I have a short announcement to make before you read today’s episode. I’ll be bringing yet another series from another amazing writer of which I’m a fan *covers eyes*. Her name is TM David-West and she’ll be sharing Take Me As I Am with us here. I have read it and I recommend. So, every Wednesday and Friday, expect Take Me As I Am.
Eric and Oleng knew they had little time together so they spent it wisely. They were now more inseparable than ever. After school, Eric would spend some time with her before going home. Whenever he was tired of reading, he would go over to her house. They spent their weekends together. This was their normal routine except when her mother or Tessy was at home.
Time flew and Eric West African Examination Council Exams began. Then it was time for NECO. Eric decided to write the NECO exams just to spend more time with Oleng because it was only WAEC that was needed for his schooling abroad. He had already written his GED and passed. It was a hard time for Oleng because she rarely saw Eric due to his exams and she was preparing for her own third term exams.
The exams finally came to an end. On the last day of the exams, Oleng, Zinny and Marvy waited a short distance from the SS3 classroom. Physics was their last paper so Oleng was assured that Eric would come out smiling. He was a genius in physics. The art and social science students had finished two days. It was a joyous day for them and their friends from SS2 downwards had waited for them to come out of the hall to hug and congratulate them. Hence, the three friends were waiting to do the same to Eric, Eddy and Dave.
“The way I’m feel right now, I could kiss them when they come out. Oleng, hope you wouldn’t mind my kissing Eric?” Zinny questioned smiling broadly.
“Just try it.” Oleng warned and they all laughed.
“It’s Dave I know I can kiss, certainly not Eddy. That womanizer will read meaning into it and before you know it, he’ll want to get down with me.” Oleng said and they all laughed again.
There was a small silence before Marvy remarked with great emotion. “I’m really going to miss them. I can’t imagine lunch break without them anymore. I know for a while now we haven’t spent our lunch break with them because of their exams but it was just like a temporary thing to me then but now I realize it’s forever.”
“Yes Marvy. I’m really going to miss them. Eric’s charming personality, Eddy’s silly and flirtatious attitude, Dave’s quiet and cool nature. I’m not sorry to have known them. All thanks to Oleng here. If not for her friendship with Eric, we would never have been friends with such nice guys.” Zinny smiled.
“Yeah, thanks Oleng.” Marvy smiled also and hugged Oleng who just kept them quiet.
Zinny and Marvy kept recounting all their experiences with the three seniors. They discussed how the three friends were like them in terms of tribe. Eric was from Rivers state, Eddy was from Anambra state and Dave was from Bayelsa state. Oleng was from Cross River, Ezinne was from Abia state while Marvy was from Rivers state.
They didn’t know the effect their conversation was having on Oleng. She had put a mental block against thinking of living without Eric but as her friends talked continuously about him and his two friends, reality dawned on her. She finally saw her future without Eric.
“Oleng!” Marvy exclaimed as she saw tears rolling down her friend’s eyes.
“What’s the matter?”
Oleng cleaned her unheeding tears and picked up her bag. “Please tell Eric I’m sorry. I can’t stay.”
“Oleng, what’s wrong?” Zinny demanded of her friend who was already walking away.
Oleng stopped and turned around. “A week from today, Eric will be leaving for California where he’s going to school. He’ll be gone for about four years.” she announced still in tears.
“Please tell him I’m sorry that I can’t share his joy on a special day like this. I don’t want to fool myself myself by wetting his shirt with my tears of sorrow instead of joy.”
With that sorrowful declaration she quickly walked away leaving her friends in a sad mood.
“No wonder she has been so sad.” Marvy commented at her friend’s receding figure.
“Yes, poor girl. Marvy, we must make sure that she doesn’t feel Eric’s absence. Let’s get closer to her now more than ever.”
“Sure. That’s if she’ll let us.”
“No matter what, we must try.”
They waited there alone with others quietly. They however became joyous again when students started filing out of the hall. Their fellow students screamed and hugged them.
The three people they were waiting for came out together. Zinny rushed to hug Eddy, Marvy ran to hug Dave too. Eric looked around for Oleng but she was nowhere to be found. He was both hurt and disappointed. Zinny rushed to hug him and Marvy followed suit. Female students who had been looking for an opportunity to get close to the gorgeous former senior prefect saw their chance. They hugged and kissed him continuously. Zinny had to forcefully drag them away. She became his self-appointed personal body guard. Eric put up a happy front but inwardly, he wasn’t happy. Where was his best friend on a day like this? He didn’t accept the excuse she had given to her friends. She had given no thought of his feelings whatsoever. Didn’t she think of how he would feel seeing she wasn’t there to share his joy? He knew how she felt but he felt the same way also.
He heard people whispering that they had quarreled, that was the reason why she wasn’t here. For the first time in their relationship, he was truly angry with her. She had behaved in a self-centered manner.
When he got home, his mum welcomed him like a king. His dad who was usually not at home at that time of the day welcomed him like a king also. They had arranged a small party for him. He tried his best to be cheerful. His brother and relatives called to congratulate him. He however kept rejecting Oleng’s calls. He didn’t feel like talking to her just yet. When the small party was over, he went to his room with the excuse that he was tired.
After a while, he decided to pick Oleng’s call. He answered the call albeit coldly.
“Thank God you finally answered.” Oleng was full of relief but he kept her quiet.
“Please can you come over? I need to talk to you.” she eagerly requested.
“About what?” he coldly asked. He was obviously still angry.
“Please. I really need to talk to you.” He could hear the tears in her voice but he just wasn’t in the mood.
“Sorry, Oleng. I can’t come over. I’m tired. I need to rest.” With that he ended the call. He told himself that he would switch off his phone if she tried calling again. He was surprised when she didn’t call back. She was probably crying her eyes out. He sighed. He’d told her a number of times that she cried too much. Seeing a cute puppy could move her to tears. He signed and picked up his phone to call her back. He paused, shook his head and dropped the phone on the bed. He was the wronged party here. She should be the one doing the calling and begging. He laid on his bed but couldn’t sleep.
About thirty minutes later, one of his cousins staying with them came into the room. He sat up on the bed. Boma was funny and mischievous and Eric liked her like that; and of course for the fact that she called him ‘handsome’.
“Handsome, your girlfriend’s here.” Boma informed him as she sat down on the bed.
“God!” he winced. “Don’t tell me mum invited Bridget to dinner without my consent again?” he lamented and laid back on the bed.
Boma laughed. “No, not that one, I mean your real girlfriend.” she stressed in an undertone.
“Here you go again, Boma. You know I don’t have a girlfriend.”
She laughed again. ”That one” She stabbed a finger in the air at Oleng’s huge portrait on the wall.
Eric turned and looked at it in ringing disbelief. “No way! That’s not true. Oleng cannot be bold enough to come here on her own. She doesn’t like coming here. She’s been here only once and that’s because it was mum and dad’s anniversary and I threatened to end our friendship if she didn’t come. I even had to go and pick her myself.”
“Are you calling me a liar, handsome? Or maybe I’m blind?”
Eric paused and surveyed her steadily. “Boma please, I hope this isn’t one of your mischievous games.”
Boma got up then. “Well, I’ll go and tell her you don’t want to see her.” she said as a matter of fact and walked towards the door.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“Like a heart attack.” she laughed heartily.
“I can’t believe Oleng actually came here. She must really be sorry.” he murmured under his breath. He didn’t want to start explaining things to his nosy cousin. He got up from the bed. “Where’s she?”
Boma still standing by the door said, “The lounge, but be warned, your parents saw her. Your mum was talking to her before I left to get you.”
“O no!” he exclaimed, putting on his light brown chinos trousers. “She’s terrified of mum.”
Boma giggled. “So was I until I got to know her. I discovered that that look of hers, that ‘don’t come near me, you leper’ kind of look was just for show. She’s the sweetest person I know.”
Eric smiled. His mum was really like that to a lot of people. He had told Oleng a lot of times that his mum was different from the face she puts on but Oleng had never believed.
“Now that you know your parents are aware of her visit, don’t do what you guys normally do in her house.” Boma advised in a teasing manner.
“We don’t do anything in her house. What are you insinuating?” he asked buttoning his shirt.
“A handsome guy like you, a beautiful girl like her, tell me something else.”
“For crying out loud Boma, I’m just sixteen and she is just fifteen!” he protested.
“And Jesus died at the age of thirty three.” she put in as a matter of fact.
Eric just stared at her. “What has that got to do with the issue at hand?”
“Yeah well…” She shrugged. “Okay, maybe it doesn’t relate with what was just said. What I’m trying to say is that no one is too young to taste the forbidden fruit. Jolene, my elder sister lost her virginity at the age of twelve…ooops! Pretend you didn’t hear that.” she put a hand to her mouth.
Eric burst into laughter and walked to the door smiling brightly.
“Come on, handsome. Promise me you won’t tell anyone. Let this be our little secret.”
“Let’s see,” Eric pretended to think with a finger underneath his chin. “Little secret number thirty four? How much?” He held out his hand, grinning.
“Cash or kind?” she questioned, rolling her eyes at him.
“Both.” Eric smiled mischievously.
“Alright, spoil sport. I’ll think of something.”
“You better do. ‘Cause we don’t want Jolene to know we know her little secret, right?” he remarked sweetly, still smiling mischievously and opened the door.
He walked slowly to the lounge. He knew his parents would be in the living room. He still didn’t believe Oleng had come to his house. He was indeed surprised to see her there. She quickly got up when she saw him. Eric had to appreciate Oleng’s mum once again. She knew how to buy good things for her daughter.
Oleng was looking drop dead gorgeous as usual in a beautiful top and hip hugging jean, which brought out her hour glass figure. She wore black ballerinas on her feet and he knew it was some kind of jewelry other than gold and diamond that adorned her neck, ears and wrist. God! Oleng was beautiful.
She walked shyly towards him while he just stood in the middle of the room and put his hands in his pockets with an air of indifference. She stopped before him and stared at the thick rug. She thrust out a beautiful hand-made card to him.
“I had this made especially for you. I should have given it to you earlier but…i’m sorry I wasn’t there when you were through with your exams….i just couldn’t handle everything then…I…” She was still staring at the rug. She smiled a little. “Zinny told me more than half of the girls in the school hugged you. I don’t blame them though. If I had been there, it wouldn’t have happened…I…won’t you at least take the card from me?” she queried when she looked up at him and he didn’t take it or say anything.
He waited for a full minute before he slowly removed his hand from his pocket and took the card.
“Thanks.” he quietly said.
“I’m sorry.” she apologized and stared at the rug again. When he still didn’t reply, she pleaded in almost a whisper, “Please say something.”
“What do you want me to say, Oleng?” he began impatiently. “You hurt me a lot today. For the first time since our friendship began, I was really angry with you. A very special day in my life and my best friend was nowhere to be found. I was surrounded by strangers and few friends but the most important person in my life was not there when I needed her just because she was too sentimental to hang around.” he said each word bitingly.
Tears slowly dropped from her eyes. She didn’t know what to say. At the time of her departure, escape had been the uppermost thing in her mind. She hadn’t thought about his feelings. It was when she had gone home and thought of everything before she realized the folly of her actions. It had been too late to go back and Eric had kept rejecting her calls which made her more miserable. She had known she had to see him. She knew she would be in trouble if she got home to meet her mum. She would receive a heavy scolding but she didn’t care. She just wanted to make things right with her best friend.
“I’m very sorry, Ricky.” she sniffed. “I didn’t think before I left. I just wanted to escape. All I saw was my future without you. It was when I got home that I realized how you would feel and when I tried calling you, you kept rejecting my calls. I really felt like dying because I knew I hurt you. All I can say is please forgive me. I’m sorry. Please.” she conceded ruefully.
Eric couldn’t bear her to see her cry. He stepped closer to her and hugged her, forgetting his cousin’s warning.
“It’s okay. I forgive you. I wanted you to know how much you hurt me today. It’s okay, sunshine. I’ve already forgiven you. Don’t abandon me like that again, okay?” he informed her, looking down at her with smiling eyes.
She wanted to remind him that he wouldn’t be around for her to do it to him again but thought against it. Better to let sleeping dogs lie.
“I promise.” she declared smiling, still in his arms.
“Handsome!” Boma exclaimed from the door way. “What did I tell you?” She looked scandalized.
Oleng quickly struggled to leave his arms as she wiped her tears way. Eric let her go but held her hand.
“Come on, Boma. It was just a harmless hug.” he assured his cousin, smiling mischievously.
“Yeah right! And Jesus died at…”
“The age of thirty three. Yeah, I know.”
“Naughty boy!” she admonished, grinning brightly.
Oleng couldn’t help smiling. She wished Boma were in Tessy’s place. She wouldn’t have been lonely. Boma was fun to be with.
“What are you doing here anyway?” Eric inquired.
“Just checking on you. You’re lucky your parents went out to get suya.”
“And they made you my body guard or should I say Oleng’s chaperone before they left?” he enquired smiling.
“Self-appointed.” Boma put a hand to her chest and saluted as if she was a soldier reporting for duty.
They all laughed. Oleng informed them that she had to get going. Boma told her goodbye and wrestled the beautiful card out of Eric’s hand before they left. She read the inscriptions on the congratulatory card and shook her head.
Fifteen and sixteen indeed! They were clearly infatuated with each other. She wouldn’t call it love because she felt they were too young to know the real thing. She at twenty didn’t even know the real thing. She would really love for them to end up together in future though. They looked perfect for each other. Eric, tall, fair and handsome while Oleng, petite, chocolate skinned and beautiful. She read the inscriptions on the card again and shook her head again.
Oleng and Eric spent every day together after his exams. Time was running out for them and each day felt like their last. Eric had just days left to spend in Nigeria. He didn’t feel like going to the graduation party organized by his classmates that Saturday but felt he needed to because that would be the last time he would see his classmates in a long time if not the last time since he wouldn’t be around to attend the one organized by the school. They had all contributed individually for the party.
He asked Oleng to be his date. She obliged, if her mum wasn’t around. Luckily for them her mum traveled to Dubai and as usual, Tessy told her that she had to travel to see her parents. Oleng couldn’t care less. She was happy to go with Eric. She asked Zinny and Marvy what they would put on because some months ago, her mother got her a beautiful Dior gown. The three of them went shopping.
When she opened the door in answer to Eric’s knocks that Saturday afternoon, she took his breath away. She was looking heavenly beautiful on a simple but elegant mono strap black dress that showed a lot of skin and accentuated her small breasts and ended at her ankles. High heeled sandals by Jimmy Choo made her look tall and gold necklace, earrings and bracelet adorned her neck, ears and wrists respectively. He noticed she wore make up for the first time since he had known her which made her even more beautiful. She smiled shyly at him.
“Do I know you?” he questioned, smiling in a dazed manner.
She laughed. “I’m supposed to be the one asking you that. You look good.” she complimented, sizing him up in his tuxedo. He looked like a young model.
“You look better. Gosh! Sunshine, you are gorgeous.”
She smiled shyly again. ”You’re not looking bad yourself.”
He laughed joyously. “Are you ready?”
“Yes. Let me get my clutch.”