“Your sweetheart is coming.” Edward Chianumba announced to his friend, Eric Conrad.
Eric looked up from his markings on the sand and smiled. Indeed, his sweetheart was coming. His sunshine, his best friend.
He didn’t quite know when or how but he knew he had fallen irresistibly in love with her. He threw the stick away, sat back on the wooden bench and watched his approaching childhood sweetheart. The sun beating down hard on the earth didn’t even make him squint his eyes. It was as if he was in a trance. Memories flooded his brain.
He continued watching her intently as she approached them along with her friend, Ezinne Uzoma. She looked good as usual in their unique uniform of Burberry pencil skirt, white shirt and black tie. It was completed with white socks and black sandals. He felt his heart beat faster than normal as it usually did whenever she was around him.
“As I was saying, Kemi is my latest target. Men! If I don’t get that girl, I might die….Eric…Eric…here we go again!” Edward complained when he realized his friend was no longer listening to him but looking steadily at his childhood sweetheart with a stupid smile on his face.
He wondered at the kind of love between these two and also wondered if he would ever find such love. As he stared at his friend, lost in thought, he was surprised to see Eric suddenly frowning. He followed the direction of his gaze and smiled mischievously. Uche, their classmate had stopped Oleng for a chat.
Eric tried to control himself because he felt like going over there to warn Uche to stay away from his girl. He shook his head. Oleng wasn’t his girl. He had not made his feelings known to her nor asked her to be his girlfriend. Everyone knew they were the best of friends and have been friends since he was six and she, five and now they were sixteen and fifteen years old respectively. They had come a long way together.
He couldn’t pinpoint exactly when he had started developing feelings of love towards her. At his study time, when he was supposed to be reading, thoughts of her always infiltrated his mind. He would stare at her photograph over and over again. He couldn’t t tell her of his feelings lest he ruin their friendship. He didn’t know if she felt the same way towards him. Looking at the way she was smiling at Uche made him think his love wasn’t reciprocated. It made him sad.
Ezinne who had been glaring at Uche with her upper lip curled in disdain left them and walked towards where he and Edward were seated on the bench. Ezinne, Oleng’s closest female friend, a very slim, black beauty with a sharp wit usually didn’t mince words when it came to saying her mind even though she was a very loyal person.
“Hi Eric, hi Eddy.” she hailed when she got to them.
“Hi, Zinny.” Eddy hailed also.
“Hi to you too, Zinny.” Eric greeted as she sat down beside him on the bench to glare at Oleng and Uche still chatting.
“Eric, you should tell Oleng to stop pretending and start showing her true feelings.” Ezinne said angrily.
Eric’s face showed surprise. “What do you mean?”
“She isn’t enjoying that conversation. She’s just too polite to tell him she’s tired of it. She’s like that with every guy who approaches her. Sometimes, she is so nice, I feel like killing her.” Ezinne put her hands together as if she was wringing the neck of a chicken.
“Come on, Ezinne. Oleng is a very beautiful girl. She should enjoy the advances made towards her.” Eric countered.
“Not when she’s got you. You’re the guy in her life so others should just get the message.” Zinny put her right leg over her left leg and hissed in anger.
“Zinny, are you saying this out of jealousy, since they all approach her and none spare you even a glance?” Edward quipped with a smile.
Ezinne glared at him. “Eddy, if you weren’t my senior in class, I would have bitten you right now for that nonsense you just sprouted.”
Edward smiled in a charming manner. “You can bite me anytime, Ezi mummy,” he chuckled. “But you know where.”
“God! You’re incorrigible!” she exclaimed in disgust. The boys laughed.
Edward was a notable flirt. His tall, dark and handsome features made him a ladies man coupled with his charming personality. Just sixteen, he used his good looks and honey-coated tongue to win girls over and sleep with them. He saw himself as God’s gift to girls.
Just then, Oleng came to meet them. She stood before Eric.
“Hi Ricky. Hi Eddy.” she hailed, smiling shyly as she did lately whenever she was close to Eric.
Eric smiled. She was the only one who called him ‘Ricky’ and he loved it.
“Hi Oleng.” Eddy hailed also, gazing intently at her beautiful face.
“Hi sunshine.” Eric smiled. “I can see your admirers are increasing by the day. Tell them they have to pay homage to me first before they attempt speaking to you.”
Oleng laughed. Eric and Edward were captivated by her musical laugh and beautiful face for the umpteenth time.
“Don’t tell me it’s the green eye monster talking in you. Uche is just a friend.” She sat down beside Zinny.
“And pigs fly,” retorted Ezinne.
Oleng turned to fix her gaze on her irate friend. “Zinny, you know it’s not like that. He just wants us to be friends. Nothing special.”
“Akwuko.” Ezinne chipped in Igbo language.
Oleng hit her playfully. “You know vernacular isn’t allowed in school.”
Eric shrugged. “Whatever you say. Just know I’ll kill anyone who tries to toy with your heart.” he solemnly declared. She turned to look at him intently. Their eyes met and held.
Oleng was the first to look away shyly. She couldn’t describe her feelings for Eric these days. She was always breathless around him. She couldn’t look into his eyes again like she used to. She just couldn’t understand what was happening to her concerning him. He was no longer just her best friend. She fantasized sometimes about being his wife. Her feelings for him now ran that deep.
She prayed he would never find out because she would die of embarrassment since it looked as if her feelings weren’t reciprocated because girls were always around him especially Senior Oge. She desperately wanted her feelings to be reciprocated. She was however ready to take her secret to the grave. She took a deep breath and pushed her feelings aside.
Eric shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“I think he’s doing runs.” Edward supplied smiling.
“That’s all you know Eddy.” Ezinne complained.
Edward shrugged nonchalantly. “But it’s the truth. Where’s he now? He knows we normally come here to wait for you girls at break time before we go to the canteen but he left the class before us without informing us of his whereabouts. By the way, where’s Marvy? Is she missing too?” He grinned. “Maybe they went to do runs together. We better go and search the toilets and hidden spots in this school…I really can’t imagine Dave and Marvy getting down though.” He burst into laughter.
Ezinne and Oleng got up to hit him playfully while Eric laughed.
“Marvy went to deliver a message to her aunt in the staff room. She’ll meet us in the canteen.” Oleng informed them.
“Alright! Alright! Let’s go to the canteen then.” Eddy said after fending off their hands and stood up.
Eric and got up also. They walked quietly to the large red and white canteen.
The canteen was jam packed and noisy as usual with students. While the girls went to the table reserved for the Senior Prefect, close to the entrance of the place, the boys ordered for snacks and drinks at the counter. The students on the queue gave way for Eric because he was the Senior Prefect. Eric thanked them in turn. They took the goodies to the table and sat down to eat. It was while they were eating that Marvelous Ogaranya came to meet them with her own snacks. She was Oleng’s second closest friend. Chubby in a cute way and dark in complexion, she was an introvert though not with her friends.
She sat down beside Zinny at the round wooden table. “Hi everybody.” .
They greeted her in return except for the naughty Edward who asked, “Where’s Dave?”
Marvelous shrugged. She removed the wrap from her meat pie. “I don’t know. Was he looking for me?”
“Don’t mind this silly boy. Just ignore him.” Ezinne told her. She bent her head to look under the table in order to locate the position of Eddy’s legs before stamping one of them hard with hers. He yelped and she laughed.
They continued eating and talking about this and that. It was a very lively affair. Looking from the outside, one would notice how close they all were especially Eric and Oleng who couldn’t keep their eyes off each other. Towards the end of their meal, Ezinne suddenly said, “O no! Here comes the bitch.”
Oge Dialu walked majestically to where they were seated. Her big busts jiggled as she moved toward them with arms akimbo. Her fair complexion shone and she took delight in the fact that all eyes fell on her artistically beautiful face even though she was vertically challenged.
“Hi Eric.” She batted her eyes at him seductively, ignoring everyone else at the table. “May I have a word with you?”
Eric groaned inwardly. He was sick and tired of her overtures but could do nothing about it. “Sure.” he said and got up, “Please excuse me.” he told the others but glanced at Oleng who lifted a shoulder nonchalantly.
Oge held his hand and they both went outside the canteen to where she made sure they could see them. She stood close to Eric, touching his shirt buttons. She brushed aside imaginary flecks from his curly hair. She didn’t really have anything to say to him but she wanted to stamp her ownership in front of the whole school. If she could pee all over him, she would have done it. Who wouldn’t love to have Eric for a boyfriend? It was a thing of conquest for any girl to call him her boyfriend. She would do everything within her power to get that title. She moved closer to him and tried to rub her big frontal twins on his chest but he moved back a step. Disappointed, she sighed. She took consolation in the fact that her lacy black bra could be seen by all and sundry through her white shirt. She tried to get his attention to her chest by twirling a finger on her tie but his gaze was fixed above her head. She sighed again.
Oleng was mad but she controlled herself. Oge was her senior in class even if it was just a year and the school took seniority seriously. Oleng really couldn’t do anything because she had already been a victim of Oge’s wickedness. Oge punished her unnecessarily just because of Eric. She had told her face to face that she would deal with her because Eric refused to show her attention. She didn’t tell Eric because she knew it would only make matters worse.
“That Oge is a harlot. Just look at the way she’s talking to Eric.” Ezinne asserted angrily.
Oleng was appalled. “Zinny, please be careful. You know we’re in a public place.”
“Whoever wants to report me to her should go ahead, I don’t care!” Ezinne retorted sharply. “After all, it’s not today she started punishing us for nothing. At least now her punishment would be justified.”
“Does she punish you girls?” Edward questioned in surprise.
“Yes, especially Oleng.” Ezinne replied tautly.
Surprise was all over Eddy’s face. “Why? You girls are just one year her junior. I don’t punish SS2 students, only SS1 and below.”
“It’s because of Eric. She’s jealous of Eric and Oleng.” Marvelous spelt out bluntly.
Edward smiled. “I see. Does Eric know about it?”
“No. Oleng refused to tell him. She’s scared that Oge’s punishments becoming worse.” Marvelous responded drily.
“Why Oleng?” Edward queried the silent Oleng.
“You know Ricky na. He’d blow the whole thing over proportion and that will only make Oge more furious. I don’t want any trouble. She’ll soon graduate with him. I’m prepared to continue suffering in silence till then.” Oleng remarked clamly.
Edward smiled and rubbed his hand on his chin. “Don’t worry. I’ll handle her.”
“No Eddy. I don’t want any trouble.” Oleng pleaded.
“It’s no trouble at all. There are many ways to kill a rat. It’s just to tell her that if she doesn’t back off, I’ll tell everyone what happened between us at the back of the hall on Valentine’s Day.” He smiled mischievously, leaving the others dumb founded.
Just then the bell to announce break over was rung. Oge gave Eric a peck and left, shaking her buttocks. He walked up to the others as they got up from their seats. He noticed that Oleng refused to meet his eyes. He stood before her but she still wouldn’t look at him. She walked away amidst the students trooping out of the canteen.
“I’ll meet you in class, Eddy.” he told Eddy who smiled and left.
Eric hurried up to meet Oleng, Marvy and Ezinne. He held Oleng’s hand and she stopped walking. She still wouldn’t look at him.
“Marvy and Zinny, please excuse us.” He requested of her friends who shrugged and walked away.
“What’s wrong, sunshine?” he asked softly after studying her steadily.
She stared at her sandals. “Nothing. Why do you ask?”
“Why were you ignoring me?” he prompted.
“I wasn’t ignoring you. It’s break over.” she replied, still with her eyes on her sandals.
“Sunshine, look at me.” Eric coaxed gently.
She raised her head slowly to look at him.
“Is that the green eye monster I see there?” He threw her own words back at her.
Oleng couldn’t help smiling. Eric noticed again her charming smile and savored it.
She hit his chest playfully. “And you accuse me of having many admirers?”
“Oge is just a friend.” he asserted cooly.
“Uche is just a friend.” she replied, smiling.
He laughed. She laughed too. He held her hand and they walked towards their classrooms, ignoring the students who were looking at them and smiling. There were a few jealous ones frowning though.
“So long as they don’t come in between us.” he stressed with emphasis.
“Never.” she firmly declared.
“Ditto.” he concurred. “See you later.” Eric told her when they got to her classroom.
“Bye” she responded and went into the classroom just as two of her classmates who entered with her giggled and said, “Love nwa tin tin!”
The embarrassed Oleng went quietly to her seat.
At closing, Oleng went to where they normally sat to wait for the boys at break time; the wooden benches at the recreational area.
After a short while, she saw Eric advancing towards her. She noticed both junior students and senior students alike hailed him as they passed. Her best friend was indeed drop dead gorgeous.
A head taller than most of his mates, his skin was so light he was called a half-caste by almost everyone he came in contact with. Most people thought he was of mixed birth but only a few knew that his dad was the half-caste. Eric’s paternal grandmother was an American while his paternal grandfather was a Nigerian; that made his dad half American. Eric took after him in coloring while Damian, his elder brother took after their chocolate skinned mum. Eric had white features and spoke with a slight accent. His mother had given birth to him when they were based in America. They’d relocated to Nigeria when he was five. They still went there on hols.
Oleng thought all these, coupled with his brilliance, made him a favorite amongst girls and boys alike, teachers and the school authorities. She was indeed fortunate to have him as her best friend. Despite these wonderful qualities, Eric was very humble. His beauty, brilliance and wealth never got into his head. Everyone was equal to him. It was little wonder that Senior Oge and the girls in his class wanted him for keeps. It was very unfortunate for them that he refused to date anyone. They all blamed her and were jealous of her. She shrugged. It wasn’t as if Eric had asked her out or anything so she wondered what they wanted to kill her for. Losers! She hissed.
Eric sighted Oleng at their usual waiting place and his face lit up like a light bulb. She looked lost in thought. For the umpteenth time, he thanked God for bringing her into his life. Oleng, his rare gem.
It wasn’t just her beauty that captivated him even though she was a very beautiful girl. She acted as if she wasn’t aware of it though. Her chocolate skin shone at all times, so much so that she’d been asked to advertise a body cream but she’d declined.
Petite, that was the best way to describe her. Her stature always made him feel like lifting her up in his arms and swinging her around. The part of her that captivated him the most was her pointed nose which he loved touching. He couldn’t quite contain what he felt for her. Someday, he knew he would have to voice it out but he didn’t know how she would take it with her being a very shy and reticent person.
He finally got to her. “Hi sunshine. Have you been waiting here for long?”
She shrugged and got up. “Not really.”
They both walked hand in hand out of the school with their school bags on their backs.
Ever since he got to SS1, he had pleaded with his parents to allow him to start walking to school since it was just three streets away. He felt like a child always having to wait for their driver to take him to school and take him back home again. Besides, the large estate was a safe place in Port Harcourt; Woji and he was grown up now. His parents had obliged with the help of Damian, his elder brother. In the past he’d always instructed their driver to stop by Oleng’s house to pick her up since her house was on the way to school but now they walked to school together and went home together.
They talked about this and that until they got to her house, oblivious of their school mates walking around them.
“Will you come in?” she asked when they got to her red iron gate.
“Nope. Not today. My mum is at home and I don’t want to explain my whereabouts to her.” he answered, grinning.
“Mummy’s boy.” she teased.
He touched her nose playfully and smiled again.
“Well, see you tomorrow then. Don’t come late like you did today or I’ll walk to school alone.” she threatened jokingly, stabbing a finger in the air at him.
“You wouldn’t.” he dared.
“Try me.” she countered, laughing.
He laughed and shook his head. “See you tomorrow, sunshine.”
“Bye Ricky.” She opened the small part of the gate and went inside.
Just as Eric was getting to the end of the street, Edward and Dave caught up with him. They were all friends due to the fact that they all lived on the same street and got along. Dave was Eric’s close friend too. He wasn’t as good looking as Eddy or Eric but handsome nevertheless. He was also an introvert like Marvelous.
As usual, Edward was talking about girls.
“Eric, please stay clear of Oge. I’ve already seen the color of her panties.” he declared with pride.
Eric and Dave shook their heads and stared at their friend as they walked down the busy street with students.
“Whose panties haven’t you seen in that class?” Dave questioned in bewilderment.
“None. I’ve gotten down with all of them. All you have to do is use the right words on them and before you say ‘bed’, they are down!” he laughed.
The others laughed and shook their heads. Eddy would never change. They were used to him and his escapades with girls.
Edward gave Eric a quick glance before saying, “Frankly, there’s one girl I really would love to see her panties but I know it would be impossible because she belongs to another.”
“That has never stopped you before. Who is she?” asked Eric.
Eddy shook his head and smiled. “Forget it.”
“Tell us so we’d bet on it.” Dave challenged.
Edward glanced at Eric again before saying, “Oleng.”
Before anyone could say, ‘What?’ Eric had punched Edward. Students who were walking around them quickly stopped to watch the show while those coming behind rushed forward.
“Jesus!” Edward exclaimed and held his bleeding nose. “Na play I been dey o! I just wanted to see your reaction. You didn’t have to punch me na.” Eddy was shocked. Eric wasn’t an advocate of violence.
Eric’s eyes flashed fire as he dropped his bag from his back and palmed his friend on his chest. Edward staggered backwards. “Don’t you ever joke with that sort of thing again. Oleng isn’t one of your girls or play things.” Eric’s black eyes were filled with fury as Dave and some students held him from punching Edward further.
Edward raised both hands in surrender. “Okay, lover boy. But get down with her before someone else does.” Edward riposted as he brought out his handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his nose.
“You don’t know my Oleng at all. My sunshine is not like that and even if I want to get down with her, I know how to play my cards right.” Eric fired back with strong masculine conviction.
“Okay o! It’s my moons abi stars who are like that? Eric, you pack quite a punch! I’m lucky my nose isn’t broken. Edward moved his nose to the left, then to the right with two fingers and winced.
“Serves you right!” Dave scolded him, releasing Eric from his grip. He motioned for the other students to unarm his friend.
Eric looked shame faced at his outburst. “I’m sorry. Don’t joke about my sunshine like that again.” He looked around him at the students who were still watching the show. He lowered his head. He’d acted out of character. Damn!
“Okay. I just hope she’s worth it.”
“She is!” His eyes flashed anger again. Edward was hell bent on tempting him. He however swallowed his anger even though he felt like punching the lights out of his friend.
“Let’s go home” The ever quiet Dave dermanded of them when he noticed their school mates were watching them intently and making unfounded remarks. He knew the news would be all over school the following day; the true version and the one garnished with lies. Their cool headed senior prefect had punched one of his closest friends because of Oleng.
“Alright.” Edward conceded witheringly, smiling mischievously as he continued wiping his bloody nose.
Eric wasn’t as cool headed as everyone thought. It was good to know that his friend would fight for his girl. Sincerely, there were times he wondered how Oleng would be in bed but dared not tell Eric.
Oleng was a very beautiful girl; quiet but captivating even in her serene nature. What he loved most about her was her smile. She had a shy, cool and charming smile. He had to warn his classmates against approaching Oleng because he now knew Eric’s feelings for her ran deep and he would be prepared to fight anyone who dared to toy with his “Sunshine”.
With that thought, he said goodbye to his friends and knocked on his gate.