The wandering student made that task harder than I expected. I stretched and peeped through their unsteady passing bodies, all to no avail. I sighed, retreated that she was gone for that day. The wandering students finally found their base and I looked once more and there she was, sitting under a shade, alone with tearful eyes and a broken heart. I inhaled heavily, ambled over and sat beside her. She adjusted, creating enough space between us. Silence trolled in, taking every word in my head. I sat there, empty, not knowing how to start and she was not ready to say a word to me. After some seconds of silent ride, I decided to be the man I was, overcoming every intimidation by my jealous self.
“I am sorry Hope. I am really sorry, I didn’t…”
“It doesn’t matter okay? Just…”
“Let me finish,” I cut in. “I was wrong. I said things I shouldn’t have said and there is no excuse for that. I am a terrible person, proud and disrespectful. I don’t even deserve your forgiveness but please, just tell me I am forgiven even if you don’t mean it. I need to hear it from you so as to set my heart free. Please,” I paused, waiting for her words, but they never came. “I am finished,” I added.
“There is nothing to forgive,” she said. “It’s one of those things. And if you don’t mind, you can leave now. I wouldn’t want my boyfriend to see us together.”
Yes, the boyfriend; the ugly and masculine guy with the scary look of a chimpanzee. I hissed. Tore a shit of paper from my notebook and wrote my phone number on it.
“I want to make this up to you,” I threw the paper on her. “Call me, when your boyfriend isn’t looking.”
She squinted at me, then at the paper, and smirked. I picked my books and skit out. Veering to a little distance, I stopped and observed her. She admired the paper, smiled, and then she looked around for whoever she expected not to be watching. She smiled again, picked the paper and hands on her phone’s keypad, she typed in the numbers.
“Yeah!” I muttered smiling, a great feeling of satisfaction rushed through my veins.
“Is she your new catch?” Amanda’s voice jolted me from behind.
I inhaled in and out, trying to maintain my composure.
“Yes, that’s me,” she said, confident and unrepentant. “It’s been a long time. Who is she?”
“Who is who?”
“The girl under the shade,” she pouted at Hope.
“Am I supposed to explain my life and friends to you?” I asked. “Please, if you don’t mind, I have an assignment to do.” I made to leave.
“Ahmed said you don’t talk to him again,” she voiced.
I halted, shocked they are still together.
“Look Thony, you wanted something with me and I did also but you never made the move. Your friend did and I said yes. How is that my fault or his? You need to stop this act of yours and let things go. I love Ahmed and he loves me. Why can’t you just be happy for me?”
“Are you still with him?”
“Of course I am,” she hurried to my front. “He is an amazing guy, just like you.”
“Did he send you?” I asked.
“Of course not,” she cut in, twitching her face. “In fact he doesn’t know I am here.”
“Well congratulations, for finding an amazing guy just like me,” I said and sashayed out.
As my legs count each step towards the school gate, I fumed in anger, hate and confusion. Why did Ahmed tell me they were not together anymore? Why did he lie? I reached for phone to call him, bash him and tell him to stop trying to get me back, but when I dialled the number, a sweet female voice from my network provider informed me sadly that his number was switched off. I hissed, still rumbling in anger as I hurried out of the school, flagged down a bike and headed home, sad yet happy.
Three day now and Hope was still to call me. I remember checking for her at the lab on the second day but she was not there. I returned again the next day but found instead another cleaner who told me she was on leave, yet refused giving me her number. I ambled towards the gate, sad and empty, wondering why she never told me she was going on leave. But then again, I remembered our last meeting did not end in a handshake. I hissed, regretting every of my words that day. If only I was a bit careful, or maybe respectful, she would have told me things, she would have been walking with me right now, maybe not arm to arm but something leading to it. I shook my head; none of those was my fault. I was only trying to impress her, trying to make her understand that I really care and would do and go any length to make sure she was happy. It wasn’t my fault that things got twisted and there was no way I would have known she was the cleaner, not when she was secretive about what and who she really was. My head spanned, heart raced as I walked around the school, oblivious of where exactly I was going. Nothing would do the magic of restoring my sanity than her call, even if it was to yell at me, whatever be the reason and outcome of the call, I wouldn’t mind once I would hear her sweet calming voice. I have always liked her from the first day she caught me crying, but it was just platonic. But for whatever reason now, after our last encounter, I felt deeply in love with her more than I felt for Amanda; a feeling I couldn’t understand.
Something in me gagged me about how I didn’t know what I want, who I want and where I want to be. It accused me of being a chameleon; turning into the colour of anything I come in contact with. According to it; whatever it was in my head tormenting me, I was just looking for comfort in her, a way to forget Amada and Ahmed totally, a ditch to flush my grievances into, and an object to make Amada and Ahmed feel jealous; knowing that I have moved on even when I am still hung up on them. As much as that harsh and truthful thoughts struck, I struggled to shut it off, telling whatever it was that what I felt for her was different, that I loved her, and that the feeling was mutual. I convinced myself, with little escape from being self crucified that she was not a means to an end for me, a trash to be used and discard, but a love attraction found really attractive. Yes, I loved Amanda and she broke my heart and I would love above everything to hurt her back as much as she hurt me, but what I felt for Hope was definitely much stronger than my resentment for Amanda, and I believed that karma would do her a great deal for my sake.
“Watch it,” a female student roared as I bumped into her, throwing her books to the ground.
“Sorry,” I told her, as she bent to pick her books.
I knew I should get on my knees and help pick her books but of what use would that be if I would still knock down another. And moreover she was not receptive of my apology, so I was sure she wouldn’t want me touching her books.
“Sorry about that,” I muttered again, comported myself and scurried off. Whoever she was, she sure was not a cool girl and I got little or no time for such people. My head was full with emotional tangle, my hands filled with academic projects and my mind battled within these two for who to give more attention to, while my body just boggled around, waiting for whoever that would win to totally enslave it.
I was in front of the school gate, though not fully aware how I got there. But I was glad I did. I felt a pulsation in my pocket; it was my phone. I hastened my hand inside, pulling it out with hope it was my Hope. But I was disappointed as Ahmed’s smiling face glared at me on my screen. I felt angry, irritated and sad. His call or face was the last thing I wanted to get that time. I sighed deeply, with a passionate resentment in my heart. Someone should tell him to leave me alone, that love is not by force. I slid the phone back in my pocket again, wishing that what I just said to myself would somehow get to him, but I was wrong, for he called back; four times and I rejected the call four times also. On the fifth time, I was ready to turn my phone off, but when I pulled it out of my pocket; I saw Eric’s face instead. He was not smiling; with his straight and cute face that resonated a mature and handsome guy. For the first time, I saw cuteness in his face; I stalled, admiring his picture. His dark big eyes and pointed nose, his semi pink lips that I always teased him about being artificial. I ran my finger across his lips on my phone’s screen, wishing I could do same to him in reality. The phone stopped ringing and I startled, glanced around to see if anyone noticed how lustily I was staring at the picture. Everyone seemed to be troubled with his or her own mess. I inhaled; maybe the accusing voice in my head was right, maybe I really did not know what I want. Just maybe, but I was not going to plead guilty to such accusations, I would fight, prove it wrong by showing that I truly know what I want. I coiled my lips into my mouth, licked it and made to leave. The phone started ringing again and I instantly answered without stalling to admire Eric’s handsome face again.
“I am on my way home please,” I threw in, not wanting him to ask why I ignored his call.
“I didn’t ask stubborn cute boy,” he teased. His voice from the phone speaker sounded cool and seductive, like he was not the Eric I have lived with for years. “I am in school, ready to go home so I was calling to know where you are,” he added.
“Oh!” I gaped. “I am in front of the school, ready to board a bike,” I answered.
“Good, at least you told the truth,” he replied. “I was thinking you have suddenly learnt how to lie since you finished staring at my call and slid your phone into your pocket.”
“What!” I yelled glancing around to see if I could see him, but I didn’t. “Where are you?” I asked after a fruitless search.
“Just wait for me where you are standing, if you move an inch, I will know,” he ordered and hung up.
Like a slave obeying his master’s orders, I glued myself at the very spot I was.
…the story continues….