She felt the first ominous drop on her nose. She should have noticed the darkening sky but she had been distracted, thinking about him. She rushed across the road and joined other agitated Nairobians, their faces falling as the scattered drops quickly turned into sheets of rain, as the notorious Nairobi rain was in the habit of doing.
The morning had been sunny. Too sunny. That should have been the first clue. But no, she was too busy picking out an outfit that said ‘I like you but whatever’. Why didn’t her red trench coat say ‘I like you but whatever?’ she thought, rubbing her bare arms against the chill. A simple black dress with nude heels; she didn’t blame anyone that looked at her like she was crazy because in that moment, she felt crazy.
It had taken him three months to ask her out. Three months!!! She shouldn’t have said yes so quickly. She should have let him sweat it out for a day or two. Maybe even a week, but did she? No! She smiled and said ‘Sure, that would be great.7 o’clock?’
So here she was, freezing under a building canopy, watching the rain fall in angry drops and wondering how she was going to make it across town in 10 minutes and still manage to pull off the ‘I like you but whatever’ vibe.
Her head said ‘it’s raining, you idiot! Call the chap and tell him you can’t make it. Your grandmother’s sister’s husband’s cousin twice removed is having a dinner party in shags and you have to attend.’
Then her puny heart chimed in, ‘But I really don’t want to cancel! I’ve been looking forward to today for three months, 10 days, 18 hours and,’ she checked her watch,’ fifty two minutes!’.
She had pictured the moment perfectly; she would walk into the restaurant looking ten types of gorgeous and she’d confidently sift through the room with her eyes, searching for him. A movement across the room would catch her eye and he’d be standing up from his seat, and looking at her like he was seeing her for the very first time. He wouldn’t be seeing the business-like Brenda from the office but the you’d-stupid-not-to-like-me Brenda.
She thought of him now, sitting in the restaurant, glancing at his watch. It was probably pretty busy and the waiter kept asking him to give up her chair but he kept insisting that his date was coming.
But that wasn’t going to happen and her stupid heart just had to get with it. She fished her phone out of her bag and sent him a text.
‘ Hey, can’t make it. Could we reschedule?’
Just as she was putting her phone in the bag, his reply came.
‘Me too. I got caught up in the rain. Sure, whenever is good for you.’
She smiled. At least he wasn’t sitting at a restaurant looking like he’d been stood up.
The rain let up soon and she began to make her way to her matatu stage. The roads were pretty flooded so she hopped and leaped and when all else failed, waded, to her stage. A block away from where she picked her matatus, she saw him. Her heart jumped and she was just about to turn away when he caught sight of her.
He smiled and gave a small wave. She did the same and ran her hand surreptitiously through her damp hair. He crossed the road easily.
‘Hey. The drowned rat look really suits you.’
She felt her cheeks flame but she caught the humorous twinkle in his eye. Up close, she saw that the rain had pulled a fast one on him. His shirt was soaked through, not that she was complaining.
‘That’s exactly what I was going for. ‘
He smiled and said, ‘You look amazing. I know we were supposed to reschedule but would you mind if we caught a cup of coffee now? If you’re in a hurry I completely understand. ‘
She froze, taking in all he had said and trying with all her might not to turn into another puddle on the road. He was still talking, more out of nerves than necessity, she thought.
‘Sure. Coffee sounds great’.
The moment was far from perfect especially as an apathetic driver drove through a muddy puddle, spraying both of them, but as the shock subsided into laughter, she realized she wouldn’t have it any other way.