It was time for lunch break, but I was down. I couldn’t even think of eating. While every other students went out for the break, I sat down and placed my head gently on the desk.
“Michael, What’s the issue?” Grace asked, as she drew close to me.
“Nothing to worry about jare.” I said, feigning a smile.
She looked at me intently. I knew she was up to something, but I was already vulnerable. As God would have it, Mr. James came in to the class at that moment. Immediately he saw us, he coughed.
“What’s happening here?” Mr. James said.
“Nothing sir” Grace replied, looking down as she left the class.
Mr. James was my class teacher. He taught us biology, and I was one of his best students. He was different from all the teachers. Apart from being a staunch Christian, his method of teaching got every student loving him. He also had a way with us, many loved him and wanted to be around him.
“Michael, what’s up with you? You’ve not really been yourself today. You were meant to hold a meeting with the other prefects, you didn’t. What’s wrong?” He asked as he sat down beside me.
“Nothing sir, I’m just indisposed.” I said.
He looked at me as if he knew I was lying, “you’re sure?”
“Yes sir.” I stuttered.
“If there’s any problem, you know you can talk to me. I don’t know why I feel there’s something you should say.” Mr. James said but I insisted I was fine.
It would not be a good idea to spew things like that out. I did not want to dent my reputation. I was the most respected student in the school – the head prefect. I wouldn’t allow anything trample that in the mud.
“Okay then,” He stood up from chair, clicking the desk with his fingers. “I think you should just go home.”
“No, it’s not something to take seriously sir. I’ll be fine.”
“I insist. Pack your things and go home. You’d be better off staying home to take care of yourself.”
I really wished he could just allow me stay in school but I had no choice. “Okay sir, I will.”
Reluctantly, I strapped my backpack to my back. When I stood up, I felt so light. It was then I remembered I had not eaten anything, but that mattered less. I decided to leave the school through the school’s second gate, as I didn’t want any unnecessary questioning from teachers. I equally wanted to avoid Margaret who’d be in the Basketball court.
Gently laying my back against the gate pillar, I reached into my pocket to get my phone. It would be futile trying to reach out to Baba just by knocking and shouting. Besides, I was really tired. I swiftly punched the digits into the phone.
“I’m outside, please come open the gate.” I carried myself up, picked up my backpack too. Baba was unusually quick to open the pedestrian gate, the look on his face was weird too. I couldn’t even process it, I just let it slide.
“Is Auntie home?” I asked.
“Ehm… Auntie.. Ehm sorry, small madam abi? She dey inside” Baba stuttered.
Slow paced, I walked myself into the house. The television was on, the sitting room was surprisingly cluttered. I snapped out of the thought of putting it in order. “I’m tired right now, I’ll come clean up later.” I said to myself.
I tried calling Aunt Gloria, there was no response. Before I’d retire to my room, I wanted to let her know I was back from school because I was not feeling too good. As I climbed the stairs, I thought “Probably she’s asleep, I should not disturb her.”
As I closed the door behind me, I pulled off my bag and threw it on the bed. Loosened my tie and carelessly dropped it on the bed. I dressed into mofty and dropped my body silently, laying my back on the door. I pulled my knees up and rested my chin on them.
Flashes of events that had taken place earlier that day came back to mind. The playbacks were slow, I nearly slapped myself out of them. The thoughts of how Okon had dragged me to the toilet during the school short break for another episode of the saga we started. This time, I did not struggle with him. The pleasure towed through my body but the guilt that wrenched my heart after was quite much but not strong as the first experience.
As I thought, I gazed at the poster I had hanged on the wall of my room. It was the image of a popular singer, Beyoncé. She was my favourite musician. I smiled, recollecting how I had begged Margaret to make an artwork on the other side of the poster. Whenever my mother came to my room, one of the first things I’d rush to do, was to turn the poster over to the artwork.
Staring at the image, the image that never seemed to pose an harm suddenly became toxic to me. Urge rose within me like wild fire. I couldn’t help myself. I stood, removed the poster from wall and got into the act.
I had forgotten that my door wasn’t locked. My heart skipped a beat as I heard the door creaked. As I looked up, it was my aunt – Gloria. My heart kept racing at a faster pace than the normal. I turned my back to her and covered myself with the poster. I expected her to leave but she stayed. I found a straight face on her when I stole a look at her.