He clutched the bag in his hand. The cold nipped at his face. The nights had acquired a life of their own, with the streets, usually crowded during the day all empty, doors locked. He liked it this way, when the world was devoid of life, when there was nobody else, save for the watchmen sleeping in their cardboard shelters.
‘I wonder if they’re cold’, he thought to himself, aware that they were there more as a deterrent than anything else.
‘Anyone could just show up, chase them away and loot the shop’, he thought further. He hated such thoughts, seeing causes and effects. He couldn’t just see things. He had an opinion on everything. That’s how he lost her. He tried to forget. That was what the bag was for.
Turning his collar up, he got into his car… Correction, her car. Well, it was his until tomorrow. It took all his energy to keep it on the road, fighting the urge to ram it into the concrete barriers on the side. It smelled like her. She had been using it recently. He grumbled, adjusting the rear-view mirror. She always did that, messed with the seats and the mirror, the radio, adjusting everything… He tried changing the station from the annoying pulpy love garbage she liked to something a lot more fitting. Like a tribute to the death of true love. Finding nothing even remotely close, he abandoned his quest entirely, settling for silence.
He drove, silent, flying through the turns and roundabouts, leaving cursing late-night motorists and puzzled, sleepy policemen in his wake. He had no idea why he was in such a hurry. She would be gone by now. They had one of those fights that morning, the ones that left him feeling like a failure. She had been packing, while the whole time he was begging for a second chance.
‘I already gave you that’, she said, slipping the ring off her finger. She had had it. He was clearly not listening. The ring… He rembered that ring, putting it on her finger. it was ending. He was dreaming. He was sure he was dreaming. His heart stopped, everything stopped. In that moment he could feel a strange sensation in his face. He was… smiling.
Tapping on his pocket, he was quite anxious to get home. He had gotten the bag from his barber.
‘Boss, kuna shida?’, his barber asked over the buzz of the electric razor, noting how his favourite client (or at least he claimed) was not his usual self. Here was a man who talked about everything, from the economy to how some team would play some other team in the coming week. Today, a sullen face and a curt hello.
‘Hakuna’, he answered, realizing that he had no idea what the name of this man who had been cutting his hair for close to ten years now was.
‘Natafuta tu kitu ya kutuliza akili. Nyumbani kuna stress’, he added, confused by the ease at which he said that.
‘Shida za roho… Najua kitu. Lakini si ya kuzoea’, his barber responded, finishing off the cut. ‘Kama utangoja naweza kuendea’.
He waited a while, looking at all the pictures of hairtsyles, as well as the assortment of hair cutting equipment.
‘The day has finally come’, he thought to himself, ‘when I have to get therapy from my barber’.
An hour later, after he had read and re-read the day’s paper, his barber appeared, with a bag. Its contents were hard and they felt funny. Pills of some sort. he wanted to give them back, to deal with it, but he was curious.
‘Nini hizi?’, he asked, laughing at just how juvenile that sounded.
‘Dawa ya roho’, his barber responded. ‘Eat one and you will see what I mean.’
He picked one out. It was jagged and uneven. He made a motion to eat it, but the barber stopped him.
‘Wait till the sky is orange’, he said. ‘Then you will know it is time to start.’
‘Orange sky… Sawa’, he said, as he left the shop. Having turned the corner, he remembered that there was no mention of money. Odd. He turned back and when he got to the shop, he found it locked. Not only that, it looked like it hadn’t been open for a while.
Something was definitely wrong here.
As he drove home, he noticed everything had a strange glow. Like a distant light was on.
‘It can’t be dawn’, he thought, checking the clock on the dash. It was 02:29, the LED display.
As he looked up, he nearly swerved off the road.
The sky, it was glowing. It was orange.