The taste of a thing is sometimes the key to a lost memory. It opens your mind and fills you with hazy nostalgia, reminds you of people you had long forgotten-on purpose or by accident-people you forgot you knew. For some, the taste of a thing brings back memories of events and places, of a lover’s kiss, of a feeling.
When I taste peppermint I think of Arinze Okereke and his hands up my skirt, warm and sweaty and un-wanted. The cool crisp taste reminds me of the plush leather seats of his white Mercedes, of his tongue, wet and reptilian as it slithered down my throat, of my hands pounding frantically against the glass of the tinted windows as he forced my thighs apart.
The details are mostly fuzzy these days, but the taste of peppermint is sharp enough to cut through the haze and remind me that the dress I was wearing that day was the colour of sweet cream, a strapless white number that fit me like skin. He told me, as he caught the hem in his fist and ripped it, that it made me look like an angel. A real life angel, he said, as he swallowed my whimpers with his kisses and pressed me even further into the leather seats with the weight of his body.
I know that the right place to start would be from the beginning, at the Greenleaf Bar, when my dress and self were still whole and the time was five o'clock. Siemé was dancing with Toju and the strobe lights on the dance floor had dyed her ebony skin a brilliant navy blue, Raw Dinner was blasting from the speakers and Arinze was pushing a bottle of Star lager into my hand.
I remember not wanting to be there- the music was too loud and all the cigarette smoke clouding the air was making me feel dizzy, light-headed. An ocean of bodies pushed against me from every side and to avoid drowning I stood still, trying to remember how to breathe, how to stay afloat when the ocean current pushed relentlessly against you.
"Don't you dance?" Arinze's voice in my left ear startled me, as did his hands around my waist.
"I-" my breath caught again as he spun me around so I faced him. He stared straight into my eyes in that way, the way that made girls mental, made them forget everything but the fact that his eyes were deep, dark pools of black. His eyes stole my oxygen, made drowning seem pleasant, painless.
"Are you okay?" His brows knit together with concern.
"I-yes. I just-the place is a little crowded, that's all." I nodded mechanically in a bid to convince myself that that was really all.
"Okay." He said, his arms around my waist tightening. "So you'll dance with me?"
I would like to die please. Actually.
But Siemé’s eyes bored straight into mine from across the room, reminding me that this was what I wanted.
"Yes. Yes of course I'll dance with you." I cringed at how juvenile I sounded. This was a bar, not prom.
He laughed, his voice low and amused as he said "Okay." and caught my wrist in his hand, pulling me close to him, into the ocean of bodies, which opened its mouth and swallowed me whole.
End of part one.