No one knows how to say they are sad

On the road to Adjiringanor, I thanked my date for paying for our ice cream. As usual, I had no cash and the ice cream shop she demanded we go to didn’t accept cards or mobile money that night.

In the Uber, she told me were a few meters away from her apartment. It was a lovely night, I told her. We should do this again, I lied. I am unsure about seeing another human again, ever.

It had been a fun night. She wanted us to go see furniture. Like in the movies. Or maybe it’s the syrupy YA novels. You know those, right?

My mother called on the ride home. I answered. She sounded happy. How was your day? I told her. Are you still in the office? I told her no. I was heading home. I told her I owed her. She told me she understood and that I should get to it when I felt comfortable. I have not been comfortable with anything in many months. I didn’t tell her that.

I am happy to hear your voice, my son, she told me. I love you, I told her. Goodnight.

When she hung up, I went into my Access Bank app and transferred the cash with a day’s delay.

I filled the quietness of the Uber with a podcast. Inching towards Labadi, I could smell the sea-salt tang of the Atlantic Ocean. Home was a few seconds away.

My bathroom walls hadn’t been cleaned for two weeks now. More, maybe.

Before the U-turn at bushroad, I told the cab to branch into Labadi Beach Hotel. I would sleep there for the night. Their pool and the air-conditioned room would bring some joy. The security waived us through. No checks. Little Toyota Vitzes don’t look dangerous in a pandemic, I suppose.

At the counter, everyone was asleep. I wanted to sleep too. Forever. On the wall behind the front desk, the hands struck 12 midnight on the clock with “London” taped under it.

I sat down in the lobby for a minute. It was quiet. The standing air-condition units droned. Those were the only sound. I realized I didn’t like the droning. Spending all that money on a hotel room wasn’t a bright idea, it occurred to me. Life is short, but also long.

The new Uber I ordered was on its way. One minute away, the app showed me. At the front desk, one of the attendants stirred. I walked noiselessly to the revolving door. Out of the double arches of the hotel’s main entrance and into the night. You are breathing, thank your lucky stars, it said.

I didn’t whisper to the night or sought the opinion of the darkness. Yet. Thank you, I said.