“Underneath the Stars” by Fui Can-Tamakloe.

Sometimes she didn’t like to talk, and I knew better than to interrupt the silence. I enjoyed it. It gave me the concentration I needed to study her facial patterns, to try and determine what she was thinking. She had never been able to hide her emotions properly. They’d always find some way to seep into her face. We were sitting on a bench at the back of my family house. We were completely alone. Everyone had gone to sleep a while ago, tired from the performing of funeral rites for my dead uncle. The only company we had was the clothes on the clothesline, slow dancing in the village wind. Someone had forgotten to take them down.

“Yao, have you noticed the stars?” she asked me, breaking the silence.

“Of course I have, love. They are…a lot.” I said, pretending the first thing I saw when I had looked up was quantity, and not beauty. She got the joke, and I saw her teeth flash in the darkness.

“But I don’t get it. I mean, it’s all the same sky that covers Ghana right? So why is it that the stars are so beautiful and ‘a lot’ out here, but we hardly see them in Accra?” She asked, the question directed more to the wind, than to me.

I thought of Accra. I thought of the hustle and bustle that we knew to be everyday life. The honking and cussing drivers, rude pedestrians, slow traffic, the general noise. The answer appeared.

“Maybe…Maybe it is because we are too busy handling what’s down there to notice anything up.” That was my answer. She didn’t immediately say anything, but I could tell from the furrowing of her brow that she was contemplating what I had said. Silence once again engulfed us.

“Promise me,” she said, turning to face me properly, “that we will never be that couple. The ones that are too busy with life to appreciate the things they appreciated when they first met. Promise me, Yao.”

“I promise,” I said, chuckling. The intensity with which she had made the request was slightly funny.

“Thank you,” she whispered, smiling softly. The comfortable silence appeared again, and in the darkness, I felt her hand search out mine.

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