CIRCLES – Prologue and Chapter 1

“Hey, how are you? It’s good to see you,” he said.

He sounded genuinely happy to see me. My girls and I from primary school had a best friend, Nick. Nick and Jon were best friends. So I knew him pretty well. I even used to have a crush on his older brother, Seph. I think every girl I knew had a crush on Seph.

“It’s really crowded, huh?” I asked.

“Yeah, but I am cool standing. So where’s Selorm?”

Jon knew about Selorm and me, because, like Selorm, he was part of Selassie’s group.

“He’s upstairs with some girls,” I said casually.

Jon smiled sympathetically and I shrugged. He put his arms around me and I leaned into him. He adjusted himself and I fit right into his arms with my back to him. I am not sure how many minutes it was before I felt it, a light breeze on my neck. I didn’t move. I thought I had imagined it. Then he kissed my neck again and I turned my head slightly to look up at him. Then he kissed me. For the life of me, I can never say why it happened. There was absolutely no precedent. Nothing had ever been insinuated or implied or suggested, ever, between us—nothing that I knew of.

That kiss, that kiss knocked me off my feet and I never recovered. It was the sweetest, most beautiful thing ever. We just kissed. It wasn’t a light lip touch, a peck or a lip swipe. It was a full-blown, deep, knock-your-socks-off kiss. I turned around completely and I kissed him. We just kissed. I didn’t care where we were or who was watching. I couldn’t let go. I can’t say how long the kiss was. It felt like a lifetime. We drew apart briefly, he held me, we smiled and kissed some more. And that’s the way it was for the rest of the show. At one point, I caught Lynn’s astonished look. Selassie didn’t look excited either. But I couldn’t give a damn. Where was Selorm, huh? Just then I heard Lynn’s voice in my ear.

“Rabbie, Selorm is here.”

I turned and saw her and Selassie head off to the entrance and then I saw Selorm staring at me from the lit doorway. And I knew I had crossed a very serious line. Jon’s shoulders stiffened and he turned my face away from Selorm, towards him.

“It’s okay. It’s okay.”

I don’t know why he was saying that. It wasn’t okay. Was he for real?

“Excuse me,” I muttered.

I started walking fast towards the entrance. Selorm, Selassie and Lynn disappeared through the light. They were walking so fast. I could hear Selorm screaming, but I couldn’t catch what. Oh my God, what did I just do?

“Rabbie!”

I heard Jon scream my name from behind me. I should have run after Selorm, but I didn’t. I stopped and turned to Jon. He didn’t look fazed. What the heck was happening?

“Hey, we didn’t do anything wrong. Calm down. Let him lose some steam, but remember we didn’t do anything wrong.”

He kissed me again, right there, in the lit foyer. He held me and kissed me, just seconds after I was trying to catch up to my supposed boyfriend who had caught me kissing his close friend! Wonderful! And I let Jon kiss me, his lips on mine and his arms around me. I really didn’t want to be anywhere else, or with anyone else. We broke apart after a while. I was calmer now.

“Let’s go to the parking lot. See what’s going on. But we did nothing wrong. Okay?” he said.

I nodded.

“I swear I am going to kill him! What the heck was that? What was that? No, don’t tell me to calm down! No one should tell me to calm down. What the heck was that?”

I could hear Selorm’s voice from a mile away. Jon and I were holding hands as we walked toward the parking lot. I immediately dropped his hand. This was not a good idea. Selorm and Selassie were standing near Selassie’s car. There were two other guys. I knew one of them, Edem, a family friend, also went to the same primary school. But I couldn’t see Lynn.

Selorm had a bottle in his hand. He smashed it against the car when he saw us, and the tirade continued. I realized there were a few more bottles on the ground. He was flailing his long arms, and Edem and Selassie, who were both a lot shorter than him, were trying to restrain him.

“What the heck was that? What did I do? What did I do?” Selorm screamed.

Selassie came towards me. He ignored Jon.

“Rabbie, Selorm’s been drinking, he’s not himself. He’s just upset. I am going to take him home. Wait here for me,” Selassie instructed.

“I am so sorry. Is he going to be okay? Where is Lynn?”

“Back in there somewhere.”

Selorm was still walking towards us, but Edem and the other guy held him back. Selassie went back to him.

“Hey, let’s just get you home, okay?” Selassie said to Selorm.

“Damn you both!” Selorm screamed, glaring at Jon and me.