The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

By L.A. Lutara

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

PROLOGUE

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

3:07 AM

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

I cant sleep… Who would have thought that the scent of 15 minute old sex could prove so fucking toxic? I reek of her. The scent of our spent passion emanating from my very pores. I would kill for a shower but in spite of everything, I still care about what she might think. Waking up to the sound of running water, the imprint of our melding bodies still fresh on my sheets. And I dare ask: why should I even care? Am I at all fond of her in any way, shape or form? Hardly. In fact, if truth be told, she’s nothing more and maybe even a little less than a paltry booty call and the sooner she realized that the better. But still I hesitate. And I ask myself: which one is better- to tell her the truth now and risk breaking her heart or continue to lead her on and forestall that storm until I'm truly sick of pretending? The answer to that one is simple: procrastination is one of my biggest vices; she can sleep well- her heart will not be broken tonight. I take another drag of the last of my secret stash of happy stix. Damn that feels good. Of course the living room will reek of it tomorrow morning but fuck it, right now I need this. I need to go a little crazy right now. To see the humor in all of this. And if not the humor then at least the lighter side of the tragedy of it all. I chuckle to myself. "The lighter side of the tragedy of it all"? who the fuck do you think you are? you aint no Shakespeare, that’s for sure. A Don Jaun? A Casanova maybe? Not even close. I'm just another guy screwing around with some unsuspecting girl who, chances are, will leave first thing in the morning and wont see or hear from me until my dick starts perpetually pressing itself against my jeans again. The humor in that one will always be lost on me, no matter how high I get.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

3:28 AM

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

Another drag and here I am still waiting for the bedroom door to open followed by her voice asking me in that accusatory tone of hers what the fuck do I think I'm doing. Its funny, because even though she has already taken care to stake her claim, to jot my name down in the 'assets' column of her life she has never once stopped to ask herself what it is exactly I want from her. I chuckle. How naive can she possibly be? Doesn’t she know that a guy will do and say just about anything to get a little pussy? And so if she does manage to go away with anything from this soon to be short lived liaison, it should be that men should never be trusted. No matter how sincere they seem to be. I run my hand over my three week old cornrows. They look fucking awful. They’re supposed to last for another week but the way things are going, I doubt they’ll make it that long. Fuck, who would have thought that I would be the one standing here in front of the class teaching this one? My sole student a naked nineteen year old girl fast asleep, warmly wrapped in a blanket of lies. It's funny how we always become the things we most despise.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

3:44 AM

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

I must be stoned because I cant stop laughing. I’ve just burned a hole in the carpet the size of Texas and here I am fucking laughing about it. I manage to stop long enough to take a sip of water. To wet my lips. and the front of my shirt. Its the closest thing I'm going to get to a shower until morning however and so I savor it as much as possible. Another sip and it feels as if the walls are closing in. The blunt is now nothing more than a butt of chalky ash smoldering on the coffee table next to my half empty glass of water. Or is it half full? Whatever the case, I don’t feel any better. A little light headed and a smidgen giddy maybe but when it comes right down to it, nothing has changed. I still feel like shit and I know I still wont be able to sleep. But even though, its still time for me to go back to bed. To run back to everything that’s wrong with me. And so is there really no chance for salvation? a part of me asks. I sniff the air. More than that, I breathe it in, my eyes narrowing to mere slits. After a moment I slowly exhale. My limbs loosening as my lungs empty. No, I realize. At least not for tonight.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

PART I

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

*** “So, are you going to tell me what happened?" I lean back against the door frame, pretend to think about this for a second. "Um, lemme see…” I stare up at the ceiling, “No." Peter laughs at this but continues to iron his shirt. "Why not?" Stuffing my hands into the pockets of my track suit bottoms I ask him why I should. "Because you’re supposed to tell me everything." Peter says, pausing to turn the shirt over so he can pass over the front. Now it is my turn to laugh. "You’re joking right?" The iron hovering an inch or so above his shirt Peter looks up at me, his expression saying 'Do I look like I'm joking?' Sighing, I shrug. "Fine. She came over, we fucked and she left. You happy?" "Not really; I want details bro. That chick has goodies, you must have had a blast." I shrug again. "It was aight. She made me do most of the work though." "Hence the shower?" Peter is ironing again. "Hence the shower." I confirm. We both laugh. "So where'd you guys do it?" He is now on the sleeves. He stops momentarily to watch my reaction to the

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty question. Aren’t you a horny bastard? I think to myself. "The beauty's in the details, my brother. Now answer the question." He's smiling. I give him one of my own. "In your room." "Oh...Ok." He starts on the right sleeve. "Wait," He looks up at me, "You did it in here?" "Yep." I say smoothly, my tone smug, a sly grin on my face. "So I think you better change those sheets. Unless of course you like sleeping on cum stains. and if you do, I'm really not one to judge..." One look at Peter tells me that he's not a happy camper. "Joking...." I tell him, putting up my hands in defense, "Really. It was a joke." Peter doesn’t look too convinced "Ok, look. The first time was in the sitting room and the other two in my room. and oh, I somehow managed to make her cry." This little tid bit of information seems to prick his interest. "You mean she's a crier?" He asks, his shirt completely forgotten. "No, she's actually quite the talker." "But I thought you just said that she cried. That you made her cry." "I did- she did. She kind of cried in between rounds." "Wow, it was that bad huh?" "Or that good." I counter. Peter chuckles. "Knowing you...? I doubt it." "You’re funny. But seriously, it was sort of something I said." "What'd you say?" I take a moment to figure out the best way to answer that. "Ok, you know what? I might as well tell you the whole story. but before you get

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty too excited, I'm cutting out the sex." Chuckling, Peter shakes his head. "Fine. Just gimme whatchu got, you little prude." "Ok, first of all, I'm not a prude-" "Not listening." Peter interrupts. "Ok, fine," I say a tad bit more than exasperated, "this is what happened..."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

The Last Time

The sheets were slick beneath me. Damp, sticking to the skin of my back. My flaccid penis sticking to the side of my thigh. Taking deep and measured breaths I turned my head. Examined her. She was out of breath; her hair sticking to her forehead and to the side of her face. Her eyes were closed and she was chewing on her bottom lip. My eyes leaving her face, I steered my gaze towards her breasts. They were large and firm. Beautifully shaped. The nipple of one still hard and taut, almost seeming to plead with me to play with it. I closed my eyes, but only briefly... took a deep breath. Her caramel skin glistened, the tiny beads of sweat that had erupted over every inch of her body turning her into a bronzened goddess... God, she was beautiful. Shifting my gaze again, I watched as my hand, acting as if it had a mind of its own, slithered across the small space of mattress that separated us, towards her. It snaked up her side and across her flat abdomen cupping a breast. She let out a soft moan as my thumb slowly circled her areola. Shifting her weight she moved from laying on her back to resting on her side, closing the distance between us.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty After a moment her lips were on my neck, her hand cupping my still flaccid penis. With an expert hand she stroked it, her lips sucking, her teeth occasionally nipping the nape of my neck. It had only been a few minutes but I began to feel myself slowly harden. Instead of allowing myself to enjoy it, however, I grabbed her wrist to stop her. There was a slight sucking sound as the vacuum between my neck and her mouth broke and she leaned back to examine me. "You don’t want me to touch you?" she asked. Her voice was hoarse. Her expression hurt. I pried open her fingers and rested her hand on my stomach as a way of an answer. She held my gaze for a few more moments and then after seeing in them what she needed to, fell back onto her back. An awkward silence fell over us, punctuated only by a soft cough or the clearing of a throat. Staring up at the ceiling, I tried my best to concentrate on the dust gathering on the florescent tube above me and so I felt rather than saw her turn towards me, making sure, however, not to come any closer. "So your girlfriend- does she live nearby?" Her voice shooting my concentration to bits, my eyes plummeted back to earth, landing on her face. She was watching me. "I don’t have one." I answered, trying to sound as breezy as possible. Her laugh was mirthless, she didn’t believe me. "Of course you do." "No...I don’t." I tried to assure her. "Okay," she said, still obviously thinking I was lying, "Then why not?" I thought about that for a second, decided to tell her the truth. "They’re too much work." I told her, "I don’t need that hassle." She was quiet for a moment and then, "I still don’t know whether I should believe you but okay." Pause. "I have a boyfriend you know."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty I smiled. I had heard that one before and more times than not they were lying, just trying to see how I would react. "What's so funny?" she asked. I licked my lips, "Nothing really," I told her. "But if you have a boyfriend, then why are you here?" "You know why I'm here." At this she moved closer, resting her head on my shoulder, her hand on my chest. I had no answer for this and so I kept silent, allowing her to get comfortable. After a few moments she began to play with the hair on my chest, stroking it, gently pulling at it. "So how many girls are you fucking, Lloyd?" The question caught me off guard and I quickly racked my brain for an answer that wasn’t an answer to her question. I settled for, "What kind of question is that?" She continued to stroke. "The kind that requires an answer." "It doesn’t matter." I said offhandedly. "Well it does to me." Damn she was persistent. "Well it shouldn’t," I said a tad too sharply. "Why not?" she cut in, "Wait, you don’t even have to answer that. Because all I am is one of the girls you do fuck, right?" I didn’t say yes but I might as well have. It was written all over my face. Abruptly sitting up, she slid off the bed and got to her feet. She looked around for her knickers and after finding them, stepped into them. Next were the super tight jeans that I had peeled off of her not an hour before. These she had to tug and pull and wriggle into. Once she had zipped and buttoned them up she turned to face me, her breasts lightly bouncing as she did so. "Its obvious that you don’t give a fuck about me beyond fucking me," she said, her tiny hands on her tiny waist.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty This was supposed to be my cue to ask her how she could believe that or to tell her that I really cared about her and didn’t know how she could think otherwise or some other nonsense like that but instead all I did was lie there and stare at her breasts. Another mirthless laugh escaped her lips as she bent over to scoop up her bra. "That’s all I am to you, isn’t it Lloyd? A pair of fucking C cups." At this she shook her bra in front of my face, emphasizing her point. "You know what? This is the last time I'm doing this. That we're doing this." I had been looking for my way out and there it was. I had given her the key and she had opened the door and pushed me towards it herself. But even though, I couldn’t seem too eager, I had to make a pass at putting up a little resistance. and if not that then at least a little reluctance. I sat up. Suddenly becoming self conscious, I covered myself with a sheet, wrapping it around my waist. "You cant be serious." "Why wouldn’t I be Lloyd?" I let out a sigh. Let the silence linger for a couple of seconds. "Well if you’re sure that’s what you want-" "It is." "-then I'm not about to try and convince you otherwise." My words hung in the air between us. Creating a haze like the smoldering butt of a cigarette. Swiping her blouse from where it lay on the extra bed she stormed out of the room. I didn’t try to stop her. A moment later I heard the door of the bathroom slam closed followed by a click. She had locked herself inside. Getting up I followed her. I heard the sound of water running as I placed my ear next to the door. Below it, however, there was another sound. It took me a moment to place it but when I did I felt my heart sink. It was the sound of sobbing. Jerky and uncontrolled. She was crying. Not knowing what to say but knowing that whatever I did say would only fall on

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty deaf ears, I turned away from the door. Walked the few feet back to my room. Letting my guilty bones fall onto the bed as heavily as a bag of cement, I ran my hands through my hair. This is the last time I'm doing this, I told myself. And no fucking exceptions. There was a click and then a moment later she appeared in the doorway. I sat up. Almost swallowed my tongue. She was in nothing but her knickers. I raised an eyebrow. "I thought you were leaving." She gave me a wry smile. "What can I say, pain makes me horny." "The last time?" I asked her. She tossed her bra, blouse and jeans onto the spare bed. "The last time." she confirmed. As she walked towards me I gave her a wry smile of my own. "And no fucking exceptions."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

Red Panties

My lips tightly pressed against hers, her tongue in my mouth, I pulled at the edges of her panties. They were made of lace and were richly textured beneath my fingers. She lifted her hips off the mattress so I could begin their journey southwards. Breaking our kiss I leaned back and slid them down her thighs, past her legs and over her feet. Gripping them with one hand I held them up. "So what do you think?" she asked me with a sly grin on her face. "Well I don’t usually go for red," I started, "but pulling them off of you...well, I must say, that was a pretty narley experience." She laughed. Gave me a playful slap. "Narley? Who even says that?" "I guess now you do." I said poking her in her side. Tugging at my wife beater she pulled me in for a kiss. "You’re crazy, you know that?" Breaking the kiss again after a few minutes I asked her, "But why red?" She told me that they made her feel sexy. That even though she had bought them over a month ago she had never had a reason to wear them. Not until today anyway. 18

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty And seeing as this was the first time we were sleeping together it wasn’t that much of a stretch to take this to mean that she had come with the express intentions of giving it up. "Then...it...must...be...my...lucky...day." I said between kisses. I slid a hand under the folds of her blouse which she was still wearing. Her breasts were small and so there was no bra to contend with. After a few minutes of fevered fondling and quiet moans in which time she had wrapped her legs around my waist hooking her feet just above my butt, I withdrew my hand and began tugging at her blouse. Getting the idea she raised her hands above her head and I pulled it off. "Now it's your turn." she said a little breathlessly pulling at the bottom of my wife beater. I pulled it off and tossed it in the general direction her blouse had taken moments before. "My aren’t we hairy." She said teasingly, running a hand over my chest. "You know what they say about hairy men don’t you?" "No. What?" She asked moving her hand from my chest to my bearded face. "I have no fucking idea." Laughing, she wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled me down towards her. As our kisses became more manic and the air seemed to almost crackle with the heat of our passion, freeing up one hand I tugged down my boxers, kicking out of them and freeing my straining erection. Teasing her before I finally entered her, when I finally did I felt her stiffen beneath me as she let out a gasp. She was a loud one, her, and as her screams scaled higher in pitch and in volume I began to worry that even the neighbors would hear her. It was not until a few days later that my roommate admitted to me that he had heard her and that he had cheered me on, every scream of the way. As we lay there breathless and sweaty, her on top of me, using me as her mattress, the peaceful silence was broken by the shrill sound of her phone ringing.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "Are you going to get that?" I asked her. I felt her shake her head. "Nope." It was a minute or two before the person gave up and the ringing stopped. "So tell me something," I started, placing my hands behind my head. "Uh-huh," "Are you always that loud or was all of that just because of the panties?" Laughing, she gave me a sharp pinch and told me that I talk too much. "Well?" I asked while rubbing the spot where she had pinched me. "Well what?" she said, removing my hand and rubbing it for me. "Which one is it?" "Which one do you think?" I gave it a moments deliberation. "The panties." I said rubbing my chin pretending to be thoughtful. Then flipping her onto her back I spread her legs using mine to jimmy them. "Most definitely the panties."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

The Last Time II
Feat. A poem by Didi

We had agreed that what we had was nothing more than a fling. A no emotions, no strings attached and consequently no complications kind of thing. The kind of thing where if we go out somewhere, she does her thing and I do mine but at the end of the night we both know who we're going home with. But as we sat there, me in an aluminum backed chair, her in my lap, she asked me a question that threatened to change all of that. "So...are you my boyfriend now or...?" She let the question trail off, either not needing to or not wanting to finish it. I looked up at her. It was one of those situations where I had to answer her question without really answering it. That usually meant asking a question of my own and so I asked her what she wanted. She looked around, took a sip of her beer. "I don’t know." She said without looking at me. "You don’t know what you want?" I repeated after her. I felt her shake her head. "Nope." I paused, I had to consider my words carefully. "Then how about we just see how it goes, huh?" 21

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty There was another pause and then, "Okay." I could tell she wasn’t satisfied with my suggestion but I also knew that she would accept it. At least for then. Looking back, the rest of the night is kind of a blur. One of the moments that does come into freeze frame focus, though, is the moment I ran into Kasey. In particular, the look of surprise and mild resentment on her face obviously caused by the fact that she had found me with my hands around another girl's waist. I went after her but by the time I caught up with her she was gone. I tried calling her but she wouldn’t pick up her phone. I'm still trying to decide whether I should send her a message or something and try to salvage the little that we had. Even if what we did have only amounts to a few text messages and a make out session in the back of the club. The next freeze frame that comes into focus is the moment when we jumped out of the taxi. We had just dropped off Sid, Tracey, Johnny and Carol and the taxi guy was refusing to go any further than the entrance of Ndere Centre. It was another three thousand up to my door. We decided to get out and walk. Although she had stopped complaining about her feet and those blasted heels she had decided to wear I knew that the hill up and the hill down to my place would be murder on them. Even though, there was no way I was going to give into her pleadings to pick her up and carry her. Not because I didn’t want to but because quite frankly put, I was piss drunk and I knew I wouldn’t make it that far. As we walked down the final stretch to the house, my roommate Peter about a hundred meters ahead of us, she said something about how she had not expected to drink as much as she had. "Don’t worry," I told her, throwing her a suggestive look I hoped she would see in the semi darkness. "By the time I'm done with you you'll be a sober as a church mouse ." There was a smirk in her voice when she said, "Uh-huh" We were asleep ten minutes later. Like always, she was cradled in my arms when I awoke the next morning. I could

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty just make out the subtle, almost indistinguishable movements of her breathing. The peacefulness of the morning lulled me, however, and I found myself drifting off again. It wasn’t until, sighing, she pressed her bottom against my front that I woke up again. Slipping a hand under the t-shirt I had given her to wear when we got home, I found her breasts. It was several minutes before I had her on her back and I was on top of her with my tongue in her mouth. Her panties came off, black this time, and so did my boxers. Before long she was biting her lips to stifle her screams and I was beginning to sweat like I was shedding a layer of skin. Then the oddest thing happened. Something that has never happened before and that I hope will never happen again. One moment she was clawing at the head board above her the next she was clawing at my chest telling me to get the fuck off her. It wasn’t until she dug her nails into my arm almost drawing blood that I took her seriously. Slipping out of her I flopped down onto the mattress next to her. She turned away, extending to the edge of the bed and curling herself into a ball. Putting a hand around her waist I tried to pull her back towards me but all she did is slap my arm away. Seeing that hadn’t worked, I extended myself closer to her. "What’s wrong?" I asked her. No answer. I repeated the question. This time there was one. "Nothing." she said. It was almost a whisper. "Nothing?" I asked her disbelievingly. "Just leave it alone Lloyd." she breathed with a sigh. "You totally freak out in the middle of fucking and you want me to just leave it alone? You must be joking." She turned to face me. Placed a hand on my face. "I just have a lot on my mind right now, alright?" "Like...?" "Its complicated."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "Then uncomplicate it." "Lloyd..." I removed her hand from my face. "If you don’t want to tell me then fine-dont." I turned away from her. extended to the other side of the bed. I heard her sigh then a moment later I felt the sheet that had been rumpled up with the blanket on the floor fall over me. I continued to stare up at the ceiling. "You could at least say thank you." "What for?" I shot back without glancing in her direction. She sighed again. "Never mind." And suddenly an invisible rift had opened up between us. I immediately wanted to bridge it, I really did, but had no idea how to. Telling myself that I needed to sleep on it I closed my eyes. There was no sleep to be had however, and I soon found myself staring up at the ceiling again wondering what the fuck I had done wrong. Raking my brain, it didn’t take long to realize that it had something to do with the question she had asked me the night before. About me being her boyfriend. And my response. In fact, especially my response. And that's when the words in my head started to form. I let them formulate, let the paragraphs incubate before, not being able to take it anymore I jumped out of bed and grabbed a pen and a note book from the sitting room. Sitting down on the bed with my back against the wall I told her that I was going to write something then read it out to her. She nodded slightly. "Okay." As I wrote she tried to make small talk but I was barely listening. She obviously noticed but kept on talking anyway. It wasn’t until more than a page later that I said, "Okay, here it is." I had written up to the point where I had mentioned running into Julie. once I had finished I asked her for comments.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty She lay there, saying nothing. "Well?" I pressed her. "Well What? What do you want me to say Lloyd?" She attempted to cover her head with the blanket but I wouldn’t let her. I told her that those were my thoughts, now I wanted hers. She gave me a whole lot of bull about how she never shares her thoughts or how she feels with anybody but I persisted until sounding rather exasperated she finally said, "Okay fine. Get me the pen and notebook and I'll write it down for you. I hope you'll be able to read my handwriting." "Or you could just read it out to me." "But why would I do that?" she asked sitting up slightly. "That would just be a waste of time, ink and paper. No, you'll read it yourself." Unlike her I didn’t try to make small talk while she wrote. We were relatively quiet until she said, "Okay, here, have a look." This is what she wrote:

HOW I FEEL ABOUT YOU
That first night, the night I met you There was nothing that struck me about you You came said hi, introduced yourself I'm not attracted to cute guys And that’s what you are. The night went by I started to flirt but that was for fun. We happened to be going to the same place Later that night. Why not talk to him anyway? So there we were, me and you

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty You said something, I brushed it off I knew I wouldn’t see you again At least that’s what I thought. I got to know you better We had so much in common Our character, personality, even our dreams I sat there listening to you You said what was on my mind Was this a mistake, I asked myself. I’ve never been with someone this alike to me. Our kiss, the first one like that I felt I breathed you into me. The way we made love that first time No one had done it like that. Thought I'd found the one The one guy I'd been searching for The one guy I'd prayed so much for. Then that blow came, you said it was a fling My heart felt crushed, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing I decided to play along, I didn’t agree to it. Then you asked if I minded PDA You wanted to make this "fling" public I thought you'd changed your mind. I wanted clarity last night. I wanted to know if you were the one The guy who'd make my dreams come true That’s why I asked you that question You asked me what I wanted I knew what I wanted, I always know what I want And that’s why I go for it And that’s why I'm still with you.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Heaven Sent- Keisha Cole Did you know that’s how I felt about you? Now you ask me that question again What is it that you want You ask me to tell you what’s on my mind Now you know, you know how I feel about you So what now? You’ve made up your mind already I don’t want you to change your mind Don’t let this change your decisions Its your life you know. I will get over it I will move on But you should know I cant spend anymore weekends with you This is our last weekend together 'cause its just a fling right? She signed it off with a squiggly line with a heart at the end and her name. Lying flat on my back I let the notebook lie face down on my chest. "So...why didn’t you say something earlier?" I asked her after taking a few moments to digest what she had written. "I don’t want to talk about it Lloyd." I turned my head so that I could look at her. She turned hers away so that I couldn’t. "We're going to have to have this conversation sooner or later, you know." I placed a hand on her shoulder so that I could pull her closer. "Don’t touch me." She snapped. I withdrew my hand. Realizing I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this I asked her what she wanted for breakfast.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "We could make French toast." she suggested after a pause. French toast sounded good and so feeling too lazy to go to the shops myself I went and woke Ronnie to go and do it for me. We made breakfast while Ronnie went back to sleep. Things were pretty relaxed between us. Conversation had always been easy with her but now every time I brought up 'The Conversation' all she would do is give me the run around; either faking a case of amnesia or just telling me that things were fine the way they were. As far as she was concerned after that day we would never see each other again and that suited her just fine. Why complicate things? "You mean more than they already are?" I asked her. She was silent. "You do realize that if we don’t talk about it, things will only get more complicated, don’t you?" I pressed. She didn’t say anything but the look on her face told me that she did realize that. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later, however that she finally said, "Okay, spit it out- now. Before I change my mind." But I was quite surprised to find that when I opened my mouth, she had been right; there really wasn’t that much to say. It had all already been said. She wanted something serious and I just couldn’t give that to her. and so it all boiled down to one thing: What now? It didn’t once cross my mind, however, to suggest that we could just be friends. Not only would have it have sounded cliché but it also wouldn’t have been fair to her, knowing how she felt about me. and so what we were left with were two gift wrapped boxes of goodbyes. One for the each of us. When it finally came time for her to leave, I sat her down on the couch, leaned in and asked her, "How about one last kiss?" She shook her head, "Not a good idea Lloyd." "why not?" I asked moving closer.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "Because I don’t want it to turn into something else, that's why." "Okay. ten seconds. max." She thought about that. "Five." "Seven and a half." Pause. "Fine." Then, leaning in, as if for our very first kiss, our lips met for the very last time. ...6...7...8...9... She pulled away. I tried to lean in again but she placed a finger on my lips. "A deal is a deal." She whispered. "But-" "No buts Lloyd. It's time for me to go." Knowing that I was defeated I tried to smile. "I guess it is." As I watched her climb into a taxi the last few lines of her poem floated to the surface of mind. I will get over it I will move on But you should know I cant spend anymore weekends with you This is our last weekend together 'cause its just a fling right?

Stuffing my hands in my pocket I shuffled my ass home. Right.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

Shower

I peeled off her jacket. Threw it onto the spare bed. Pressing her up against the wall I searched for her lips with mine. Finding them I kissed her gently, a hand slipping up under her blouse. She responded instantly, wrapping an arm around my neck, pulling me closer to her. It wasn’t long however, before she broke the kiss and mumbled something about having to go to the bathroom. Taking a step back I examined her. No she didn’t. She had forgotten that I know her. That we played this game every time we got together. She liked being pleaded with so that she would feel like less of a whore. And me being the kind of guy I am, I told her what she wanted to hear every single time. Not this time though. At least not yet. I let out a mirthless laugh. "No you don’t." I told her. "You’re forgetting I know you." "I do." She insisted. "Really." I threw her a smile. "Fine. Then let me go with you." I knew that if I let her go alone she would go and get Stacey and they would be gone so fast that Herb and I would have no choice but to jerk off and go to bed alone. I wasn’t about to let that happen. For both of our sakes.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "Its not like I haven’t seen you naked before." I pointed out, tilting my head to the side. "That's different." She said, gently removing my hand that had been steadily fondling one of her breasts. "How?" I inquired, taking the same hand and running it down the right side of her face. She didn’t have an answer for that one. Smiling I took her hand in mine and pulled her towards the bathroom. Shutting it, I locked the door behind us. Crossing my arms across my chest I stood with my back against it. "So...?" She flashed me an apologetic smile. "I lied." I smiled back. "I know." Taking a step sedately towards me, closing the distance between us, she placed a hand on my face. "Then how about we go back to the bedroom?" She was trying to get away again. Vying with me to plead with her- not this time. "Right here is as good a place as any." I told her, leaning in for a kiss. This time she met me half way and so placing my hands on her hips I gently maneuvered her towards the opposite wall of the bathroom. Her back feeling the firmness of the wall behind her, her front feeling the firmness of my erection she finally realized that there was going to be no more running and so admitting to herself that she was in fact as turned on as I was, she let herself go. The change was instant. Her kisses suddenly became more frantic, fevered even. More than once I felt the slight sting of her teeth sinking into my lower lip. Her breath perceptively quickening, she began tugging at my shirt and in between gasps managed to get her message across: Take it off. I did without a pause, letting it fall carelessly to the tiled floor. Then tugging at the bottom of her blouse I told her to put up her hands. She obeyed and I peeled off her top, which landed next to my t-shirt and vest.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "My top..." She protested slightly. Looking down I noticed the water on the floor for the very first time. Bending over I scooped up both hers and mine and swung them over the rod for the shower curtain. Then cupping her face with both of my hands I leaned in for another frenzied kiss. After a moment my lips left her face, traveling down her jaw to her neck to her chest which I had freed from the confines of her bra moments before. As I took one of her nipples into my mouth I felt a shiver run through her body as she let out a slight moan. She was now unbuckling my belt. Following her initiative I unbuttoned her jeans then tugging at both them and her panties pulled them down until they were below her knees after which gravity took its course. Pausing slightly, she took a moment to slide her arms out of the straps of her bra which now hung around her waist like a strange lace belt. In the interim. Taking over her job I unbuttoned my jeans and pulled them down along with my boxers. Cupping my penis in her hand she began to slowly stroke me while using her free hand to pull me in for another kiss. As my tongue seductively danced with hers my hand seductively danced around her secret garden until moments later I felt her wetness pour over my fingers. But still I didn’t stop. Looking her in the face, I watched as she bit down on her lip to stifle her moans, her eyes tightly shut to concentrate on the waves of pleasure washing over her. After a moment I stopped her, and began guiding myself towards her. Feeling rather than seeing her eyes flutter open I met her gaze. She didn’t have to verbalize it, I knew what she was asking. What about a condom? I glanced back at the door. That would mean going back to the bedroom then back again. A waste of time. and I never carried any on me when I knew I would just be bringing whoever it is back home. That would just be a waste of wallet space. And anyway, I rationalized with myself, we fucked for two months without using them, why should this time be any different? Even if it had been three months since we last fucked. Knowing that she already knew this and was probably telling herself the very same thing. I turned my head to face her again. "Don’t need one." I told her firmly. There was no room for questions.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty She didn’t fuss, she didn’t fight but instead guided me herself. As I entered her inch by inch I realized I had forgotten just how tight she was. I was going to have to take it easy with her or it was going to be over for me before it even began for her. Easier said than done I realized as she stepped out of her jeans, I lifted her off the tiled floor and she wrapped her legs around my waist. We were both hungrier than I could have imagined and as we climbed higher and higher, it became more febrile, more manic, more urgent, more frantic. It was rough, almost primal in nature. Setting her down, I just managed to pull out of her as I came, spraying the inside of her leg. An involuntary groan issuing from my throat as I did. After a moment or two, of which we used to catch our breaths, she roughly pushed me off of her and told me to get dressed. I did so without saying a word, wiping myself down, pulling up my jeans and buttoning them up. I watched as she washed herself down before pulling on her own jeans. I threw on my vest but didn’t bother with my shirt simply flipping it over my shoulder. After slipping on her bra she told me to go and get her handbag, she needed to freshen upShe had work in half an hour.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

Not as Simple as That

“It's a shame we cant be together.” I thought as I watched her. She was pouring herself another class of coke but then I barely registered that. My eyes were plastered to the patch of exposed skin that started from the bottom of her top and ended where her jeans began. Leaning over she managed to emphasize without apparent effort or even knowledge the slimness of her waist. I sucked in some air. .”because God and every angel in heaven has got to know that we're amazing together.” She must have felt me watching because she turned her head to face me and gave me that mega watted smile of hers. "Whaaaat?" she asked me, her smile not slackening. I bit down on my lip but then after a second decided to tell her what was on my mind... "Our plight." she admitted after I had finished, the sunshine of her smile sliding behind a cloud. She had just spent the night, which I had found quite odd considering it had been a Friday and she had told me point blank a couple of weeks before that we wouldn’t be spending any more weekends together. 34

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Neither of us had gotten much sleep. And not because we were busy fucking our brains out either. She had made it pretty clear that she didn’t want to be touched and I had respected that. At least I had after trying to kiss her and being denied so completely that I almost ended up sleeping on the couch because of the shame of it. And you know what the funny thing is? She had been drunk, in fact drunker than drunk. The 'I need to go pee' every two minutes kind of drunk but still she had stuck to her resolution. There would be no parking my car in her garage that night. The result had been a night of fitful sleep, of tossing and turning and for her going to the bathroom way more times than necessary. We tried to make light of it the following morning but the awkwardness that lay in the bed between us was so palatable that I could have sworn that it tasted like day old chicken that someone had forgotten to cover and put in the fridge. holding my glass with one hand I ran a finger around the rim of the glass. Took a sip of my coke. It was cold and the bubbles kissed the skin above my upper lip. "Our plight indeed." I agreed. "I like that word." I added after a moment. "What? Plight?" "No, 'Indeed'." She smiled. Tried to hide it by taking a sip of her drink. "You’ve always been good at making me laugh, you know." I nodded. "And most of the time it's not even intentional." "I know, right? Just watching you gives me the giggles." "Hey, hey, hey." I said pointing a warning finger at her. "What?" she asked, cupping my finger and pulling at it. "It's not my fault I'm beautiful. If you have issues with that, take it up with the big guy upstairs." At this last part I tugged my finger free from the vice she had it in and pointed up at the ceiling. She had a good laugh at that. "God, you are so full of yourself." she breathed combing her hair out of her face with her hands.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "And with good reason. But I thought you said you find that sexy." I reminded her. "Please. And found, Lloyd. As in past tense." We fell into a half way awkward silence. Both of us sitting on the couch but neither sitting with the other. "What are we doing?" I asked after a minute or two. She gave me a questioning look. "I mean what are we now?" She filled her glass again. Bought herself a few seconds before answering. "Friends...?" She ventured putting the glass to her lips. I scoffed at this and didn’t try to be inconspicuous about it. "Is that even possible? For us to be 'just friends'?" "I thought we were." "After the fiasco of a night we just had?" I asked, pointing in the general direction of the bedroom. "I mean the sexual tension in there was so strong that the room was starting to smell like some cheap ass cologne." "Yeah, yours apparently." Not sure whether what she had said was meant to be a joke or she was trying to deliver a low blow I decided to completely ignore it. "The fact is that we're not friends. All we're doing is play acting and we're not even doing a good job of that." She gave me a look that seemed to say, "and your point is...?" "What I'm wondering is; what are we going to do about it?" "We don’t have to do anything." she said rather quickly. In fact, too quickly to have even thought about it. I didn’t like that. "Oh yes we do." I said countering her completely, "Because if we don’t we're going to be doing this," I made a gesture using both my arms to mean the entire situation, "for the foreseeable future. I don’t want that and I'm sure neither do you." She seemed to mull on this for a moment and then,

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "But things haven’t changed Lloyd. I still want something serious and you still don’t. What’s there to do about that?" "Simple. A compromise." I answered casually as if I had just been asked What the capital of Uganda is. "What type of compromise?" "You agree to take things less seriously than what you want them to be and I agree to take things more seriously than what I want them to be." "You might actually be onto something." she admitted thoughtfully, "but let me ask you," "Mmm-Hmmm..." She set down her glass of dark fizzy liquid. "Do you see that actually happening?" I thought about that for a second. Got her glass and took a sip of her coke. "As stubborn as we are?" I gave her a wry smile, "Not a chance." It was another hour before we had both showered and gotten dressed. I had to go to the hospital and she had to go home. Her mom had called. So had her brother. Asking about some DVD and a pair of African sandals she was supposed to have bought him. It was time to go our separate ways. I waited for her to climb into a taxi before I got a boda boda for myself. Giving her a hug I told her I would see her when I saw her. But in my head I was all like "later rather than sooner bee-atch". As I watched the taxi drive away there was no way to know, however, that things were not meant to be quite as simple as that.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

2 Days Later

The taxi is full. The conductor slides the door closed and shouts to the driver to get a move on. I'm hot, I'm sticky and quite uncomfortable. I've been on my feet the whole day which has been hell on my dislocated toe and all I want to do is stand under a cool shower and go to bed. It's not even after nine but when you have had the kind of day I have all you can think about is how late nine is. I'm so wrapped up in my own exhaustion and discomfort that I barely notice the girl sitting next to me until she lightly taps me on the shoulder. I wearily turn my head to show her that she has my attention. "Hi." "Hi." "I think your jeans are vibrating." It is only then that I realize that my phone is ringing. Stuffing my hand in my pocket I pull out my phone. It's her. What could she possibly want? I ask myself. Thanking the girl sitted next to me I slide the face of the phone up and put it to my ear. "Hi you." "Hey." It surprises me to realize how much I have missed hearing her voice. "So I’ve been doing some thinking," She starts. "Mmm-Hmm..." I hum urging her on. "And I've realized that I don’t to be with any other guy but you and that being single is more than getting a little old." "Uh...listen-" "Just shut up and let me talk, okay?" Even though she cant see me I hold up a hand in submission, "Okay..." "So this is the deal, I'm going to do the noble thing and humble myself by 38

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty agreeing not to take things seriously and do as you suggested we do before and just see how it goes...so what do you think?" Truth is I don’t know what to think. I'm silent for a bit. "Lloyd...?" Hearing her say my name triggers my mind into motion and I'm suddenly talking. "I don’t have a problem with that at all but if we're going to do this you have to understand something first-" "And that is?" "That we're not dating, I'm not you’re man, you’re not my girl and that I have been and will continue to sleep with other girls," Several heads turn in my direction at this. I ignore them. "That’s the deal. Take it or leave it." She is silent for a moment and then, "You’ve got yourself a deal. But I have a condition of my own." "And that is?" "I'm allowed to sleep with other guys as well." And even though I know that is one clause in our agreement she wont put into use, I tell her that’s quite fine by me, whatever floats her boat. "Now with that out of the way," I continue, "We have a lot of lost time to make up for." She laughs at this. I admit to myself that it's nice to hear. "We sure do." "So I'll see you soon?" "Sooner than you think." She answers. "Okay, I gotta go. the people in the taxi are starting to look at me funny. Good night." I hear her repressing a laugh. "Okay, goodnight." She hangs up. Sliding down the face of the phone and stuffing it in my pocket I notice the girl

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty next to me eyeing me with a bemused expression on her face. "I take it you couldn’t help but over hear." I direct at her. She allows a small smile to peek through. "My ears were right there, kind of hard not to." "Bet you think I'm a dog, huh?" She pretends to think about this. "Yup." I place a hand over my heart. "Ouch." "But I also think," she connects rather quickly, "That it's cool that you’re being straight with her. Not alotta guys would do that." I proffer a hand. "Girl, my name is Lloyd." She laughs. Its beautiful. So is she I notice for the first time. She stares at my hand for a second then after a moments deliberation takes it. "Gloria." Her hand is small and soft. Silky in my grip. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you Gloria." She gives me that bemused look of hers again. "I know."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

Benefits

Although she gave me her lips, there was no amount of convincing on my part that could get her to give me her body. Not willing to throw in the towel just yet, however, I tried to coax her by slipping a hand beneath the folds of the baggy Uganda 2006 Medical Team t-shirt she was fond of wearing every time she came over. Deftly stopping me however, she gripped my wrist and issued me with a stern "No.". Unlike other girls who's no's were often "Not now's" or "I'm tired's" I knew from past experience that her no's really were no's- I removed my hand. "So are you gonna tell me what's wrong?" I asked her a moment later, trying to battle the confusion raging around in my head. "It just wouldn’t be the same." she muttered. I thought about that for a second. "Well you wont know unless you give it a try..." I was coaxing again, my tone playful. "It still wouldn’t be the same Lloyd. I just have too much on my mind right now." I lay on my back. stared up at the ceiling. "Uh-oh. I’ve heard that before. What's it this time?" "Same thing as before," she answered snuggling next to me.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "You." She placed her head on my shoulder, her hand on my face, played around with my beard. "Not helping." I intoned quietly. "Sorry." she muttered and removed her hand. I was silent for a few moments and then, "Can I ask you a question?" "Fire away." I paused for a second to make sure I phrased my question properly, "If you knew that, and I'm using your words not mine, 'It just wouldn’t be the same', then why did you come?" She sighed. "I thought I could handle it. I thought I could handle us just sleeping together. I guess things just aren’t as simple as that. My emotions keep on getting in the way." I heard her and I could tell that she was telling the truth. and that sort of made it hard for me to force the issue. and so acknowledging her admission I suggested that how about we just go to sleep. Readily agreeing she rolled out of my arms to the edge of the bed just so that I wouldn’t get any ideas. But as she said just moments before, "Things just aren’t as simple as that." *** My eyes flutter open. It's dark except for the vestiges of the security light outside peeking through the edges of the curtains. A rooster crows from somewhere nearby. It must be around four, I tell myself. Somehow, she has landed back in my arms. Inspecting our position in the bed, she apparently moved closer to me and I to her. "Feels just like home." I whisper to myself. and it does. disturbingly so. I shift slightly and feel her shift with me, her legs arresting mine in a grip of intimacy. Slowly, inch by inch, I slip my hand up under her shirt, trying to convince myself

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty that all I want is the feel of her skin, nothing more. Who was I trying to fool? Within no time my hand finds her breasts. I hear her emit a small sigh, she's awake and she's not trying to stop me. Encouraged by this I roll her so that she is now on her back. Turning her head towards me I find her lips. At first the kisses are tentative, searching, questioning. But after a few moments they become deeper, more impassioned, more familiar. Pulling back the covers, I'm now on top of her. I rip off her t-shirt and toss it in God knows what direction. I trail my lips down her body. first finding her breasts then after a few minutes continuing southwards. As I go lower and lower I feel her body tense with anticipation. I reach the space right below her navel and right above the line of panties and go back up which totally kills her. She lets out an anguished moan. I play around with her like this for several minutes until her body tells me that she cant take it anymore. Moving southwards one last time I peel off her panties and this time don’t stop. *** It's morning. Full fledged, sun up in the sky, shamba boy milking cow, kids running around morning. It's the annoyingly insistent sound of an abnormally loud weed whacker right outside my window that pierces my bubble of sleep causing me to groan and reach for the blanket to cover my head. I hear her giggle and poking her in the stomach I petulantly tell her to shut up, "It's not funny." Which, of course, only makes her laugh even more. It get's so bad that I go as far as getting one of the pillows and covering my head with it. Not much help. All it does is make her laugh even harder and make breathing especially hard for me. Giving up, I toss off both the blanket and the pillow and reach for the camera sitting on the window ledge. Eyeing me suspiciously, she asks me what exactly I intend to do with it. "Nothing..." I exclaim with mock shock that she would accuse me of attempting to do anything unbecoming.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty She simply rolls her eyes and tells me that she's going back to sleep. "Okay but before you do," I pressed record, "say hi to the camera." "Hiiiii!" she says waving at it. "So how you doing?" "Not so good. I need to catch up on my sleep and its all your fault!" she says poking me in the chest. "Now, put that away. I really need to get some sleep." I do as I'm told. turn off the camera and put it on the floor just next to the bed. Nestling in my arms I feel her muscles relax as she settles down to sleep. Drifting in and out but never really falling asleep, several minutes later I ask her if she's still awake. "I am now." she yawns drowsily. "Sorry." "No, that's okay. I was just thinking anyway." "About...?" "I was just thinking that maybe we could do the whole friends with benefits thing." "The sex was that good, huh?" She gives me a playful slap. "Shut up!" "No, but seriously, I thought that was what we had already agreed upon." I inquired tentatively. "No...we had agreed to a fling," she corrects, "Two totally different things." "Really...?" I ask, "Explain." She does and I have to admit that she has a pretty good point. "So, you up for it?" "This is sex we're talking about," I remind her "of course I'm in." "Just one thing," She warns "Uh-huh." "If at anytime I feel I cant handle it, I have the power to terminate the contract on the spot."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty I shrug. "Sure." "Now, what’s the time?" I ask her after a second. "I don’t know, probably like tenish." "Shit, I gotta go somewhere, pick something up. I wont take long though, an hour max." "Then don’t let me stop you," she says. She strokes my chin, "I'll still be here when you get back." I meet her gaze. Raise my eyebrows. Give her a wily smile. "What? Now?" She asks. "Why not?" She chews on her lip. "Alright fine but I'm not making you breakfast." I pull her in for a kiss. "Deal."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

*** “So how is she?” I looked up from my plate of food. Fish and rice. Fried potatoes. Peter was good at two things; counting beans and cooking. He enjoyed both and that worked out just as well for me. He cooked all the food and I just ate it. He was the type who was ever trying out new things and more often than not they turned out pretty good. It was his first time making fish and as usual it didn't turn out half bad. Hell, I was virtually gobbling the stuff down. I was always ragging on him how if he wasn't so afraid of women his perfect date would be bringing a girl over and cooking for her a delicious meal. Throw in a bottle of wine and a couple of scented candles and what girl would say no? I cleared my throat. “And which she is this again?” Peter smiled. He knew I was just baiting him, “Lil miss friends with benefits...you know who I mean.” I gave Pete a look that I hoped would let him know that I didn't want to talk about it. Either he didn't see it or he just chose to ignore it. “Well?” I sighed. Did something funny with my mouth that my friends say I do whenever I'm put off. “she decided to call our little arrangement off.” Peter scoffed into his glass of Sprite and Bond 7. “What?” I asked him. “You're lying to me.” “What do you mean I'm lying to you?”

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “You heard me. You're growing soft. You're the one who called it off. And don't insult my intelligence by telling me you didn't. I know you well enough by now.” I poked at my fish with my fork. Avoided his eyes. “My only question is,” Peter said continuing, “Is why?” There was no way in hell I was about to explain that to him. Half of it I didn't even understand enough to explain to him even if I wanted to. Something was happening to me. I was changing. I just didn't see things the same way anymore. Vibing chicks and fucking them just didn't hold the same appeal anymore. In fact, it kind of disgusted me. That wasn't the person I was supposed to be. That wasn't the person I had been raised to be. I loathed the cold heartless creature I had become. Crushing girls hearts at whim. Not caring whether it was just a drop or an entire river that was shed over me. I hated it. But of course I couldn't tell Peter all of that. And so I shrugged. Threw him a small smirk. “Ive got bigger fish to fry.” Peter threw me a smirk of his own. He wasn't buying it and we both knew it. One thing Ive always loved about Peter though, is that when it came to such sensitive areas as this was turning out to be, he didn't push. “If you say so.” And then, with nothing more than a shrug and a listless smile, Peter dug into his food.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

The Mirror

He looks back at me. With a dead look in his eyes. "This is not who I want to be." They whisper. They are rimmed with red, his eyes. No longer as white as they used to be, but now the color of tobacco stained teeth. The gleam that they once held, blunted, by the murkiness of his deeds. "I am what they have made of me." He speaks. Not with his eyes, this time, but with his lips. His lips that have sown many a seed. That have kissed as much as they have coerced. He has a gift; he has always been good with words. But that is no longer enough. He's hollow. He doesn’t know who he is anymore. His eyes bore into mineOh...but he does. He's everything he swore he would never be. He's arrived at a place he swore he would never see. Running water. Cupped hands. But there is no washing this away. No easy solution. Absolution must be earned, like respect. and for himself he has none. Drip. Drip. Drip. Water from his beard hits the bottom of the bathroom sink.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "This is not me." His voice is coarse. His eyes suddenly intense. He declares this with the fury of a king declaring war on a pestilent enemy. He intends to fight this. To give it a run for its money. Momma would be proud. Hell, let's do this thing right here and make momma proud. His hands grab the sides of the sink. He glares at me. His face is almost a scowl. His lips are twisted into some sort of leery sneer. He growls, dares me to tell him that he can not do it. But I can not. I dare not. He seems satisfied with the assurance he sees in our eyes. "We're going to turn things around.", I tell him. "No more darkness." He tells me. "No more." I repeat. He licks his lips. Gives me one last stare. No more...

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

PART II

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

*** The office was small. Not quite cramped but not all that comfortable either. With a couple of bookshelves, a desk and a number of chairs; there wasn’t much space for anything else. There was a potted plant crammed into one corner but from what I could tell, it was neglected and had certainly seen better days. "And this is where I'm supposed to 'share my thoughts'?" I wondered to myself as I glanced around the office. A number of certificates and diplomas mounted on the wall behind the desk caught my eye for a moment. They all belonged to a Valerie Binder. A doctor Valerie Binder. In whose office I was standing in. As my eyes completed their tour of the office, they came to rest on the person sitting behind the desk. "So what do you think?" She asked good naturedly, a slight smile touching her lips. She was attractive and I found her easy nature relaxing. "It could use some work." I answered playfully with a smile of my own. She let out a chuckle, "Right you are, right you are. Please, have a seat." She gestured at a chair. It was a hard, straight backed, wooden number that looked as old as I was if not older but smiling appreciatively, I harkened to her invitation. "Can I offer you something? Soda, water, coffee-" "No. Thank you. I'm- I'm fine." I declined as politely as possible. My shoulders hunched, I leaned forwards slightly. My hands palm down on my thighs, I rubbed them along the grain of my jeans. "Nervous?" The doctor asked, making a minor adjustment to the position of her glasses. "About seeing a shrink?" I asked, rocking slightly,

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "Maybe just a little." My laugh was nervous and a second later I heard my voice crack, cutting it off abruptly. Dr. Binder said nothing for a moment. Simply watched me. Studied me. Just as it was starting to freak me out, she spoke. "It's not as bad as people make it sound, you know." "What isn’t?" I asked, running the pinky of one hand over an eyebrow. "Feeling the need to talk to someone. And that's all I really am, Lloyd, someone for you to talk to." I nodded. Digested this. "Yeah, and like how cool is that?" Dr. Binder raised an eyebrow. "Getting paid to listen to people bitch and complain all day, I mean." If she was offended Dr. Binder didn’t let on. She tilted her head to the side. "It has its perks." Flipping open a thin file sitting on her desk, she glanced down at it. After a moment she looked up. "So, Lloyd, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself." I had rehearsed what I was going to say all the way over to the office but now faced with the question, I totally blanked. "I write." I managed to get out after a few awkward moments. "Oh? As a profession?" Dr. Binder asked. She appeared genuinely interested but I couldn’t be sure. After all, it was her job to sound interested wasn’t it? Always a bit of a cynic, I smiled wanly. "No," I corrected, "as a hobby." "Oh," Dr. Binder managed, adjusting her glasses again. "So for how long have you been writing?" "For a pretty long time actually." I leaned back in my chair, "I’ve never really been that good at verbalizing how I feel or what I'm thinking so I’ve always written it all down. I find it...therapeutic."

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Dr. Binder nodded. "Not so much these days, I'm guessing. Are you sure I cant get you anything?" "I'm sure," I answered, once again declining her offer, "and why do you say that?" "Because," Dr. Binder started, leaning back in her chair, "If it was still as therapeutic as you’ve made it sound, then I'm guessing that you wouldn’t be here." I let out a sigh, she had me there. "Mind if I ask you what's happened?" I shrugged. "Not really. I just wish I knew. Writing has always helped me work through things, helped me to sort out my thoughts and my feelings. but of recent, all seeing them down on paper has done is muddle them up even more. Not a pleasant feeling, I assure you." Dr. Binder's smile was small and understanding. "I bet." She leaned forwards, resting her elbows on the desk. "So how about we work to change that?" It was now my turn to study her. She doesn’t know the first thing about you, was my first thought, so how exactly does she expect to help you? You have to help her help you, I told myself, otherwise this is just going to be one big waste of time. You have to let her in. Although Dr. Binder was still smiling, her eyes were somber. I could tell that she could tell that I was coming to some sort of decision. In the end I guess it was the fact that she waited me out and didn’t try to convince me that eventually won me over. Reaching my decision, I nodded. "Okay. But how, exactly do we go about doing that?" Dr. Binder seemed to consider this for a moment.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "It's going to take some effort on your part but I need you to look at me as a page out of your notebook and I need you to use your mouth, your voice as your pen. Do you think you can do that?” I let out a sigh, could I? I pressed my lips together and then after a moment licked them. I should have gotten something to drink, they were as dry as chalk. Well, you’re sure as hell going to try, aren’t you? I nodded. "Yeah, I think I can do that." "Good." Dr. Binder intoned, she seemed quite pleased. "Now, how about you tell me about her." I was shocked. How could she"How could you-" "Please, I could smell her on you from the moment you walked into the office." My expression must have been puzzled because she added, "I'm speaking metaphorically, Lloyd." "Oh," I said waving a dismissive hand, "I knew that." Dr. Binder was obviously amused. "Right. So you going to tell me about her?" I nodded. Managed to match her expression. "Good." Leaning back, she folded her hands in her lap. "Then let's get writing."

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Chapstick, Chapped Lips & Things Like Chemistry

I watched her put on her make up. Foundation, eye shadow and lipstick. Red lipstick to match the red nail polish; red nail polish to match the red hot, five inch above the knee dress she was wearing. Tilting my head to the side I bit down on my lower lip to stop myself from saying something dirty, something rude or maybe even both. Catching me watching her, she smiled. Then turning away, she picked up a necklace and made an effort to untangle it. "Say something." I shot at her. "I'm busy." She shot back without looking away from the necklace. A little tongue-tied I stuffed my hands in my pocket, leaned against the door frame and continued to watch her. "There," She breathed a moment later, her tone self-satisfied. She held it up for me to see. Then without waiting for me to comment, she put on the necklace. Something catching my eye, I took several steps towards her, closing the distance between us. Leaning over I sifted through the scattered contents of her bag that were

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty strewn across the bed and swiped a small stick of chapstick. It was Nivea; strawberry. Uncapping the thing, I smelt it. Not bad. I threw a quick glance in her direction. She wasn’t paying me any attention. Top lip, bottom lip and press... *** We were supposed to be friends. Buddies. She had a boyfriend and I knew that. It would be wrong to ignore that fact, wouldn’t it? I rolled over. Stared up at the ceiling. Of course it would but I couldn’t help but think that if she was willing to ignore it, who was I not to? I turned my head to look at her. She was facing the wall with her back to me; the blanket stopping at her waist. The question was: Was she willing to? Not the kind of thing you bring up in idle conversation, obviously. But still something that had been boiling below the surface of my mind, singing the tip of my tongue since the moment she had arrived. I stuck my hand under my pillow"The good one" as we had dubbed it seeing as it was fluffier than the one she was usingand pulled out my phone. It was after three. Licking my lips, I realized just how chapped they were. How raw my throat feltGod I was thirsty. Steering my gaze away from her as much as possible, I willed myself out of bed and propelled myself towards the kitchen. After gulping down two glasses of water, I made a short pit stop and dove back into bed. She was still facing the wall but had moved closer to the center of the bed, which

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty meant, of course, less space for me. Or as some may choose to see it: less space between the two of us. Which also meant less space for me to be a better man. Of course, I could just tell her to push up, but the thing was; I didn’t want to. What I did want, however, was lying in bed next to me, no more than a foot away. Maybe even a little less. I swallowed. My lips were still chapped but at least my throat felt better. Trying my best to get comfortable, to forget all about the coal of desire that sat in the pit of my stomach, I ended up tossing and turning for quite some time. Finally, facing her, I managed to settle. Putting an arm around her, I drew close, her back centimeters from my chest. I sighed. Maybe now I could get some sleep. Unfortunately, I had no such luck: A few minutes later, I felt her shift under the weight of my armI opened my eyes. She was flat on her back, her head turned to face me. A million thoughts raced through my mind. The first and foremost and most definitely the most dominant saying, "Go for it man! She's put herself right there! All you gotta do is lean forwards and bingo!" But I couldn’t, we were friends and who knew what benefits we had, if any? Counting backwards from five I took a deep breath. "Whooooo-Zaaaaah." She shifted again. This time onto her side. This time her entire body facing me. Now her face was only centimeters away from my own. I let out a sigh. It was then that I knew that there was no getting away from this. "Getting away from this?" I mused silently. Hell, who was I trying to kid? I wanted this. I took a deep breath, counted to three and in that moment I made my decision. Using the crooked index of one hand to lift her chin, I leaned in. All the while, telling myself the very same thing I had told her not too long before, "A kiss is just a kiss...right?"

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*** I blinked. Came back to the present. Right. And all I want is for us to be friends who just talk and hang out. Recapping the chapstick, I tossed it back onto the bed. But isn’t that what friends do? Talk and hang out? I swallowed. Found my eyes traveling down the length of her back. Anything else and that would make you more than friends, wouldn’t it? I peeled my eyes away before they reached her ass. Yeah, but there's no need to worry about that. She has a boyfriend remember? and I don't do relationships. "Hey. Were you just looking at my ass?" I met her gaze. But then there's always friends with benefits... She had this bemused and somewhat confused look on her face. "So what if I was?" Ignoring my answer, her eyes traveled down to my pinkened lips. "Tell me you just used my chapstick." I shrugged. "It's no worse than the eye shadow." "One difference though," She pointed out. Grabbing the chapstick she held it up in front of my face. "I didn’t ask you to do this. You did this one all by yourself." "My lips were chapped." I said in mock defense. She laughed, tilted her head slightly to the side. "You just get weirder by the day." "Aint that the truth." I shrugged. "You done?" She gave herself one last look in her tiny mirror. After a moment she snapped it

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty shut. "Yep." Tossing the mirror into her bag she told me to give her a second and began to fill her bag with the contents she had emptied out onto the bed. When she had finished she grabbed her bag and straightened up. "Girl...you are loooong." I commented, putting special emphasis on the last word. "Uh-huh." She muttered, rolling her eyes. I guess I had said it so many times that she thought it a tad played out. Then grabbing my arm she dragged me towards the door. "Time to go."

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Oba? / One Kiss Later

8:13 pm
Hey, wass up? I juss got back from my meeting. I can’t believe I actually went. it was only half an hour long- a complete waste of time. So, um, it was like about a change in the schedule and the working rota’s and stuff like that So get this, I get two calls from two different chicks and they both want to hook up tonight. and I declined both of them...and I normally- the Lloyd I know, would have gone straight for it. but this reformed thing, its, I don’t know, I guess its a good thing. Anyway, um, I still want to know what was up with the whole mood swing thing. And no matter what you say, I'm going to get it out of you, someway or another. Anyway, *takes a breath* I guess you can say I’ve run out of jazz, so...see ya.

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8:39 pm
Ok, um...oba what? Anyway, I guess you’re tired of that shit. Anyway, *Clears her throat*, When I was going, a friend of mine called me up and...I wanted to see him because it’s been really long. He stays in Kireka so I jumped...I had to jump off...I had gotten a coaster so I had to jump off the coaster, came to his place and yeah, we're here jazzing. He's watching a horror and I'm not exactly good at horrors *takes a breath* Anyway, um...the mood swing…yeah...about your meeting, I had a feeling it would be nonsense. Anyway...um...you know, the whole mood swing thing, I dunno... *Exasperated sigh* I don’t know if I should tell you... *Sigh* Anyway, lemme think, lemme see... Anyway, I guess it was 'cos...I kissed you, yeah, and then I'm like "Oh gosh, what am I doing?" Then I stopped. Then...you didn’t even kiss me back. Okay, I'm not complaining. But I guess, *Sigh* I don’t know, maybe I also confused you and then I'm thinking, "Ah, why did I have to go and do that?" and then I'm thinking, "Ah, I don’t know, I don’t even know if I like you, if I don’t..." As I had earlier said. And then I'm like, "Now, this guy is going to think...he's going to put me in that group of his girls.... *Laughs* Ah, anyways, like a million thoughts were running through my mind at that particular moment. Anyway but... *Sighs* I guess, it just passed...

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9:07 pm You, meanwhile, I don’t think your messages are free. I have a feeling they’re going to charge you because you don’t freaking know which thing you’re on. You don’t know if you’re on yellow max or *Takes a breath* per second or pay go; you’re just there, you’re just Lloyd. Anyway, just in case you want to know, it’s only free for late chat. So, *Takes a breath* Yeah. Bye.

9:31 pm
Um, well I sort of figured that out. About the audio messages I mean. They sort of chew a lot of my air time. I guess I should really make an effort to get to late chat. um, *With a small chuckle* I have no idea when though. As far as the mood swing thing went...I sort of guessed that those thoughts were running through your mind. and...I guess you should know that I can never make the mistake of putting you in the same group as my "Bu-girls" as you call them...I care about you too much and hold you in too high regard to make that mistake. *taking a breath* As for not kissing you back; I really did want to kiss you but I sort of had to hold myself back. The way I see it, I like you...pretty much and...I really don’t want to like you anymore than I already do. It would sort of just complicate things even more between us. and I see is- what I see is, if we do get more physical, there’s a possibility of that happening. So I guess you should know that sex is the last thing on my mind between us. Besides the fact that I don’t want that to happen between us, um, I’ve sort of promised myself that the next person I sleep with will be someone I really care about...um, yeah...so how's that movie coming along? The horror? I hope you’re not boring your friend. Um, anyway...whatever.

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10:55 pm
(the sound of wind and the whine of an engine in the background) Hey...ok, I'm on a bike. *Laughs* and you’re not going to hear me so clearly but when you...when I get to my room I'll send you a proper message. I'm Just like on a boda boda from the stage, I’ve just reached Mukono now, imagine? Anyway, so I'm going to my hostel now, I'll send you a message later on, when I'm in my bed. I'm going to first go...and do a kishowering thing *Laughs* I know you’re not going to believe that but bambi I shower at night. And then...I have a sick friend, I'm going to see my sick friend in her room and then, yeah, I'll send you a nice, sweet, sexy message. Anyway, Ok, I'll send you a message later on...aight, you don’t have to reply bambi, they must be charging like three hundred *Laughs* But I’ll send you a message.

11:13 pm

Okay, now, *Clears her throat* this is like my last message before I say, "I'm out.". I'm in my bed now...I'm just...meditating, *Sighs* just looking at the TV. I'm not exactly watching...and I'm just about to doze off. Yeah, otherwise...um, what was I meant to tell you? *Laughs* Um...*Sighs* I dunno, I have nothing to say, I guess I’ve run out of jazz before I even had it. *Takes a breath* Anyway, but I guess you were right about us not getting physical and stuff...I know it by the way...I so know it at the back of my mind but...*Sighs* Oba what? But I know it and I think it’s a good thing. And I think it’s the best thing we can do. *Takes a

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty breath* Yeah but it was like a short time mood swing, like most of my mood swings will be...welcome to my world. Anyway, I'm so really...just forget about it. *Sighs* and then...good to hear you care about me. At least you care about someone. Anyway, I guess I'll see you oba when? *Sighs* Okay, I'm out... *Takes a breath* Good night.

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Kiss
To kiss a fool is foolish enough. But to kiss who you can not have, Well, that is the most foolish of all.

I am drawn to her. Like a boy on a string, my limbs refuse to obey a word that I say. "Steer clear," I tell them, "By pass the disaster that her lips, her hips and her eyes desire of you." But they do not listen. Instead, they ask of me a favor: to forgive and to forget. They say that they require this of me before they can go any further. That they need some sort of insurance to assure them that I will not turn against them once the dust has settled. Once our passion has been spent. They need to know that I will not blame them for the acts committed. To forgive? Maybe... That is not entirely impossible. But to forget...? Never.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty As my lips join their ranks, I watch as the scene unfolds before me. I watch as if an audience to a play. I watch as if I myself do not have a role to play. A hand on her back, I breath in...I breath out and let my fingers trace abstract designs across her skin. It is subtle but I sense it... She tenses. For one second, two second, three. She breathes... Relaxes. Shifting her in my arms, I look down at her. Her forehead just below my chin. "Confusion is your enemy." A voice echoes from somewhere inside of me. "Banish it, make your decision." I do so. In a split second. "I will figure this out." I tell myself. "We will figure this out." I promise her. Although never quite out loud. Shifting her again, I lean in.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty

You can not have her, I remind myself morosely. She is not yours to be had...she is beyond your grasp. I play with my fingers. One hand clasping the other. Imagining, just for a second, that one is hers. Hers with the soft skin and red nail polish. Hers that have more times than I can remember rested on my face as she played with my beard. You knew that from the very beginning and yet you still took a chance. Why? I think about this for a second. Rub my hands together as if for warmth. The illusion of one belonging to her shattered in that instant. I only took a chance after I failed to run away, I offer. And I tried, I really did. Because I knew what would happen the longer we spent time together. I knew what she did to me every time we were together. I breathe.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty All is quiet. The radio, oddly silent. But I guess knowing just wasn’t enough, was it?

***

(Interlude) 10:25 pm
It's been a while since I’ve last done this; stare up at the stars. I’ve never really been that much of a star gazer but tonight I have a lot on my mind. A lot on my heart, really. I guess I thought staring up at what has given so many people reasons for awe, for wonder and for inspiration would help clear my head. Maybe even give me a little inspiration... I woke up one morning, not to long ago, and for the first time saw the person I was becoming. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like him and so I have been trying to make certain adjustments. Some of them small, some of them rather drastic and others still yet to be made. And it is just now that I'm beginning to realize that some of those adjustments have gone and left me, well, quite vulnerable. A vulnerability that has coincided with the appearance of a girl who under different circumstances would have been just another “line in a song” but who, under this new regime, has left quite a mark. I like her. A lot. And she likes me. But even though, that isn’t quite enough. She has a boyfriend. And I'm not about to be "the other guy". I'm not willing to do that to myself. Nor am I willing to pursue this until she is forced to make a choice. One, because it wouldn’t be fair to her. Two, because it wouldn’t be right and three, because I'm afraid that she wouldn’t choose me. That's right, the age old fear of rejection. But not the 'Girl blows boy off at the bar' variety but the real stuff. The, 'Girl stomps the life out of boys heart' kind. But even though, letting go is going to be quite the task. I'm up for it though- bring on the pain. 68

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty And besides, "Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger." Right?

***

"I guess it wasn’t" I mutter to myself. Enough, that is. The sound of guitars fill my ears But all that is about to change. I have made my decision: I will not allow myself to fall any further. It may hurt and I may falter at times but I will succeed. Remote in hand, I search for a song. Finding it I turn up the volume. I close my eyes, let the music permeate my systemheavy guitars and clashing drums; the throbbing of the bass line pulsating through my veins. "I'm letting you go." I whisper. Lying flat out on the floor I take a deep breath. I'm letting you go....

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The Garden
The tubes were gone. From his nose, mouth and arm. The catheter was still there but that was to be expected. He was eating on his own again. Well, at least without the help of some plastic tubing. Even if his diet did consist of only water, soup and porridge. As I walked into the room, nudging the door with the tips of my fingers, then holding it open for my mom, I found Aunt Betty patting him down with a towel. She was stimulating his muscles. "Physio-therapy" they called it. With each light pat came from him what I can best describe as a cross between a moan and a loud gravelly sigh. Pat..."Aaaah." Pat..."Aaaah." Pat..."Aaaah." Each time was like a needle in the arm and the feeling you get when the nurse misses the vein and has to try and find it again, again and again. Unsettling as it was, I forced myself to watch, my eyes traveling from his haggard, unshaven face with the sunken eyes to his swollen, bed sored feet. "So this is what he has become." I announced to myself. "A wraith of the man, of the pillar that had been a presence in my life since the

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty day I was born." It was hard to believe and I guess that is partly why I stayed away for so long. Because I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to believe that he would be okay, that everything would be just fine and I was afraid that seeing him like that, shrunken and dilapidated as he was, would crush all my hopes of conjuring up the miracle in my mind that I knew he deserved. But no matter, I was there now and not only because I had to, but because I wanted to. Because deep down I knew that this was the end for him and I felt I needed to say goodbye. Coming back to myself, back to the room, I found my mom standing at my grandfather's bedside. She had a hand on his shoulder and was talking to him, her voice raised, her words pronounced clearly so that he could hear her. He answered her lucidly, telling her how uncomfortable he was. He was tired of lying flat on his back. He wanted to sit up. "With no support." he had insisted. They tried propping him up with a couple of pillows but he still complained that he was feeling uncomfortable. My uncle Charles walking into the room, greeted us then went on to ask us what was going on. He was my grandfather's eldest son and in the eventuality of his death would take over as head of family. He therefore automatically took charge of the situation. Suggesting a wheelchair, he sent one of the orderlies to go and get one. He then went ahead to order us to hold my grandfather up right until the wheel chair arrived. When it did arrive, it took four of us, my uncle included to maneuver him into the wheel chair. After positioning him as best as she could, covering his legs with first a leso and then a blanket, propping his back with a pillow, my mom asked my grandfather how that was. "Better," he kept repeating, "Much better." "Good." She breathed. Then turning to me,

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "It's a beautiful day out, why don’t you take him for a little walk? I'm sure he would enjoy it." I turned to look at my uncle Charles, as if asking permission. "I think it's a great idea." He allowed, nodding his head and pulling at his beard. "I'll go with you. Come on, let's go." With my uncle Charles at the helm and I beside him, we wheeled my grandfather out of the room, down the hall and into the sunlight. *** The garden was beautiful. Flush with reds and blues and yellows; fragrant from an expanse of well kept and much loved flower beds. It was around midday and the sun was high in the sky and although it was neither too hot nor too bright my uncle and I thought it wise to station my grandfather as well as ourselves beneath the shade of a large tree that hard obviously seen the better part of a century. Breathing in the fresh air I watched my grandfather. Wondering what kind of affect the change of environment was having on him. "Ask him." My uncle blurted out suddenly as if reading my mind. Walking over to him, I stared down at my grandfather so that my face filled his vision. "How are you doing Grandpa?" "Lloyd..." He said in recognition, trying to point up at me. His voice was akin to throwing gravel into a running garbage disposal; his breathing labored. "Yes, it's Lloyd, Grandpa." I tried again, "How are you doing?" "Nice...very nice- out here." The effort of talking obviously tired him. My Grandfather had always been an eloquent talker and it pained me to see him reduced to such few words "Yes, it is nice," Uncle Charles offered,

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "Very nice." Several members of the staff came over and said hello, asking us how my grandfather was doing. "He's much better, thank you." Uncle Charles would answer almost automatically to anyone who asked. After engaging in a few minutes of polite small talk, the members of staff wished us well, wished "Mzze" a quick recovery and went about their way. "I want to go home." my grandfather announced abruptly. His voice was clear, some of the gravel like quality momentarily lost. It sounded so full of despair that I literally felt a shiver run down my spine. I'm still convinced up to this day that he was talking to neither me nor my uncle but to someone neither of us could see- he was ready to go. My uncle making light of it, however, threw a smile in my direction. I however, couldn’t return it. "You’re going to go home very soon Mzze." He said. "Any day now. You must be tired of this place." "Yes...yes- very tired." My grandfather agreed emphatically. Uncle Charles chuckled. "Yes, very tired." The same orderly who had brought us the wheel chair now came walking towards us across the grounds, cup in hand, a small plastic spoon protruding from it. "Yes," my uncle said as the orderly approached. "Very good. He must be thirsty. Give him something to drink." Uncle Charles pointed at my grandfather as he said this. Nodding, the orderly squatted at my grandfather's side. He then went ahead to spoon some water into my grandfather’s mouth. Each spoon produced the same sound as each pat of the towel had done earlier. Slurp..."Aaaah." Slurp..."Aaaah." Slurp..."Aaaah." When my grandfather refused to drink anymore the orderly stood up and

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty suggested that maybe we take Mzze back inside. Uncle Charles seeing no reason to refute medical advice even if it was really nothing more than common sense readily agreed. We wheeled him back inside. The anti-septic smell and white plaster cleanliness of the hospital seeming even more oppressive after the brightness, splendor and flourish of the garden. We took him back to his room and with the help of a couple of nurses placed him between the sheets of his freshly made bed. The room had been cleaned and wiped down while we had been outside. He was asleep within seconds. I could tell the outing had been good for him however, as short as it had been. The lines in his face seemed a little less defined, his body a little more relaxed, his breathing a little less labored. It brought a small smile to my lips. even if a sad one. One of the nurses, telling me that my grandfather needed his rest, tried to usher me out of the room. Everyone else was in the adjoining ward the hospital had let the family use as a visitor's room. Telling her to give me a moment, I went and stood at my grandfather's side. The nurse hovered somewhere behind me, making sure I didn’t disturb her patient but I really didn’t mind. Placing a hand gingerly on my grandfather's arm I said a silent prayer. Then telling him I would see him soon, I walked out of the room; my head bowed, sneakers squeaking quietly against the linoleum, hands in my pocket.

***

That was the last time I saw my grandfather alive; he passed away the very next day. I'm going to miss himI miss him already, and so will everyone who's life he touched.

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A Moment Of Silence For Wilson Okumu Lutara
March 21, 1929-October 2, 2008

May Your Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.

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To Whom it May Concern

I never thought it would come to this. To writing you this letter. But then, I never thought it would come to a lot of things. To lying on the living room floor at one o'clock in the morning thinking about what we are, what we're not and wishing that we were more. I know, we've been through this before and yes, I know that I'm the one who shut that door but I guess I just never thought that it would be this hard. That letting you go would mean idle moments spent sitting at home, staring at the phone, wondering whether the message I just sent you has gone. Or that being your "friend" would mean sleeping in the same bed but staying up the entire night listening to the sound of your breathing. But then, who am I trying to kid? I knew what I was getting myself into. I saw all the signs but ignored them, just kept on driving. Pedal to the floor, at 140 miles per hour racing towards what I knew was a head on collision. A collision that I have managed to avoid, but just barely. So what's next? What do we do now? Well, that one is pretty obvious. At least to me. 76

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "Out of sight out of mind." I cant see you for a while. I need to wean myself off of your presence. Let some of these memories fade. Or at the very least get a little fuzzy around the edges. And trust me, that’s the very last thing I want to do but at the same time I think that its necessary. You’re a smart girl and I think you'll agree with me. Being with you, at least for right now, is just way too dangerous. But I do want us to be friends. Buddies; just like we had initially intended to be. And I'm not just saying that. I mean it. Probably for the first time. No second thoughts here. Well at least not as many as there were yesterday. I do believe things are getting better. Well, at the risk of rambling, I'm going to stop here. Call it a wrap. My only hope is that I’ve managed not to sound like too much of a sap. I don’t do sweet, remember? (That's meant to be a joke by the way.) Anyway, I guess I'll be seeing you. I'll give you a call sometime. Not too soon but I will call- I promise.

Its been interesting,

Lloyd

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To Let These Tears Fall

From the moment I had arrived I had been on the move. There was no time to relax, no time to slow down, because to relax would be to give myself a chance to think about what had happened and whether I knew it or not I did not want to be given that chance. Looking back, I guess a part of me knew that to keep moving, to stay kinetic would keep me from falling apart. and I couldn’t afford to do that. I mean, after all, what would people think? and so in my quest to keep it together I took countless pictures, toting my camera like it was some sort of life support. I became an observer. That way I could remain objective. Look at things with a photographers detachment, with artistic interest, shelving my emotions. And when I wasn’t doing that I was doing what I could to help with the funeral plans. We had two days to pull it off and there was so much to do. And although my role was a minor one I tricked myself into believing it was integral and threw everything I had into it.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty To keep moving was to keep it together. Anything that needed typing was mine to handle. I was in charge of the program. It was my baby, it took up most if not all of my attention. It kept me from hanging, it kept me from idling; it kept me from falling apart. To keep moving was to keep it together.

Monday Morning
The call came at around 7:30. It was my uncle Roger. He wanted to know how far I had come along with the program. "Only a few more details need to be filled in," I assured him "I'll be home by eight." "Be prompt." He warned me and told me to call him as soon as I arrived at the house. We had to go over the program together before meeting with the presiding bishop who would give it his final okay. Setting down the phone I took a sip of my coffee. It was exceptionally strong but still wasn’t having quite the affect I hoped for. I needed an extra kick to get me through the day. I hadn’t slept properly since the night my mom had called me with the news and it was starting to catch up with me. Just get the old man in the ground, I told myself, and everything will be just fine. Finishing the last of my bread and throwing back what was left of my coffee like it was a shot of whiskey, scalding my tongue in the process, I stood up. I had told Uncle Roger 8 O'clock and here it was already quarter to. Grabbing my backpack, I swung it over my shoulder. I marched out of the hotel, leaving the key to my room at the front desk. To keep moving was to keep it together.

***

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty It was hot, I was tired and I felt more detached from the entire thing than I ever thought possible. I felt like a stranger on the outside looking in. And in a way, I was. Clutching my bottle of water, sitting at a safe distance, I watched the service with a clinical coldness that surprised me. The programs had not been enough and I had had to dash back to town on two separate occasions to photocopy more. A third time had been required of me but I had refused saying that by the time I got back the service would be over and there would be no need for them. I sat there in the same clothes I had worn the day before, three coats of dust covering my skin. The initial plan had been to finish the programs in time to get back and shower and change before the service but I hadn’t been quite that lucky. Now all the rooms were locked and the keys were with my mom who just happened to be sitted in the same tent as the president whose security made it damn near impossible to get the keys to me. It was managed somehow and I found myself climbing out of the shower just as the president was standing up to speak. Purple shirt, black trousers and black chucks turned brown from dust and I was finally forced to slow down. To not only observe but to participate, to finally come to terms with what we were all doing there. He's gone Lloyd. See it, accept it and move on. Picking up a discarded program I flipped through it. It was time to put the old man in the ground. Standing up I hurried to join the procession making its way to the grave site No time to take pictures now, I mused silently. I was right in the thick of things. No longer playing the observer but now among the observed. That's not to say however, that I didn’t notice things. I noticed almost everything. The pile of soil sitting demurely to one side of the open grave. Some parts of it the color of ground coffee, others the color of milk chocolate and others an earthy shade of red. Its pungent smell tickling my nose even from several meters away. I noticed the crowd of people milling about me. The collective sense of loss that

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty bound us together almost tangible. I could taste it on my tongue, feel it in the pit of my stomach. It stroked at my beard, whispered in my ear, ran an intimate finger from my chest to my navel making me shiver. Tapping me on the shoulder my aunt handed me a reef of flowers, telling me to set them down near the pile of soil. I didn’t think twice. Pushing my way through the crowd, I did as I was instructed. Standing up straight, the sun hitting me square in the face, I looked about me. Found myself staring into the faces of people I'd known my entire life and loved more than words can say; and others who I had never seen before that day. But all of them had one thing in common, we all did- the man who we were about to put in the ground. and that made us, all of us, of one spirit. Of one accord. The bishop was saying something. He had his bible open but from what I could tell, he was not reading from it. His words, however, went in one ear and out the other. I was in a different place. I was being drawn into myself. A sob broke from somewhere to my right. I felt my stomach tighten. Clenching my jaws I closed my eyes. But only for a moment. When I opened them again I felt tears in them. Another sob and then another erupted around me. The coffin was now being lowered into the hole in the ground. I suddenly felt cold. Lots of tiny goose bumps erupting beneath the arms of my shirt. To keep moving is to keep it together, I reminded myself. Sure it is Lloyd. But look around, I did. Where are you going to go? All roads lead to the very spot you’re standing in right now. Get a clue. As if to drive the point home, a tormented wail tore through the crowd like a rip tide, breaking the dam and people began to weep openly. without any inhibitation. The tears stung at my eyes but I still tried to hold them back, dabbing lightly at my eyes with my hankie. After a moment I blew my nose, it was starting to run. What the hell is this? I asked myself. The sensation was new to me. It was one thing to get teary eyed at a sad scene in a

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty movie but this? This was something else. And still I tried to hold it back. Sucking it in, I blinked away the tears and looked around. My cousin Eva was doubled over weeping freely, an aunt and an uncle supporting her, keeping her from falling. Bongo stood as rigid as a statue, a pair of shades covering his eyes, his expression unreadable. The younger ones looked lost. As if they didn’t know how to feel or how to react. Their eyes wide with stunned incomprehension. Bowing my head I stared at my shoes, analyzing the streaks of dirt that covered them and the layer of dust that had powdered them from heel to toe. Tried to distract myself. Just let it go Lloyd. Why are you trying to fight this? The voice was almost audible. I heard it in my ears. I was one step closer. Because to let these tears fall is a sign of weakness, I insisted. Is that what you really think? It wasn’t but I had to come up with something. But that something wasn’t going to be enough and I knew it. The more I tried to push, to keep my grief at bay, the more determined it seemed to manifest itself, to see the light of day. I knew it was a losing battle. I knew it was time to let it go. Thud. The coffin was finally in the ground. I felt my stomach tighten. A sob crawling up the walls of my trachea and sitting at the back of my throat, making it hard to breathe. Hugging myself, I leaned slightly forwards; my face involuntarily contorting itself into a grimace. Dislodging itself from the back of my throat, a single sob rolled down my tongue and broke as it passed my lips. My body shook as the tears streamed down my face. My chest heaved, my nose ran, my stomach ached but I didn’t care. My Auntie Vilma, who had been standing next to me, wrapped one arm around my shoulder and another around my waist and that was all it took. In that second I stopped fighting. In that second I finally allowed myself to cry.

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Untitled

I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t help but wonder, "What was the point?" Nothing had changed. She still had a boyfriend and I still couldn’t be that guy. Wouldn’t be that guy. But even though, that didn’t stop me from wanting to be. From wanting to take her face in my hands, from pressing my lips against hers, from breathing her in. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. My body just wouldn’t comply. I ran a hand through her hair. Looked her right in the eye. "I could stare at you for hours." I told her. Silently. I thought of saying the words out loud but couldn’t quite get them past my lips. In a way, I’m thankful for that. It was hard enough dealing with my feelings without verbalizing them. Speaking out would only turn things up a notch- not exactly my idea of "Letting her go". She shied away almost instantly, hiding her face in the mattress, telling me not to look at her like that. "I cant help it." I almost told her, but didn’t. Instead, I promised her that I wouldn’t. Well, not as much anyway. She turned back to face me. Her eyes closed this time. I guess she thought that if her eyes were closed she could just ignore me. Her hand was still on my back, under my shirt- her finger tips moving smoothly

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty across my skin. I wasn’t going to tell her to stop but I knew it wasn’t going to go any further than that either. Not today. My mind was just too far away. There was no way I would be able to get into it. And it had nothing to do with the smell of alcohol on her breath. She may have thought it was but I really couldn’t have cared less. It only bugged me a little that she felt she couldn’t tell me she was taking it. And maybe a little more than that, that she thought I wouldn’t notice. As for why she drank it in the first place? I have my suspicions but I'm not going to get into that right now. After a few minutes she stopped. Gave up. I guess she got the picture. Her hand remained on my back but there was no longer anything sensual about her touch. I felt rather than saw her eyes flutter open and fix on me. I looked down at her. "What are you thinking?" she asked. Her tone was somber, mirroring my mood perfectly. Not exactly an easy question to answer. especially with all the stuff that was racing through my mind right then. I considered lying to her but I never had and saw no reason to start. The problem, however, was just how to explain it to her. And not only that but how to get it out as well. Verbalizing stuff has never been my thing and probably never will be. I write. that’s just what I do. But I wasn’t about to do that just then however. She needed an answer. A prompt one and I intended to give her one. "My head is all over the place right now," I told her, "give me a second?" She gave a slight nod, "Okay." I let out a sigh. Now how do I say this? How do I tell her that I was wrong? That I don’t want to be just friends- buddies like we had initially intended? How do I tell her that I don’t just want her body and a plate of piecemeal affections but her, the whole of her. The beautiful, the not so beautiful and even the ugly? That I'm tired of second guessing, tired of feeling second rate and quite frankly like nothing more than a stand in. Like someone she just passes the time with. She probably didn’t know it and I'm pretty sure she didn’t intend it on any

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty conscious level but sometimes that’s how it felt. But how was I supposed to tell her all of that? I had neither the courage nor the nerve. But still, I owed her an answer. and an honest one. "My answer is going to be a question of my own," I told her, "Okay?" She didn’t seem too keen on this but she eventually agreed. "Ask away." she said, sighing. I swallowed. Was silent for a moment. After a second I looked her dead in the eye. "What am I to you?" *** "A good friend who I sometimes kiss." Is what she told me. Not exactly the answer I had wanted to hear but none the less one I had expected to. And it was kind of the truth wasn’t it? I mean, if I was to be completely honest with myself, "kissing friends" was all we really were. I knew that. I had accepted that. Or at the very least had gone along with it. The problem was, was that I couldn’t any longer. I wanted more, in fact, more than that, I needed more. and if I couldn’t have it, well... "What about you?" She asked interrupting my thoughts, "What am I to you?" I swallowed, furrowing my brows. "The same," I told her. A lie. I tried a smile on for size. "You’re a good friend." I don’t know whether she bought it or not but either way, she left it at that. and for that I'm thankful. I looked for something to say, to change the topic but ended up coming up with nothing. What she had told me and everything that she hadn’t when she had, had stung me more than I had initially thought. More than, even up to now, I care to admit. To myself or to anyone else for that matter. Eventually, we found something to talk about but to me it seemed a little strained.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Talking with her had always been easy. But right then, right there it was anything but. Although we tried our best to paint the rest of her visit with a shade of normalcy, something just wasn’t right. Something was a little off. It was like someone with a beautiful voice singing just slightly off key. Soon it was time for her to go. She said she wished she didn’t have to but I couldn’t help but think that once she had left we would both be a little relieved. If only to be given the chance to recollect. The walk up from the house to the main road was like a stroll with a stranger. I tried to be laid back and charming but even I could tell that I was trying just a little too hard. I tried to convince myself to tone it down, if only just a bit but the truth was, I would rather try too hard than just sit there and not try at all. Standing by the side of the road, waiting for a taxi to roll by she told me that she wanted to say goodbye now so that when a taxi did come by she could just jump in. I turned to look at her square in the face. Although I didn’t say it, it sounded to me as if she wanted to get rid of me. I went along with it, however, and so giving her a hug, I said goodbye. "And thanks for hosting." she said, her lips next to my ear. Drawing back I examined her. "What does that mean?" I asked her. "You’re saying that as if its your first time to sleep over, what’s that about?" She shrugged, "Nothing. Its just good to show some appreciation sometimes." I nodded. I didn’t believe her but I told myself, to hell with it. Before I could say anything more a taxi stopped in front us. I tried to smile. "See you." I told her, touching her arm briefly. Without waiting for an answer, I headed back to the house.

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Hickey/ One Week Later

She told me that she wanted to kiss me but didn’t want to give me the wrong idea. She had read what I had written and it had shocked her. It had shocked a lot of people. Her friends had teased her about it, had made a big deal about it and to a certain extent I guess they had every right to. I had spoken big, spoken out, more than I had intended to but at the same time I'm glad that I had. I stared back at her. Our faces but an inch or two apart. "And what idea might that be?" I asked her. She lightly chewed on the right side of her lower lip, looking away. She looked at the ceiling, at the wall, at anything and everywhere but me. "I don’t know" I waited until her eyes settled back on me before I continued.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty "Then how about if I kiss you?" I asked her once they had. "Still," She insisted, her eyes not leaving me this time, "I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea." Once again I asked what idea that just might be. She shrugged. "I just don’t want you to take it for something its not." I smiled. I got what she meant. I knew where she was coming from, I really did. I had worn my heart on my sleeve and look where it had gotten me. In bed with a girl who was too scared to even kiss me. Even though she wanted to. "Okay," I said, furrowing my brows just a bit, "Then what is it?" She thought about this for a second. "Its me just wanting to kiss you, Lloyd. Nothing more-" "- nothing less." I completed for her. I bit down on my lip. "Fine. Then that's exactly how I'll take it." She seemed a little skeptical of this but then I couldn’t really blame her, I hadn’t written those words lightly and neither had I intended for them to be taken so. I had intended for them to be heavy hitting and heavy hitting they had been. Everyone around us, everyone who had set eyes on those words had felt it. Knowing that if I waited until I was sure she was convinced I would be waiting until the cows came home; I told myself to hell with it. Placing a hand on the side of her face I leaned in and gave her a kiss. *** Not once did it cross my mind that having her hand on my thigh might appear a little inappropriate. I mean we were in church. *Sigh* Okay, so maybe it did cross my mind once, maybe even twice but to be quite honest, I really couldn’t have cared less. It felt good there. It felt like the most natural thing in the world. Turning, I glanced over at her. At her neck. And there it was; clear as day. Like a

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty stamp or a tattoo. It was like a declaration and coupled with her hand on my thigh it left no doubt as to what we had been up to. I smiled. It was just that she had said that it had tickled. Like for real. I mean, who thought that a kiss on the neck tickled. Now that was just weird. Catching me looking at her she gave me that look of hers. "What?" she mouthed, squeezing my thigh. "Nothing." I mouthed back, shrugging. She pressed my thigh again but said just that- nothing. Smiling, she turned and once again, tuned into the pastor. Turning, I followed her lead but unlike her I didn’t tune into the pastor but instead let my mind wander. It was hard to believe that it had been one week since that disaster of an evening that I thought we would never be able to come back from. We hadn’t gone as far as burning any bridges but by the time she had left, things had been pretty bad. But now look at us, I thought defiantly. There we were. her hand on my thigh, my lips tattooed onto her neck. I can honestly say that we were closer than ever. Its funny what one little hickey can do, isn’t it?

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Where Do We Go From Here?
"Where do we go from here?" I mutter to myself...to the passenger beside me. I stare up at the rear view mirror...at our hearts in the back seat. I'm silent...but only for a second. Giving her a chance to answer. But she doesn’t and that’s when it all comes rushing back to me. "Reckless..." It is almost a whisper. The word, bitter, like a glass of juice just after you’ve brushed your teeth. It is directed at myself, at no one in particular, to both of us really. "That's what we're being," I continue. I am now talking to her, my hands on the steering wheel, squeezing the life out of it, I cant bring myself to look at her. "You know that right?" I feel her shift in her seat, discomfort coming off of her in droves. Of course she did; we were in this together. She was my accomplice, my co-conspirator, if I was going down, I was going down with her. But that’s thinking way too far ahead, I tell myself. The words spill out before I have a chance to stop them. I was supposed to think them, not say them.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty I shift in my seat, shifting my gaze from the pair of hopeless hearts trying to ignore each other in the back seat to the pulsating red of the stop light. I squeeze the steering wheel just a little bit tighter, hoping that she's too distracted by her discomfort to register my words. I feel her hand on my thigh. "What was that?" A sigh, a small one, I have no such luck. I glance down at her hand, her nails as red as the stop light, as red as our bleeding hearts. I concoct a lie. The truth would require too long of an explanation. "I said 'we need to start thinking ahead'" I tell her. What I don’t realize, however, is that my answer, although a lie, is still the truth, only to a different question. "I mean, I really don’t see this ending well." I continue. What I don’t say though, is that I only see this ending in one way, and that is in pain. She removes her hand from my thigh, places it in her lap, stares up at the stop light. Its taking forever to change, as if sensing that we need this time. This time out, really. To decide whether being as reckless as we're being is really worth it. I glance over at her, in profile. "I could love you." I almost tell her. "Really love you. If given the chance." But I have already resigned myself to the fact that I will never be given that chance. Decided that I will take things as they come. So if fun is all I can get, then fun is what I will take. The only problem with that, however, is that you can only have so much fun. I take her hand, clasp it with mine. Draw her gaze until her eyes are level with mine. "And I guess that leads me back to my original question;" I tell her. The light turns green. "Where do we go from here?"

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Prelude to “The Aftermath”

“It finally happened.” She told him. She had finally cheated on her boyfriend. Had finally let her passion get the best of her. I paused, swallowed. It was my first and only time to go through her messages and I probably wouldn’t have if she hadn’t drawn my suspicions so friggin' tightly. Who could she be texting? Just after like that? And what about? She had to be telling someone about what had happened. and I didn’t like it. And what was worse, I had an idea of who it could be... I wasn’t disappointed. His name was Richard and she told him everything. He knew all about us. He didn’t approve but there was really nothing he could say about it. Did I take advantage of her? He asked her. “No,” she told him. At least she came to my defense. “It was a two way thing.” I smiled. Not entirely the truth but thanks anyway. I had been content with the way things were. She was the one who had taken it to the next level. But I wasn’t about to dwell on technicalities. There was a bigger picture here. I continued to read. “It wasn’t even worth it.” I felt my heart stop in mid beat. My mouth went suddenly dry. I couldn’t breath. Closing my eyes and clenching my teeth I forced myself to count to three. When I opened my eyes, I could breathe again. It was labored and my hand was shaking but at least I could breathe. I tried to force myself to continue reading but it was hopeless. The words kept on swimming across the screen and the ones that I did manage to hook and reel in held no 92

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty meaning. There were words like “hate” and “dirty” and “mistake” but they meant nothing to me. I couldn’t see them, I couldn’t read them and as I muttered them to myself trying to make some sort of sense of them, I couldn’t hear them either. How could I? At the periphery of my senses, I heard the lock of the bathroom door. She was done. Whether she was able to rinse herself of me, I didn’t know. I had no doubt, however, that that was what she had been trying to do. “pull yourself together man.” Closing the message, I put her phone back where I found it. The door of the bathroom opened and then a moment later, the door of the bedroom. She walked in. Pink towel and a sombre expression. She looked painfully beautiful. I almost said something but then I remembered those words, “It wasn’t even worth it.” But even as much as it hurt I still somehow managed to empathize with her. God, how I wished I didn’t. I wished I could hate her for saying that. For feeling that way and I know a part of me did. But how much I cared for her outweighed that. Trumped the hell out of it. I guess that even then, I loved her. But even if, I thought, I had a heart to protect. My own. I was devastated... It had meant nothing to her. I remember telling her once that I wanted the next person I slept with to be someone I really cared about. That had turned out to be a self fulfilling prophecy. I cared about her more than I cared to admit. More than I actually knew…and It had meant nothing to her. Nothing beyond the fact that she had finally cheated on her boyfriend. I found that a bit of a cop out. As far as I was concerned, she had been cheating on her boyfriend from the day she had met me. But I wasn’t about to sit there and have an internal debate on what She Considered Cheating vs What I Considered Cheating. I could literally feel my heart breaking and I knew that if I didn’t act quickly, there would be nothing left for me to salvage. And so as she sat down on the spare bed opposite me, I knew what I had to do.

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The Aftermath

I tried to leave her alone with her thoughts...but I couldn’t. I needed to hear her say it; that it had been a mistake. I could smell it on her... Regret; strong and undeniable. I had seen it coming from a mile away, I had read it in the stars. "Blame me if you have to." I feel like telling her. "I let this happen." Am I proud of what we did? Certainly not. It goes against everything I’ve been trying to do, everything I had set out to do. Two days into the new year and my little pipe dream is nothing but a memory. Don’t beat yourself up about it, I try to tell myself but every time I look up at her I cant help but think, "You’ve fucked up big, man and there’s no taking it back." She looks back at me but there is no smile. No playful tilt of the head or arching of the eyebrows. There is nothing but sadness. and it saddens me to think that I am its cause. The last thing I ever wanted to do is hurt her. I don’t know what to say and so I say nothing. I want to make it better but I don’t know how. And so I just sit there. Feeling like such a loser for letting her feel like such a

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty loser. Biting down on my lip I give her a little wave which she acknowledges with one of her own. Half hearted and without an ounce of her usual sunshine. "God, how I wish I could hold you." I think, running a hand through my hair. "Tell you that everything is going to be okay." But how can I when I'm afraid to even touch her, when we both know that its not going to be okay. "Give it some time," a little voice tells me from somewhere. "A little perspective. The wound is still fresh." I slide off the bed. Ask for the slippers. Maybe a shower would help. Help clear my head. I had stopped believing in being able to wash such things away a long time ago. *** I found her lying on the mattress on the floor of the sitting room. She was fully dressed, her hair still a mess...she told me she had a headache. Lying down next to her, her feet at my head, mine at hers, I asked her why she was in the sitting room instead of the bedroom. She gave me some half believable excuse then mumbling that maybe she will go to the bedroom, she got up. I didn’t try to stop her, nor did I try to follow her. It was several minutes before I got up and headed for the bedroom myself. By the time I got there she had covered herself with a bed sheet, completely ignoring the blanket that was bunched up beside her. Lying down next to her, I covered myself with it, hoping that when I woke up all of this would be a dream. *** "So are we ever going to talk about how much this is bugging you?" I ask. She shakes her head, never quite looking in my direction. "Nope." She is sitted on the coffee table, her stuff all packed and ready to go. I am on the

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty couch, wondering just how we had gotten to where we are. The mattress on the floor between us a painful reminder...we had never been in the same room like this but so far apart. "Why not?" I ask her, staring down at my hands. "Because there’s nothing to talk about." I sneak a glance up at her. Mull on that for a moment, I had heard that before. I let out a sigh. "Listen, maybe there is nothing to talk about but the fact is, there's something there. I don’t know what it is but I can feel it. And I don’t know if talking about what happened will help or if we just need to give it some time but I don’t want things to be as awkward as they are right now." "Do you think they will ever?" She asks me. "Not be as awkward, I mean." I run a hand through my hair, a habit I'm beginning to find mildly annoying. "I do. I think that if we try, things will get better." Silence. The awkward kind. Not that at that moment there could have been any other kind. I continue to stare down at my hands, limp and impotent in my lap. I want to say something and I know what I want to say but I just don’t know if I should. "Its funny," I say, deciding that I'll go ahead and say it anyway. "Just yesterday I was considering telling you that we needed to stop doing what we've been doing before something like what happened, well, happened." I take a breath. "I mean, it was pretty obvious, at least to me, that it was going to happen at some point. I just never expected it to be so soon." Pause. "Although, if truth be told, I did have a feeling that it would, especially yesterday. It was one of those things you see but just choose to ignore. I sort of wish I hadn’t." I watch her absorb this, take it all in. "So, what, you were just going to tell me this and then leave it at that?" she asks.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Now for the hard part, I tell myself. I swallow. "No. I was then going to tell you that I think we should take some time apart. Maybe we still should, especially now." More silence. Still awkward. Maybe even more so, if that is even possible. She nods. "I agree." The words seem to come out reluctantly "Maybe it would be for the best." So there it is, I tell myself. Now start dealing with it. I meet her eyes for the first time. I cant explain what I see it them but its a whole mess of things. I chew on my lip for a second; there’s nothing else left to say. "I guess that’s it then." She shrugs. "I guess so." Not waiting to watch her climb into the taxi, only one thing runs through my mind. "If this is the best thing for both of us then why does it hurt so damn much?" Not waiting for an answer, kicking up dust, I walk home.

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To Whom it may concern...again.
So this is what it has come to. To writing you this letter. This letter, of which, I have no intention of seeing the light of day. This letter, of which, it is my intention to burn after saying what I have to say. And if through some miracle, through some lapse in thought or through some sort of carelessness on my part, your eyes do happen to chance upon this page, keep in mind that it was never my intention for you to read this. And that I am not writing to you but rather to some version of you that I have conjured up in my head. A version of you that will not laugh at what I am about to set out to say. A version of you that will not cringe, will not pity nor feel sorry, regretful or remorseful. We made the right decision. Even if it was a coup on my part. Even if I did shove it down your throat. But that is not to say that it has been easy. A depression has descended upon me like a fog. It is a battle even to get out of bed in the morning. But don't feel sorry for me. I will pull through. Today is a good day. In fact, Mo is coming over. He says he knows just what I need. No doubt a night of drunken debauchery. Anonymous women, sloppy kisses in dark corner booths and even darker corners. Probably not the best solution but he thinks he's helping. And you know Mo, when he gets it in his head to do something, he doesn't let up until he has done it. And so I'll give him his chance at bat, his day in court; even though to me the chance of success is minimal, it's just comforting to know that he cares. Peter too. They've been incredibly understanding. But enough about that. Mo will be here any moment and this is the last thing I would want him to find me writing. I guess I'll get to burning you later. And when I say “you” I mean the letter, not you. Well, I have to run. It's been um...interesting conjuring you up, As always, Lloyd.

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Uncle Mo’s Quick Cure For a Broken Heart
Ingredients: 1 Tipsy Girl (preferably one you don’t know) 6 bottles of beer (try to mix it up a little) 4 shots of tequila 2 rowdy friends And just enough money to get you and said tipsy girl back to your place. Directions: Stir well for best results. Note: Although prescribed as a “Cure”, it only really suppresses symptoms and does not, in the classic sense of the word “Cure” them.

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*** Ask me what her name was and I wouldn’t be able to tell you. She was a skirt and high heels. A low cut blouse, black lace panties… A distraction. She laughed…a lot. Told me that I was funny. Played with my hair, played with my beard, played with my belt. Did more than just play with it actually. At first I just thought that it was because of the booze but then someone who said that they knew her told me that when she found someone she liked that’s just how she was. Pressing her body against mine she told me that she wanted to get out of there, how far was my place? We were standing at the bar, in the same exact spot where I had found her. I shrugged. “Not far. Ntinda.” There was nothing else left for us to do there anyway. We had drank, we had danced and we had made out. There was really only one thing left and she was more than ready to get a move on. “Lemme juss tell the boys and then we can get out of here. Okay?” She gave me a kiss. “Okay. Just don’t take too long.” She gave me this look that said I better not or else. Pulling away from her I went to go look for the boys. It took me several minutes to find them and so when I did I didn’t waste anytime in telling them that I was taking off. They jocked me a little, as expected, but I cut them off asking if they were cool with transport money and stuff. Assuring me that they were they told me to stop wasting time and go and “beat that pussy right.” “As if you even have to worry,” I told them, laughing,

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “You know how I do!” Telling them I would holla in the morning, I made my way back to the “Breezy who knows how to rock ‘dem heels!”, as one of the boys had dubbed her. She was in the same exact spot, her hand bag already slung over one shoulder, obviously ready to go. “Good to go?” she asked, as I approached her. I nodded. Took her hand. “Let’s get out of here.”

***

I slid out from beneath the covers. Sat at the edge of the bed. Holding my head in my hands I ran my fingers through my hair. Let out a sigh. I needed a shower. A glass of water, something to eat. Glancing over my shoulder I peered at the motionless form in the bed next to me. There had been nothing special about it. It had been like brushing my teeth; a necessary evil. She deserved better. Reaching for my boxers I pulled them on. Stood up. Walked to the bathroom. You don’t feel any better do you, Lloyd? I bet even a little bit worse. Am I right? I flushed the toilet. Washed my hands, washed my face. Tried my best to keep it together. Look at you man, you’re falling apart at the seams. And all because of some girl. I looked up. Peered at myself in the mirror. Don’t look so traumatized Lloyd, I mean, you just got laid. Even if you were thinking of her the entire time. That must count for something, right? “Not really.” I whisper to the mirror. “I miss her.”

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Of course you miss her, you idiot. What did you expect? That it would all just disappear? “I was hoping.” I told the mirror. Well guess again compadre. You’re in for one rough ride. After grabbing a glass of water I went back to bed. Maybe I would have better luck next time.

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PART III

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*** Well, for starters, my hair’s longer now. Although, I would like to think that’s not the only part of me that’s grown since I wrote to you last. A lot has happened in the last nine months. It’s been one hell of a year and I’m still trying to stay afloat. And I’ve still got another month and a half to go… Gosh, where to even start. Of course the most sensible thing would be to continue from where I left off. The time when everything sort of went gray for me for a minute. The time when we decided to take some time apart. And with that being said, I really had no idea resolving not to see each other would have such a big impact one me. The separation hit me like a debilitating disease. I lost a tremendous amount of weight. I just didn’t feel like eating. I didn’t feel like doing much of anything really. I spent my days sleeping. On the couch, on the floor…and it was on such a day that she decided to drop in by surprise. I really didn’t have that much to say. There was nothing new to tell her and so the visit was short and awkward. She told me later that after that day, she decided to fully let go, there was nothing left there. And although this was quite apparent to me as well, for some reason I still couldn’t let go. For some reason I was still holding on and so to remedy this I came up with a plan. Ask her out, ask her to be my girlfriend and once she gives me a definite “no”, once I’ve gotten that out of the way, then I will finally be free to move on. It was the possibility of something still happening that was killing me, after all. And so I did. And as expected she said she couldn’t. what wasn’t expected was her reasons. All two of them. They weren’t exactly rock solid and I knew that with the right amount of wheedling and convincing I could get through to her. And oh, her reasons? Well, 1. According her, if were together, she didn’t think she would be able to trust me. You know, with my past and all. And, 2. She claimed that she still loved her boyfriend.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty And I was like “what? Like seriously? Those are her reasons?”. I mean, if it meant that I had to prove that I could be trusted, I would do that and *stifling a laugh* she still loved her boyfriend? Who was she trying to kid. The only person she was fooling was herself. And so my little stratagem back fired on me. Instead of resolving things for me, all it did was make me confident that I could win her over. Way to go, right? And although I was largely to blame for this so was she. Because even though she was saying “no” with her lips, her actions were saying something else entirely. So with that being said, I guess you can understand that when I invited her to spend the weekend with me in Mbale and she said “yes” I finally thought that I was making some head way. And looking back, I guess I was but with her…nothing was ever or has ever been straight forward.

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Yet Another Reason to Hate Valentine's Day
I never did tell you her name, did I? And I guess I should thank you for never asking. Not that I would have minded. Its just that she doesn't really like having her business being put all out there. Never has. And I guess that as long as she remained nameless, anonymous, she could convince herself that It wasn't really her business that I was putting all out there. It was mine. My dirty laundry. She was just a shade of lipstick on the collar of my favorite shirt. She could be anyone. And I reckon that's just the way she liked it. Her name is Samantha. Sam for short. I called her Sammy once but she thought that was a tad too much. And so I settled for Sam. Unless of course she's having one of her blond moments, in which case I call her “Samantha Who”. Now, to be quite honest, Ive never been one for Valentine's day. Never liked it, probably never will. Least of all because I hate the color red. And so when I say that a romantic valentine's day in Mbale with Samantha was the last thing on my mind, I hope that you will be apt to believe me. I asked her up because...well, I really don't know why I asked her up. Ive never really thought about it. I do know though that I never really 106

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty expected her to actually agree to come. I had asked her half jokingly and so when she did say that she would come, I took it as some sort of sign I probably shouldn't have. But in my defense, wouldn't you? I mean, you don't go out of your way to go on a trip to somewhere you've never been to be with someone over Valentine's Day weekend unless you're trying to say something...or, as I later found out, unless you're Samantha. She arrived on the afternoon of Friday the 13th (please, no jokes) and the first thing that struck me was how good she looked. Up to now I don't know whether it was because I hadn't seen her in some time or if she really was having one of her “super cute days”. It was nice to see her. But although we tried our best to make nice, there was no denying that my unanswered question, or rather inadequately answered question was still looming over us. But even though, I committed myself to not bringing it up that day. In my opinion, it was too soon. I wanted us to at least try to enjoy ourselves before I rained down on our parade.

Saturday
The weather was wonderful. Not too hot, just enough sun, the hint of a breeze and the promise of a star lit night. Some might even say that it was perfect. Not me though. I don't believe in perfect. Not anymore. I'm too old to believe in fairy tales. But that being said, it was a pretty good day. I enjoyed myself. Even if most of the time I was on edge waiting for the perfect opportunity to drop that mother load of a bomb in her lap. A opportunity that never came. I was foolish to even think that it ever would. Theres no such thing as perfect, remember? Just a series of small compromises, even more and even smaller denials and one huge pair of “mother of God, what are you wearing?” rose tinted sun glasses. We hung out, caught up, ate ice cream, walked around, looked for pork, couldn't find any so settled for goats meat and rolexes instead, had a brew...or two...or three, got

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty her a hotel room and wound up on this king sized bed that was just begging to be rolled around in. with the evening having pretty much only one direction to go, I decided, much to the chagrin of the Lloyd writing this, that “you know what? That's not the direction I want it to take. Not with this thing eating me up inside, tying my stomach into knots, making my head swim.” And so I decided to open my big fat mouth. I had one arm around her. Had her in a place I liked to think she thought of as home. I could have kissed her if I wanted to. Turned the night into magic. A dark magic where all else would have been forgotten. At least until the first gray streaks of morning and sanity returned. But instead of doing this simple thing, instead of losing myself in the curve of her neck and the plum of her lips, I licked my own, took curious note of how my chest rose and fell and finally came out with it...Hiroshima! She didn't say anything for a beat. Maybe two. Didn't do anything either. Then feeling her slowly exhale, I watched as she rolled out of the curve of my arm and onto the expanse of the bed. If she had thought of it as home before, that was now nothing more than a distant dream. She seemed to take a moment to choose her words carefully. But even though, there was still a weary note in her voice when she said, “my answer hasn't changed Lloyd. We still cant be together. For the same reasons I gave you before.” let that sink in. I let it marinate. And once it had, once the full absurdity of the situation had hit me, I got angry. “Then why did you even come?” I asked her as calmly as possible. But even though, there was still a slight tremor in my voice. “Ive never been to Mbale before, I thought it would be an adventure.” “You thought that it would be an adventure.” I repeated after her. “You thought that it would be an adventure.” I said again. This time more to myself. I laughed. But her and I both knew that there was no humor behind it. “Let me ask you,” I continued,

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “Knowing how I feel about you, it never once crossed your mind that boarding a bus, which you hate in case you've conveniently forgotten, to go somewhere you've never been, on valentine's day weekend, yes I know Ive said that I hate it and I do and God knows you're about to give me a reason to hate it even more, to visit me might appear to some, hell to anyone, to have some sort of special significance?” Now although I'm not quite sure I said exactly that, I am pretty sure that I did say something to that affect. As for what she replied to that? I have not a clue. Of course, I'm quite allowed to speculate but that, for some reason, wouldn't feel quite right. One of the disadvantages of letting things marinate for so long; things run quite amok, deciding to play hide and go seek with your memory. I'm not up to playing, however, and so I'm going to do my best to provide a pretty faithful summarization. ADVANTAGE OF KING SIZED BED MEANT FOR ROLLING AROUND IN #4; Perfect for putting as much space as you can between you and someone you're not especially fond of at the moment without falling off the friggin' bed, saving them from potential bodily harm. She slept on one side of the bed and I slept on the other. She got the wall. I loved the wall. I was angry enough to try and take it away from her but some sensible part of me that had miraculously stayed put against all the odds managed to convince the rest of me that it wasn't worth the hassle. And so it was until the first gray streaks of morning and sanity returned.

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Next Stop: Stony Heart
Do you think that maybe I expected a bit too much from her? That maybe I read more into her actions than what was really necessary? The truth is, Ive never really thought about it. Not until now anyway. I guess I was just too caught up with what was going on and the state that it had left my emotions in, that I never took the time to really step back and just reflect. One of the advantages of letting things marinate for so long; you get some much needed perspective. The kind of perspective you wish you had had when all of the ruckus was going down in the first place. I don't think so though. I think I was pretty reasonable enough. Didn't expect too much either. Did I expect her to make a commitment right there and then? Right there on the spot? Hell no. I did, however, expect the issue of “Us” to at least be open for discussion. I honestly thought that I had swayed her. If only just a little bit. I listened to my intuition. A mistake? Maybe. A small one. I don't regret it though. I did get the girl in the end after all... The next morning found me still angry. I'm not an angry person by nature, however, it doesn't wear well on me, and so I managed to maintain a certain level of civility that none the less surprised me. 110

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty She bought me breakfast while we waited for her bus to fill up. Samosas and soda or some nonsense like that. I cant really remember. As hurt and angry as I was, I still somehow found pretending as if she hadn't utterly crushed my heart the night before pretty easy. I pulled out the occasional smile at the appropriate time, not quite fake but not quite real either and kept a steady stream of small talk bubbling in order to avoid any areas that might need some smoothing over and it wasn't until we were back on the bus still waiting for it to fill up that the little automation I had devised fell apart. And for once, it wasn't my fault. “I know I probably shouldn't say this,” Samantha started, “but I'm going to miss you.” I flashed one of my durable, factory made, half smiles but said nothing. “I wish you were coming with me. You know how much I hate saying good bye.” I was doodling on the back of the chair in front of me with my index finger. “Then don't think of it as good bye,” I told her. “Think of it as a see you later.” “See you later...” Samantha repeated to herself. Then she said to me, “So...does that mean that we're still going to be able to hang out when you get back?” I stopped doodling. Thought about that for a minute. Did it? I had mixed feelings about it. But all in all, I knew what direction I was going to take. It was inevitable. “Yeah, I guess so.” And as I said those four words, I decided that this was going to be the last time that I was going to let my heart get butchered the way it had been the last few months. Of course I would hang out with her. But gone were the days where I let her get under my skin. “From this day forward,” I told myself, “It will be as if you have a heart made of stone. Enjoy it.” I gave her a hug. Stood up. “See you in Kampala.” I threw over my shoulder and walked out of the bus.

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The “Text-Message” Incident
Kampala is like many an African metropolis. Congested, dirty and polluted with noise and boy did it feel good to be back. It was the day after I had sent Samantha packing (not the best terminology I admit, but just try to bear with me) and although Mbale is a town much more suited for me, I sorely missed the bustle of the city. My first order of business once I had arrived was to do something with my hair. It was looking quite shabby and it needed taking care of badly. Two hours in a salon, half an hour in my favorite chair at Charlie's barbers and I was looking pretty spiffy if I do say so myself. Next on my list of things to do was Facebook and text messages to all the folks that mattered that I was back in town. Amongst these was Terry, Samantha's pretty sounding, witty mouthed, sometimes over inquisitive cousin. We had never met but had been chatting on and off for over a month. Samantha had given Terry my number for reasons still unknown, but whatever the reason, the outcome had been a wary friendship of the sorts. Knowing that I was back in town, Terry suggested that we link up the following day, was brunch okay? Seeing no reason to deny her the pleasure of my presence, and wanting to show off my spiffy looking hair, I readily agreed.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty I was late by almost half an hour. I had failed to account for traffic time which is exactly what I told Terry when I finally did arrive. She was pretty. The kind of pretty you want to take home to your momma and say “Hey, look what I found. Now tell me your boy didn't do good.” In spite of having never met, I didn't find the meeting in the least bit awkward. Except for maybe the fumble I made ordering an espresso clearly having no idea of what it really was. I managed to play it off though. At least I think I did anyway. In any case, as the conversation played out I discovered that Terry was intelligent, independent, opinionated, strong willed and ideally, the kind of a girl I wouldn't mind getting to know better. A whole lot better. And as we parted ways, promising to keep in touch, that's exactly what I intended to do. Jumping from one saddle to another, as I climbed into a taxi heading back towards Ntinda, I sent Samantha a text asking her what she was doing later; I wanted us to hang. Her reply? She had an ushering gig but she would love to. She would let me know when she was done. With a touch of satisfaction, I shifted gears yet again, sending my boy Peter a message, I told him that I had finally met that Terry chick I had been telling him about. And boy was she something else...

*** Samantha and I agreed to link up at around nine o'clock that evening. We would have a couple of drinks, hang for a minute and then since she had work in the morning and no change of clothes, call it a night. Sipping on my waragi and tonic, the bitter sweetness lightly scorching the back of my throat, an acute sense of indifference came over me. Watching her, Samantha seemed to me to be a little dull around the edges. Faded like a once favorite t-shirt you've put through the wash one too many times. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she was tired. Physically so, so obviously so, that she looked it. But I think it was more

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty than that. Something had happened in the last couple of days, something that had begun with my decision on the bus, that had drastically altered the dynamics of how I felt about her. Now, instead of seeing how beautiful a person she was, all I could make out, all I could see were all her little shortcomings, imperfections and flaws. Gone were the rose tinted glasses and in their place, I saw her for what she really was: lonely, indecisive and self deceiving. The insight came suddenly and unannounced like a tropical rain storm. Not that I hadn't already known this. Because quite frankly, I had. I just have this tendency to ignore such things until they cant be ignored anymore. Until they demanded that their presence be acknowledged, slapping me in the face, shaking me out of my self imposed revelry. I guess that these was one of those times. And just as quickly as it made its presence known, the insight quickly made itself feel at home. Taking up a speedy residence next to such commonplace facts as there are twenty four hours to a day and a foot is twelve inches long. And when something becomes as commonplace as that, as mundane and as pedestrian, as humans we tend to view such things with invariable indifference. And so that is how I began to view Samantha. There was no longer anything special about her. she was flawed and earthbound, mundane and pedestrian. She was a day with twenty four hours, a foot with twelve inches. I took her down off that pedestal that falling in love often causes people to erect for those who are the objects of their affection. From now on, I told myself, I was going to regard her like I would any other girl. There would be no more special treatment from me. Or so I thought... As it began to push midnight Samantha began to drop hints that maybe it was time that she got going. “I would spend the night,” she told me. As if she assumed that I wanted her to. “but I don't have a change of clothes.” I inspected her. She was a shoe box full of smudgy photographs. A cabinet stacked with cracked china. “You already said that.” I reminded her. “You should go home.”

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Samantha took a sip of her drink. I could tell that wasn't what she wanted to hear. She was looking for an excuse, for a little convincing and she was looking to me to provide her with that. The truth was, and I suspect that we both knew it, was that she didn't want to go home. She wanted to go home with me. But of course she wasn't going to admit that. Not to me, nor to herself. She wanted it to be my idea. I'm pretty sure that I knew that she was going home with me even before she did. As the minutes passed, I watched as, realizing that I wasn't going to do that for her, Samantha set about convincing herself. She could call her boss, tell him that she would turn up in the afternoon or maybe not at all. There wasn't that much work in the office after all. She could tell him that she would work an extra day. Put in more hours to make up for missing tomorrow. He was a push over anyway. He'll accept whatever she told him “Fine”, Samantha finally said, draining the last of her drink. “let's go.” I smiled. “And the verdict is?” I reached for my glass. “The verdict is,” Samantha started, “is that we- you and I, are going to walk out of here, go get a taxi back to your place and go to sleep.” “And work tomorrow?” The glass was now right below my lips. “I guess we'll just have to see how the day goes.” Samantha answered, giving me a suggestive smile. I tried my best to mirror it before emptying my glass. Once emptying it. I set the glass down and we got up to leave. Destination: my place. *** Pop culture dictates that “sex always complicates things.” We see it it the movies, hear it on the radio, read it in the magazines...its friggin' everywhere! Not for me though. For me, sex is simple. Straight forward. Like a

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty transaction- an exchange of goods. In and of itself, sex doesn't illicit any emotion in me what so ever. And I can say, with quite some confidence, that although it may not be true of all men, the same is true of most. Sex doesn't faze us. its what happens in the absence of sex that really gets us going. Because in the absence of sex men are virtually tricked into actually getting to know what is meant to be nothing more than one more conquest. Its in the absence of sex that we become susceptible to a girl's various charms. And like a slow acting poison, they ensnare us. Ive met several girls who have learned this secret, Samantha being just one of them, and have learned to use it to their advantage. Turning an array of boys and even men into their hopeless and even willing lap dogs. But that aside, things got complicated between Samantha and I way before we ever jumped into the sack. Sex only cemented things. I'm pretty sure that things would have turned out differently if we had had sex the first, second or even the third time around. A whole lot different. We had sex when we got home that night. We had sex the following morning too. And the best part was, was that for me the sex was just sex. I had no expectations, no trepidations...i was back to being casual and I loved how that felt. I had missed how that had felt. And to have that back...well it felt pretty damn good. Smelly and sweaty afterwards (you know how it is) we both agreed that it would be prudent of us to take a shower, eat something and then see what the rest of the day held. It was only our second time sleeping together, and the first ended in such disaster that we weren't yet comfortable enough with each other to take a shower together. And so she went first. Now, Samantha's not exactly the biggest fan of water, especially when its cold and so hers was an expedient one. Once she was done, I followed in her wake,and headed to the bathroom. Unlike her, however, I loved the shower and so took my time; looking forward to a chill day just lazing around the house. Maybe there would even be more sex in store. I certainly hoped so. Shutting off the spray of the refreshingly cold water, I dried myself off, wrapped my towel around my waist and headed back to the room.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Samantha was fully dressed and tossing things into her bag as I walked into the room. The atmosphere was deathly cold. “Um...what are you doing?” I asked, cautiously taking a step towards her. “what does it look like?” she shot back without looking up from her bag. “I'm leaving.” My mind began to race. What could have happened during the time I spent in the shower? I mean I didn't shower for that long. “I thought we were going to hang.”, I reminded her. “Well Ive changed my mind.” her eyes were watery and there was something about her demeanor that told me any false step and she would burst out crying. Making a decision, I quickly crossed the room to where she was and lightly grabbed her by the arm, forcing her to look up at me. “Samantha, what's wrong?” She snatched her arm away from me and grabbed her bag. “I cant be here right now.” She muttered under her breath and then pushing past me she hurried out of the room. Hurrying after her, I repeatedly called out her name but got no response. She had the back door open by the time I caught up with her. Grabbing her by the arm once again, I pulled her back in, put her up against the wall and pinned her to it by both of her shoulders. Hard. “Samantha...what is going on?” I wasn't quite shouting but I could tell she was shaking from the force I had used. “Let me go Lloyd. You're hurting me.” “Not until you tell whats up with you.” “Please...please...just let me go.” The tears were flowing freely now. She made no attempt to stop them. I lessened the pressure of my grip. “What's wrong?”

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty But she wouldn't tell me. Or maybe she simply couldn't. I let her go. Seeing her opening, Samantha pushed past me and within seconds was out the door. Realizing I had lost, I made a few vain attempts to call after her but made no real attempt to go after her. As I stood there in the door way, watching her traverse the hill up to the main road with the speed of th truly distraught; baffled and confused, only one thought pounded through my brain, “What the hell just happened?”

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Awfully Long for a Letter

Ive been going through these pages Ive been writing you, and yes I know this is awfully long for a letter, and Ive realized something, they're kind of...well they're kind of one tracked. I really don't think I have to elaborate on this for you. You're a smart girl, you know what I mean...they're all about Samantha. Its been Samantha this and Samantha that and I don't quite understand it. I mean, I'm way past the venting stage. That was months ago. I'm over it. I'm so, so over it. You're probably wondering why I decided to write you an old fashioned letter in the first place. Its okay if you do, I know I would. After all, it could be weeks before you even get this, thats assuming you get it at all. I read somewhere, I forget where, it was somewhere like News week or Time or something like that, that letter writing, apparently, is a dying art form. No one writes letters any more. They either send emails or text messages or writing on each other's friggin walls on Facebook. Now personally, Ive never quite seen anything even remotely artsy about letter writing. But I thought, “hell, why not give it a whirl?” and so this is me giving it a whirl. And you know me, whenever I decide to do anything,, I tend to go balls out. And so I apologize in advance for this silly attempt at a

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty throwback that is quickly becoming a “woe is me” tirade on my trials in love...A novel. Or a novella at the very least. But then, seeing as everything I'm telling you is true (yes, down to the dialogue) I guess that would kind of make it a memoir of sorts. But lets not dwell on unimportant specifics for the very reason that they're well...unimportant specifics. I just hope that I haven't bored the heck out of you. Because I still got some ways to go yet before this tale has run its course. Of course, I could just summarize it for you but in a way I feel talking about it is doing me some good. I stopped seeing my therapist by the way. Around the last time we talked. Things just didn't work out with her. I had initially gone to her because she was suppose d to bring me some sort of clarity. She ended up clarifying shit. All she did is sit in her dingy little office and fill my head with little nuggets of pop-psychology. Huh, I must sound angry. Well I was...I still am. She was full of shit, and I bought into it. I have a right to be angry, don't I? Needless to say, her and I didn't part on the best of terms. But what was I saying? Oh yeah, I think talking about it, hell writing about it is doing me some good. So know that even if you don't read this, you've been instrumental in my pursuit of emotional and mental equilibrium. Wow, look at me, using some psychobabble I'm sure doesn't even exist. But enough about her. Ive got some equilibrium pursuing to do. (pseudopsychobabble aside, I kinda like the way that that sounds) and don't you worry, I wont be filling up that many more pages. And the pages that I do manage to fill, I'll try not to make them so damn boring. Now, where was I really? Oh yeah, now I remember...

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Birthday Sex

I was distraught. Bungling around the house with unseeing eyes and deafened ears. I must have stubbed my toe at least twice. Burnt my fingers on the head and shoulders of a lit match trying to light the orange gas cylinder to make myself a cup of tea. Tea that I poured down my throat scalding hot and sugarless and quite unnoticed. I tried calling her dozens of times and sent her a score of messages. All were ignored and none were replied. The silence only made me even more frantic. I was about to try and call her again when a thought struck me. I went through all my messages. Both inbox and sent. What I found there opened up an avenue I hadn't yet thought about. But she wasn't the type to go through one's messages, was she? I read through the series of messages again. They were from peter and I from the day before. We were going over the fine points of my brunch with Terry. And inevitably some comparisons had been made between her and Samantha. It made a lot of sense. If Samantha had some how gone through that conversation, I could understand why she had cause to get so upset. And as it stood, I couldn't really conjure up another explanation. It was the most obvious, the most convenient and so I

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty decided that until it was proven otherwise, this had been the cause of Samantha's dramatic departure. Having a number of errands to run, I tried my level best to calm my nerves, put on my best face and get them done. It was in the midst of these that I got the message. It was from Peter. He was asking me what the hell had happened. Samantha's Facebook status made it pretty clear that she was angry with someone and from the look of things, that someone was me. I read the status update myself and sure enough, it was about what had happened that morning. Of course, not in such explicit terms but to her and I and anyone else who was told, it was pretty obvious. I told peter what had happened as well as my suspected reason. He concurred implicitly saying, “That's really the only option. That sure teaches her to go snooping through your inbox.” “Yeah and teaches me not to keep messages that make my inbox worth snooping through.” was my reply. “you used to be so good at deleting your messages, what happened?” “I became domesticated.” “lol. In any case, give her some time to cool off. Her feelings were hurt, she'll get over it.” And so I did.

*** for the longest time I tried coming up with a catchy name I could refer what happened that morning with Samantha and her taking off as. I hated having to say, “you know, the time when...” and then go on to recount the entire story again. Boring! But for all of my thinking (and I thought quite a bit) the best I could come up with was “the text message incident” and that didn't even stick because up to now, it has never been

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty confirmed whether it was these messages that upset her or not. But for the sake of convenience I'm going to stick with “the text message incident” now with that out of the way, the text message incident happened on a Wednesday. My birthday was on the following Monday and I wanted Samantha to be there. Hell, I needed her to be there. And so that gave me four days to smooth things over and get back into Samantha's good graces again. I did as Peter suggested however and gave her some time to cool down. I didn't send her a message until Saturday afternoon. “Hey, its my birthday on Monday and I'm taking a few friends out to dinner,” It said, “I want you to be there. Do you think you can come?” I was besides myself waiting for an answer. I glanced at my phone every few seconds to see if she had replied. It pained me every time I looked and she hadn't. And here I had thought that I had put a stop to her getting under my skin. Easier said than done, I was now finding out. And then the reply came. I was almost too scared to read it. What if she said that she couldn't come? Made up some prior engagement or petty responsibility. But how would you know that she had even made it up? I wouldn't but I would always be left wondering. Well as it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. She said she would come. All she had to know was the wen and the where and she would be there. “I'll text you the details when I know them.” I told her. I couldn't stop myself from smiling. Samantha, (whoopty-doo) was going to be around for my birthday.

*** I didn't want anything fancy and so after asking Peter, we settled for pizza. I didn't want anything big either, I had had harrowing experiences with big parties and so apart

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty from Peter and Samantha the only other person I extended an invitation to was Eric; my pre-Samantha wingman. Eric...was a trip. He was the type of guy who used bravado and good looks to get what he wanted. Charm didn't even factor into the equation probably because he didn't have that much to begin with. In spite of this though, everything I had ever learned about “pimpin' these hoes.” I had learned from him. I told both Peter and Eric that they could bring dates. Samantha was obviously meant to be mine and so that would make six of us. A small number but one that suited me just fine. Add two to that and you get the time we agreed upon to meet the girls at the restaurant. The boys and I were going to start off the celebration early with a couple of drinks at home before hand to lubricate the evening. I had invited Samantha for that, seeing as that would give us the opportunity but she politely but sternly declined saying quite plainly that she didn't want to talk, she would meet us there. Shrugging it off, I didn't push it. I didn't want to rock the boat. Who knew that if I did or said the wrong thing that she wouldn't revert back into irate silence. And so after lubricating our engines; Peter, Eric and I left the house a little after seven. Getting into town proved more of a hassle than usual, however, with the matato stopping every 100 meters looking for passengers and so we arrived a little late. Luckily enough, though, neither of the girls had turned up. I say neither because we were only expecting two of them; Samantha and Eric's current package of cuteness, Michelle. As usual and as expected, Peter had once again failed to conjure himself up a date. We didn't have to wait long for both girls to arrive and once they had we immediately took to the task of ordering for and demolishing two large pizzas with the help of just the right mixture of alcohol and great conversation. Once the last slice had been eaten and I can happily say that it wound up in my stomach, and the bottles were empty and the bill had been paid, finding it still too early to go home, we all agreed that a couple of more drinks were in order and so strolling out of

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty the restaurant we padded our way up the street and around the corner to a bar called Mateo's. Here the atmosphere was a tad, if not a whole lot more intimate and we found ourselves talking in couples which left Peter a little out of the loop seeing as he was the only one half of one. That was about the time Samantha's phone rang. I watched her as she dug her phone out of her bag. She pulled a face. “Do you really have to take that?” I asked her. What I was really asking was for her not to. Not on my birthday. Her tone was apologetic. “Yeah, I kinda do.” And with that she got up from the table and walked away to take the call. I could sense the others eyes on her as well. A quiet sadness came over me. I was still sharing her. Nothing had changed. Not wanting this destructive line of thought to get the best of me, however, I quickly washed it down with a gulp of waragi and tonic and turned to Peter. Michelle and Eric had already resumed their conversation.. “The boyfriend.” I said as resolutely casual as possible. When Peter didn't reply, I changed the topic. Of course he didn't want to get mixed up in some petty little love triangle. And he gossip girl for that even if he did. Samantha was gone for less than ten minutes. Which surprised me because those call usually took close to an hour. “That was fast.” I said as she sat down. She took a sip of her drink. “He got pissed that I was with you.” “And how did he know that you were with me?” She dropped her phone into her bag. “I told him. But he seems to have a six sense about it. He always seems to know when I am. He's the one who asked; I just confirmed it.” I said nothing. After about two heart beats of silence, Samantha placed a hand on top of mine.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “Now can we please stop talking about him? It's your birthday.” “Fine by me.” I shrugged and we moved onto lighter topics. Soon after this, only about halfway through her beer, Michelle stood up and announced apologetically that she had to get going. It was getting late, her boyfriend was on her neck and she had promised she would go and see him. “Geez,” I thought, “another one. What's up with all the pretty girls having dwansies as boyfriends?” But outwardly I gave her a hug, thanked her for coming and told her that I hoped we would be seeing her soon. Eric walked he out. He came back telling us how she had said she had really enjoyed herself, she really liked his friends and that she couldn't wait to do it again. “Well congratulations,” I told him, “next time you talk to her, tell that we like her too. Hell, at least I do.” We talked a little more, drank a little more but by the time we had bottomed that round it was by general consensus that it was time to go home. And so after paying for the drinks we got up, all of us a little drunk, I myself (I cant speak for the rest) more than a little horny, we walked out of the bar and the four of us piled into a special hire taxi. As the taxi made its way resolutely due north, I'm not ashamed to say that I resolutely had only one thing on my mind. And from the feel of Samantha's probing hands I could tell that she had the same thing on hers. We didn't get home none too soon. As soon as the bedroom door closed I was all over her. I was hungry for her and didn't waste any time. Amidst frantic kisses I pulled down her dress with her bra and her panties along with those. And as we fell onto the bed, boyfriend long forgotten, I couldn't help but wish myself a very happy birthday.

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Heaven is so Overrated Anyway

“So when are we going to go get our tattoos?” I stared down at the phone. Thumbed its buttons. Scratched my head. Groped for an answer. Honesty's the best policy, they say and so I told her the truth. “When I get some money.” I typed. “are you doing anything today?” It was a Saturday morning and if I was going to do anything, it wouldnt be until the sun went down. I told her I wasn't. “Then how about lunch? My treat.” I more than readily agreed to that. “You choose the place.” I told her. “How about Java's?” I had never eaten there and so I was with it. 127

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “What time?” “One.” she told me. I checked the time, it was 11:30, if I was going to make it I had to get moving. Telling her I would see her then I jumped into the shower. It was about two to three weeks after my birthday and Samantha and I had settled into a routine that for the time being suited the both of us quite well. We were having fun, enjoying the pleasure of each other's company. We were no longer friends who sometimes kissed but friends who had sex virtually all the time. It didn't matter to us that to everyone else we were a couple who were a couple even though we weren't one and who were desperately trying to blind ourselves to the fact that we really were one. They say ignorance is bliss and in this case it really was. Especially since it was willful. But like all things, it couldn't last. But that came later. In a white polo, blue jeans and white kicks, after checking myself at least fifteen times by last count in the mirror, making sure every button was in place as well as every hair, I locked up the house and headed for my lunch date. We arrived at about the same time. I spotted her walking across the lot as I was jumping out of the taxi. Putting a little haste in my state I called after her. Samantha turned, saw me and slowed her pace so that I could catch up. “Hey, talk about perfect timing,” I said, giving her a hug. She smiled her assent and we made small talk as we walked in, got seated and perused through the menu. “How are the burger here?” I asked her. “Really good and really big.” she answered after a moments thought. “As good as dominoes?” “Ive never eaten their burgers, only their pizza.” “You should,” I advised her, “Now they make good burgers. Milkshakes too.” Deciding to take a chance, I ordered a burger and fries and Samantha followed suit. Samantha's good friend Kayla joined us and she ended up ordering the same thing. And Samantha was right. The burgers were big. But so was my appetite and I cleared off my burger, all of my fries, half of Samantha's and most of Kayla's. And to top

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty it all off, we ordered cones of ice cream as well. I hope you can understand when I say that after that I felt a little like a beached whale. And that is when Samantha decides to take advantage of the situation, take my hand and ask, “Please go shopping with me.” I stared at her. “My boss wants me to go clothes shopping for him and I could use the help picking stuff out from someone who has obvious taste.” I laughed. “Look at that, she's trying to butter me up.” I swung at Kayla. Kayla smiled as well. “Is it working?” “I'll make it worth your while...” that was Samantha. There was a suggestive lilt to her voice. I raised an eyebrow. She bit her lips. “I end today.” She then did this thing of lowering her eyes then raising them slowly to meet mine. She had this little girl grin on her face that didn't really belong to a little girl. Or a little girl that maybe knows a little more than what is good for her. I'm sure if Samantha had had her hair down she would have pulled at it and twirled it with an index finger. “Ewwww, gross.” Kayla spat out, cutting into our little moment. Both Samantha and I turned to look at her. “Lloyd is obviously going to go because of whatever exchange of innuendo that was. And Sam, darling, I love you but please never make that face again. Now can we please go?” Samantha and I exchanged glances but didn't try to hide our bemused expressions. Kayla was right about one thing though. I was definitely going to go shopping for Bossman's clothes with them. And it wasn't even the promise of a little action later on either (although that also helped) but more the chance to spend the afternoon with Samantha. I must have been blind not to have seen that I was falling under her spell again. I had been doing good at keeping things at bay but slowly by slowly the scales were tipping in the other direction again.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty And so we went shopping. Arcade to arcade moving up and down Kampala road and its adjoining streets. In snatches, making sure that Kayla didn't hear, Samantha let me know that she wanted us to get tattoos but was looking for a way to get rid of Kayla first. It may have sounded mean but it really wasn't. If Kayla hung around then she would have to get tattoos for all three of us. She didn't have enough money for that and plus, it was supposed to be a treat for the two of us. Me and her. “Then we'll do it another day.” I told her, “its no big deal.” “You know me with money Lloyd. I have the money now. So we have to do it now.” She had a point, with her it was either now or never. I sighed, “Okay, heres what we're going to do. We're gonna go and check the tattoo place out, do a little browsing and if push comes to shove and in my opinion, even if it doesn't, just be honest with her. I'm sure she'll understand.” It was at that point that Kayla walked up to us sucking on a straw and a bangled hand on her waist. “Are you guys talking about me?” Her tone was coquettish. “We were talking about checking out the tattoo place.” I answered before Samantha could open her mouth. “You guys really want to get tattoos today, don't you?” I glanced at Samantha. “Maybe,” I said, “If we find something we like.” I glanced at Samantha again. Gave her a little nudge with my eyes. Samantha finally spoke up. “But gwe, if we do decide to get them, its for catering for yourself.” Kayla looked from Samantha to me then back to Samantha again. “Yeah, okay.” It was like she hadn't expected anything else. “Let me just take back this bottle and we get out of here.” She turned back to where she had gotten the soda. Samantha and I had already taken back ours.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty I nudged Samantha with an elbow. “Now was that so hard?” The Tattoo place was behind a video game arcade. But not one with arcade machines but with about seven, eight consoles; X Boxes and Playstations set up like those at a video game convention to test out new games. There were two nappy haired kids playing Pro Evolution Soccer but no one else. The parlor itself was small. About the size of a bedroom. Probably even smaller. The walls were covered with tattooed bodies torn out of magazines, a number of photo testimonials, tons of sketches and prints both drawn and taken from magazines. There was a five foot long padded table that sort of resembled the one used to give massages just adjacent to the door and it was littered with tattoo magazines and a number of black covered files which upon inspection had pages and pages of tattoo prints. Up against the wall opposite the table was a smaller one with a short stool drawn up to it. A little next to it on the ground, further from the door, was a thing that had a tank and tubes and valves, I think I saw a pressure gauge there somewhere, that I could only assume helped in the furthering of the tattooing process. On the other side of the table, inside of the wall the door was in was another table. On top of this sat a computer along with an array of Cd's, papers, magazines and files. It was sitting before this that we found our tattoo artist. I forget his name but it wasn't Shadrach. He was much lighter. About five foot eight maybe nine. He wore scuffed New Balance sneakers, board shorts, a baggy south pole shirt, a cheap looking Owino bought chain and a head sock that covered his dreads that he later claimed reached down to his knees. “We want to get tattoos.” I announced after he shook our hands. “Tell us what we need to know.” And he proceeded to do just that. Sixty thousand was the starting price. Price varied upon the size of the tattoo and the amount of ink- black or colored, needed. Tattoos appear clearer, especially colored ones on lighter skin so my dark skinned brother over, (meaning me) shouldn't get upset if his isn't seen so well. Kayla asked, “does it hurt?”

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Ive been thinking and Ive come to the decision that I'm going to call the tattoo guy Rick. You like the name Rick don't you? It sure beats calling the dude tattoo guy every couple of lines anyway. So Rick said, “Nope. Its funny, everyone thinks that it hurts when It really doesn't. Its more of a persistent scratching than real pain. It just gets annoying after a while. Why don't you guys have a look at some of the tattoos?” and he gestured over at the padded table with its collection of files and magazines. “I'm sure you'll find something you like. And if you do just give us a holla.” He dug a battered looking phone out of his pocket and put it up to his ear. He walked out of the room to receive the call. That left us to our perusing. Twenty minutes to half an hour later and I still hadn't settled on anything. Nothing had jumped out at me and I had been through the books at least three or four times. I thought of getting the Chinese symbol for “power” but that was near suicide. My cousin Kevin had talked about getting it ever since I can remember and if I went and got it I was sure that he would never forgive me. And so I went through other Chinese symbols. I finally narrowed it down to two: “Heaven” and “Eternity”. I remember that during the entire selection process Samantha and I were acting quite couply. Touching and holding hands, a quick hand under the bottom of her blouse, the brush of my fingers along the line of her neck, the squeeze of her hand on one of my thighs, a quick kiss with just the whisper of tongue...I'm pretty sure we must have made Kayla sick. When I announced to Samantha that I had narrowed my options down to two she asked me to show them to her. As soon as I did she immediately claimed “Heaven” for herself, leaving me with “Eternity”. And so it was decided then. Samantha had heaven and I had eternity...no arguments. The girl always seemed to get what she wanted. “So where are you going to put yours?” I asked her. “On my hip.” “Show me.” Taking my hand, Samantha placed it where she wanted to put it. “What do you think?”

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “I think that,” I moved my hand lower and closer to her middle. “it would be better here. Just peeping above the panty line.” “Why?” “Because its sexier.” Kayla was staring at us. Her expression was incredulous. “No one had to say you had to look.” Samantha told her. “Have you decided what you're going to get yet?” She had. She was thinking of getting a phoenix. On her lower back. “Tramp stamp.” I thought but said nothing. “I called Beenie,” she continued, “He said he'll pay for it. He's on his way over.” Beenie was her dreaded dread locked pursuer. His real name was Clarence. Yeah, I know right? Assuming he had to pave the heart to Kayla's heart with fifty thousand shilling notes, he spent on her so much it was obscene. When one time I asked her why she took the money, she stared at me wide eyed and said, “Why? Because her offers it.” like it was the most obvious thing in the world. I had just smiled and shaken my head. “Lucky you.” Samantha said, “meanwhile, we,” she gripped my hand so hard that it hurt, “have to go to the ATM. Come on.” Pulling me by the hand, Samantha dragged me out of the parlor. We went down to the ATM and on the way back we found somewhere to stop and make out. “Ive missed you.” Samantha whispered while playing with one of the buttons of my shirt. “Well Ive missed you too.” “Well of course you have, this is me that we're talking about here.” “Haha.” She abandoned the button and moved to the collar. “This shirt looks good on you.” “Okay, I know you. What's up?” She continued to played with my collar.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “You might have to miss me for a little while longer.” I pitched my head slightly to the side. “When you say I might. What you really mean is that I will, am I right? Her hand stopped fidgeting. “For how long?” I asked her. “Just for tonight.” I waited for her to explain. “I have a sleepover. A girls night in. I cant fox.” I studied her. “You're not angry are you?” her eyes were worried. I shook my head. “Of course not.” I poked her lightly in the ribs, “Plus, Heaven is so overrated anyway.” Getting the jibe, Samantha warned me that she was going to punish me for that. “I would love to see you try.” “I wouldn't tempt fate if I was you. You never know...” But the rest of her warning was cut off by the employment of a sudden kiss. Hired by yours truly. And no you don't have to say it...i know I'm good. We made out for another moment or two then walked back to the parlor. Rick was waiting for us when we got there. “So who's going first?” Both girls turned to look at me. I shrugged. “I guess that would be me.” Rick pointed me towards the table with the low stool in front of it. “Go and sit down.” I sat. He pulled up a chair. “Eternity right?” “Yup.” He snapped on a pair of surgical gloves. Then after hooking everything up, turning everything on, he held up something that had a needle at the end. It was buzzing.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “So where are we putting it?” I pointed at a spot on the right side of my neck. “Okay. Now pull down your collar and tilt your head to the left.” I did what I said. I could feel the girls' eyes on me. The buzzing got louder as rick loomed over me. “Now,” he said after swabbing my neck with cleansing alcohol, “this might sting a little.”

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Of Tattoos & Voodoo
As I write this, I still only have the one tattoo. Samantha, I assume, also has only the one. And although I don't see myself taking after Mr. Wayne Carter (Weezy the future to most of us) who whenever he's in a good mood goes and gets another tattoo, (is it just me or is he running out of places to put them?) I do want to get a few more. Not many, maybe like two or three. One on the inside of my forearm, one on my upper arm and then maybe one on the hand. One, I know, will definitely be a cross (generic I know, but it is what it is) and as for the others...I'm not quite sure yet. But I'm sure I'll think of something. Definitely no more Chinese symbols though. Its sorta like; been there done that; its kinda like the Chinese symbol is like the standard issue first tattoo. In Uganda at the very least. Its funny, because most of the time I even forget that I even have one. Its usually not until someone points it out (more often than not a female, more often than not hitting on me, more often than not in a bar or a club or some other night spot). How they even spot it amidst those dim or otherwise flashing lights is beyond me, that I even remember I have one. And most of the time I have my hair down covering the damn thing anyway. I admit, there have been times when Ive regretted ever getting the tattoo, I can be pretty emotional; girly emotional, but those have only ever been times when things have been particularly bad between Samantha and I and I wish to rid myself of her memory-

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty inadvertently enough, however, the feeling usually passes within a few hours, at most a day and I'm back to forgetting I even have it... Kevin says I need to get it darkened. You remember Kevin don't you? Tall, dark, nappy hair. Everyone says we look like brothers? Anyway, Rick said that you can do that. They go over the tattoo again to make it more pronounced against the skin. I sorta agree with him. With Kevin I mean. Its not as visible as I would have liked but I really cant be bothered. I would rather just get another tattoo. Something not associated with Samantha. Something that doesn't bind me to her the way I sometimes feel my first ink job has done. That came from Kevin too, if you must know. The first time he saw the tattoo and I told him what it meant I remember him giving me this queer look and sort of chuckling to himself. “What? What is it?” I asked him, angling my neck so that I could see the tattoo in the bathroom mirror. It was about three days after I had gotten it. “Doesn't it look okay?” “It looks fine.” Kevin answered me. “but let me ask you something; have you ever really thought about what that tattoo means. Within the context of which you got it.” Kevin has a thing for trying to get into my head and so I decided to keep quiet. Wait him out. He waited for me to answer but after a moment or two, realizing I wasn't going to answer, he decided to answer for me. “The girl has you branded nigga...for 'eternity'.” I gave him a bleak smile “Pun intended of course.” was my snide reply. Of course he was pretty justified in his thinking. Any person on the outside looking in would have thought the same thing. Hell, I thought it myself. And on some level still do. And I'm on the inside. I don't feel like going through all the rationale behind it but I'm sure you can put two and two together and see the logic behind that statement. Its one of the things I still fight with, the main reason that I wish it wasn't so. It was a scary prospect, that. One that human nature tends to try its best to to stay away from. Its strange, because at the same

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty time its kind of comforting. Being branded, knowing that you belong to someone whether you like it or not. No matter how hard you try to fight it. In this particular case though, it was more of a worrying prospect than a comforting one. If only because it wasn't according to plan. She wasn't supposed to get under my skin remember? And here she was, not only under it but on it, so to speak, for 'eternity'. Thats part of the reason why I asked what I did. To be honest with me. Something didn't quite add up. There was something she wasn't telling me. And after everything, I felt she owed me an explanation. And so after one unbearable moment of silence, she told me what I wanted to know.

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The Other Reason

Now, unless Samantha has changed drastically in the last few months, say, gotten a personality transplant of some kind, I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that I know her pretty well. Now, I'm not saying that says anything about my powers of perception or ability to read people or even the nature of the kind of relationship that we have...or had...or whatever. All I'm saying is that she's a pretty easy person to get to know. I remember there was this one time we went window shopping and there was this shirt I saw and I liked. And I remember standing there for a moment or two, sort of staring down at it longingly, crackling the packaging beneath my fingers picturing it of its packaging and on my back. Samantha had walked on a ways and noticing I had stopped walked back to where I was. “You like that shirt huh?” I didn't even bother to look up. “Yup.” “Why? Its like any other shirt here.” I licked my lips. Afterwards we needed to get a soda or something.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “I dunno...just.” Samantha shrugged. “How much is it? And so I told her. Two weeks later and I was trying my best to act all surprised when she hid it under my pillow for me to find. Only problem was, I had known she was going to get it for me from the moment she asked me how much it was. It was only a matter of time. Samantha was understandably baffled by this because she claimed that she had had no intentions of getting the shirt for me until the day she actually bought it. But like Ive already said, she's a pretty easy person to get to know. And so it was pretty easy for me to know that she wasn't being all together honest with me. And I told her that. But I also told her that its not like I expected her to tell me everything. Everyone has their secrets. In fact, I believe we're entitled to them. God knows I don't tell her everything. But that being said, there are some things that we needed to share with each other. Because blind siding ourselves aside, no matter what we called whatever it was that we were doing; the fact was, we were in a relationship. Maybe not a normal, run of the mill, entirely legitimate relationship but one none the less. And with that came, not so much obligations as certain courtesies that I felt needed to be considered. Courtesies like a certain level of transparency; IN CERTAIN AREAS. Areas that affected her and I and whatever this was. I was a little reluctant to say “us” because that would place “whatever this was” in a spectrum I wasn't quite sure either of us would be comfortable with. And I know that probably doesn't make any sense to you seeing as I had just told her that “whatever this was” was in fact a relationship. But it is what it is. And so I asked Samantha whether there was anything that she wanted to tell me. But before she said anything she should know that I already knew that there was something she wasn't telling me. Something that she probably should have told me a long time ago...so? Samantha swallowed. Let out a sigh. Shifted a little on the couch next to me. I could see the wheels in her head turning, she was coming to some sort of decision and so I didn't push her.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty After another moment or two she cleared her throat. “Okay fine...you're right. There is something I haven't told you. Something I probably should have told you...” Her voice trailed off. “And what's that?” I asked, providing her with the nudge that she needed. “There's another reason apart from the ones that I gave you, why I cant be with you.” I waited for her to continue. There would be no more nudges from me. Another sigh, another swallow, and not necessarily in that order. “Breaking up with David would be a little more complicated than just sending him an email and telling him that we're through.” She paused to let me interject or comment but when I didn't, Samantha forged ahead. “My entire family knows about him. Same with me and his family. Before he left, he and I were presented and dedicated in front of the entire church. I'm co-signatory to most of the property he stands to inherit. Breaking up with him would mean having to deal with all of that. Its so much bigger than just you and me and him. And if I did go through the entire process of breaking up with him, what happens when you and I don't work out? How will I look? What then?” I let what she told me sink in. like I was seeing things clearly for the very first time. I had been trying to put a puzzle together with half the pieces missing. And here Samantha had had all the pieces all along. I was angry at her. I was angry with myself. But I was more angry at her. It took me a second to find my voice. “So what it all boils down to is that you cant be with me because its more convenient for you to stay with him.” “Its not like that Lloyd.” “Of course it is.” I cut in. “And those first two reasons; that you wouldn't be able to trust me, that you somehow still think you're in love with your boyfriend are nothing but excuses. What you've just told me is the one and only reason why you wont leave him.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty You just don't think that I'm worth the trouble. And here I was thinking that you were. I wish you had told me this earlier. I would have left you alone a long time ago.” The question is, why didn't she? I have my own theory. I guess she didn't tell me because on some level she knew that if she did, I would leave her alone. And she didn't want that. Whether Samantha admitted it or not, she wanted me around. Fuck how I felt or what I wanted. She enjoyed my company, she thought I was fun, I gave her the business, more importantly, I gave it to her correctly...hell, I was the perfect distraction to ease her loneliness until her real boyfriend showed up. It was as simple as that. Now, the funny thing is, I don't even think she did it on purpose. Although I also don't want to be so cruel as to say that “you know what, maybe she just has a predisposition for selfishness.” because the fact is, she has one of the most generous hearts I know. I don't know what it is but at time I even recognize that something in myself. The tendency to place your own needs and desires above those of others. Sometimes even at the expense of others. And what may appear to others as selfishness may really be nothing more than you taking care of you. And often, as a result of this, peoples toes get stepped on. But its hardly intentional. And I guess it was me telling myself this that helped to stem the anger. But if it helped to stem the anger, it also helped to recast my resolve. I had let her slip under my skin again. Almost unnoticed. I had seen it coming but had chosen to turn a blind eye, electing to ignore it. “You'll be able to handle it.” I had told myself. Forewarned forearmed they say...this time I knew what I was getting myself into. Or so I thought. The truth was, I was falling into the same old trap. Only I had convinced myself that this time I would play the game wiser. That I would be able to protect myself without having to distance myself. Samantha's revelation was a wake up call. If I was going to play this game to win or at least to the last inning with heart and wrists intact, there was a certain way I was going to have to go about it. I gave Samantha the once over. Took a breath to calm my nerves. “But you know what?” I told her, “Its okay. I'm not angry. I should be, but I'm not. So relax.”

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Samantha gave me a look that could have only be interpreted as skeptical. Like she thought I was playing some sort of trick on her or something. I let out a sigh. “Okay, look at it this way; I said that if you had told me all of this before, I would have left you alone a long time ago. Well that still stands. I am not going to bug you anymore. Seeing as it would only be a complete waste of time.” Samantha still didn't look convinced. Clapping my hands together, I put on my best, 'I'm going to charm my way into your pants' smile. “Now, with that out of the way, how about some ice cream?” Unfortunately, Samantha wasn't so easily persuaded. I should have know as much anyway. I'm the type of person who once something that needs to be dealt with has well, been dealt with, I'm able to put it aside, put it out of mind and move on to other things. Samantha...is not. The pall of the conversation hung over her, crippling her until she was unable to do anything but there and look sullen faced and silent. Understandable I admit. I'm pretty a lot of what I said hit her pretty hard. She wouldn't have been human if it hadn't. She eventually got over it though. But I have to tell you, it was a bit of a waiting game. And it didn't happen just like (snap)...that. I had to bring her around slowly. Really prove that I wasn't angry. And the thing is, I wasn't. I had been a hundred percent honest when I said it. Anger required feelings and as far as I was concerned mine were, although not completely discarded (that would need a prayer and a miracle) they had been shoved into a box, duct tape shut, carried up four flights of stairs and kicked into some dark cobwebbed corner of the attic in my heart. Where if given enough time would be conveniently forgotten. And if not that then so out of the way that they could be easily ignored. From that moment I was going to play her like all the girls who had come before her and so there was no need what so ever to be angry. Because I had decided that I no longer cared. I didn't tell her all of this of course. But as the hours turned into days and those into a week and then into two, I believe she began to sense it for herself. My touches became less tender, the sex more perfunctory, my temperament some what hostile, my

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty attitude all together less sympathetic. I took as much as possible and gave as little as I could. I had flashes of generosity but they were mere flashes, most of what I did was motivated by what most what would consider selfishness, I called it “me taking care of me” And the most beautiful thing about it was, I managed to do it with a veneer that made it look as if nothing had changed. One had to look mighty close to notice the change. And even then you had to be looking for it. That of course, only applied to those who were on the outside looking in. for those of us on the inside looking out, the change was as evident as the nose on my face. And Samantha knew she couldn't say anything about it because, well, because she had earned it. Sometimes I think that maybe I was a little unfair. That maybe things were a little more complicated than the list of complications she had given me. She does have feelings after all. And I almost manage to convince myself of this and that maybe I should be sorry and then I remember, “Wait. You're being unfair? How about a little trip down memory lane?” None is ever needed though. My memory is just fine. At other times I think that, hell, maybe on some level she was happy with the withdrawal. Because if nothing else, it was an indication that I was at least on a sabbatical from my mission of getting her to leave her boyfriend and be with me. I would be a liar if I told you that I actually believed this though. Because I knew that was a complete load of horse crap. And even if on some level it was true, that level was so low as to be insignificant. The fact was, one of the main reasons why she had kept me around was because of how much I showed her I cared. Because like I said before, she was lonely. I helped to ease that loneliness. I was the surrogate boyfriend. And that all stemmed from how I showed her how much I cared about her. Without that, she had no need for me. Of course, all of this is mere speculation, I have no idea if any of this is even remotely close to the truth. What I do know though, is that when the smoke cleared, when the dust had settled, after all was said and done and we were finally together; it was one hell of a readjustment to make.

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And so once again we fell into a quaint little routine. And by all appearances, things were just like they were before. We still had fun, still enjoyed the pleasure of each other's company and still had sex virtually all the time. Although, looking back, there were a couple of instances where Samantha, for some reason freshly mortified, would tell me that she thought that what we were doing was wrong. On oh so many levels and that maybe we should stop. But in the end, I guess she was just too caught up and I just no longer cared enough for these times to be more than merely fleeting and inadvertently, we would usually be going at it no more than five minutes later. So what was I saying? Oh yeah, to the casual observer, things were as they had always been...to the casual observer. In actuality, things were a whole lot different. The major difference being that although she still laid claim to my skin, in a number of ways (think tattoo, think “eternity” and think sex, a whole lot of it) she was no longer under it. I had evicted her like a Big Brother house mate. “Samantha, you have ten seconds to leave the Big Brother house...” she walked out, hell I pushed her out, the door closed behind her and that was it. I remember a conversation I had with peter around the same time all of this was going on, we were by the roadside waiting for the rolex dude to fry ours and I had just told him what Samantha had told me about all the complications breaking up with good ol' pansy ass David would incur. Virtually verbatim.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “Women need security,” Peter said after a moment, almost philosophically. “And that fat nigga can provide that. All you've got right now is a medium sized dick and enough cash to get her drunk enough to sit on it on a regular basis. I mean, I mean no disrespect and I know you still like her but I need to tell you how it is. Ive been watching how you've been getting all twisted over this chick and the truth is, I don't think she's even worth it. I mean, if she has a boyfriend and yet she's here running around with you, what does that say about her? What makes you think that even if she does break up with the guy to be with you, that after a couple of months, she wont get bored and do the same thing to you? Ive been watching her and that chick is not for you man. She's not a chick to settle down with. You're settling for less than you deserve.” At this point he put a hand on my shoulder. “My advice? even if you don't want it- have your fun, get your pussy and when someone better comes along, because for you, someone better always will; forget about Samantha and move on.” That night I heard him. And I agreed with peter a hundred and ten percent. Everything he had said, on some level, I had always already known as well as had already heard. It was nothing new to me. But here is the funny thing about love, it doesn't give a shit about any of that stuff. It convinces you that if you could only get her, things would be different. She would be a different girl with you. All you have to do is get her to take that step. And for a while there, I was convinced. You can convince yourself of anything if you want something bad enough. But then, and I thank God for it, harsh reality struckthat cold sonofabitch, and everything changed, and although it took me a couple of farting false starts I finally got around to doing what I had to do; protecting my heart from any further damage.

***

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty For some reason I don't feel like writing this next part. And yet only a few pages ago I was actually kind of looking forward to it. I thought that I was going to enjoy it. Now, I only want to get it over with. For your sake as well as my own. Because I know how tiring this may all seem to you. Me going on and on and on about this broad you have never met and unlikely to ever meet, chronicling every heart ache as if any of it was even remotely note worthy. Especially after promising that I wouldn't be so single minded and one tracked. Well, I guess I failed to come through on that promise. And although you're likely to treat this as an excuse, I do think I have an explanation for it. I talk only of her because in that period in my life she was really all I had going for me. My life was an utter mess. I'm not saying that I have it all figured out now but I can say that I am better off than I was then, even if but slightly. And even as I write this I realize that I have been putting off writing what Ive spent the last page or so saying I'm dreading to write. “So grow a pair already.” I can almost hear you thinking. And if you're also thinking that I'm probably blowing all of this out of proportion, then you're probably right. Because what I'm about to write is what some people would call a “happy ending” after a long series of serious disappointments. And I guess, to some extent, that's what it is. Then why am I dreading it? You might ask. Beats me. Like a friggin pinyata on a Mexican holiday. Butt you know what? Whatever the reason, Ive decided I'm going to do this. Even if by kerosene lamp, sitted at the dining room table, sipping on a cup of milk tea because the food is cold and too much of a hassle to warm up. And not even a meal worth warming up in the first place. Wait, I'm procrastinating again, aren't I? *deep sigh* okay, remember how I was saying how while all of this was going on my life was an utter mess? Well, during that particular time in my life I guess you could say I was doing a lot of what you could call , well, what you would call a lot of “floating” around. Doing a whole lot of nothing here and doing a whole lot of nothing there...hoping something would resonate. That something would click. Nothing ever did. But that aside, my floatings (I really cant think of anything else to call them, although wanderings could have worked), at some point found me at my favorite auntie's

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty door not exactly looking for a hand out but rather for some kind of menial activity I could do that would put a few pasos in my pocket. And it was here that this final act of my little drama found me, eating three square meals, while trying to convince myself between mouthfuls of tuna casserole, that this was where I wanted to be. Getting fat on catered food while doing the noxious job (at least to me) of balancing the books of my aunt's pet project resort. It was almost Easter and for no reason more than that I missed her, I somehow got it into my head that I needed to see Samantha before Easter Sunday which was but a few days away. Public holidays wee the busiest times at the resort and so easter weekend was going to be a working one. And so I decided that to remedy this I would have my easter a little early. Board a bus, get laid and be back in time to get a glimpse of the celebrity guest that was set to make an appearance that weekend. Now, remember how I told you how things were never straight forward with Samantha? Well I wasn't lying. One hour before I was supposed to leave, What was supposed to be a simple meet and greet turned into, “If you haven't left yet, maybe its better if you don't. I'm really sorry but I think it would be better if we gave each other some space for a while. I wish I could explain but right now I cant. Please understand.” Needless to say that I was more than a little upset. More than I should have been. My decision to distance myself should have meant that faced with Samantha's current itch for some sort of drama I should have been able to simply shrug it off and say “who even gives a fuck?” but as much as I tried to quell my feelings, the fact was, I couldn't. It was too deep rooted and trying to ignore it or push it aside or bury it was, as I was finding out, just another futile attempt at denial. I told her off. Asked her, who did she think she was? I had rearranged my entire schedule to come and see her. Didn't she think of anyone else? And in any case, I was already on a bus, I was on my way, and so she was stuck with me. I lied about that part, I was sitted in the living finishing off a cup of coffee but I felt I deserved to raise a little hell. Because I could have been on the bus. I could have been on my way. And I guess in my head, I already was. And the funny thing was, was that even though I was angry as fuck with her, a part of me still wanted to see her. The

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty part of me that I had been trying to bury, to deny. And it had nothing to do with sex or anything physical. I wanted to see her because I needed to see her. To hear her voice, to just be around her. I was in love and that was what was driving me. And so draining my cup of coffee, I finished packing, boarded a bus and made my way, once again, back west. *** She wrote it on a note on her phone. I guess she couldn't get it past her lips. I read it three times. I didn't know what to make of it. Of that or the silent tears she had been shedding ever since she had arrived and that she continued to shed the rest of the night.\ We were at the bowling alley, Alleygators, but we weren't bowling. Peter, Samantha and I were standing on the outside veranda, sipping, talking...i wonder if Peter ever got tired of being the designated third wheel. And although I'm pretty sure that he couldn't have enjoyed it, he had certainly become good at it. I waited until peter went to the bathroom before I said anything. “When did you break up with him?” Samantha pursed her lips, took the phone from my outstretched hand and threw it in her handbag. “Last night.” I nodded. “Was that why you were acting all funny this morning?' Samantha sighed, she couldn't look me in the eyes. “Yeah, it is, and like I said, I would completely understand if you don't want to. Ive hurt you...a lot, I know that, you're a good guy and you deserve much better.” I let out a sigh of my own. This is what I had wanted. For so long that it was hard for me to remember a time when I didn't want it. I had lived for this moment. I had banked my happiness on it. But now that it had finally arrived, suddenly, I didn't want it anymore. Samantha was right. I did deserve better. I deserved better than her. I deserved better than all the crap she had handed me when I was asking for her heart. And now that she was finally handing it to me, I had the sudden compulsion to hand all that crap back

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty to her. Because thats what she deserved. And I was on the verge of doing so, of throwing it back in her face when something stopped me. I don't know what it was, maybe it was my conscience, maybe it was just plain old common sense but whatever it was, it told me one thing, one thing that changed everything... “You love her.” And I did. I did love her. So much it hurt. But that didn't mean that it was going to be easy. Or that I was going to make it easy for her. Because although I didn't close myself entirely off from her, a portion of my heart had been locked away and it was going to take sometime to bring it back. And so I gave her a proposition. I took a sip of my drink. Set my glass down. “I guess the one thing that you should know before I say anything else is that in spite of everything, I do still want to be with you. But you're right, you did hurt me, and I do deserve better and because of that, I don't know if at the moment, I can be with you. Because I wouldn't be fully there. There would be a part of me that I would keep away from you because when I did give you the whole of me, you took me for granted. You broke my heart. More than once and its gonna take some time to repair the damage you did. But at the same time, I don't want to lose you.” I paused, either to take a breath or collect my thoughts, I cant really remember. But thats not really important, what is important is that it was here that Samantha decided to interject. “So what do you suggest?” I didn't have to think of the answer, I already had it. I guess I should say that by this time peter was already back but could see that we were talking some “serious shit” and so he kept his distance. “I'm suggesting that we give this a trial run. We would be dating but we wouldn't be dating.” “What do you mean? Like we would be dating but we wouldn't tell anyone we are.” I shook my head.

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The Difference Between Openness and Honesty “Not exactly. We would be dating but unofficially. We would do all the couplely stuff, like we've been doing, until I feel I'm ready to make a concrete commitment. When I'm able to give you the whole of me. No strings.” I let Samantha mull on this. To process what I had told her. One moment, two moments...then three. Finally she looked up and looked me in the eye. There was something in them that I couldn't quite read. She swallowed. “Okay. Let's do it.” She didn't seem too sure of herself but I wasn't going to chip away at an already fragile situation. I nodded. “So how about another drink?”

One Week Later
I was back in Mbale. Had been for a couple of days now. I had a cold and was bitching to Samantha over the phone about it. More amused than anything, she was laughing that laugh of hers, teasing me that there was no way she was going to let me anywhere near her lips while I was like that, “So you better get better soon hon, because otherwise permission to board will be denied.” I couldn't help but laugh. “Listen,” I told her, the remains of a smile still on my lips, “ive been doing some thinking.” “Uh-oh.” “In a good way.” I assured her. “And...” Her voice was expectant. She knew what I was about to say and I have a feeling that just wanted me to get it over with. “And,” I continued, “I think I'm ready to do this.” 151

The Difference Between Openness and Honesty Samantha was silent for a moment and then, “Do what?” She was joshing me of course. She knew exactly what. “You know what I mean, Sam.” “I want you to say it. Say it Lloyd.” I took a breath. “Okay, fine. Samantha, baby, honey; will you be my official girl?” Samantha giggled. “Yes, Yes, a thousand times yes!” “You're not trying to be funny are you?” I could feel her smiling through the phone. “Maybe. But say I was being 100% serious?” “It wouldn't have mattered, I still would have laughed in your face.” “You're mean.” “Yeah, I know. But you know you like me like that.” We chatted for a few more minutes but hen had to say our goodbyes and good night's when my phone beeped in my ear to let me know that my airtime was just about up. When I walked back into the house (I went out onto the back veranda to make the call) I was grinning from ear to ear. “You were on the phone for quite sometime,” my cousin Sandy commented, “who were you talking to?” I sat down at the dining room table. Asked Greg to pass me a tea cup. “My girlfriend.” I told Sandy. “Girlfriend? Since when?” She asked me. If it was possible for me to smile any wider I probably would have. I ignored Sandy's incredulous look and fixed myself a cup of lemon tea. I was to report for boyfriend duty in a couple of days and by all means, I intended to be ready.

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