I didn’t hear any footstep or door creak which indicated that my aunt was still in the room, probably staring at me. My mind was blotted, I couldn’t think of anything. My heart was still racing, so fast. I had already dropped the rumpled poster, got myself covered in a way I was a bit comfortable.
“After all, you’re not innocent. Definitely, you are the one who copied the file. But to where?” She came closer to me, held me by my shoulders and turned me in a way so I could face her.
Silence lingered in the air, with a pinch of fear for me. “Is she going to tell my mother? My Dad will kill me.” I thought loudly.
She gazed at me for seconds, her eyes piercing through mine. She held my shoulders still, this made me more uncomfortable. Letting go of my shoulders, she started unbuttoning her blouse.
The heaviness on my heart increased a great deal, almost seeming a milestone was tied to it, pulling it into the ocean of guilt. My chest stiffened, my throat went dry. It was all as if I was at the face of death. I sat down at the edge of the bed, my head in my palms. Tears dropped down my cheek. I used the hem of my shirt to wipe them off. My phone rang. It was my mother.
“Hello Michael, how are you doing?”
“I’m fine,” I sniffed.
“Michael, your dad and I am sorry for forgetting about your birthday. We are going to make it up to you when we return. We may be returning quite earlier than planned.”
“Oh, that’s great to hear.” I stuttered.
I threw the phone on the bed immediately the call was over and lay myself down on the bed. Restlessly, I was changing sides on the bed.
Something bothered me. She wept profusely like she never knew what she was doing when she was all over me. I lost myself to her. There was something to her weeping that bothered me, but I was more bothered about myself. I was bothered about how confusing my life was turning into. A friend turning me to a monster I didn’t know yet, a trusted aunt turning into an abusive one.
I never saw a night break to that day till aunt Gloria left our house. Barely did a day go without a dose of sexual intercourse with her. I prayed tearfully during those nights for my parents to come back earlier than planned, as my mother said. The guilt would not let me be.
The hours I spent in my own parents’ house was smeared with a deep unexplainable form of sadness. The nights would pass with my uncertain prayers filling it up. My tears would drench my nightwear, my breath stained the wall of my room.
It came to a point, I was getting accustomed. I got weakened as she got successful at her daily attempts till it became an accepted pleasure for me. A painful one. Gloria. My mother’s sister. She turned me into a beast I never envisioned.
It was a great relief for me when the day my parents would return from their travel came. A part of me longed for my parents arrival deeply as I can’t bear seeing her again. I felt like strangling her at some point, only if I really could.
It was on a Thursday my parents would come back. I had to be in school, hoped to meet them home when they came back. My performance in school was really plummeted. I was called to the staff room. The whole School Board with my class teacher, Mr. James was there.
All eyes were on me. It was dead silent in the room. It was just the ticking of the clock, the clicking sound the Principal was making from his pen and the noise from the junior students playing Basketball that filled the room. The silence was creeping me out but I had to keep my sanity.
Mr. Frank, the Principal broke the silence. “Michael! So I think you already know why we called you here.”
I could not speak, I nodded. Gently, I wiped my face with my palm before I folded my arms.
“So what happened? Can you explain what happened last week?” Mrs. Yvonne said.
I kept looking at all of them blankly as if I didn’t know what they were saying, but honestly I didn’t know the answers to give that would free me from the impending shame.
“The Lindsey Highs Senior Prefect fails tests as the school final year students’ mock for WASSCE approaches!”
It would make a good headline. I cared about all that. Now, the school board knew more dangerous things loom ahead if the number one student failed the school mock. They didn’t want their valedictorian to be a celebrated failure.
“Out of nine tests, you only manage to pass one test. I mean pass! You failed the rest.” Mr. Frank hit the table hard as he sat down.
Mr. James said, “I think we should look at this logically sir. This is my student here. I know his capacity. For the past 6 years, he has been an A student unflinchingly. I think something is wrong. Give me time with him.”
Miss Yvonne stared at Mr. James and nodded, “Okay! Michael, you’ve been a brilliant and bright boy. Don’t spoil it now that the big day is coming. Mock is coming, WASSCE is coming too! And we were even hopeful you can get the best WASSCE result through out the… ”
“We are still hopeful. We’ve not lost hope.” Mr. James cut in.
“You can go!” Mr. Frank said.
My mind already strayed away from the staff room sailing in the boat of thoughts of how things will look like when my parents arrive.
“I said you can go!” Mr. Frank hit the table.
I snapped out of my thoughts and stood up immediately. “Something is wrong with this boy.” I could hear Mrs. Yvonne speaking and others murmuring as I walked subconsciously out of the staff room.
It was as though I spent a day in the school staff room, I felt better getting free from the strangling feeling of fear that came from being in the room. As I was walking back to my classroom, Mr. James called me.
“What’s going on with you?”
“You don’t look alright, and your test results proves so too.” He stopped talking, expecting me to say something but I didn’t. I avoided having an eye contact with him.
“It’s alright if you don’t want to talk. Michael, whatever is going on with you, try to gather yourself together. The race is getting to the finish line. No matter what, try to finish well. I will be praying for you, Michael. If you need anyone to talk too. Please call me.” He patted me before he left.
His words kept ringing in my head, I thought about it deeply. I couldn’t afford not to perform well in the mock, worse WASSCE. This was all in my head, as I sat myself down in the classroom.
Nobody was really talking to me anymore. I was hostile to a number of classmates. Many wondered why I was being unusual, some made jest. Margaret was one of those people who cared.
“Babe, what’s wrong?” Margaret asked as she touched my shoulder.
“Nothing, I’m alright” I replied as I lay my head on the plastic desk.
“There’s something wrong, Michael. You’re not yourself these days.”
“I said I’m alright! Which part of the sentence is not clear enough? Don’t you get it? I’m fine. And please, I want to be alone. Don’t disturb me.” I banged the table, pushed it forward and left to lean on one of the pillars in front of the class at the passageway.
Margaret shamefully walked out of the classroom. Everyone was oblivious of what was wrong with me. The jests from some in the class heightened the shame for her. Tears strolled down her cheek as she walked out.
As she walked out, I saw the shame and innocence in her eyes. I felt bad, if I would taken out my anger on anyone, it shouldn’t have been Margaret. She meant well, she wasn’t like my aunt or Okon who didn’t care about anything but pleasure. I felt bad for what I did to her.