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The number 40.

It seems so normal and not at all transparent but if you keep looking through the the cloud of the candles that you blew in unison — you will see it.

You will be swept away by the rainy days as a teen when you cuddled up with the books you stole from the collection — that stood proudly in the dust of time.

Nothing will surpass the youth of my indulgence.

My thick black hair falling over the words that fundamentally marked the beauty of my eyes encased in the cheekbones I took for granted.

The fever of the boys that couldn’t hold a candle to the older renegade with the expensive briefcase and plush office overlooking the reverie of Tafawa Balewa Square.

He swarmed my lips and wished me well as I grasped the arm of the chair and balanced the weight of signed papers.

Before that — I had been privy to the world of bodily harm that may have been experimental if you ask the right person but when I’m queried — I become lost in a haze of darkened inconsistencies.

That killed me at nine.

At forty I’m dying all over again — but this time it’s a slow and cohesive demise.

The long goodbye that can be likened to a disease that ravaged you enough to leave the faculties of assurance that no amount of distance can ease the hurt and pain.

Not enough friends lasted and familial relations have dwindled to the awkward recognition of each existence that makes no dent in the quilt that generations hoped would cinch us in forever.

At forty — and beyond — I am incapable of holding anyone up because I’m trying to breathe above the water that relentlessly challenges my ability to tread violently against the currents that drowned me once — and hopes to again.

I won’t let it happen this time.

I will drown. But only when I let go. In the meantime — I will hold my breath with each dispatch as the symptoms of emotional recklessness that questions my standing loyalty to — ME — continue to hover.

I’m dancing now and there is no music.

Imagine if there was.

I did die at forty. And the spirit forgot and forgave my soul.

Now, I live to forgive them.

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