Here nor There

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September 23, 2021 by The Citron Review

by Kay Ugwuede


The year opened like a whirlwind romance. One month, I was sitting at meetings trying to contain my excitement about an upcoming project. Next, I was on a long flight to Bangladesh for a road trip that culminated in an art summit. March came. I turned a new age, an older age. And then the year soured slowly, went south like whirlwind romances do—so exhilarating, so short-lived—before grinding to a halt. In the lethargic wait that followed, I fashioned a new lover out of a cavernous longing for another who got away. And what a whirlwind romance it became. 

Quiet Day in April. I lose my closed-off, too-well-known self in the giddiness of his love. I do not rehearse what to say here, worrying that I might miss something. I do not shrink from raising my voice a little to convey a certain displeasure, do not worry that the size of this nick is wide or deep enough to swallow our love.  I desire him as fiercely as he desires me. Here, I am not afraid to tell him this, not bashful to hold his gaze and to see him as he sees me.  

Work Desk in May. We kiss. We kiss often afterward. It is slow, buttery, tender. Then it is intense, a desperate gathering of all the months since March, since the last time I kissed or held someone. 

Dreary Day in June. We soak in a bathtub and run our toes across each other’s soapy chests. We emerge from the water and waddle into an adjourning bedroom in a house that belongs to one of us in a city that feels strangely familiar. We make love. My hands, often hesitant, need no steering. They move, like a conjuring, over every inch of his skin guided only by moaning. I surrender to the waves of pleasure rippling through my body devoid of fear or naiveté or disgust at this entering of orifices and exchange of fluids; this panting and heaving; these high-pitched or deep-throated involuntary cries of bliss. In the morning when I wake up naked beside him, I am not acutely self-aware of my on-the-way-to-perfect body. 

July. I catch the first whiff of staleness. I am sitting in front of my computer trying to meet another writing deadline when we argue about something trivial in the streets, our voices raised and quivering with anger and lust. 

Hopeful August. We make up. We have coffee in a dainty café and laugh at each other’s dry jokes. Our conversation is winding and full, dancing around like the leaves of the diminutive palm tree at the back of the compound I only notice because I’ve spent a better part of the year sitting and looking out my window. 

September. There must be a glitch somewhere. I know because I only see him, us, in disembodied shots. His hands cupping my buttocks. My hands trailing his torso. His hand cradling my neck just how I love it. My tongue, teasing and pleasing. 

Bloody October. I clutch my lover desperately. We kiss and make love and drink to long, winding conversations that take me deep into the safety of a different time and space. The street outside is bereft of gunshots. I do not jump at sounds with no immediately traceable source. I have not watched a man bleed to death on a Livestream nor have I seen too many bloodied flags and small pools of blood made darker by the nightly gloom.

Disconcerting evening in November. I may have smothered him because he appears less and less now. I feel a brooding sense of loss, a vortex of emotions crashing into a feeble center. 

A Drab December Morning. The whirlwind is ebbing and I am forced back fully into the vestiges of a difficult year passing as frightfully as it arrived. Heaven must be awash with celebration, but beneath, we heave a cautious sigh of relief. I nurse a broken heart for someone I longed for so much I wrapped him up in reveries, met with him there, lived out our love as fearlessly and soulfully as I’d always hoped it would be. I mourn the loss of our love there. Here. I mourn the loss of a bond that was brief yet full. And gone.  


Kay Ugwuede is a tech journalist, creative writer and photographer living in Lagos, Nigeria. Her writing has been published or is upcoming in Agbowó Magazine, Bloomberg CityLab, The Smart Set, The Forge Literary Magazine, Taxi Drivers Who Drive Us Nowhere anthology, The Arkansas International and has been part of a group exhibition at the 2020 Dhaka Art Summit. Find her on social media @kayugwuede.


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