something because, that would mean I walked so far, endured loud Riddim music in a stuffy Maranatha bus for a good thirty minutes, walked this far again and all for nothing!
“Yeah, the order ran a little late but we’re already unpacking,” he nods towards the minivan that is parked outside. “Just a few minutes, okey?” he says grinning and I nod, greatly pleased, as I take out my phone and stare searchingly up at their walls. They should have…Oh Lipa na Mpesa. Perfect.
“Ness?” someone calls behind me and I turn with eyebrows raised because very few people call me that. And there he stands; in all his 6 ft something glory; the perks of being Sudanese! He called me that and it’s just like old times. Instinctually, I laugh and walk into his open arms and hug him by the waist – just like old times. He hasn’t changed his cologne and I am so touched I can’t help but snuggle against his chest. It’s been more than three months and his familiar scent is somewhat comforting.
“Wow! How’ve you been?” Keith asks, his eyes alight and his grin genuine as ever. I am about to tease him that he could’ve called to ask, but I settle for an “I’ve been super great.” And though begrudgingly, I am about to admit I’ve missed him when he waves his arm to a table on the far end, and says, “Come, I’ll introduce you to my friends.”
I look to the table towards the furthest end of the café and see three other people staring back at us; two pretty girls and a guy in a white shirt and black tie. I know none of them, but it’s not like I was ever in the business of meeting his friends either. Double date perhaps? Which one is his girlfriend?
I plaster a smile on my face and nod at the receptionist, signaling that I will be back in just a bit. Keith, always the gentleman puts his hand on the small of my back steering me to the moment of truth. Perhaps I should’ve given it a shot; the whole relationship thing. Apart from the stupid everyday calls Keith got attached to, nothing would have changed much! On a Saturday like this we probably would’ve been at his place watching movies after arguing about which one to watch and he would cook, or we’d indulge in junk food and we’d walk around the house in pajamas or underwear, and have lots of sex…
We reach the table and the alone girl sizes me and doesn’t smile. Sizes me! Well, hello new girlfriend, I muse and smile at everyone in general.
“Hello,” I wave as though I may be a little shy. The girlfriend nods with a tight smile. Wow! Could she be any more of a bitch?
“This is Vanessa…” Keith introduces and I notice his slight hesitation in explaining who I was because what really were we? We never put a label on it. I mean we were friends with benefits but he couldn’t possibly go on to say “This is Ness, we were great pals and we fucked a lot too.” So he tells a white lie.
“A great friend of mine,” he says and doesn’t say “is” or “was”. Smooth Keith. Really smooth.
“Oh? You’ve never mentioned her,” the girlfriend points out as she throws her long weave back like it’s her real hair.
“We lost touch,” Keith says and I almost laugh out at how true that statement is, in more ways than one. I mean I did start avoiding him when he begun the daily calls. Sure I had agreed to try the girlfriend thing and see if I sucked at it like I repeatedly told Keith when he wanted to go to the next level. Turns out I sucked at it pretty darn bad! His becoming too attached became a turn off and so I avoided him- for about week or so, before he called the experiment off and said he was serious about wanting more. I couldn’t give it to him and so we stayed away from each other. Amicably.
By now he has mentioned all the names of his two friends and yes- he said girlfriend- but I didn’t catch the names because I really don’t plan on meeting them ever. I don’t plan on meeting him either and that’s why my head quickly whips to face him when he speaks of “Catching up”. He is already seated and looking up at me expectantly as are the other three.
“I’m sorry, what?” I ask and he repeats himself about some party happening tonight at the guy’s place where they are getting together with many other people.
Bad idea! Bad bad idea!
“I have plans, sorry,” I shrug and put on my sorriest face.
“To watch Archer?” Keith asks teasingly and I am shocked at how accurate he is. I almost retort and make up a lie before something important hits me. In the ensuing small moment of awkward silence, I remember updating my FB status and talking of cake hunting before going back home to watch Archer. Sure he knows I have a relationship with my TV but there’s no way he could’ve accurately guessed Archer unless…
And for the first time this day, something thrills me to my very toes.
“Yes watching Archer with friends,” I lie. None of my friends watch Archer.
“Not boyfriend?” Bitch girlfriend asks and I would bitch slap her if it wasn’t for the fact that I notice that my cake is packed waiting on the counter and ready for the paying. I let her have the victory this time.
“Nope. Still single here.” I say and school my features to look sad but hopeful. This seems to please them as I am promptly consoled by pitying smiles and “You’ll get someone soon” wishes. The girlfriend puts her hand over Keith’s on the table and I almost guffaw in disbelief.
“My order’s ready. See you guys around,” I quickly say and give them no chance to say goodbye.
Sweet sweet pineapple cake and eleven episodes of Archer await! And while I watch, I will remember that a certain someone stalks my Facebook activity, and that that someone might still have soft spot for me after all! Don’t get me wrong; I really don’t want Keith back with his clingy boyfriend habits, but the fact that even with a girlfriend, he’s still wrapped around my pinkie makes my ego feel mighty good! And tonight, single and not searching, I will drink to that.