LIKE OTHER GUYS DO

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Kevin’s eyes stayed fixated on his phone as his call was left unanswered for the fourth time in a row. Although there was a cool breeze blowing, for some reason, he felt hot. He checked his WhatsApp and got the confirmation he needed. Her last post read 3.46, and it was 3.47. He sank deep into the hard concrete bench. Why is she doing this to me?” he lamented. He’d been sitting outside his faculty building since the last class ended, trying to get through to his girlfriend on the phone. It’d been a whole fifty minutes and he was still trying.

Just then, a text popped up on his screen. When he saw it was from her, he sat up at once. The text read: I’m busy.

Immediately, he typed a reply: But, we planned to see today. “Had she forgotten?” he thought. He doubted it. She’d been in some mood lately, behaving kind of weird, and he thought he knew what the problem was. He’d just been turning a blind eye to it.

He waited a while for her to reply. It was probably just a few seconds but felt like aeons. He couldn’t take it anymore and took to his phone keyboard at once: Ok, but whateva it is just answer my call. Let’s talk, pls. Then, he dialed her number again. As the call rang, he said a silent prayer for her to pick up.

“Hey babe,” he said when she finally did.

“Hey,” replied that sweet voice he knew all too well.

“I thought — ”

She cut him off. “I’m sorry I left your calls unanswered. I knew what u were calling me for and I didn’t know how to cancel our plans.”

Kevin was quick to reply. “It’s fine,” he said. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m good.” He was relieved that she was speaking to him nicely and thought for a moment that he could have been wrong about her being in a mood. He was beginning to feel hopeful that they might still meet up until she began speaking again.

“Kevin, I want to be honest with you,” she began.

He held his breath. She shouldn’t break up with me.

“Our relationship is boring, so I’m tired of hanging out with you. Whenever I go to your place, we just talk, watch Netflix and play games — nothing else. It’s not fun anymore. You don’t do what other guys do. I’m tired. That was why I didn’t want to see you today.”

Kevin felt an unpleasant feeling in the pit of his stomach, and he felt even hotter. He knew what she meant by “You don’t do what other guys do”, and she was right. He didn’t know what to say to her and waited for her to say something else, but there was silence for a while. He thought she was going to end things there.

Finally, she broke the silence. “Bye,” was all she said before she hung up.

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Kevin sat with his phone in his hand. She didn’t exactly break up with him, but he knew it would happen soon. He went over her words: “Our relationship is boring”. He knew he tried to keep things interesting to an extent, so was sure she wasn’t looking for just fun. She wanted intimacy kind of fun, and it was the same issue that led to the end of his previous relationship. His spirits sank. He didn’t want to lose her; yet, he could not bring himself to do what she wanted. He’d avoided it for the longest time. It scared him. He couldn’t even walk into a shop to buy a condom. He’d die of embarrassment before he’d be able to do that. But then, he thought of what he’d lose. Elizabeth was smart and funny, with a pretty face and — he had to say it — an unimaginably more beautiful body.

He sighed desolately and got up from his stony seat to leave. His heart hurt more than his backside. He looked around him; there were still a lot of students around. The bank some distance away from him still had a long queue of people waiting to use the ATM. He wondered if he looked as bad as he felt. Could people tell that his girlfriend was going to break up with him because he couldn’t go all the way with her? Certainly not. But, he didn’t care if they did anyway. And, none of his guys knew as well — not that he cared at the moment.

He trudged in the direction of the school park absent-mindedly. He didn’t notice that the trees he passed almost every school day had bloomed with trumpet-shaped red and white flowers. And a few fell on his shoes as he walked.

When it was time to cross the road to get to the park, he took a left-turn instead and walked into the supermarket premises.

The shop was teeming with students doing their weekend shopping. With his head in his hood and hands in the pockets of his very Korean trousers, he ambled towards the aisle for male care products. In seconds, he saw what he wanted sitting comfortably on the shelf right beside bottles of deodorant. He checked out the deodorant bottles for a while before picking one up. Then, in one slick move, he grabbed a packet of condom and dropped it into the breast pocket of the T-shirt underneath his hoodie. “Let’s see about an adventure,” he said to himself uncertainly.

Once he got outside, he whipped out his phone. Surprisingly, it did not ring long before she picked up. “Come over to my place,” he told her with his heart hammering in his chest. “Let’s do something different.”

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