A silver Toyota Corolla is parked in the parking lot of the Quickmart supermarket in Westlands, Nairobi. Masha and Ngare sit on the bonnet of the car, looking out at the parking lot. Masha is eating from a small cup of ice cream with a plastic spoon, smacking and licking his lips as he does. Ngare looks over at Masha, a disgusted look on his face. Masha keeps eating the ice cream, moaning with pleasure.

“Do you have to eat like that?” Ngare asks Masha.

“Like what?” Masha says.

“Like you’re making out with the ice cream,” Ngare says. “I feel like I should give you two some space.”

“What? You don’t like PDA?”

“In fact, I don’t.”

Masha puts a spoonful of ice cream in his mouth and swallows it with relish, licking the spoon. “My sincerest apologies,” he says. He sticks the spoon back in the ice cream cup and eats more ice cream, now eating with even more gusto. Ngare turns away from him and looks out at the parking lot. To their left is a lively bar playing loud music and filled with even louder people.

“Remind me again why you’re eating ice cream so late at night?” Ngare asks.

“I just wanted to,” Masha says, his mouth full. “I had a craving for it.”


Masha looks at Ngare. “What?” he asks him.

“I just find it funny that the guy who’s always talking about discipline and resisting temptation is eating ice cream at midnight, when people are supposed to be in bed,” Ngare says. “People like me.”

“First of all, I don’t like your tone,” Masha says, his mouth still full. “Please check it. Second, it’s not midnight, it’s 00:37, or 12:37 AM if you prefer that. And third, this is a once in a while thing. It’s not something I do all the time.” Ngare looks at Masha, an incredulous look on his face. “And there was a good reason to be out late tonight,” Masha says.

“Those so-called “errands” of yours were not a good reason. They could have been done over the weekend.”

“I didn’t want to do them over the weekend. There’s other things I’d rather be doing.”

“There’s other things I’d rather be doing right now,” Ngare says exasperatedly. “And why am I here?”

“It’s good for you to get out of the house. And you know I don’t see that well at night.”

“What happened to your glasses?”

“I lost them.”

Ngare sighs loudly. “And then after two hours of driving around doing ‘errands’ we come to Quickmart for ice cream,” Ngare says, making air quotes when he says “errands”.

“This was the closest place to get ice cream that was still open. And I told you this is a one-time thing.”

Masha takes a bite out of his ice cream cone. Ngare raises an eyebrow at him. “One-time thing, eh?” Ngare says. “Didn’t we go to get Skittles and Snickers the other night? When we had to come here because it was so late and this place is open 24/7? Looking like stray dogs with no purpose in life?”

“So this is the second time.”

“Second?! What of the time last week we went to KFC at midnight for sticky wings? In our pyjamas, no less. Even the people working at the KFC thought there was something wrong with us.”

“Those sticky wings were worth it.”

Ngare makes a face. “Were they?” he asks.

“Yes they were. And anyway, I can’t help it. I can’t sleep hungry. If I don’t eat, I’ll be suffering in the morning.”

“That’s because you’re fat and have the appetite of a crocodile.”

“There’s no need for you to be mean.”

“I don’t care.” Ngare pulls his hood over his head and shoves his hands into his pockets. “I’m tired and sleepy and here against my will. I have a right to be mean.”

Masha laughs sarcastically. “Here against your will?”

“I don’t want to be here. I want to be in my bed. Under a blanket. My pillow coaxing me to sleep. Instead I’m at Quickmart. Under a dark sky. Being slapped by wind and cold. And I have a headache.”

Masha eats a large spoonful out of his ice cream. He swallows, smacks his lips and moans again with pleasure. Ngare looks at him in annoyance.

“Can you please stop doing that?” Ngare says.

Masha looks at him, a feigned look of incredulity on his face. “Stop doing what?” he says innocently.

“Acting like you’re in a porn video. I get that the ice cream is good, I don’t have to hear it every two minutes.”

Masha licks his spoon, watching Ngare stare at him. “Someone didn’t get their dose of positive energies and affirmations today, eh?”

Ngare looks at Masha, the look on his face hard, as if daring Masha to keep talking. Masha doesn’t take the bait. He chuckles and turns to look at the parking lot, continuing to enjoy his ice cream. Ngare turns to look at the parking lot as well. The two brothers don’t speak for a few seconds. Ngare begins to fidget, crossing and uncrossing his legs.

“What time is it?” Ngare asks.


Ngare shuffles his hands in his pockets. “Why do you insist on doing things so late at night?”

“I like being outside at night.”

“Eeeeeehhhh try again. This only started in the last month.”

Masha is quiet. He eats a spoon of ice cream. “Insomnia might have something to do with it.”

“Like you can’t sleep?”

Masha rolls his eyes. “I’m pretty sure that’s what insomnia means.”

“No, I mean there’s different types right? Like are you having trouble falling asleep or is your sleep interrupted?”

“The former.”

“So these ‘errands’ are your idea of dealing with it?” Ngare says, making air quotes again.

Masha takes a large bite into his ice cream. “It deals with my hunger.”

“You need to get dewormed.”

“I dewormed last week. I think the worms ate the medicine.”

Ngare shakes his head. “There’s something wrong with you.” 

“Look who’s talking.”

Ngare pulls at the strings of his hoodie. “For all I know you just had some small-small nightmares then decided it was insomnia. Just say you needed something to justify your bad habits.”

“You’re just upset because I made you get out of the house and be productive for once,” Masha says, licking his spoon. “And you think I’m exaggerating my insomnia because it makes you feel insecure that I’m still getting things done.”

“Insecure?! Are you delusional?”

“Eh? Delusional?”

“Because you’re talking very big nonsense.”

“You just don’t want to hear the truth.”

“Whatever. What time is it?”


Masha, nearly done eating his ice cream, scoops the the last of the ice cream from the cup and shovels it into his mouth. He turns to Ngare and chews and swallows exaggeratedly in Ngare’s face. Ngare’s expression hardens but he stays still. Masha continues to taunt him, now moaning and groaning, overselling his pleasure. Ngare has enough and swats the ice cream cup out of Masha’s hand. Masha looks at the cup on the ground. He looks back at Ngare, who looks back at him as if to say, “You had it coming.”

Masha pulls a packet of Skittles out of his pocket. He tears it open with his teeth and pours Skittles into his mouth. He closes his eyes and chews them with exaggerated relish, moaning and groaning again. Ngare, disgusted, turns away. He gets up off of the car and makes to open the driver’s door.

“I’m going home,” Ngare says. “I’m tired. If you want to stay here you stay.”

Ngare opens the door and gets into the car. Masha watches him and gets up as well. His gaze is drawn to the rear of the car.

“Yo, the rear tyre is flat,” Masha says.


“The rear tyre is flat.”


Masha looks at Ngare incredulously. “Don’t we need to change it?” Masha says. Ngare leans back in his seat and closes his eyes.

“You change it. It’s not my fault we’re out at this time or that the tyre is flat. I’m not helping you after you insulted me. And I’m not going to waste my energy when you’ll be waking up soon.”

Masha looks at him in disbelief. Resigning himself to changing the tyre on his own, he walks to the boot of the car and opens it. He rummages around for the tools to change the tyre and with a final spiteful look at his brother slams the boot shut.

Masha jerks awake. He’s in bed in the darkness of his room. He turns and reaches for his phone that’s on a stool by his bed. The time on it says 3:18. Masha groans. He’s been asleep for less than three hours. He puts the phone back on the stool and turns to lie on his back. Maybe he’ll fall back asleep. He usually isn’t able to, but he at least has to try. He has things to do, come morning. He’d hoped his insomnia was getting better, but dreaming about it can’t be a good sign.