Nabilah thought about the multitude of sins she must have committed to lead her to this grand punishment that stood in her living room. It could be just one big misdemeanor but she couldn’t think far back enough of any that deserved this. Which meant that it must have been a stack up of the lies she told her boss and the mere fact that she had not spoken to her mother in 2 years — this might as well be a direct voodoo punishment from her.
She looked from the photo in her locket and back at Andy who didn’t seem to notice Nabilah’s mouth agape. “Why did you throw away the old couch we had?” She asked as she caressed the new piece of furniture carefully.
Nabilah blinked and she was still there, she bowed her head and looked up again and those mud eyes stared back at her. She wondered for a second if she should amuse this person and tell her she actually hated the old vintage couch but shock didn’t let her form words anymore. She quietly walked to the kitchen since blinking was not enough to end this awful punishment.
Nabilah threw her face under the tap and turned it on. No sin of hers could amount to this. She must have been dreaming, she must have been drugged. What did she eat last night?
“Nabilah did I do something wrong?” Nabilah whipped her head towards the sound of the voice and saw her again. Nabilah closed her eyes and looked into her locket again which used to contain a picture of the both of them. In it, Andy pressed her lips against Nabilah’s left cheek, staring at it now Nabilah could almost feel the soft kiss on her face. It was the day they went to the Moving Fair, it was their first date.
But now the picture showed only Nabilah, no sign of Andy in it because instead of in the locket she was at the kitchen door, wearing the exact same outfit in the photo, from her frizzy black curls to her dirty black converses and in between, the ugliest band t-shirt Nabilah had ever seen.
“I only wear it to seem more interesting than I actually am, I don’t even know what band this is.” She said the night Nabilah told her how she really felt about the worn out black t-shirt. That night they streamed the band’s entire discography, drunk dancing to a genre they couldn’t quite place their finger on. Nabilah argued the band was obviously alternative dance punk and Andy said it could only be hard indie rock.
Nabilah replayed this memory in her head so vividly that she didn’t notice locket Andy stood directly on front of her now with her face was so close that if Nabilah moved an inch there would be full lip contact between them, which would only be the beginning of a 10 year therapy subscription. How would she explain the trauma of kissing her dead girlfriend over the kitchen sink? She would truly rather not go through that. She began to whisper “Andy, you’re supposed to be-“
“No. Don’t say it.” Andy cut her off so quickly, Nabilah was sure she was reading her mind. “Don’t acknowledge this Nabilah, just let me be here, don’t say that word.” Nabilah decided to try blinking again, a longer blink this time, a mini prayer too, maybe this time it would work. She opened her eyes and Andy was still there, leaning on the counter and staring at her like she was the one who jumped out of a fake gold locket.
Nabilah left the kitchen and rushed to the balcony, she needed some fresh air, that was it. Definitely if she stepped outside, this terrible hallucination would crumble and she would go back to her apartment and take some Advil. She shut the door and closed the curtains. There, no more Andy.
“I missed you mi azul.” Nabilah nearly tipped off the railing when she heard that nickname, when she heard it from Andy’s mouth. Nabilah needed to believe that Andy was not at her back right now calling her Blue, she needed to look back and see only her grandma’s old ankara curtains. She did not want, or truthfully need to look back and behold that hauntingly beautiful pale face again. The face she had already seen being swallowed into the ground. She faced the blue sky and recalled why Andy called her that — “The sky looks pretty today but you look even prettier.” She didn’t feel deserving of that name today, she hadn’t felt that way for a long time.
Nabilah shut her eyes really tight this time before she turned around, she prayed to any god that found her worthy enough to listen to. She prayed to turn back and see her grandmother’s custom ankara curtains and not her very dead girlfriend.
Apparently Nabilah was not deemed worthy by any god because she was met by Andy’s defiant glare once again. She walked towards Nabilah and she could swear her dull life went before her eyes in that moment. She had a sinister smile on, she knew Nabilah was buckling in front of her, she knew any small movement of hers would trigger Nabilah’s fight or flight response in which 9 times out of 10, flight was her answer. She reached out to her face and when her touch landed Nabilah shivered beneath it. Andy felt real.
They both felt real in that moment. Andy realized that she was actually in front of Nabilah and Nabilah had the same awful realization about Andy. Nabilah cried as she felt Andy’s fingers run from her cheekbone to the back of her head, taking a fist full of her braids. Nabilah solemnly understood that therapy would not be enough to fix this.
And when Andy kissed her, Nabilah made up her mind to go back to Ibadan. Even if she did wake up tomorrow morning without Andy, even if it were true that she was just having some kind of crazy lucid dream, Nabilah would no longer be staying here. She would never get over the surreal feeling of seeing Andy, of feeling her today, almost a year after her death. Nabilah might have as well been kissing dust and bones.
Maybe Nabilah’s mother was right, maybe there was a demon inside of her — maybe something dark did need to be cast out. Maybe if she went back to Ibadan with her tail between her legs to her family and to Father at the church then maybe, just maybe Andy would free her. Nabilah’s mental packing and her heart stopped dead in their tracks when she heard Andy reply.
“I will go with you.”