I’d like to thank J. for providing useful feedback on this story. And I’d like to apologize to J and to the readers for being pigheaded.
As always, comments are appreciated (even critical ones; insulting ones not so much, though…) and I will try to react on them where applicable. And please, vote.
All names, characters, situations and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. No identification with actual persons is intended or should be inferred.
I shouldn’t have looked back. I knew better, I knew not to pay attention to people calling after me, and yet… Was it the use of ‘Sir’ instead of the more common ‘Mister’? Her voice, her intonation?
“Sir, take him with you!” A girl, a young woman, holding a toddler by her hand. A beautiful young woman. A snotty little boy with a nasty rash. And it looked like he…
Her eyes, her whole face, her whole body pleaded with me; “Take him. I cannot look after him. His name is Dawit. Take him home with you, Sir. Please, take care of Dawit.” She tried to push his hand into mine.
“Waitwaitwait. What are you talking about?” I added mistake upon mistake. “You can’t just push a child in the hands of the first foreigner you see? No way I can… No, this is too ridiculous to even argue about. No!”
“At least, give him something to eat. He hasn’t eaten in days, Sir. You can’t just walk past a boy like Dawit and ignore his suffering.”
I… Of course, I should never have looked back, and even then, I should never have reacted. ‘Ignore!’ A mantra that kept repeating itself, every minute of every day that I’d been walking around in this place. And still… “He hasn’t eaten in days; but have you?”
“I am not important. Please, Sir, take care of Dawit. His name is Dawit. That is all I am asking you.”
I took some money from my wallet–not just ‘some money’ but a considerable amount, especially for a girl like her–but she pushed my hand away. “No money. Take him with you. Give him something of a future.”
“No way I can take him. No way; even… even if I wanted, there’s no way I can take a random child back home with me. I can’t. And I won’t even try; no way. All I can do is give you this money; nothing more, this is it. Take it or leave it.”
“Don’t leave Dawit behind like this, Sir. He is hungry.”
“Come with me,” I told her. “I can’t take him with me, but I can give the two of you something to eat. And the money.”
The girl seemed reluctant, but she did follow me into one of the local restaurants. She didn’t follow my example, however, when I sat down at an empty table. When I insisted, she helped the child to take place on the chair, but of course, he wouldn’t stay.
“Can’t you keep him on your lap?”
Her face expressed utter misery at the suggestion, but eventually, she did as I asked her to do, sat down, and took the boy on her lap.
“What do you want to eat?”
“I don’t need to eat, Sir. Whatever you want to offer to Dawit is fine. He is not difficult.”
I shook my head. “There’s no sense for you in not eating. Your brother won’t be able to finish a whole meal all by himself, so you should share it with him. I’ll buy lamb meat, okay?”
She nodded. I called a waiter, ordered a meal for them and a coke for me, and then I told the girl to go and wash their hands. Again, she did as she was told.
‘I could go now,’ I thought when they disappeared around the corner. ‘I could pay for them and leave. I have nothing to do with them.’ It seemed like a sensible thing to do, but I’d lost all of my senses earlier that day. And so, I stayed.
It was endearing to see how the girl looked after the little boy. It was clear he meant the world to her. With soft words, a pat on the head, a soft caressing of his cheek, she encouraged him to eat.
The boy ate with relish, and managed to quickly take in an impressive amount of food. He shone, and when his eating started to slow down, his talking began. And, it seemed, his consciousness. Having Down Syndrome didn’t make him stupid. Apparently, he started to realize that the girl hadn’t taken anything herself yet, and it looked like it was his turn now, to encourage her to eat.
She took a few bites–she could use it. She was too thin; her clothes threadbare and filthy; she clearly had nothing to spend–but she never stopped pushing the boy to eat some more. I assumed she was telling him to take as much as he could, as such an opportunity might not arise again.
When it was clear that the boy was totally satisfied, the girl quickly and thoroughly emptied the plate.
“You want more?” I offered, but the girl shook her head and quickly took the boy back to the washing basin.
“Dawit is a good boy,” she tried again when they returned. “Take him. He needs you.”
“It’s not possible,” I also repeated the same reply. “I can’t just take a random child into my house and look after it. Take this,” I pushed the money in her hand, “and if you want, come to Berhane Chemical Plant tomorrow. One way or another, we will find a way to help you and Dawit. Tell the reception that you have an appointment with Gideon, and then we will see what we can do for the two of you.”
Her look didn’t convince me that she believed in fairy tales, but I told myself that I’d done more than my share to help them. No doubt I would come to regret this the next day, if she did show up, but at least there would be more time to prepare myself. And an extra pair of hands never hurt, and we might be able to place Dawit in the kindergarten associated with the factory, which wouldn’t be too bad either.
The girl didn’t show up, the next day. Or the day after. I should have been happy to have gotten off so easily, but it didn’t feel that way. It wasn’t fair for a girl of her age, having to look after a child with a disability like Dawit, without money or help from others.
Dawit; I had successfully avoided getting to know her name–best way to avoid attachment is to stay away from personal details–but apparently, she too had understood the importance of making things personal, and had told me her brother’s name. Several times. But still, it hadn’t worked out for her, and now they had nothing. And I felt guilty.
I was busy enough not to think too much about those two while being at work, but when walking back home, I looked out for them. And I caught myself returning to the street where we had met. In vain. And in the evenings, in bed, I saw their faces.
It was a week later that, in the evening, I heard a loud bang on the door. At first, I tried to ignore it–probably some street kids throwing stones–but it felt off, and eventually I checked it out to find that boy sitting in front of the door. Alone. Next to him, held down by a stone, was a folded scrap of paper with something kept inside of it.
I cursed; this didn’t look good at all. I looked down the street, but of course, the girl was nowhere to be seen. And when I checked the paper for an explanation letter, preferably with an address and some names, I only found the money that I’d given a week ago. Definitely not good.
The boy looked at me with a scared face, but didn’t try to get away from me. I cursed again but in silence this time, not to scare the poor boy more than already I had done. I looked down the street again, trying to come up with a solution, but nothing showed up. Now what?
Obviously, the boy wouldn’t understand any English. And I hardly spoke his language; I knew a few words, but that was it, and very few of those words would be useful for this particular situation. My help had already left, and asking the neighbors…
What to do with this boy? No way I could let him stay outside, in front of the door, or send him away; where to? He wouldn’t understand. I had to… Should I wait a few days, to see if the girl or maybe some other family members showed up; find some way to look after him for a couple of days? Perhaps my help would have some suggestions, or one of my colleagues at work? But that wouldn’t happen before the next day; what to do with him at the very moment?
“Come,” I told him, and beckoned him inside. Of course, nothing happened. But when I reached out my hand, he did take it and allowed me to pull him up. It was with clear reluctance, but he did follow me inside the house.
And now what?
I pointed to the sofa, and eventually, I pushed him to sit down on it. Even with normal children, I’d never been very good at dealing with them, and now this…
He looked terribly uncomfortable–of course, he did–and I wanted nothing but to make him feel at ease. At least as much at ease as possible, given the circumstances. The most obvious way to lighten the atmosphere seemed by offering some food. And so, I baked a couple of eggs and offered this, together with bread and some pasta leftovers, to the boy.
He only looked at it.
‘Eat,” I told him. No doubt, it wasn’t the most inviting way to get him started, but my language skills were too limited to come up with anything better.
The boy didn’t react.
Did I have to feed him? Following the country’s customs, I tore off some bread, used it to grab some egg, and held it in front of his mouth.
From that, I concluded that Elsa had to be the name of the girl. Repeating her name in my head, her face showed up. Unable to compose a decent reply, I just shook my head, said “Dawit,” and moved the morsel in front of his face.
Hesitantly, he eventually took the bite, and after that, it became easier to feed him. Again, he seemed hungry; I wondered if he’d eaten anything at all since the time we’d met before. They hadn’t used the money I’d given them.
Eventually, Dawit did slow down, but managed to completely empty his plate. And after a glass of water, he seemed ready to sleep.
I guided him to the toilet, and then helped him to prepare and sit down on it. It took a while, and I started to wonder if he even was toilet trained at all, but then he let it all go. After he was done, he did need help cleaning up–which was awkward–and then I had to decide where to let him sleep.
I knew that sharing one bed was normal here–sleeping in a proper bed actually might have been an unknown luxury for Dawit–but it wasn’t normal for me. But then, it would help me to keep an eye on him. And it might help to put him a little more at ease, having someone nearby. So, after I also got myself ready to sleep, I put him on one side of the bed, dressed and all, and pulled the blanket over him. Then I turned off the lights and hoped for the best.
We woke up early, the next day. He had somehow managed to maneuver himself in my arms, but fortunately, Dawit was still dry and the toilet visit told me he’d been keeping it in. Of course, he wasn’t comfortable at all, but laughed a little when I washed his face. Then we sat down, I gave him a banana and a glass of water, and waited for my help to arrive.
The help was clearly surprised to see Dawit–she didn’t remember ever seeing him around in town–and acted outraged. She told me to take Dawit to the police station to get rid of him, but ‘get rid of him’ actually persuaded me not to do so. I would try to keep him with me for a few more days, to see if the girl would show up again, and in the meantime I would ask around at work to find the best solution in case that didn’t happen.
Soon after breakfast, Dawit and I left for my work; a little early, to see if the kindergarten would be willing to look after him for now. It took some persuasion from my superior, but we managed. Strangely enough, I felt somewhat guilty afterward, leaving Dawit behind like that; like I was abandoning him.
At the insistence of several colleagues who would first tell me to drop Dawit off at the police station, I contacted P&O and they gave me the same message.
“And then what?” I asked, just like I’d done every other time this had been suggested. “Lock him up? Put even more trouble on the shoulders of his sister? It was clear she loves him dearly; she wouldn’t have done this if she believed she had any other option.”
“No-one who loves a child would leave it in the hands of a stranger,” this woman from P&O pointed out to me, “But whatever you want to do with him, it is still important to report to the police what happened, to prevent any issues that might follow. What if the boy’s parents suddenly show up and accuse you of stealing their son?”
At least, that made sense. And the woman even offered to accompany me to the police station, to translate and to clarify the situation. If, after one week, still no one had come to take Dawit from me, then I would personally take him to the capital city to find a suitable care home; no facilities for children with disabilities were available in the place where I was living.
After two weeks, I did take Dawit with me on my trip to the capital city, but when checking out potential places to leave him to the care of professionals, I soon figured out I could never bring myself to abandon him under such abominable conditions. So instead, I had him have a medical check to make sure he was all healthy, bought a different type of crème for his rash, and then I took him back home again. During the preceding two weeks, I’d come to love his sunny spirit, his adaptability, and his incredibly cute ways of expressing his gratefulness. Dawit wasn’t a burden; he demonstrated that life is a gift.
Obviously, it was easy for me to say Dawit wasn’t difficult; with the kindergarten and my house help looking after him for most of the time, my own involvement was minimal. But he did accept me into his life; he did reach out to me and included me in his bouts of mischief and silliness. Although we spoke different languages, we had no problems understanding each other. In the evenings, after the help closed the door and left us for the night, he would grin at me and we’d turn up the sound system and dance, watch animated movies, or play drums, keyboard, and xylophone. On the weekends, we would walk around the town to watch the people, the traffic, and all the right shops like hardware stores and such, and we would snack on ice cream, fruit, candy, and cake. And soon it seemed like this was our life.
Dawit added meaning to my life. Before, I would hardly know how to get through the evenings and weekends, and now there was never enough time to share with him. He changed my perception and my interests. It felt good, to have some sort of purpose in life.
It had been nearly half a year since Dawit was left at my door, when I got called by the kindergarten; something had made Dawit become agitated. When I arrived, it was obvious that he’d seen his sister; he kept repeating the name ‘Elsa’. Inspired by the right motivation, my language skills had increased sufficiently to understand from Dawit that she’d been outside, watching him. I followed Dawit to the street but of course, she was nowhere to be seen. He was inconsolable, and eventually, I took him home.
My feelings at that moment? Anger. Why had she shown up to shaken up Dawit like this? Why now; did she intend to take him back now, after having abandoned him for all this time? Did she expect me to hand him over, just like that; as if I’d only been borrowing him for a while? How could I trust her to keep taking care of him this time, not to dump him at the front porch of the next stranger after a couple of weeks?
It took a while to calm Dawit down. Most of the evening, actually. And the next time this happened, it was even worse…
Dawit’s reactions left no room for doubt; if it was up to him, he’d be back with Elsa without even thinking about the consequences. His charming simplicity now turned against me; this was just a temporal situation. It… I was mixed about that. It stung, but it also felt right at the same time. She was family; I was just a stranger. A stranger who may have had invested in him, but nevertheless… He had probably never asked for any of this anyway.
The fourth or the fifth time she came to see Dawit, I was actually able to catch her. Literally. They’d warned me when they saw the girl approaching this time, I managed to come close to her, and after a short run, I was able to grab her arm and stop her.
The girl screamed when I got hold of her, and the kindergarten teacher had her hands full of keeping Dawit under control. When I told her to let go, Dawit ran as fast as he was capable of to get to his sister, to pull his arms around her waist. At that moment, she stopped fighting me off, probably to prevent Dawit from getting hurt. Instead, she used her free arm to hug him back, and almost dropped on top of him in sobs and tremors. I let go of her and then she did drop down on the ground, pulling Dawit in her lap to hug, stroke, and kiss him.
They started a whispering conversation, mixed with gestures and touching, and Dawit only had eyes for her. I knew that I shouldn’t even think of trying to make him stay with me. Perhaps I had somewhat been able to look after him for a while, but this girl was his life.
It took quite a while, but then the girl pushed Dawit out of her lap and stood up.
“Thank you,” she whispered, directed at me. “I must see Dawit, but he is happy.”
“He is happy to see you,” I pointed out the obvious. “You mean the world to him, he missed you terribly, so don’t you dare walking out on him again.”
“I cannot…” she started, but I quickly grabbed her arm again, and told her we’d continue our conversation in my office. When she didn’t resist, I let go of her, picked up Dawit, and without further problems, the girl followed me inside the building.
“Sit down,” I told her once we were in my office. I tried my best to sound friendly, and she complied. I put Dawit on her lap and then sat down on the other side of the desk.
“Do you speak English?”
She shook her head. “Little bit.”
“I speak a little of your language,” I replied, “and if we really can’t work it out, I can ask someone to translate. But rather, I’d talk with just the three of us.”
We managed. She explained that she’d left Dawit because she’d been desperate, with no money, no house, and nothing to offer him. Something had told her that I was the right person to look after Dawit, and after dropping him off, she had returned to her family. It turned out to be impossible for her not to see him, though, and that’s why she had come back again.
“He’s your child? You’re his mother?”
She nodded again.
“How old are you?”
Wow. “And Dawit? How old is he?”
That calculation wasn’t difficult to do, but it was almost impossible to fully fathom the meaning behind it. “And you’ve taken care of him since he was born?”
She raised her shoulders. “Just…”
She shook her head.
“Where do you live?”
Again nothing but shrugging.
“What are your plans?”
“I’ve tried to take care of Dawit, and I only want the best for him. And there’s no doubt that the best for him includes you in his life. The two of you will stay with me until you’ve managed to get yourself into better circumstances. I do have an extra room for the two of you to stay, and in time we will figure out how to move on from there.”
There was panic in her eyes and she flinched, but she didn’t come up with any alternatives. Of course, I too could see the dangers she was facing in following me blindly in this hopeless situation, and therefore I promised, with the hand on my hearth, “I won’t harm you in any way; I won’t touch you or put any kind of pressure on you. There’s nothing that I want from you, except that you try your best to look after Dawit and yourself. And it’s up to you to decide how to do so; I can help you, I can offer you a job or maybe help you otherwise, but I’ll try not to stipulate your life.”
A blank look.
“The door is open; you are free to come and go at any time you want.”
“I don’t want to come.”
“And Dawit? Don’t you want to be with Dawit? You can’t just leave him behind like that again. I’m offering this for him; Dawit is a great guy, and I only want the best for him. Do it for him.”
She shrugged again.
Something made me think I’d won this battle, and I relaxed a little. Now I had time to observe her more closely, and I noticed how bad she looked. She looked thin; filthy. Her clothes were dirty and torn. Her face looked tired; ill. I think Dawit felt it too; although clearly happy, he also looked mindful, and seemed to control his energy. Perhaps food would do some good to her, and then maybe some sleep, with Dawit nearby to put her at ease. Anything else could be dealt with at a later moment. “We’ll have something to eat first, and then we’ll go home.”
I held out my hand to Dawit, and fortunately, he took it. He jumped up, and reluctantly, the girl, Elsa, took hold of his other hand. Again, she shared a meal with Dawit, but he wasn’t eating much this time and Elsa got to eat the most of it. She sure could use it.
Once in our house, I introduced Elsa to my help, but the help’s animosity was clear to see, and to make it even more obvious, she hissed, “I’m not working for someone who abandons her own child at the door of a stranger.”
“Then we may have a problem,” I emphasized my perseverance, “as she’ll be staying here for a while. I’m not asking you to–”
I couldn’t even finish my before she turned around and walked away, telling me, “You are a good person, Gideon–too good, if you ask me–but I cannot work for beggars and prostitutes. Don’t ask me to stay.”
I knew she had her personal standards and preferences–especially in the beginning, she’d also been very reluctant to have anything to do with Dawit–and although I did not appreciate it, I could somewhat understand her point of view. Therefore, I made an effort to hand her the salary for this month, and as a token of appreciation despite our different opinions, I added another three months to it. Petty cash for me, but quite substantial for her.
After some polite arguing, she did accept the money. “I hope I’m wrong, but I’m afraid you will regret taking them into your house. And I have to think about my own situation; my life won’t end after you’ve left this country, and when applying for a new job, people will judge me on my last employment.”
I didn’t put up a fight, even though I wasn’t happy at all to let her go. And considering her words, I worried if others would feel the same. Would that be a problem, to find someone to replace her? I could have asked the girl–Elsa–I could have asked her if she could do the housekeeping from now on, but wouldn’t that have been in conflict with my promise not to stipulate her life? She might have felt pressed to do so, thinking she’d been the cause of the resignation of my help, while I wanted nothing more for her than to preserve at least some of her freedom.
Unconsciously, I looked at the girl, and she shriveled even further; “I go. She come back.”
I shook my head and told her “You stay here. I’ll show you around the house, your room, and then I’ll go and find someone to replace her. Girls are standing in line for an opportunity of working for me.” It sounded arrogant, but thinking of it, I had no doubt it was the truth. Too many girls were in no position to decline an opportunity like this.
I walked the girl through the house, showing the guest room, the bathroom, and the kitchen, but she remained passive and sluggish. I wanted to shake her up, kick her ass and tell her to grab herself together, if only for the sake of Dawit, but instead, I told her to clean him up.
I showed her where the towels were, demonstrated how to use the shower, and told her to go ahead. It wasn’t that Dawit really needed a shower, but I wanted to give her something on her hands, hoping it would make her feel more at ease. “And when you’re ready, you can transfer Dawit’s clothes to your own room.”
I brought out the shower gel, shampoo, a sponge, and some towels, I adjusted the water to the right temperature, and showed the girl how to use the shower head. Dawit, who loved spending endless amounts of time under the warm water, was already giddy in anticipation, and I was almost certain he wouldn’t be the only one who’d get wet. That might persuade the girl to also wash herself, afterward. It was something I would have encouraged her to do, if only I knew how, without appearing creepy or overbearing.
When all seemed to be going well, I asked her once more if she needed anything else, and then I told her that I’d go out to find a new help but be right back.
She didn’t react.
I went back to the factory; to the administration. They’d been very helpful before, and also now, they quickly made some calls. And half an hour later, a young girl was showing me her letters of recommendation.
“What did you do with the girl and Dawit,” the people from P&O asked me in the meantime, and when I told them I’d left them in the house, on their own, they admonished me as if I was nothing but a child; “You can’t just leave strangers unattended in your house.”
I told them I didn’t expect the girl to steal anything or harm me in any other way–she’d even returned the money when she’d left Dawit at my door–but they didn’t share my faith; “You don’t know her. And things might have changed in half a year.”
But listening to those words, I did start to fear the girl might had left the house and taken Dawit with her. And I was glad when I finally could go back home again, a new help following behind me, to find them still there, silently sitting on their bedroom floor.
Dawit wanted to get up and greet me, but Elsa kept him down. She also didn’t react when I introduced the new help to her; in no way was she going to lighten up the atmosphere. Most likely, that wasn’t something I could expect from her; I could only hope things would improve in time.
I made another tour through the house, this time showing the new help all the things she needed to know, and then I sent her home with half a month of salary in advance. She’d start working the next day.
With the new help out of the way, I heated water for tea, and then called the girl, Elsa, and Dawit into the living room. I offered Dawit a glass of water, poured, without asking, tea for Elsa and me, and pointed to the fruit bowl. Before Elsa could interfere, Dawit helped himself to a banana, and I told her to let him go.
“Now, what’s next?” I started. “Do you like the place?”
Silently, she shrugged again.
“What are your plans. Do you want to work?”
After a long pause, she eventually nodded; seemingly reluctant.
“At the factory? Do you have any diplomas?”
She shook her head.
“No diplomas? Or don’t you want to work at the factory?”
“We will find something for you,” I promised her. “I think you need some rest first, to gain some strength, so I’d suggest you’ll just stay here for the rest of this week. And after that, we will see what we can do.”
“You want to start earlier? I really–”
Now, she nodded.
“No offense intended, but you can’t show up like this,” I pointed to her clothes. It wasn’t true that all employees were better dressed–it wasn’t an unusual sight at all, to see people dressed in rags–but this was also about me; it would reflect poorly on me, when she’d show up dressed like this. “You can go shopping after finishing your tea.” And, after seeing her reluctant look, I added, “You can start paying me back after receiving your first salary.”
After that, she no longer replied, and seemed focused on finishing her tea instead.
She looked hurt, when I handed her the money; perhaps insulted. I could understand it, but I also felt like I had no other options. “You should buy at least two sets of clothes, and don’t forget shoes and underwear. Buy anything else you need, like soap and deodorant, and don’t you worry for now about repaying me. It’s not like I really need that money, so for me, there’s no need for you to hurry.”
Brusquely, she turned around, called Dawit, and left the house.
I knew I had to have faith in them; I couldn’t worry all the time whether she’d come back or not. And then, why worry? After all, they were in no way related to me. Yet, it felt like a relief when they returned, carrying several bags with them.
Although the girl objected, I took them for dinner to another restaurant, and once we were back, they locked themselves up in their room. I felt somewhat sorry for Dawit, I knew he enjoyed our foolish evenings, but I didn’t want to challenge the girl’s authority; he was her child, and this was how it was supposed to be. It also gave me time to follow my own agenda again.
The next morning, I got woken up early by the help knocking on the door to let her in. Although she did receive her own keys, she didn’t feel comfortable entering the house by herself already. Fortunately, I could easily convince her not to wake me up the next time, but it did make me question her experience. I didn’t voice my suspicions, though; I had decided to hire her, and would give her some time to prove herself. It felt adventurous, to be in this weird situation with all kinds of strangers walking in and out of my house. Something I could talk about, once I’d returned home again.
The help, Zenebech, started her new job by frying eggs, and I washed and got myself dressed before inviting Dawit and his mother for breakfast.
It was obvious that Dawit was having problems with the change of patterns. Before, we would get up together and wash simultaneously, which was another moment of silliness together. Now it was his mother who cleaned him up. I could hear him voicing his complaints, and detected her anger against his criticism. They had to find their own ways to deal with this.
I had not been prepared for her looks, when they finally entered the living room. Dressed in her new clothes, I finally noticed again how beautiful the girl, Elsa, was. How fragile and delicate, and yet how attractive her body shape was. And how exquisite her facial features were, despite the clear signs of malnutrition, her uncomfortable expression, and her attempts to avoid my looks. I couldn’t hold back, and told her she looked beautiful.
She gave me a disturbed look before thanking me politely for my very kind words. Then she tried to make her way to the door with Dawit, and it was only with the greatest effort that I managed to stop her to have at least some breakfast before leaving for work. I also made Zenebech bake some extra eggs, and put some oranges and bananas in a bag. I would take my lunch in the canteen, Dawit got a decent meal served at the kindergarten, but production workers like Elsa were supposed to bring their own food. If they ate anything at all. Zenebech had to take care of Elsa’s lunches for the future, but for the first day, we had to improvise. Like with everything, Elsa didn’t seem particularly happy with this arrangement of Zenebech cooking for her, but once more, she remained silent.
Elsa did surprise me, though, when Zenebech replaced the frying pan for the pan to roast the coffee beans. At Elsa’s request, Zenebech made room, and Elsa took over the task of coffee making. She didn’t look at me, but I’d been around for long enough to know that most women took pride in preparing their coffee. It seemed like a small glimmer of hope that this might be something that could ease the tension.
Elsa meticulously went through all the steps of the coffee ceremony, including spreading the smell of freshly roasted beans through the house, and she seemed to relax a little when the coffee pot was heating up in the charcoal. To me, there’s always something magical about the coffee ceremony, and watching Elsa performing these rituals only made her look more beautiful. It disturbed me; I had no interest in this woman, and that was supposed to stay that way. The sooner she’d be independent and out of my house, the better. There was absolutely no doubt that this was how she felt about it herself, and I could only agree. Her looks were supposed to leave me cold.
Apparently, Elsa had expected that the coffee was only meant for me, and she seemed to panic when I told her to divide it over three cups. “Only the first coffee,” I possibly added insult to injury. “We don’t have time for more than one round.”
Zenebech also seemed reluctant, but eventually, all three of us were sipping the hot, sweet coffee from the tiny cups. Elsa accepted our compliments on the coffee with a polite nod, but otherwise remained indifferent.
Soon after the coffee was finished, I checked with Zenebech if all was okay for now, handed her my phone number, and then left with Dawit and Elsa to work.
I showed Elsa where to drop off Dawit, and introduced her to the foreman of the day shift. From there, she had to find her own ways. But it was with a nagging sense of unease that I left her behind. I couldn’t shake off the feeling of exploiting her, even though I couldn’t see any other option out of this situation. I hadn’t asked for this shit.
Elsa didn’t reply to my questions when I picked her up at the end of the day, but I could see she was exhausted; too tired to deal with the excessive energy that Dawit had generated over what had been a most enjoyable day for him. Elsa didn’t object when I took care of Dawit and distracted him on our way back home.
Zenebech had made an attempt of making a good impression on her first day, and offered a plate full of self-made cookies on our arrival. They tasted not too bad, and Dawit took more than he should. I had noticed he was prone to becoming overweight–something Elsa probably never had experienced–so in the end, I accepted the risk of a tantrum and took the remaining cookies away from him. We were also having dinner, after all. Elsa didn’t interfere and let me handle Dawit’s anger on my own.
And dinner was good. Zenebech had good reasons to be proud of herself. Unfortunately, Elsa didn’t seem to have the energy to appreciate it, while Dawit had more than enough energy for both of them. I worried about how that would work out that evening; how would Elsa be able to deal with him, while being exhausted herself? When dinner was finished, I suggested to take Dawit off her hands for a while, but Elsa rejected my offer; she could handle him perfectly well by herself. And I’d done far too much to help them already.
It hurt to hear Dawit’s rebellion through the closed door, and to register Elsa’s lack of energy to deal with it, but it was not my business. I had offered my help, it was rejected, and now I had to stay out of it.
As always, we got into a new pattern; not one that made me feel happy, but even poor structures are better than no structure at all. For most of the time, Elsa kept Dawit away from me; they would even eat in their own room, and only during the breakfast coffee there was a short moment of being together. The lack of interaction gave the house a cold, detached atmosphere. Impersonal. Divided. There was nothing wrong; there was just… nothing.
As a matter of fact, it surprised me that Elsa never brought up the topic of moving out. I had expected her to yearn for independence, and yet, she did nothing to get their own place to live. Not like I wanted her to leave, I had more space than I needed, but… it surprised me.
Although I tried not to intervene with her work, I did pick up that Elsa wasn’t exceptionally productive. She did manage to meet the expectations, but barely. She just seemed to lack the energy, which wasn’t unusual for the people from here. It was clear to see that the work took a heavy toll on her; it wasn’t as if she was slacking or something.
At first, I had hoped that proper meals would strengthen her, but that only happened to a certain level. And then, with an energy-guzzler like Dawit under her care… I felt bad I wasn’t able to do more for her. I did enquire about less demanding positions, but with her background, her work experience, and her productivity, she wasn’t first in line. And besides that, it didn’t feel right towards others, more eligible than her, to pull my ranks here.
And then, one morning, Elsa didn’t show up at breakfast. Already I had noticed the days before that she seemed even less okay than normally, and now she couldn’t get out of bed at all.
“She’s ill,” Zenebech informed me. And when I asked if I could see her, there was no clear reply. I carefully entered their room, to find Elsa still lying in bed, shivering and sweating, being watched by a clearly worried Dawit.
“We should get a doctor,” I said to Zenebech, and when she told me that house-visits weren’t an option around here, I asked to get Elsa dressed, so we could bring her to a doctor instead.
Weak as she was, Elsa objected. It would pass. Despite her situation, she was determined, and Zenebech and I decided to give it one day.
That evening, things had definitely not improved. I promised Zenebech to look after her that night, and that we’d go see a doctor the following morning.
“Gideon,” Elsa whispered when I tried to give her some warm milk, “I’m afraid.”
“So am I,” I admitted. “We may really need the help of a doctor for this.”
“It won’t help.”
“What do you mean?” I couldn’t believe there would be nothing a doctor could do for her. How would she know? Most likely, she tried again to avoid being more of a burden to me.
“It is HIV. That’s why you need to take care of Dawit. You need to look after him.”
HIV; that was not something I had considered before, in combination with anyone close to me.
Of course, I knew about HIV and Africa. I had received plenty of warnings from the people around me, before I’d moved to here, to be extra careful and not to take any chances in any way, but to experience it this close… “How do you know?”
“I’ve been… tested. Positive. I’m so sorry!” she now sobbed, tears in her eyes.
“Don’t. Don’t be sorry. We need to see a doctor! Why hadn’t you told me before? There are medicines–even here there are medicines for HIV. Why hadn’t you told me about this before? Tomorrow we will see a doctor!”
“Here, there are no medicines for me. Larger cities. Maybe. Not here. I cannot afford it.”
“We will see,” I promised. “If not here, then I will take you to the capital city. We will take care of it. We will. You should have told me; I will…”
She panicked and tried to get out of bed, and when I tried to stop her, she started vomiting, throwing up all over the bed.
I too started to panic, but seeing the scared look on Dawit’s face brought me back to my senses. Someone had to keep his wits together. I brought a bucket, and unable to directly help Elsa any further in this, I pulled Dawit on my lap and embraced him, telling mummy would be okay.
I cleaned up the bedsheets, and for the rest of the night, I watched over Elsa, supplying empty buckets, cold compresses, and hot beverages when needed. I felt guilty and miserable, not having recognized her illness before, and intended to make up for that, whatever it took. It was clear to see it was more than just a simple cold, and all I could do was hold on to the knowledge of how much progress science had made in fighting HIV over the last decennia. It didn’t have to be the end of it; if only we were still in time. It shouldn’t be; couldn’t be. I was worried, deeply worried, but desperately tried to hold on to my faith in health care.
The next morning, as soon as possible, I visited our office. I had a lot of minds to ease–it wasn’t me, it was ‘only’ Elsa, and no-way could she have infected me–and then I got confirmed that her options would be better in the capital city. I arranged a company car and we left as soon as possible.
Elsa was immediately hospitalized, and to be certain, I also had Dawit and myself checked for HIV; both of us were negative. For Elsa, there were more issues than HIV alone. I felt sorry for her but kept that to myself. Some things you don’t talk about.
With the right care, Elsa slowly recovered, and too soon, she wanted to leave. “This is no governmental hospital. Who pays for this?”
“I am,” I admitted. “They advised me against using the governmental health care system, and suggested this hospital instead. Don’t you worry about that.”
“I do worry. How can I pay for medicines, now, or after I am released?”
“Even here, the medicines are part of the governmental health care; they are provided for free. They remain for free, even after you’ve left the hospital.”
“But I cannot buy them where I live.”
“Every once in a while we’ll need to come back here, for medicines and for your check-ups,” I confirmed. “But that’s for later, and actually not a real issue at all, as I regularly have to travel this way anyway. Now, they first need to see how you react to the medicines and adapt their doses accordingly, and that may still take some time. And they better take their time and do it well, or else you may end up with new problems that take up even longer to deal with.”
“Who are you, to decide all this? Don’t you have work to do; don’t you have to go back?”
“I will go back tomorrow, but Dawit and I will return on the weekends to see how you’re doing. And it was you who picked me, remember? If I’m good enough to look after your child, then I’m also good enough to look after you, so stop arguing. It’s your own fault.”
This time, I didn’t get a tormented look from her; I got an angry one. “You have nothing to say about me!”
“It is you who told me to look after Dawit, and that’s exactly what I’m doing here. You are his mother, without doubt the most important person in his life, and therefore it is my task to make sure that you can be that person for a long time to go.”
“You give me everything, but Dawit is not happy living with me while you are on the other side of the door,” she moved the argument in another direction. I couldn’t see how this was relevant now; I assumed she just vented her frustrations.
“Things will be different, once we’ve returned,” I promised her. “This will be a good moment to change our ways; we still have plenty of time to do things differently from now on. There will be more talking when we get back. Together, we will see how we can improve things for Dawit, but also how to improve other things that happen in our house. We cannot stay on our separate islands in one house when we both want him to be happy. I already started to realize that–and you as well, as it seems–so it would be good to start thinking together on how to make things better, but only once we’re all back home.”
I stepped back and gave Dawit the opportunity to spend some time with her. It was all about him, after all.
I did go back to work the next day, and took Dawit with me. Again, I took a leap of faith, but I felt like I had no other options. If Elsa wanted to go, she would have plenty of opportunity at almost any time, while giving her my trust might work beneficially for all of us.
When we came back the next weekend, it was heart-warming to see Dawit’s reaction to being reunited with his mum, and even Elsa crumbled a little. She did remain short with me, and was absolutely not impressed when I pulled out the old laptop I brought with us for her.
“I have had enough of your charity,” she hissed. “Haven’t you put enough of a debt on me already?”
“You are the mother of Dawit,” I pointed out once more. “You are the person who should put some effort in securing his future. Don’t try to push those responsibilities into my hands; it’s not fair to anyone; certainly not to Dawit, but also not to you or me. I don’t want it.”
“And what does this have to do with that,” she replied, raising her voice in anger. “You think that, if you throw enough money at me, some will stick?”
“You can’t come back to the work floor–you don’t have the strength to do physical work like that–so we need to look for other options. I installed–you can read in our alphabet, can’t you?”
Reluctantly, she nodded, and I didn’t give her time for more of a reply, but continuing with “This is an old laptop that I’m no longer using. There’s a typing tutor program installed, which will give you something to do during the day, and I also found an English language course. And there are English books and some movies on it, which may help you to improve your language.”
“What am I to you; some sort of monkey that you can train, so you can have me demonstrating my tricks to impress your friends by showing them what a great guy you are?”
“You may not have noticed, but I’m not too much focused on impressing my friends. How many of my friends have you seen during the time that you were living in my house?” I started losing my cool. The suggestion that I helped her to make up for other things hurt. Just like it hurt to know that it would never be enough. “No way can I take someone else’s child with me when I return to my country, I’ve checked some of the alternatives for Dawit and I can assure you, nothing looks good enough for him. Only you can provide him a meaningful life in the future with all the love he deserves. With a little investment from your side in your education, you may be able to get an office job that pays enough to take care of your bills.”
“And who is going to hire a girl like me?”
“I am,” I promised, somewhat relieved to get a question that felt right for me to answer. “Even after you’ve become strong enough to leave this hospital, you’ll still need to stay around for quite a bit of time, for check-ups and such, and you should use that time by following computer courses and possibly even accounting courses or something like that. I think you’ve saved enough money over the last couple of months to pay for them yourself, and otherwise, we’ll be able to figure out something. If you can’t–I mean, if it is too difficult for you–then you shouldn’t waste your time and money on trying to learn those things, but I’m almost certain that you’re smart enough. And when you succeed, I have no doubt it will pay back to you in no time.”
“Why do you want this?”
“Because I don’t know what to do with you,” I tried to be honest. “I didn’t ask for Dawit, but he’s such a great guy; I only want the best for him. And you are the only one who can make that happen. That’s why I need you to get back on your feet and take your responsibilities as quickly as possible. I won’t be around here forever.”
I think I saw fear in her eyes, but that was something she had to deal with herself. I was giving her plenty of opportunities to improve her life situation, but she still had to carry the main burden herself.
I showed her how to turn on the computer, and how to start and close the different programs–their icons were placed on the desktop screen–and then I told her to repeat the various steps by herself. Knowing she was absolutely clueless about computers, I even had her write down the steps for a start-up procedure after closing everything down by turning off the power, in case nothing else worked anymore, and I promised we’d go through the various steps again the next day.
Elsa had to take her rest, and after we’d returned, I put Dawit on her bed and opened one of the animated movies for them. They watched together, while I pretended to do some work on my own laptop. The small interactions between Elsa and Dawit confirmed that I wasn’t totally wrong in the way I tried to deal with them.
Elsa’s health kept improving, and eventually, she was released from the hospital bed. As expected, she did have to stay nearby for regular checks and such, but now she had to find her own place to stay.
As always, Elsa rejected my help for paying the rent, but I still had the upper hand. I told her that Dawit would be staying with her during the weekends, and I wouldn’t accept anything too shabby for him. And we shouldn’t put her progress at risk by settling for anything less than acceptable.
The next argument was about where Dawit should stay during the weekdays. Elsa could look after him, she assured me, but I insisted that she’d keep focusing on her own development for now. She had a unique opportunity for getting some more education, which shouldn’t be wasted on having to look after Dawit. For me, with the kindergarten and my help Zenebech doing most of the work, it was easy to take care of him. For her, it could make the difference between failing or succeeding at the start of a new future.
I was almost certain that her resistance was mainly meant for the record. Talking about learning made her face soften and her eyes shine. Her English had improved significantly over the last months and I also noticed she had learned to find her way on the laptop, rapidly typing with both hands.
I wasn’t checking on her, but it was Elsa herself who, at some point, showed me some certificates from basic and advanced Office courses, and she even seemed proud when she could show me her general secretary certificate. It was an even bigger surprise to me when she told me she got a temporary job as an assistant; she was shining. I was truly happy for her; it finally looked like she had become successful in controlling her own destiny.
Even so, my thoughts were confusing to me, when she told me that the doctors had informed her that there was no more need to stay around all the time. Some part of me had hoped that Elsa would choose to stay in the capital city, but there was no feeling of disappointment when she asked me to bring her back to my place. Her next check-up would be in two and a half months.
I hoped I saved her the embarrassment of having to ask me; as soon as we arrived back home, I asked her, “Will you work for me?”
She nodded first, but then she asked, with suspicion in her voice, “What do you want me to do?”
“Everything. Taking care of phone calls; picking up guests from the reception; getting coffee; simple translations when necessary; routine tasks like copying and filling in the standard forms; keeping track of my appointments… You will start slowly, and there will be enough time to learn the details on the job.” My former assistant had left some months ago, and as I had already considered offering this function to Elsa, I had never asked for a replacement. People from the main office had been stepping in, whenever necessary.
Elsa didn’t react after I’d answered her question. She seemed to acquiesce and let it all happen. I had expected more resistance–at least voicing her worries about being incompetent for the job or asking if I liked the idea of having her at my beck and call–but none of that.
She also silently consented when I called her and Dawit into the living room for dinner that evening. “You will have your own space and freedom in this house to do as you like, but I don’t think it’s good for Dawit, to be locked up in your room all time.” The fire she’d briefly shown in the hospital now seemed extinguished again.
Dawit seemed to like it a lot, having us all together at the dinner table. We had different dishes–Elsa and Dawit had their own food while I ate rice–and I could see Elsa’s opposition flaming up when I scooped some of my rice-dish on their plate to share it with Dawit, but once again, Elsa kept it inside.
Of course, Elsa was ready to start her new job the next day. I introduced her to her new group of colleagues–some of whom did little to hide their resentment and distrust–and together, we helped her getting settled during the first weeks.
She surprised me with how quickly she familiarized herself with her new tasks in this new environment. In the first weeks, it was clear that her energy was gone before she reached the end of the day, but it didn’t take too long before she was able to manage all by herself, and soon after that, I started to rely on her. Her health improved, the three-month health checks were all encouraging, and she seemed to blossom in her new function. She appeared to be more driven than any of the assistants that I’d had before, and I truly got the feeling that we didn’t even come close to the limits of her capacities if I’d only be giving the normal office tasks to her. To challenge her, I introduced her into part of my own work, and treated her as a trainee.
Somehow, her qualities also didn’t go unnoticed by my colleagues, and then I got this request from someone from the board, if I would consider passing her on to him. I was surprisingly conflicted about this. I should have taken it as being a great opportunity for Elsa, with a significant raise in salary and probably better prospects and the like, and it wasn’t like she was irreplaceable for me, but there was a nagging feeling of… jealousy? Reluctance and acquisitiveness?
I had thought she’d started to appreciate me and my efforts by now. I’d thought she’d loosened up a little, and I had imagined that she liked to work with me. But her reaction, when I told her about the request for her to move to another position, hurt me more than I’d expected. She raised her shoulders and, after mumbling, “If you like,” she continued with what she’d been doing before.
That night, shortly after I’d gone to bed, I heard someone–it had to be Elsa–quietly entering my room. Perhaps I should have been worried, or angry, or whatever, but it all was just too weird and I was just too curious about what was going to happen now, so didn’t react. I didn’t expect her to hurt me–if it had been me and that had been the aim, I would have waited much longer, giving it time for sleep to come first–and it never entered my mind what other options were possible. Elsa was Dawit’s mother, my reluctant house guest, someone who worked with me, and that was it. Hence, I froze, when she silently slipped behind me under the blankets.
Biology kicked in when I felt her breasts pressing against my back, and then her exploring hand embraced, through my pants, the result of the natural reaction that she’d evoked. It was a shock, and in a split-second a thousand thoughts, feelings and worries raged through my head. When she started stroking and kneading my hard-on, I grabbed her wrist and pulled it away. “No, Elsa.” This would cause too much disturbance; there was too much at risk. What about Dawit? If things…
Despite my resistance, Elsa tried to continue, stroking my arm and chest instead, but I repeated my rejection, “Don’t do this.” And then she silently moved out of the room again, leaving me behind in confusion. ‘What just happened? And why? And why now?’ Almost immediately, I came to the conclusion that it must have had something to do with the opportunity to work for someone else, but in which context? Was it an attempt to express her gratitude, or–the opposite–an attempt to make me rethink my decision? It wasn’t my decision to start with, so she shouldn’t take it out on me.
The next day, as usual, Elsa mainly ignored me during breakfast, and gave me a half-hearted smile when I gave praise for her coffee. I saw no opening to start talking about the night. Not until we were back in our office.
“Why did you do it, Elsa?” I immediately cut to the case, not feeling the need to specify what I was talking about.
“Are you homo?” was her question in return.
I was quite certain she’d felt herself, last night, that I was not unaffected by a woman’s touch. “Certainly not. You needed to get proof of that?”
“Don’t you like black women?”
For some reason, this felt more offensive to me than it probably should be. “Do I give you that impression? Do I treat you less than …”
Thing was, I wasn’t proud of it, about the way I was treating her. It wasn’t even close to the way I wanted to treat her. Or anyone else around here, for that matter. But then, I had never wanted us to be in this situation to begin with.
“Why do you give me away?”
“Is that what it feels like to you, that I’m giving you away? That certainly wasn’t my intention. I think it is a great opportunity for you, but–”
“–You just pass me on to the next person, as soon as the opportunity arises.” There was venom in her voice. “Don’t you want to test me first, see if I meet the right standards, before you hand me over to your boss?”
“I have no intention of testing you; that’s not what I do. Not like that. You are here to assist me in–”
“–Because I’m Dawit’s mother? Is it too close to you? Do you need someone who’s more distant from you? I can move out, if you want; I can perfectly look after myself, if that helps.”
“It has nothing to do with that,” I objected. “I don’t expect people that work for me, also to sleep with me. I don’t expect anyone to sleep with me, for that matter. That’s not who I am.”
“Is it because of my HIV?” she tried again, ignoring my words. “The doctors said I wasn’t a risk anymore when the numbers are this low, but we can also use condoms if you like. Fine with me. It should be safe.”
“What is it that you want!?” I started losing my temper. “You want to work with me, or fuck me? The first …” I raised my voice even louder to prevent Elsa from interrupting me again, “I don’t need an assistant to fuck me! I need someone to keep track of my schedule and to answer the phone; I don’t need any assistance when it comes to stroking my dick!”
By now, Elsa too was furious and ran out of the office, slamming the door closed with a bang. I wanted to go after her but knew that, with these emotions running up high, it would be no use. And for sure, the ones sitting next to our office would have heard us; I needed to keep my calm. I wanted to stop her, prevent her from running away from us again, but what could I do? What could I do to stop her if she really wanted to leave? If she’d really thought about me as some sort of pervert who was only after sex, then how could I possibly expect her to stay?
Elsa didn’t come back during the day, which made me feel deeply worried. Finding Dawit at the kindergarten at the end of the day was a relief, but didn’t remove the fear that Elsa might had gone again.
As such, it really was a great relief to find Elsa back home. Nervously, she stammered her apologies–she’d gone too far–and asked for forgiveness. It was strange, to see her like this. Forgiveness wasn’t hard to give. I told her how relieved I was to find her here, and noticed Zenebech drawing back; had they been talking together?
“We do need to talk, I think,” I told her, “But maybe after Dawit is asleep? Or is it better go for a walk now? Are you too angry to keep your temper?”
She shook her head. “Here is okay.”
“After you’ve put Dawit to bed.”
There was an uncomfortable tension during and after our dinner. I was both anxious and looking forward to the moment when Dawit was put to bed. I knew I couldn’t put any claim on them, and yet, I feared things would go completely different from now on. It wasn’t my business to bother about that, and yet, I did.
“You like him, don’t you?” Elsa asked, when she closed their bedroom door.
“I do,” I admitted. “He’s such a happy guy; he’s great.”
“Will he stay with you?”
“I’m not his father,” I replied, once more trying to make her see how she was asking me the impossible. “Even if I wanted, there’s no way I can take him with me when I leave this place. You are his mother; you are responsible.”
“When do you leave?”
“I haven’t planned anything yet. Two years? Three? I don’t know. Depends.”
She seemed to relax a little. “Why are you here?”
“It seemed like a good challenge,” I gave her my usual reply. “The moment was right, and the payment is good as well. But we have something else to discuss now. You don’t want to work with Fikadu?”
She shook her head, but mumbled, “If I have to…”
“You don’t have to. It was a question; not an order. Fikadu asked if you’d be willing to work for him, and I only passed the question on to you; it’s not up to me to decide.”
“Are you homo?”
“I’m not.” It stung that she still considered this option. I wasn’t aware of coming across as gay, and for some reason, I didn’t like the idea at all, that people might think so. “That has nothing to do with working for me. I’m just not interested in women at the moment. It’s a general thing that has nothing to do with you, or with anything that happened last night. It just doesn’t–I just don’t feel for it, at this moment.”
“But you are young; you need–it is something natural. Don’t you want it?”
“I can deal with it.”
I wasn’t lying. Of course, I had my moments, but I could take care of those myself. It was hard enough as it was, and I didn’t need more drama in my life.
“I can help you; it’s okay for me.”
“Believe me, this has nothing to do with you, but I don’t feel good about having sex with someone, just to release my…
“Our relationship isn’t like …” I then tried taking a different path. “It would feel like I’m taking advantage of you, and that’s the last thing I want. Things are difficult enough as it is for you, and at least I want you to feel safe in this house.”
She gave me a tormented look. “I want to do something for you; something in return. There’s nothing I can do for you, except…”
“You are working and paying back the money I’d borrowed to you. You don’t need to, but I appreciate your need for independence. To me, the most important thing to do is to secure Dawit’s future, and this way, I have faith in you. You can take care of the two of you. That’s the best you can do for me at this moment.”
“So, you want me to work for Fikadu.”
“I want you to draw your own path in life, without the need to rely on others.”
“You want me out of your house.”
I sighed, and then I did my best to formulate an appropriate answer that did justice to what I really felt. “For your own good, I should have wanted you to leave this house as soon as possible, to look after yourself, but I don’t. I like Dawit being around; it gives some purpose to my life, or something. I like to make him smile.”
She nodded, and I decided to try to go for the honest truth. “I feel like I can be a springboard for you. I hope I helped you starting to bring out the best in you, and that’s what makes me feel good. You seem to have so much potential, and I honestly never expected you to do this well in the work as you’re doing right now. I like to think that it was I who gave you that push that enabled you to start in this direction, and that because if me, you can manage to live on your own right now.” That wasn’t a lie.
“But you don’t like me being around.”
“At work? I very much like you being around at work. You are great in what you’re doing, and it is–”
“–No, here. At home.”
She kept pushing me into directions that I wasn’t really willing to think about. “It was a nice feeling to be able to help you when you needed it, but you are avoiding me, and that dampens the atmosphere.”
“I am here because of Dawit, right? What do you mean, avoiding you? What do you want?”
I considered the idea that she was still clinging on to me; not feeling ready to take care of herself yet. Was it the right time to give her that final push? And then what; live in a cold, silent, empty house again? “If you want to stay, then I don’t want you to behave like a guest. I don’t want to be treated as someone who…
“Dawit treats me like I’m ‘Gideon’,” I changed the direction again, trying a different way to make my point. “He doesn’t hold back, he isn’t careful not to hurt my feelings, or something. He just wants to have fun, and involves me in his actions. You treat me like I’m the person who is doing great favors to you and to your child, and at the same time, you treat me as if you’re afraid to approach me. As if you fear it might jeopardize what you and Dawit are getting.”
“You are not happy with me.”
“I am to blame for that. I had said before, that things would be different after you’d come back from the hospital. Things are different, but they are not perfect yet.”
“What do you want?”
“I want you to feel at home; not to be afraid to follow your own life. Not to lock yourself up in your room, but share the house with me. And it would be nice if we were able to talk some more.”
“You want to talk with me?” Elsa sounded genuinely surprised. “About what?”
“Can be anything. Work, Dawit, food… your life, my life… Just… like people do, when they are together.”
“But what should I tell to Fikadu, tomorrow,” I returned back on that topic. “Do you need more time to think about it?”
“Can… Is it okay for me to stay with you?”
Was she talking about work, or about the house now? “Already I told you that I’d like that, but I want it to be your decision. Are you sure? It could be better for you, a better contract and more salary, better prospects, if you’d accept Fikadu’s offer.”
She nodded. And then, after a moment of silence, “I stay with you. You want to talk now?”
In theory, I would have wanted that. But what to talk about? “I think we’ve already had some useful but intense conversation today. Maybe we need some time to process this; to think about what we really want. You want to talk now?”
After assuring in the morning that Elsa’s decision hadn’t changed, I informed Fikadu that she preferred to stay with me for now.
“She’s good, isn’t she?” he asked with a smirk on his face.
“She’s still learning, but really takes a lot of work from my hands already. She is incredibly smart and eager to learn, and I can imagine that, pretty soon, she should be able to grow into one of the higher positions herself.”
“Eager, right? I can imagine what an eager slut she is for you, given all that you have done for her.”
It was a smack in the face, to hear these words coming from someone who I had considered to be a respected colleague. As if this was how people expected me to be. Or Elsa. And then his self-confident, matter-of-fact voice; like this was an absolutely normal way for us to talk about our staff.
“Is she clean?” he continued. “Maybe I could just borrow her from time to time? She got HIV, didn’t she; doesn’t that scare you?”
“It looks like we have different expectations and criteria for competence,” I replied in anger and in shock. “I don’t think she’d be willing to take your orders.” I turned around, and heard his good-natured laughter while I walked away.
“This is OUR world, Gideon,” he called after me. “We are Lord and Master of this place, and those bitches are at our disposal, in every way. Have you still not figured that out yet? You, more than any of us, were born to be in this position; can’t you see? There’s so much more to win for you, but in order to reach the upper league, you need to claim every part of what is lying at your feet.”
Suddenly, also this world wasn’t how it had been before. No wonder that Elsa…
“What happened?” Elsa asked me when I entered the office.
“Nothing,” I snapped. “You’ll keep working for me.”
I started up the computer, and while I was waiting for the login screen to show up, I suddenly realized that Elsa had shown interest by herself. It was pretty selfish, to deny her the details, especially when it concerned her life. And perhaps I should warn her…
“What?” she asked when I turned her way again.
“I’m sorry I ignored your question. I don’t think he’s interested in the qualities of your office work. You better stay away from him.”
“It is you who is unusual,” she laughed at me in reply. “You don’t belong here. I think you’re making it bigger than it is; this is part of life.”
“Sex is natural,” I copied the slogan of one of our educational campaigns to better clarify the issue to her, “but should never be taken for granted. Abuse is abuse, regardless of people’s status. Or actually, taking advantage of people in vulnerable positions makes this even worse.”
She shook her head, and got back to her work. In the meantime, the login screen had appeared on my computer, and I also moved on.
“With you, I wouldn’t mind,” I suddenly heard her mumbling, her head turned away from me. “I would like it, to give something back to you.”
“I would like it, to keep these topics separated from work,” I tried to put an end to it, and then I had to bite my tongue not to continue myself and to comment on her ‘give something back’. She still didn’t get it.
“Shall I make coffee?” Elsa offered, “or do you want to wait until Dawit is put to bed again? We always talk while having coffee.” She was surprisingly benevolent. And it didn’t seem like she was reluctant to talk with me that evening.
“It’s up to you. Do you have something to say that Dawit shouldn’t be part of? I like having him around, it feels homely. I can also put him in bed, halfway through our coffee, if you want.”
“I have no secrets,” Elsa smiled, “and I think he also likes it when we’re all sitting together.”
He did like it. Like me, Dawit enjoyed watching Elsa performing the various steps of coffee making, and later, when Elsa asked him to pass me my cup and he managed to carry it without too much spilling, he looked mighty proud of himself.
“What do we talk about?” Elsa asked when the coffee was settling. “What do you want to know?”
That was a good question. Looking at her, so many questions came up, but most of them were too personal to talk about at this stage.
“How do you like your work?” I gave it a try. “Do you enjoy the work that you’re doing at the moment, or would you rather be doing something else?”
She gave me a credulous look, and then answered, “Of course, I like it. Maybe it is something that is normal for you, but for us, to be able to get such a job…”
“I can see how you’d have to be happy to have any kind of job, but if you can choose; do you like the work that you’re doing at the moment? Do you like it, to be working with computers, taking phone calls, taking care of envelopes, pencils, stamp pads, and such?”
She shook her head in disbelief. “What’s not to be liked? Have you ever spent even half a day putting products in boxes, or …?”
“Actually, I have,” I was actually proud to reply, showing I wasn’t averse to do manual work. “I used to do work like that while I was a kid, for my weekend and holiday jobs. And I also started my traineeship on the work floor. Not the same as a full-time job, but I do know the drill. But the fact that there are worse jobs than this doesn’t mean that you have to enjoy it, sitting behind a monitor. Maybe you’d rather be working in the hospital, or, for example, in the kindergarten where Dawit’s staying?”
More head shaking, but that time more thoughtful. “I don’t like the … hospitals, with all the smells, all the filth, the people–it drives me crazy. Same when looking after small children; with Dawit it is different, he’s mine, but other children… Maybe I’d want to …” Then she started giggling, “I am joking, but maybe, one day, I want to be a truck driver, just for one day, but …”
“Truck driver.” That was the last thing I’d expected to hear from her. “You want to be in control of a large, powerful machine like a truck? I can see the attraction, but not here; not in this country. The roads around here are too dangerous, and the traffic as well. And truck drivers have to make ridiculously long days.”
“Just one day,” she repeated again, laughing a little more freely. “I think it would be funny, a small girl like me making a large machine move just the way I want it.”
“And in the factory?” I tried to stir her towards possibly more attainable directions, something that might even trigger her ambitions. “What about being in control of a department or work-group?”
Her face immediately turned serious, and again a head shake. “I don’t like those politics. Can you imagine me, being in a discussion with people like Fikadu? Do you believe they would listen to me? Treat me as equal, with respect?”
“There are women in higher positions around here. I don’t think they are there only there for the show; you know Bezunesh?”
“You know her father?” she turned the question back to me. “That’s the difference.” Her voice was decisive, and Elsa’s demeanor radiated strength. Fire in her eyes, and her muscles strained.
“What?” she then asked me, somewhat hesitant again, when she picked up that I was looking at her.
“Sorry. I… I like it, when you stand up for yourself. Somehow, you change, when you really get into your emotions.”
“Hmm,” she inflated even further again. “You like Bezunesh?”
“Not really. She’s too… I don’t like it when people act superior over others.”
“Then you’ve come to the wrong place.”
I felt the blood drawing out of my face; was that how she felt about me? I did know there’s still a large gap between white and black here, much more than at home, but did she feel that I…
“That’s not what I meant to say!” she was quick to clarify herself, when she noticed my reaction. “I don’t mean to say that you act superior–oh no, not at all, I mean, on the contrary–but too many people here think they are. Not you!”
I knew I had a habit of taking things too personal, and also here it was probably unjustified to take her words as a jab to me. But, if I was truly honest to myself, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t act like I was one of the people from here.
“Thank you,” I said. “I try my best, but I can imagine… I know I am better off than most people from here, with my background and all, and having a help in house and all… I do try to treat people with respect and such, but I can imagine that, with my background and everything, it doesn’t…”
“Being rich doesn’t mean acting superior over others. I still haven’t met anyone who didn’t like working with you.”
“Thank you,” I replied, not knowing what else to say.
“Why are you here?” she asked in return.
I thought I’d already answered that question before. “It was an opportunity that arose, soon after I finished my school. I thought that, if I wanted to see something more of the world, this was the best moment to do so.”
“Do you like it?”
“It is an experience. It is very much unlike how things go back home, and it is good for me to see how things can be different. I hope it helps me to grow.”
I think this was the most relaxed time I’d had with Elsa yet. Dawit had fallen asleep on my lap at some moment, and although some other serious topics came along, the air was just light and enjoyable. Her comment at the end of the evening, when the coffee equipment was cleaned up and put away, and she was ready to go to her own room, put me back in place again, though; “Was this okay? Was this what you wanted?”
I nodded and confirmed; ‘this had been what I wanted’. But was it only about me? Had this only been about pleasing me?
We kept having our evening coffee talks, and even though it might have started as something she had to do in order to please me, I could not believe that I was the only one who enjoyed those hours of being together. We both laughed at the silly stories about our colleagues, but on the other hand, we also talked about topics that were painfully serious. And so, Elsa somehow came to tell me about Dawit’s …
“I was on my way to school, when three, four soldiers… Boys…
“My parents, they were so angry! Immediately, they went to the police, but of course, nothing happened.
“I didn’t dare to tell them, when my blood didn’t come. When they saw it, they became angry at me; how was I supposed to take care of a baby while I was still a child myself? What was I thinking?
“In the end, my parents did give in and offered to take care of it. It was difficult for them, but they promised.
“But then, it was Dawit. At first, we didn’t know, we didn’t see it, but then… They couldn’t look after, they couldn’t waste food and money on someone like him. They told me to bring him away.
“I went to the city and tried, but no-one would… I stayed for maybe three years, maybe more, but then they told me I had HIV, and then I knew I could no longer look after him, and then I saw you, and…”
After that, she shook her head, and remained silent.
I had little more to say but “I am so terribly sorry for you! And now, now I’m glad that you saw me that one day. At the time, I certainly didn’t feel that way, but now…”
“Now it’s your turn,” she then turned the attention back to me again. “Why are you here?” There was determination in her voice, and the way she looked at me told me she was not going to accept avoidance this time. This wasn’t the first time she had asked me; she must have figured out there was something more.
“I had a girlfriend. One night, we went out, and at some point, we decided to move to another bar. My friends and I, we saw the car coming and made a run for the other side. I should have been more careful; I should have better looked after Masha. I ran away and never even thought about her, until…”
“You blame yourself for killing…”
“I didn’t kill her, but I could have prevented it from happening. I can’t blame–the car driver, he couldn’t have done anything to prevent it, but I…”
She nodded, but I continued, “Her family, they accepted my apologies and even told me it wasn’t my fault–Masha had been old enough to look after herself–but I couldn’t… I don’t know. Maybe moving to this country was something to be like my self-imposed penance, but I think it was also a way to avoid facing her family and friends.”
“So, you blame yourself for not looking after the one you loved, and now…”
“And now, I’m here,” I added to that, but Elsa had something different in mind.
“And now you look after someone, but…”
“You think I don’t feel love for Dawit?”
Later, in bed, I felt lame about how I’d handled that situation. I had been too self-absorbed to catch her intentions immediately, but after she’d mentioned it, there had still been plenty of time to come back to that. She must have felt offended. But would the meaning of ‘Love’ change, when used for her instead of Dawit? Was it not true that I also felt love for her?
I got caught up in the different meanings of the word ‘Love’ and how to be able to send out the right message to her, but then I came to question the true meaning that ‘Love’ had for me where Elsa was involved. Of course, my Love for Elsa was different than that for Dawit, but how much, and in which direction? And which kind of ‘Love’ would Elsa want me to feel for her?
The next morning, I accompanied Elsa when she dropped Dawit off at the kindergarten, and when we were outside again, I asked her, “Do you have time to go somewhere else for a moment?”
“You want to talk? Can’t we talk in the office?”
“I want to be somewhere where we are equal to each other. Not our house or the office. Can we take some tea and find a quiet table outside for a moment?”
She silently nodded; I had no doubt she had seen something like this coming already. But I wasn’t sure if her smile revealed tension or amusement; maybe both.
“You got me thinking, yesterday evening,” I tried to cut to the core, even before we properly sat down.
“That was the idea,” Elsa confirmed, not asking what I’d been thinking about.
“I don’t think you still need it, to be looked after.”
Now, her expression changed; this was clearly not what she had expected to hear.
“I told you I wanted us to be equal. When you need to be looked after, it means that we’re not equal to each other. Like Masha, I think, you are old enough to look after yourself. We both are adults.”
“I don’t know what you mean with this,” Elsa mumbled, clearly unsure how to interpret my words and probably fearing we’d go in a direction she had never intended.
“I want us to be honest about each other. Like equals; like adults. I think that, yesterday, you wanted to hear from me that I love you, but at the same time you want to keep hiding behind being dependent on me.
“I very much like our time together,” I continued, “but I think that by now the time is right to take the inequality out from it. You don’t need to stay with me for my money, and I don’t have to accommodate you because you can’t look after Dawit yourself. That’s not what binds us anymore. I do want you to stay, but only for the need of each other’s company; no other excuses.”
“I still don’t understand what you’re saying.”
“Like equals. Partners. I think you asked me to confess that I have feelings for you, when you pointed out that I was taking care of you, but love shouldn’t come one-sided. If we want this to work, there should be less focus on how convenient our arrangement is, and more on what attracts us in the other.”
Elsa looked still confused, and suddenly, I also wasn’t so sure anymore that I had understood her correctly. “Or don’t you want to stay with me?”
“I do!” Elsa hurried to say, but at the same time, she shook her head in confusion. “What do you mean, ‘partners’? And what if you leave this country?”
“Let’s first see how things go between you and me when we try to treat each other more at an ‘equals’ level at home, but I mean it quite literally. And in that case, you would join me when I go back. And Dawit as well, of course.”
“Partners, you mean, like married?” Elsa tried to assure herself she got the right message here.
“That is the idea, yes,” I confirmed. “Not immediately, we first need to know for sure that it is the right thing to do for both of us, but it would make things much easier, getting married before going back home. If that’s what you want as well, of course.”
She nodded vehemently, as if afraid I wouldn’t believe her otherwise, and then she added, “You will sleep with me?”
I interpreted the change of her face as a sign of eagerness, but couldn’t resist, “Are you sure?”
“Tonight? Why, yes. Of course. You think we need condoms?”
“Not only for tonight, I hope? But yes, we should use condoms, just to be safe. When we start thinking about having more children, we should get ourselves informed on how to do that safely, but for now, we should use protection.”
“Children? You think that’s still possible?” Her face brightened even more.
“I honestly don’t know, and I’m even not sure if the doctors can tell, but we can certainly try. HIV doesn’t have to be a problem when it is sufficiently reduced. The rest, I don’t know.”
“Do you want children? Is it a problem if we can’t?”
“I’ll be happy to have you and Dawit. Anything else is bonus.”
I looked at her. What would it be like, to be husband and wife; to have Dawit as the oldest brother of a string of siblings; to build a family with her?
“What?” She gave me her teasing, challenging look.
“You are beautiful.”
“Only now you notice?”
“Already I had noticed all the beauty that had been relevant at earlier times, like your incredible commitment to Dawit, your determination and your strength, your amazing ability to learn and to adopt new skills, your cleverness, and your power of persuasion…
“I’m a pragmatic person,” I better tried to explain myself, “and paying attention to your looks would only have been in the way of what we needed to achieve at that time. Now, I feel like also your beauty matters to me, because from now on it will also make me look better, standing next to you. People will look at you and think, ‘That Gideon is one lucky bastard!’ and I can only agree with them.”
“People already reminded me all the time how lucky I am,” Elsa replied, “and not always in a nice way either. Do you even realize how many girls wanted me out of the way, so they could take their shot at you? I am surprised how you’ve never shared your lunch breaks with any of them. Are you sure you are not homo? No way you could not have noticed their attempts to steal you away from me.”
“I only see what interests me, and they are just annoying. I don’t want someone who puts herself in the first place. And with you, I know for sure that’s not the case. You can be terribly difficult, but only for the benefit of the ones you love. And I hope that now I also belong to that selected group of people.”
“I do anything for you. Just like you do anything for us. We will be strong, together.”
We did go to work, after tea, and suddenly, I was constantly aware of her beauty. Even worse, I was constantly thinking of the promises for the night. Elsa noticed.
“What happened with you?”
“You happened. I can’t stop thinking of you right now.”
“And what do you think of me?” she inquired with an innocent look.
“Uh-huh. It must be really important to you, if you let your work suffer from your thoughts.” She couldn’t hide her wide grin anymore. “Normally, nothing can distract you.”
“I am thinking about tonight.”
I nodded. “Definitely you.”
“I think I need to go to the shop before we go home today. Just to be sure.”
“That might be a good idea. And while you’re there, you might also want to buy some condoms.”
Elsa gave me a non-understanding look, and then shook her head. “You men only think about one thing. Red wine, right?”
“Did I tell you already how smart you are?”
She smiled. “You definitely told me that before, but it never hurts to remind me again.”
I stopped myself from getting up; “Let’s keep work and private separate. But you are smart in every way.”
That evening, after coffee and putting Dawit to bed, we stayed in the living room, much longer than ever before, talking and drinking wine. And in time, we moved on to tentative touching, stroking, and then even kissing.
In the beginning, there was still a blockade in my head, telling me I was wrong in taking advantage of Elsa. And it was mainly Elsa pushing for more. But every touch, every caressing and kiss, every whisper, and everything else felt so good, so right. Soon, I had other things on my mind than worrying about being appropriate. Her fingers were determined, her lips were eager and dragging me in, her whole body irresistibly sexy and inviting, making it impossible to keep myself in control.
After our talking that morning, I knew this was the right time to let go of my restraints. We were in this as equals, trying to find what could bind us together. And honesty therefore required that I’d abandon all reservations and give her all of me, the good as well as the bad. To make her know what she was dealing with.
And I, on my side, found myself dealing with a woman that was offering all of her, freely, and I went along, slowly taking her up on her promise, while returning her the same of me.
I held my breath, when I helped her to pull her dress over her head. And then I couldn’t keep my eyes from her beautiful, slim body, her warm-toned, brown skin, her modest breasts covered in tasteful purple lingerie.
“You like it?” she asked me with a soft but confident voice.
“You look beautiful,” I admitted. “Absolutely perfect.”
Already, my shirt had come off, and now she started unbuttoning my jeans. “Equal, right?”
“That is more than I could hope for,” I admitted, helping her to take off my jeans.
I wanted to kiss her, but for a moment, Elsa kept me at distance, to take me in as well. Two people, devouring each other with their eyes.
“This is real, right?” Elsa whispered. “Partners. When we wake up tomorrow, it will still be like this. This is not only for tonight.”
“This is just the beginning of it. Or at least, the beginning of a new phase, where we will only get closer to each other. After this, things won’t be the same as they were, but only better. Much, much better. I promise you.”
Her lips locked with mine again, and mingled through the taste of wine and herself, I could recognize the salt of her tears.
“This is it, Honey,” I whispered. “You can let yourself go now; you are safe. I will always look after you, just like you will always do for me and Dawit. From now on, we will be inseparable. We will never be on our own again.”
Her nails clawed in my back, and her lips rubbed, sucked, and bit into mine, sometimes pushing her head away for air.
“Yuck,” she mumbled, embarrassed, when she wiped away the snot with the back of her hand. But that didn’t push me away from kissing her again. For so long, she had been impregnable, and now I could finally experience her in her vulnerability, and mix her emotions with my own, unrestricted, deep true feelings.
I pushed her into my bedroom, on top of the bed, and I lied down next to her while we continued our caressing and exploring in a now horizontal position. Our last pieces of fabric soon disappeared, and then Elsa took the lead again.
She softly pushed me on my back, and focused with both hands on my cock, stroking my shaft and softly rubbing my balls, while keeping her eyes on my face to read my emotions.
“You’re beautiful,” she whispered, drawing a finger under my erection. “This is so perfect; perfect you are.” After that, she wrapped her hand around my flag pole, and soon I groaned, overwhelmed by an avalanche of sensations. It was she who was perfect, not me, but I couldn’t muster the words and the strength to tell her so, too much was I caught up in what she was doing to me.
Her mouth replaced her hand around my cock, and she slowly sank down on it, tickling the flesh with her lips and tongue. She took me as far as possible, and then pulled up again, letting out what sounded like a satisfied groan.
“Good, right?” she asked for confirmation, after I’d slipped out of her mouth. From the point of assurance, it seemed like an utterly unnecessary thing to do, as I was a trembling and heavily breathing mess already.
“You are amazing,” I managed to whisper. I looked at her intensely happy face, her beautiful body, and knew that ‘amazing’ didn’t even come close. “You are an Angel.”
“An Angel,” she snorted. “Not sure if you’ll ever find an Angel that will do this for you,” and then she went down on my cock again. This time, she didn’t stop when I reached the back of her throat, but managed to get it all the way down, until her nose reached my body. And after a short stop, she slowly pulled back again.
“Whatever you are,” I panted, “I don’t care, but I never want to lose you. But don’t do that again, or I’ll come in your mouth next time.”
“Too soon,” she replied, and swirled her tongue over the head to make me squirm. “It is too soon to finish the first round already. But you like it, right?”
I tried to nod, but another stroke of her tongue, this time from bottom to top of my shaft, made me push my head in the mattress and arch my back, interrupting any attempt of a reply to her.
She continued to shower my cock under a barrage of kisses, licks, and soft nips, but truly shook me up when she sucked in one of my balls into her mouth, followed by the other. I had no idea…
“You okay?” she asked once more, after having thoroughly inspected every cell of my cock individually, but before I was able to answer, she slid me right down her throat again. All the way down. Now, she continued, bobbing up and down my shaft, and got me to my limits in no time.
My ‘I am coming’ did nothing to slow her down, and when I shot my first load, she released a moan that conveyed utter satisfaction. Slowly, she pulled up, making me fill her mouth, and cover her face and breasts with spunk.
“And this is only the beginning,” she murmured with satisfaction. “You stay here; I’ll be right back.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” I objected, and managed to grab her wrist. Again, I had a mental hurdle to take, but without too much gagging, I kissed her lips, to find out it wasn’t too bad to taste myself on them.
“You have no boundaries,” Elsa said with an approving tone in her voice, an incredulous smile on her face.
“At least not where you are involved,” I replied. “And how can I possibly be averse from you, if you have no problems doing all this for me?”
“You know that no one ever did that with me? No-one. Ever.”
“Because no one ever loved you like I do,” I answered, ignoring what else her statement had implied. “And you know that no-one ever did that to me either? Masha would stop before I would come, and then finish it by hand. I never minded, I never considered to ask her to continue, and it was perfectly fine with me. And I will never ask you to do this again, but this experience will always be with me.”
“You don’t have to ask; I crave for this. To taste you is my victory; my incentive for more. And we are not done yet.”
“What did you do to Elsa?” I joked, but my feeling of surprise was real. This was not the woman I’d shared my house with for more than a year by now. Not that I didn’t like this part of her, but it once again confirmed that there was so much in her I still didn’t know about. She was freaking hot, and to me it was clear to see how this wasn’t only aimed at pleasing me.
I kissed her lips again, and then I watched how she dragged her index finger through a spooge on her breast, to bring it to her mouth and clean it up. After that, it only seemed appropriate that I kissed her breast to clean up the rest of it myself. These actions in themselves, Elsa’s fingers twirling through my hair and rubbing my scalp, her skin, her smell, her presence, it was enough to make me hard again. And Elsa also noticed.
“Come,” she told me, pushing me away from her breast, “Time for round two. At this rate, we might be able to set a record tonight.”
She reached out to the box with condoms, but I objected, “I think round two is focused on you.” Elsa, however, assured me that my way of thinking was wrong. “Round two is focused on both of us, just like round one was. If you think I got nothing out of our introduction, then you really don’t understand what this is all about. With you, I don’t want no ‘I give you this if you do that for me’, so please, don’t try that on me.”
I was not going to argue, not going to mention how her own acts and intentions from before had seemed to contradict her own words from now. We had left that behind us.
Self-assured, she removed the plastic wrap from the box and opened it to pick a rubber, which she then rapidly wrapped over my hard-on. There was a tentative pause, as if to give me the time to take control if I had wanted, after which she, slowly, straddled me.
The feeling of her pussy sliding over me, surrounding me, rubbing me and grabbing me, was sensational. “Oh, Elsa,” I groaned. “Oh, please; this is so good!”
“This is for me,” she bent over and whispered in my ear, “and you. Both of us; you give room to let it be for both of us. Not like…” She shook her head, and kissed my lips again. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” I worded the feeling that had slowly but steadily been growing inside me for so many months, waiting for the right season to break through the surface. About a day ago, the sun had finally managed to pierce its rays through the clouds. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment emotion, and I had no doubt about how true these words were. “I love you.”
I felt her clasping around me, and watched her sit up straight on her knees. With her hands on my chest, she slowly pushed herself up over me, her eyes closed, wet streaks slowly running down from their corners.
Just before I was about to slip out, she stopped, waited a moment, and then sank down on me again. Sitting on top of me, she started grinding and rubbing herself against me, moving slowly back and forth, her fingers clasping my chest.
I reached out to touch her breasts, to stroke them and softly knead them, and Elsa put her hands on top of mine to push them tightly against her chest.
“Gideon,” she whispered, “can I stay with you?”
“Stay with me,” I answered. “Please, don’t you ever leave me. Let me be a part of you.”
“Anything you want,” she replied in turn. “I will be anything you ask me to, if you believe I can.”
Her pelvis ground and rotated, rubbed and rolled, sliding up and down my cock. She sighed and groaned softly, dancing on top of me. I could sense her wetness. This wasn’t just for me.
“Gideon,” she groaned, “am I good for you?”
“You are wonderful,” I answered. “Am I good for you too?”
With that, she lied down flat on my body, and then dragged me on top of her.
“I want you,” she groaned. “I want you. Do it, Gideon, make me feel.”
“I want you too, Elsa,” I answered, slowly moving in and out of her. “Is this good?”
“Faster, Gideon. Harder,” she whispered. “I want to feel you. Do it, Gideon!”
I sped up the pace, giving up the control while giving in to the action and the drive, and Elsa met my body with every thrust.
“More, Gideon,” she begged me with despair in her voice. “This is good, but harder.”
I tried, and our bodies bounced and shook at the rhythm of the pounding. Elsa’s nails in my shoulder blades pushed me on, and so did her gasping, dictating the cadence. I was struggling for air, struggling to keep up the pace she wanted. We wanted.
“More, Gideon,” she called me with a high-pitched voice. “Give me just a little more for me.”
I did what I could, but feared I was about to come. “I can’t keep it much longer, Elsa. I try, but I really am close.”
In reply, her fingers dug even deeper in my skin, her arms pulled me even tighter against her body, and her arching back pushed her hips even higher to get the most of me.
“Give it, Gideon,” she cried, and even though it might have been a cry for more, it was the trigger that sent me over the edge.
I did my best to continue for as long as possible, but eventually, I lied down next to Elsa, trying to get my breath back.
Elsa recovered faster than I did, and while my body still felt weak and spent, her fingers and her kisses searched my skin for more.
“I think we fit well together,” she whispered. “If I am good enough for you, then I think we have nothing to worry about.”
“I love you,” I replied once more, still too tired to come with anything more wordy but less meaningful, and I received an “I love you too,” in return.
We took our time to recover, exploring each other’s bodies with fingers and lips, but Elsa was determined to set a high standard for the future, and we had sex several times more, in all different ways.
“This shouldn’t become a habit,” I groaned when she woke me up around three in the night for yet another round of love-making, but even then, I was happy to oblige.
“Elsa!” It was Dawit’s call that woke us up the next morning.
“Put on your pants,” Elsa ordered me, and instead of going out to see him, she called Dawit into my room and invited him to join us under the covers.
Zenebech, our help, did not seem surprised at all, when Elsa left my bedroom in a t-shirt of me that morning. That evening, Elsa’s clothes were neatly placed next to mine.
It didn’t take much longer for us to accept our fate and tie the knot. I found a job back home, and the three of us moved to another world. Although it took some time and a little help from our medics, Elsa and I had no problems finding the motivation to expand our family with two more members. While being a nursing mother, Elsa also took the opportunity to invest more into her education, and then she got a job at an organization that matched her potential and ambitions. Now she contributes to the controlling and prevention of sexually transmittable diseases in third-world countries.