They arrived at Fowley Flats where they each rented. Ashanti shared her rent with his cousin, Nelly, while he lived alone on the floor above theirs. The walked up the stairs to the third floor where her flat was.

Edward desperately wanted to tell her how much he loves her. Every time he’d open his mouth for the words to come out, something inside of him would claw at him and pull him back. Then he wouldn’t find his voice, his own throat would betray him thus he’d make a sound. 

Ashanti looked at him. “What was that?” She asked with her ear pushed to him a little. 

“Nothing…uhm.., It’s nothing really,” he smiled and cleared his throat. 

“Man, you acting weird today. What’s up?”

I have these deep feelings for you, Ashanti I just don’t know how to tell you. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry, please,” he said. 

“Are you sure?” She asked with an open smile. Oh, that lovely smile. 

He nodded: “Yes, I’m sure.”

But she stopped walking and she looked at him. “Is there something you’d like to tell me, Edward?” 

He also stood in silence. Go ahead and tell her, God dammit! Just say it. “Who, me?”

He placed a hand on his chest. Yes, the chest, deep inside the chest let it all out, tell her how you feel. “No, I have nothing to tell you,” he said. 

They came at the door of her flat. She took out the key from her bag and unlocked the door. He told her goodbye. “It was fun. I really enjoyed it,” she told him. He knew the only thing she enjoyed was the food, not his company. He went upstairs to his flat. As soon as he went in through the door the pain and anger he bottled up flared all over. He filled the place with his screams. How many times will he get the chance of telling her he loves her then he’d swallow back his words? Or rather, the fear would drain out all the courage in him. Self-doubt and what ifs. How many times? 

What made things worse was that he knew that girls like Ashanti tend not to stay single for too long. It was only a matter of time before some guy comes along. Then Edward will never have his chance anymore. This thought levelled up the bad he felt inside of him. It stuck in him – a warning, a threat – no matter what he did to free his thoughts from it; 

the TV, the video games, the cheese sandwich, the music, they all failed as the measures of distraction.

For two whole years, you’ve done nothing. Coward! You don’t deserve her, you’ve blown too many chances. There was another thought:

He felt like letting out another scream to silence these loud thoughts. He went to his wardrobe and began his search. Past a couple of clothes later he finally found it – crampyand a bit dog eared. The porno magazine: Playboy. He had the videos in his phone but now he was in the mood to allow his imaginations to create the whole scene and sounds, simultaneously clear his head from those thoughts. 

He put the magazine and his phone in juxtaposition on the bed. The phone showed a photo of Ashanti extracted from Instagram. The cover of the magazine showed a naked blonde petite woman with grown breasts, nipples aimed sideways. Edward’s mind took over: the blonde had the face of Ashanti. They were one; she was Ashanti. On this very same bed he was with her. They were both undressed. 

By now Edward’s pants and boxers were on the floor. His hand was now working. He moaned, and she moaned too in his head, telling him to go deeper, telling him how much she loves him, thanking him for taking her out to KFC.