The first time you kissed a boy, you were eight. It was in a dream; a crazy dream. The act: however insignificant and nonsensical, brewed logical questions spilling at the pool of your mind. The questions, what kind of dream is this? What am I slowly turning into? In this dream, another boy was holding your hands, the ridges of your back resting on a street pole. The sky was a clothed silver across the hazy sheets of moving clouds, trundling like a circumferential cycle wheeling round and round in a way so magical you weren’t sure if that moment was in a dream or a distant memory. It doesn’t matter now. What pleasure was sweeter than his lips, wet and red, soaking your tongue in a feverish ecstasy? His breath, though scented as yours, whooshing directly toward your face.
What pleasure was more nostalgic than the feel of a liquid seeping down your throat as your whitish, quintessential fluid slipped away from your crotch? You had woken up that morning, and you didn’t bring the stain to your mother’s sight. Instead, you pulled off the brief you wore to bed, the brief chopping off your skin as you did, a stingy bite that neither bled nor sore. It hurt, hurt more than it had sweetened you. Everything hurt, even the exact words to tell it to your mother hurt. He was a boy like you; a boy of several blooming colors. You lacked words when, the next morning after this incident, sitting right there beside your mother in the kitchen, watching her fan some lukewarm embers into flames, you had wondered what would happen if you take her hands into yours and, amid stutters, say: “Mama, I kissed a boy. Today.”
The spontaneity of that moment was strange and beautiful that you couldn’t explain it. It was beyond words, beyond understanding.
When another strange incident happened again, you were twelve. It manifested through tiny dots on your face. You were peering into your mother’s mirror when you discovered it sitting on the bridge of your nose. You touched it, and later you ran a cursory pinch on its fullness, caressing it. You imagined it growing and spreading like a mole across your nose, claiming the little space between your eyes and your forehead. But it was just a pimple. You beamed at the mirror and scoffed resentfully. You sighed deeply, like an athlete who had just arrived at a finish line.
You didn’t need anyone to tell you that you were slowly changing; and that the new growth of the stubborn pimple was drastic. You marveled at how it wore the same brown tone as your skin. How, a few days later, it began to unclothe itself, revealing parchment of dried white skin peeling off from your face like the splotches that had suddenly surfaced on your skin the day you turned ten. Your mother, dazed, had dragged you to a tall, tanned building the inside smelled of antiseptics, where a bald man had diagnosed you and confirmed you had chicken pox.
You are nineteen now. You are lying splayed–out inside the one-bedroom apartment you share with your mother. The room is dark and calm save for your mother’s slow breathing. Then, your moans come emitting from your parted lips; a series of unrelated sounds disturbing your mother’s ears. Your mother rises. She listens. You are calling out a name: ‘Denis,’ to her hearing. Denis is the boy of your dreams. The boy you often saw in varying shades, sometimes between the silver-colored, hazy atmosphere of your dreams or a streak of sunlight slanting in through the classroom window in your school.
Your mother doesn’t wait for this mess to continue. It is an abomination—his son calling out another boy’s name in such sexually-raw manner.
“Kenechukwu,” She calls, tapping you awake.
“Mum,” Your lips slurp to answer.
“Who is Denis?” She asks.
You don’t answer. She draws you up and prods you to your feet She asks you again: who is Denis? A line from your fluid leaks through your short, drawing skewed maps underneath. A foul smell accompanies it. You know that smell now, your mother knows it too. You see it in her eyes as she cocks her head, gaping at you, curious. Between clenched lips, you think about how to explain to her that you are transforming. That it is your fellow boy you are crushing on. That, even though it might sound like a fairy tale to her–you–her only son was gay. Born gay. No amount of prayers or Bible verses could stop you from this imminent transformation.
But you don’t say. Instead, you focus on a brown cockroach perching on a cupboard beside the bed where you stood, and it reminds you of your skin.
Nwabuisi Kenneth is a voracious reader and a writer. He holds a B.A in English and Literary studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he lives, reads and writes fiction. His works have appeared and are forthcoming on: Brittle paper, Kalahari review, Salamander ink magazine, Eboquills, one black boy like that review, cmonionline.com, fiery scribe review, Libretto magazine, ANA review, 2021 and elsewhere.