Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 3-in-1 novel; CHOICES is finally Out!

Timilehin Adigun has published his first novel, comprising the three novellas featured in MINE Magazine so far. He is presently working on La Conferencia, which should be out early next year by God's grace.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 19)

Shade had noticed Utibe and one of his friends walk towards the gents, leaving their third friend. She looked in the guy’s direction and saw he was staring at her, a smile curving his lips. She didn’t know what to make of his look but it made her feel uneasy all the same. She was so sure Utibe would have told his friends of the stuffs they did. She wondered if the guy’s smile was a mocking one.
She looked away, ashamed. ‘I would speak with Utibe has soon as he walks in’ she said to herself. As she yet thought, he walked in with his friend. Shade’s heart beat fast. It was going to be a very difficult task for her. She dreaded the look of hatred or rejection she would see in Utibe’s eyes when she told him that she was opting out.
As he sat down, as expected, his eyes found her. His expression confused her. She had expected to see a satisfied look; one of accomplishment, since she had given him almost all he wanted the night before. If there was supposed to be another look, it was supposed to be one of anger that she hadn’t let him go all the way. But what she saw was neither of the two. It was a look of sadness. He didn’t hold her gaze for long, he lowered his eyes. That was unusual of him.
‘What has gotten over him?’ she asked herself. She decided she needed to do what she had to immediately. She walked over to where he was seated with his friends, greeted them, and asked to see Utibe personally. She looked at the reactions on his friends’ faces. The fair and tall one, who had been staring at her earlier still had something to his look that unnerved her. She decided to do something about it.
“You know you’ve never introduced me to your friends” she said, facing Utibe who was already standing beside her.
“I’m sorry. My bad”, he said. “This is Okpara” he said facing the other one. He extended his hand and she took it. “And this is Stanley” he said facing the guy Shade really wanted to know. He extended his hand and she took it. His grip lingered a while and there was a sensual tint to it. She withdrew her hand, knowing what the guy thought of her. A cheap, dirty girl. She turned to Utibe, and saw he was irritated by his friend’s gesture.
“Let us go” he said. She followed him. He led her outside the dining hall, and they found a lone bench to sit on. They sat down. Silence hung between them for a while.
“Shade, you called me out to talk, please go ahead”, he said.
“I am afraid to say what I want to say”, she said, and saw the expression on Utibe’s face, which made her smile. “I’m obviously not pregnant.” She said, and they both chuckled knowing that was off point. Shade felt a little better after the light moment.
“I cannot go on like this. I have broken my promise to my mother and to myself. I sincerely want us to remain friends but we cannot continue with the physical intimacy. I have cried for several hours between last night and now”, she said. She looked at him to see his expression. Surprisingly, he seemed to be listening patiently. No traces of disapproval.
“Sex spoils everything. Thank you for not forcing me yesterday. But I still feel so dirty that we went as far as we did. I promised myself it would never repeat itself again.” She looked at him, her eyes pleading. “Do you understand?”
“I do.” He said, taking his eyes off her.
Shade was so relieved. “Utibe, I’m sorry for…” He raised a finger, stopping her. Shade’s heart was caught in her throat. She wondered what he wanted to say.
“I’m the one who should be apologizing to you, Shade.” He said, looking at her with sincere remorse. “I’m so sorry for making you do the things we did. The understanding hit me more this morning that girls, as roses, are to be treasured and nurtured, not trampled upon. Please forgive me for what I did to you.”
Shade was dumbfounded as she listened to Utibe apologize.
“Am I forgiven?”
“Yes , you are”, she replied, smiling heartily.
“Friends?” he yet asked.
“Friends.” Shade said. She thought her heart would burst with the happiness she felt. This was too good to be true. This was indeed a miracle and Shade was sure that if things could work out this way for her with Utibe; narrowly escaping losing her pride, then the prospect of remaining a virgin till her wedding day was very possible. If only she knew Stanley’s plans, she wouldn’t have been so sure.
The clinic was a makeshift one for the conference but it was well equipped. Faith Archibong lay on one of the beds, with her face buried in a pillow. She had walked into the clinic immediately after the briefing because she was feeling depressed; she needed to be alone. She told the attending nurse she had menstrual pain. That was true, but Faith never needed drugs for her MP. It was just a good excuse to get away from everybody for a while.
The pillow that gladly welcomed her face was now soaked. A lot was going through her mind. She had succeeded in blocking many memories from her mind; especially the memories of her early childhood, but meeting Shade yesterday had brought them pouring back in leaps and bounds. She was already feeling the weight of the memories when the guy walked up to her yester night. She made out with him, hoping it would distract her from the pain she was feeling but it only made it worse.
She had woken up sad and with a heavy heart. She hit her head severally against the pillow, biting into the flesh of the pillow with her well manicured nails, as the tears streamed out. Thankfully, she was the only in the clinic at the time. She had resorted to taking pain relieving drugs whenever she felt depressed. Now, they seemed to be getting ineffective, and she feared that if things stayed this way, she might find herself on hard drugs in no time. She dreaded the thought; knowing the agonies that accompanied that but she felt helpless and unable to stop the pain that threatened to kill her. She was dying inside.
Back in Calabar, she was one of the most popular party girls. Whenever guys she dated found out she was a secondary school student; they were always surprised. She dressed and acted, in the least, like an undergraduate. She was indeed blessed with a big stature and developed very fast as a girl, not to mention the beautiful face she always flaunted around.
Almost every happening guy had had her. She was no one’s girlfriend. No one tried to settle down with her. They just had mutual fun and moved on. That was the life Faith lived. She didn’t need money from the rich guys because her father was rich; she didn’t need the grades from the teachers because she was intelligent. Nobody seemed to understand why she allowed any guy have her.
Only Faith knew.
She was trying to get back at someone. She was executing a revenge that had lasted close to two years. She wanted the victim to bleed in pain and sorrow – She was trying to get back at God. She wanted to punish Him.
At different times, she would remember the fun times she had as a young Christian; savoring the moments she would shed tears as she worshipped God in fellowship, the times she saw the raw joy that flowed from a fellow student who she’d just led to Christ, or the moments people told her how blessed they were to have her as their friend. But as those memories came, one stronger memory also came which negated them all, and made her adamant on getting her own pound of flesh from the God who let her down.
It happened when she became thirteen, shortly after they moved to Calabar. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer of the breast. The doctor said it was at its advanced stage. Her mother was the most committed Christian she had ever known in her life. She was the last person Faith had thought would be sick, not to mention, with a terminal disease.
Faith went on a seven-day fast the moment she heard. She made so many vows to God, sowed so many monetary seeds for her mother’s healing and attended many healing services on her mother’s behalf. With all she did, Faith was so sure her mother would get healed. Her friends who saw her then in school noticed she was growing lean at a fast rate. She literarily carried the burden of her mother’s recovery on her head.
There was a night she stayed up late to pray and worship God. She felt so much peace after that time of fellowship that she started telling everyone who cared to listen that God had healed her mother and she would be well again.
Two weeks after, Faith was in dance rehearsal for a concert her church was organizing when she got the call that changed her life. She was told to come home quickly. She headed for home, excited; thanking God that she would see her mother on her feet. By the time she got home and saw what had happened, her senses literarily packed up. Her mother was dead. She just lay on the floor and sobbed all night.
She mourned her mother’s death greatly because she had been the closest person to her when she was alive. After the days of the funeral, it was now time to settle issues. She shut herself in her room. With tears, she told God how much He had failed her. She felt He was wicked and callous; a God who loved to make people cry.
‘Is this all mummy gets for her service to you?’ she had asked. ‘Is this all I get too? God, you’re wicked!’ she had said that day. It was then she proposed that she would do everything she had stayed away from because she was serving God. She decided every guy who wanted her would have her, she would dance to songs that she knew God hated; she was simply out to make God mad.
Faith turned her face and stared at the wall of the clinic. She felt like dying. She had thrown everything she ever treasured to the wind. She was nothing. “I have loved you with an everlasting love”
Faith’s heart caught. Who was that? She turned her head to check the other end of the clinic. She was still the only one there. It had been two years since she last heard God speak to her because she had totally shut Him out of her life. Those words washed over her, refreshing her like a cold bath on a sunny day.
She had discovered in the cause of her rebellion that if there was anyone she was really hurting by the things she was doing, it was herself but she had refused to stop, telling herself she had gone too far to return. ‘God won’t accept me again after all I’ve done to Him and I have no pride or respect among people anymore.’ Those were always her two excuses.
But she decided to listen to this smoothening voice that she had missed. In little more than a whisper, she asked. “With all I have done, you still love me?” She didn’t get a reply to her question.
‘Silly me. I actually thought God would remember me and take the time to hear me, not to mention, talk to me’ she thought to herself. She was fatigued from the much crying and drifted to sleep, and as she did, the words she had heard kept sounding in her ears. “I have loved you with an everlasting love”. And somewhere deep within; a place where Faith had built a high wall that shut God out, something had begun to happen.
The wall had begun to crumble.
Christiana located the boy she had flirted with yester night, during the movie, and went to meet him. She didn’t mind being looked at as a fool or cheap girl. She had a mission to accomplish and she would accomplish it. After speaking with him a few minutes, as they waited for breakfast, she was re-assured that he was already in her palms.
As she talked with him, she did a quick scan of the boys in the dining hall and an idea crossed her mind. ‘Why don’t I test my persuasive skills?’ She had gotten two guys that obviously wanted to do it. Now, she wanted to get the good boys; especially the Christian boys. She decided to be on the look out in the course of the day. Whoever she spotted to be a good Christian boy would be her target. “I’ll see how Christian indeed these boys are after I make their heads spin. This will be an interesting conference!” she said to herself, smiling.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 20)

It took sometime before Doctor Festus could utter any words. He just stayed there on his knees with his head bowed, tears running silently down his cheeks. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry; they were all waiting and ready to see how things would unfold. The only sounds that filled the air were Tara’s sobs.
“I’m so sorry” were the first words that came through his lips. “I know I cannot give you back your child, but I want you to know I’m sorry for killing it. I have been plagued with guilt and fear ever since.” He lifted his eyes and looked at her. “I would undo what I did that day if I had the power to but I don’t. I looked for you, so I could apologize but couldn’t reach you. Now, I am here.” He paused and looked in Fatima’s direction. Her eyes were closed; she was praying.
“I just gave my life to Jesus yesterday. He has forgiven me, but I won’t be satisfied until you’ve forgiven me also. Please, forgive me.” He said. He moved a little closer and repeated his words. “Please forgive me.”
Tara looked at the man of the floor before her. She would have cursed him and walked away but the man that spoke to her now was not the same man that spoke to her in the abortion clinic; there was something different about him. It must be the new life in Christ he had just acquired. Instead of the hatred that she had nurtured in her heart, Tara felt a sense of compassion. It was strange to be feeling this way for the man that had the power to prevent the abortion from taking place, but still made it happen. That was the feeling she had all the same. Compassion. Mercy. Forgiveness.
She looked around her at the four people who surrounded her. She was grateful for their presence and support; they had made this ordeal less tasking for her. She slipped her hands out of Tunbosun’s and Uche’s hands and went on her knees in front of the doctor. She smiled at him through her tears. “I forgive you sir” she said, as she opened her arms for an embrace, which Doctor Festus gladly received. The four on-lookers applauded softly, as tears trickled down their faces.
It was like that moment should last forever. They remained like that for a while; both parties offering and receiving forgiveness. When the two were done, they let each other go and rose to their feet. Fatima moved over to Doctor Fetsus and hugged him. Others took their turns in hugging Tara and in shaking Doctor Festus’ hand.
George looked at Tara. She was obviously relieved; he could feel it as he saw her smile, trying to clean up her face.
Doctor Festus was ready to go, so they said their byes and waited on that spot till his vehicle was out of sight.
They walked towards the dining hall. There was not much to say. Each person just relished the moment as they walked in silence. All other discussions would be suspended till later. The moment was too important to be trivialized with petit talks.
There was so much noise around. The sun wasn’t helping matters either as it shone so bright. Boys and girls littered the sports ground, indulging themselves in one game or the other. Fatima had missed the setting; it was so good to be back among them. She had been told to join groups of her choice; and she ensured she joined groups that didn’t have any of her friends in them. She felt she needed to meet more people.
She had kept quiet throughout the morning session, trying to take in the procedures and processes. During the Networking session, in the afternoon, she had met a boy who wanted to become the Ben Carson of Nigeria. He wanted to be a neurosurgeon. Fatima was impressed as he talked about the things he was already doing to achieve that. He had read many books already and had an idea of the universities he wanted to go to achieve his goals.
If Fatima learnt anything from the boy, it was the need to be determined, focused and organized. She was challenged to sit down, and with God, plan her life. Life wasn’t just meant to be lived through; it was to be purposefully lived out.
As Fatima sat facing the volleyball court and watching girls play the game so well, her mind drifted to what had happened in the morning between Doctor Festus, and the girl whose name she later knew to be Tara. She smiled. Forgiveness was such a beautiful thing; both for the offender and the offended. It brought joy, peace, and lightness to the involved parties. Fatima was so sure Doctor Festus’ life was going to get better now that he had found God and had made peace with the girl he offended.
She thought about the Tara girl; she hoped the girl was free too. The thought of Tara reminded her of her dear friend George. She had seen how he went over and held her in the morning. She wondered how the two met. A smile curved her lips. Any girl would fall flat for George. He was all and more a girl could ever want. Fatima noticed that the Tunbosun girl too seemed to have something for George. Fatima only hoped George would be mature enough to handle his friendships with the opposite sex. It really could be difficult at times.
‘What’s up with Uche too?’ she asked herself as she remembered Uche taking her hand in his earlier in the day. She had accepted his hand, desiring to increase the bond of love and power for Tara in the morning, but now, she wondered if he didn’t misinterpret her intentions. Moreover, as at the last time they spoke, he hadn’t accepted Jesus. She wondered if her action hadn’t sown a seed of doubt in his heart. ‘Hope he doesn’t see me as a hypocrite now?’
She decided she would explain to him why she had accepted his hold; she couldn’t afford him thinking otherwise. She hadn’t seen either Uche or George since breakfast. They had been in different groups, and she was asked to eat her lunch in the clinic, so she could take her drugs immediately.
The nurse had delayed her so much that by the time she was out, it was Sports time. She had looked round for them but didn’t see them. It was then she settled down to watch volleyball. She wondered where her friends would be. She concluded they would be gainfully employed wherever they were. So, she decided to focus on the game.
As she watched the girls play, she appreciated their agility and skill. She knew she could never ever be in their shoes; playing volleyball. She laughed at herself. She was too short for that.
“What she lacks in height she has in heart”
“I agree with you Uche. I wonder where she is.” George was saying. “I didn’t see her in the dining. I wonder if she has eaten.” George heard a giggle and turned. It was Tunbosun. They had all packed the plates together. She had taken the last set to the women and he hadn’t noticed when she returned. “What’s funny?” he asked, amused.
“You guys are something else”
Uche raised an eyebrow.
“See how you’re fussing and doting over Fatima, even in her absence. You two would make good husbands.” The boys smiled. It was a welcome comment. “Can we go for sports now?” she asked, still giggling and shaking her head at them.
“Fatima would be so surprised we continued with the plate packing” Uche said, as they headed for the field.
“I’m sure she will” George affirmed.
“What Sports are you guys going to play?” It was Tunbosun asking.
“I’m simply a spectator but George is a basketball star.” Uche said, winking at the tall ball at the other side. Tunbosun was between them.
“Don’t mind him o.” George said, looking at Tunbosun but couldn’t mistake the look of admiration in her eyes. He felt uneasy. He had always had girls flocking round him before he became born-again but after that, they seemed to leave him alone. Now, he wasn’t having vain girls flock round him but intelligent girls who seemed to be seeking God; who seemed to need him. Girls he couldn’t shun or run away from. Girls he had come to know in a few days. Tara and Tunbosun; girls he was beginning to have feelings for. George was confused. He would have to see Fatima; she would have the solution he needed.
“See her there” Tunbosun said. They had started their search at the near end of the sports ground. The volleyball court was farther in. Tunbosun had spotted Fatima first.
Uche felt a tight knot in his stomach. He had never felt this way before; it was a strange feeling. He wondered how mere seeing someone could make you feel so uneasy. He remembered the question he had asked God earlier in the day. He had not gotten a reply yet; not that he expected one anyway.
As they approached Fatima, Uche knew he wouldn’t be able to ask her in the presence of the other two. He would have to wait till an appropriate time.
When they reached her, George covered her eyes from behind. Fatima didn’t even think twice before calling his name. She knew George so well. She seemed engrossed in the game, so they joined her on the seat and watched the game with her.
Fatima suddenly turned her head towards them as if she had just remembered something. “Where were you guys? You came late for Sports.”
“Oh! You’ve just remembered we’re here, right?” George, sitting closest to her asked, teasingly.
“Sorry, I just didn’t want to miss the game-point play”
“So, you’re a volley ball fan?” Tunbosun, sitting between George and Uche asked.
“Nope,” she said, smiling. “Basketball!” she said, and as if planned, she gave a hi-five to George whose hand was already up. They all laughed.
“It’s unfortunate nature hasn’t favored you on that side, Fatima” Uche, farthest from Fatima, said, heightening the laughter.
“I’m not intimidated”, she said amidst the laughter. When they had simmered down, she asked again, “Where were you guys?”
“We were clearing up the dishes.” George said.
Fatima was taken aback. She looked from face to face and relished the smiles she saw on their faces. What she had started with Uche had continued even when she left; she was indeed surprised. They were now four, she included.
“You seem surprised” Tunbosun said.
“Pleasantly so” Fatima replied, smiling. “I had no idea Uche continued” she paused, than added, “not to talk of having disciples”.
Uche giggled. “We really missed you”, he said and George nodded in assent. Uche felt silly all the same. He had wanted to personalize that statement but he just couldn’t open his mouth to say it. But something was happening; Fatima was looking at him. It seemed more like she was studying him, trying to read his intentions. He felt uneasy, more so, as the others noticed what was happening.
He was relieved when she smiled and faced George. “I missed you guys too.” She directed her gaze at Tunbosun. “I’m glad you met my friends and kept them company; they would have died, missing me, had you not been there. Poor things”, she said, taking turns eyeing the boys as she reached out to touch Tunbosun’s hand.
George had introduced Tunbosun to Fatima earlier, but she had forgotten her name. She hated to have to ask the girl for her name again. She only hoped someone would call the name, and just then, George did and Fatima memorized the name.
“Tunbosun, your head is swelling, right?” George said, and then faced Uche. “I wonder what these girls would do without us. The wouldn’t survive a day”
Uche was saying something to support him while the girls were opposing the boys all at once. Anybody watching them would have had a good laugh.
After a few minutes of chatter, George and Tunbosun excused themselves. “We’re two-of-five leaders in our group. We fixed a meeting for 4:30; we have to leave now” George said on their behalf.
Fatima made a pouting face, and George smiled. She was so good at acting. “Uche will take care of you” he said, as he stood. Fatima smiled. “You guys have a great time”
“We will” Tunbosun replied.
There was silence between them for a while. “I thought you were supposed to take care of me?” Fatima said, making that pouting face again.
Uche giggled. “I’m a very boring baby-sitter.”
“That’s a lie!” Fatima said, poking him.
“It’s good to have you back”, he said, looking rather serious.
“Same here”
“How long do you still have to take your medication?”
“Two weeks”
Uche frowned. “That’s a lifetime. I hate drugs”
“I had taken drugs all my life until four years ago when God healed me. So, drugs are no strangers to me”
Uche was lost I thought.
“What’s on your mind?” she asked.
“I was wondering. Do you know why God allowed you to be sick after four years? Seems kinda confusing.”
“Uche, I don’t know all the reasons, but at least I know a few.”
“I’m listening”
“He used that opportunity to prevent a woman from suicide,” she saw Uche’s eyes widen, “He also saved Doctor Festus from his sins and guilt. He wrapped it all up by using it to free Tara, George’s friend, from the pain and bitterness of her past.” She sighed. “If that was why God made me sick, the sickness was too little a price to pay for those great miracles. They were worth every pain I suffered.” Fatima smiled. “God never does evil. Whatever He does is for the good of those He loves, He is a good God; a gracious Father”
Uche was lost in those words. He willed her to continue but she seemed to have stopped. This life of joy and peace she lived was the major thing that drew Uche to her. Her beauty only crowned it. Uche was so emotion-laden, he wondered if this was the time to make his feelings known to her.
He looked at her and his heart went wild. She was smiling at him. It was just a simple smile; but his mind went gaga. ‘Should I tell her now, should I not? Should I, should I not?’ He was still struggling with his feelings when he heard her voice.
“Seems there something on your mind. What is it?” Fatima asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I-” his words just seemed stuck.
Fatima smiled, then poked him. “Cough it out!”
“I gave my life to Jesus this morning.” As he said it, Fatima screamed. He was happy to see the joy on her face but he felt very silly. ‘Is that what you wanted to say, shy boy?’ he chided himself. He wondered if he would ever have the courage to tell her want he wanted to tell her.
He decided to accept his predicament and enjoy the celebration of his salvation. Fatima was already celebrating.
“I’m so happy for you!” she said, and seemed not to be able to curtail the excitement. “How did it happen?”
“God used you to sow the seeds in my heart and He did the rest.”
“Praise God!” Fatima said.
“Halleluyah!” Uche responded, smiling. He didn’t have all the answers yet but he was going to take one day at a time in faith believing that God would prove Himself to be the great and good God Fatima had painted Him to be. Uche chose to believe God.
As he saw Fatima still beaming in joy over the news of his salvation, he was so sure the day would not end before he asked her out. He wouldn’t be able to sleep until he had done so.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 21)

“You be fool o!” Stanley was saying, clearly angry. “Which kind talk be that?” Utibe had just told Okpara and Stanley the decision he and Shade had taken earlier in the day. When they returned to the room, Stanley had asked him why he wasn’t making sly moves on Shade during sports. He said he had noticed that Utibe and Shade were just flowing freely and talking normally; no sensual tints to the flow. It was then Utibe had told them things were different. They were just going to be friends and nothing more. That had gotten at Stanley.
“After all you don enjoy, you no wan finish wetin you don start?”
“Stanley, to tell you the truth, I enjoyed the time I had with Shade during sports more than any other time I had ever had with her. I was able to be myself and I got to see the true Shade because my mind was clear. I was seeing her for who she was not seeing her body or imagining stuff. We had fun, knowing there were no extra strings attached and not feeling guilty about anything.” Utibe paused. “You should try it Stanley, you would feel free!”
“Shut up. I’m disappointed in you.” He thought. “You’re even about to ruin my chances with Tunbosun. It won’t work o! I’ll find a way around it.”
“Leave that girl alone.” It was Okpara saying.
Stanley was shocked beyond words. “You too?” He shook his head. “You were the one that asked me to get her; to pay her back for humiliating you.”
“That was then. I’ve changed my mind.”
“Baby boy, that’s too late”, Stanley said. “You’ve whet the lion’s appetite and it must be satisfied.” Okpara wanted to respond but before he could, Stanley faced Utibe. “And you lover boy!”
Utibe looked miffed at that word.
“Let me tell you something,” Stanley started. “I have imagined how sweet Shade would be. If you don’t have her, I’ll be glad to do the honors for you”.
“Don’t you dare touch her” Utibe spat in Stanley’s face. Stanley had never seen the guy that angry before. His eyes were blazing. But it seemed like a thought passed through Utibe’s mind, as Stanley noticed his veins calming down. “Moreover,” he said, “I know Shade. She would never allow you touch her. Can you hear me? Never!”
With that Utibe turned to leave, and then remembered he had something else to say. “By the way, Mr. Player, this marks the end of our friendship. Your lifestyle is just so despicable. I hope you change soon.” Utibe walked away, and without a word to Stanley, Okpara followed leaving Stanley to himself.
‘Losers! They don’t know how to enjoy life while it lasts.’ Stanley thought. ‘And for Utibe, does he think I’m a fool? I know his Shade won’t let me; I will force her. So, I have two girls on my rape-agenda; Tunbosun and Shade; two good friends’. Stanley smiled. ‘How splendid!’
Tara lay on her bed, waiting for the dinner whistle. It had indeed been a remarkable day for her. Her mind played over the events of the morning. She would never forget what happened. If anybody had told her she would forgive Doctor Festus in her lifetime, she would have told the fellow it was impossible. But she hadn’t only forgiven him; she had done so barely five months after the abortion.
She would always owe the moment to God and the four folks he brought around her at that moment, especially George. If it had not been for them, she knew she wouldn’t have been able to make it.
She smiled at herself. She felt much lighter and relieved. She knew however that she had two more hurdles to cross; and those were even more difficult. George had told her she had to forgive her mother and Douglas for what they both did to her and made her do. She knew she would have to forgive them eventually but she wondered how she would.
“God, please help me” she pleaded. “Please perfect what you’ve started.”
At that, she heard the whistle and prepared to leave. She remembered George and his friends. She hadn’t talked with any of them since then. She had only see the other Igbo guy but from a distance during Networking meeting. She was most grateful though that she hadn’t seen George. She had been thinking about him too often lately and was still looking for a way to calm her flaring emotions.
“I hope I don’t see George again till tomorrow. I should be better settled then”, she said to herself. But as she said that, her heart was screaming the direct opposite. She longed to be with him again. She was actually going to eat dinner only because he had asked her to begin eating conference food. She wanted him to be there when she did eat it for the first time.
The dinning hall was filling so fast. It was no wonder many people were walking in; the menu was spaghetti; a meal that cut across varying backgrounds. George sat, watching as people entered in individually and in groups. He had just concluded his meeting with his fellow Group 7 leaders.
Out of all of them, Tunbosun was the most creative and intelligent both in her ideas and in her expressions. They were working on a project that would drastically reduce the level of illiteracy in their host community. George wasn’t surprised; Tunbosun had made it clear, when they had spoken earlier that she has a passion for education. The ideas were just pouring our. Other members also made nice suggestions. They would put it to the whole house on their next meeting for general deliberations.
Tunbosun was an asset to his group and her commitment also endeared her some more to him. He had been able to keep his feelings in check so far, but he wondered how last he would last. They were bound to see almost everyday. It was easier for him to concentrate when they had work to do, but when they were done, he easily got carried away. That had just happened before she left.
She had been the last of the four to leave. After they had rounded up their analysis, she lingered a little and they had a light chatter, but during that period, George couldn’t understand the feelings stirring up within him. It was a feeling of wanting to have exclusive right to her; wanting to be more than a friend to her but he wondered if that feeling was right.
He was quite relieved when she asked to leave to use the ladies in the hostel before dinner. As he yet studied people walking into the dinning room, he heart practically stopped when he saw the next loner that walked in. It was Tara. He had not expected she would actually yield to his advice that she begin eating conference food.
What bothered him more was his liking two girls at the same time. Was it sane at all? As she drew closer, he noticed that she looked more beautiful; he could only attribute it to the fact that she had found peace after the morning’s experience.
When she had almost reached her, he noticed for the first time that she had a lovely shape. He willed himself to look away. ‘What’s wrong with your head?’ he scolded himself.
“Hey George”
“Hi” he said, as she eased herself to the space beside him.
“Thanks for this morning” she said, sincerely grateful.
“You’re welcome. It was my pleasure seeing God do what He did; I’d never seen such before.” He paused, looking at her. “Thank you too for obeying God.”
“I’m so glad I did.”
“I bet you are; it’s showing all over your face.”
“How?” she asking smiling.
“You’re looking…peaceful” It was the closest he got; he dared not say beautiful – he knew that would be asking for trouble.
“Thank you”, she said, rather content with the compliment.
“You decided to give the food a try.” He said, smiling at her.
“Yes o!” she smiled back. “I’ll have your head if I purge”
“Now, I’m scared!” George said mockingly.
“When is food going to be ready?”
“In about ten minutes, I guess”
“Okay then. Can I tell you something I discovered today?” she asked, folding her arms in her laps.
George nodded, his gaze following the movement of her arms. What he saw in the process immobilized him for a moment. Her skirt was not too short but when she sat and she folded her arms, unknown to her, it had shifted up a bit, revealing more of her legs than she would have wanted to. Forcing his eyes back up, George looked at her and saw she was oblivious to what he was seeing.
To make matters worse, he then noticed that her first button was open. He was so sure it was a mistake as he had seen her earlier with the same shirt but that didn’t matter now; he could see things he hadn’t bargained for.
He wondered why he was noticing all these things; his eyes hardly strayed in those directions. It was then it hit him like a sledgehammer. The spirit of lust was trying to get him. The devil wanted him to begin to lust after Tara; taking advantage of the feelings he was beginning to develop for her.
When he got that understanding, he knew he would have to talk to Fatima about it. He had never won a battle against lust in his life and he sure didn’t want to lose this. His weakness was however getting the better of him. His gaze went down to her legs again and back to her shirt. His eyes kept doing the to and fro motion. He kept checking to see that Tara didn’t know what he was doing as she continued talking. He dreaded what she would think of him if she found out he was feeding his lust on her. He hated himself for what he was doing but felt helpless to stop it.
‘God, please save me from myself’, he pleaded in his heart as his eyes kept moving.
Christiana was sitting beside her prey; the guy she was going to have that night. They had already talked about it and it was settled. But what pre-occupied her mind was the Christian guy she would conquer. She laughed at herself. She felt like a vampire thirsty for pure blood. She had watched so many horror movies; she now behaved like the beasts themselves.
She longed to have one of those so-called born-again boys; she needed to suck him dry. If she succeeded with him, she would be most satisfied.
Her table was soon called for food and she went over to get her food. When she returned and sat, facing one of the entrances, she saw a fair boy walk in with a short girl that looked like a Hausa girl. There was something about the boy; a special modesty that caught her attention – that made her heart-beat intensify. As she ate her food, she kept her eyes on the boy.
His table was called to come for food. She noticed how he talked easily with the short girl. There seemed to be nothing extra to the way he related with her. She wasn’t still sure where to place him. The jackpot was finally played when she noticed something. As they got back to their table, they bowed their head and the boy seemed to pray over their food.
That was all she needed. She was going to chase that Christian Igbo boy, until she caught him. His life was about to change forever. She felt she needed to make a contact with the boy, to set the ball rolling.
Christiana hurried through with her food, told her date to excuse her, telling him she would be back. She walked towards the boy’s table and noticed that he stared at her a little before taking his eyes off. Even a Bishop would fight hard not to give her a second look. She knew she was beautiful, well proportioned, well curved, and her clothes left much to be desired.
When she got close to him she dropped her biro, and bent to pick it. The poor boy was also bending to help her pick it but he seemed to change his mind when he discovered he would see what he didn’t want to see if he bent any lower. He left her to pick it herself. She looked at him when she had picked it, holding his gaze a while and said thank you in the most enticing way she could.
The boy just nodded and turned away. She could see he was fighting it. He was the type of person she wanted. She had found her guy; a guy that wanted to please God and didn’t want to lust or sin against God. She would so pressure him till he lost everything he ever held dear. She walked back to her seat, and looked in his direction. He wasn’t looking at her.
She wasn’t moved by that. She was going to get him or die trying. The chap was hers.
“Fatima, did you see what that girl just did?”
“Yes I did”
“I was just thanking God I didn’t help her pick her pen; I would have seen…”
“I understand. Some girls are like that; they don’t care.”
Uche shook his head. “How I wish all girls would be like you; decent and proper.”
Fatima smiled, refusing to be moved by the comment. “Only God can do that in any life”
“I agree, but it’s so shameful. Some girls don’t seem to have much worth for their bodies. Some dress carelessly, and some that even dress decently, sit carelessly, so all that they covered while standing is exposed when sitting. I just wish someone would teach our girls how to sit and dress.”
“Really. My respect for any girl heightens when I know she dresses, sits and talks well.”
Fatima giggled.
“What’s so funny?”
“You’re an Igbo boy proper” she said, now laughing.
“Knock that off”, he said, smiling. “I think it’s about values.”
“I agree. And I think guys too should learn how to refuse to look if they face the temptation.”
“It’s hard o!” Uche lamented.
“I can imagine. But it is possible. Didn’t you just do it?”
“Yes, I succeeded but not all guys can do it; it takes a lot of discipline, and God’s help too.”
“You see”, Fatima said, “that’s the conclusion. To avoid being temptresses or falling into tempatation, as the case may be, girls and guys need to have a relationship with Jesus”
“Preach sister!”
“Uche, be serious for once” Fatima said, swinging to slap him on the back, but Uche dodged.
Shortly before they finished their food, they noticed the girl walk towards the door with a guy in a way that spoke volumes – they were about to destroy their bodies some more.
“I think that girl needs prayers” Fatima said and Uche was about to assent when the girl turned in their direction, smiled at Uche, and then continued her exit.
Fatima couldn’t believe what she just saw. She looked at Uche and his eyes reflected her thoughts. Uche was in big trouble.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 22)

Faith had left the clinic at noon. She had just loafed around for most of the day. She had lost her appetite; nothing seemed appealing to her. This had been her worst depression spell in a long time. She had refused to go in for dinner but sat on a pavement opposite the dinning hall.
She felt alone, uncared for and miserable. The tears began to flow again, and the walls she had built finally came crashing down as her tears became sobs. “God, I don’t even know if you can hear me. I know I have hurt you so much…” The pain in her heart was so great, she could hardly breathe. “I remember when we were so close and I served You. It all ended when mummy died. I am so sorry for saying it was your fault. I’m so sorry for all I have done wrong, God. Please forgive me.”
She wept uncontrollably before her first love; confessing her many hideous sins to Him; begging for His forgiveness. And as she did, she suddenly felt a wave of mercy and love rise in her. It was a feeling she couldn’t put into words. The tears kept flowing but they were now tears of gratitude.
She was so awed at how forgiving God was. With all she had done to hurt Him, He was forgiving her. It was too much for her to bear. She went on her knees there, not caring whoever might see her, and she rocked there in the presence of the God who never gave up on her but waited for her to come to the conference where He would meet with her again. She was indeed grateful.
“Father, thank you for bringing me back home. Thank you so much. I have missed you, Lord. I love you so much.” Even as she said those words, she knew she couldn’t undo the past she had created herself. She couldn’t undo the many days and nights she slept with several men; many of whom she couldn’t even remember. She couldn’t undo the words she had spoken against God. She couldn’t bring back the many pregnancies she had aborted; the babies she had killed.
She knew she couldn’t undo all these but if God had forgiven her, then there was hope of a better future. She would not allow the devil to eat her up with guilt. It was a new dawn for her; Christ had made her new, and she would live with that consciousness. Still on her knees, she asked, “God, so what next now?”
It had been a while she had heard God’s voice and she wondered if he would answer her. She suddenly felt a nudge to look upward. The dining hall. “What’s with the dining hall?” She then felt led to go in. “But dinner is over. Why should I go in?” The nudging was still there, so she decided to obey. She wiped her tears, dusted her skirt, and walked towards the dining hall. A weight of years had just been lifted off her neck by the Saviour Himself; she felt free. She felt new.
Stanley had tried over and again to scheme out a tactic he would use to get Shade. He wanted her and he was going to get her. ‘I have to have her tonight or it might be too late.’ He had sat with new friends during dinner as Okpara and Utibe had left him. As expected, Shade had sat Utibe during dinner but he had left very early.
Stanley had wondered why until he remembered that the program for the night was a mock reality TV show and Utibe was one of the producers. He had to be in the hall early enough to plan it. Shade was rounding up her meal, preparing to leave. Stanley had told his new friends to go ahead that he had some business to settle. There were just few people left in the dinning hall.
He did a quick scan and couldn’t identify any face he knew, until he looked at his far right and saw Tunbosun standing with four other people. They were laughing, and seemed in no hurry to leave the dinning room. He wondered what they were waiting for. ‘Tunbosun, tomorrow would be your own day’ he said to himself. It was Shade’s day. He walked towards where Shade was seated. He stopped mid-stride when he heard someone call Shade’s name, walking fast in that direction. He turned to see it was Tunbosun.
‘What is your problem girl? Why are you spoiling things?’ he thought to himself as he watched her reach Shade before him. The two girls now walked towards the direction Tunbosun had just come from. Frustrated, he walked towards the exit, deciding he would wait for Shade outside. One night wouldn’t pass without him having a new girl.
Faith was getting close to the entrance when a boy almost bumped into her. She moved away to let him pass; he wasn’t even looking up; he must have been so angry at something or someone. It was then, she noticed he was the guy she slept with the night before. The Stanley guy. He looked so composed; like he knew his game well when it came to girls. He acted like nothing could get at him, but Faith knew better. She had been there.
She was sure there was something eating him up inside that made him look so hard on the outside; something that caused him so much pain and fear. Faith hoped he would find God someday, so he could find the cure to his internal disease; the disease doctors could never see – the disease of the human heart.
She continued into the hall and it was almost empty; save a bunch of students clustered at one table. Faith felt a final nudging to walk towards them. She wondered why as she tried to imagine what she would say. She obeyed still, longing to have whatever God had in store for her.
They were ready to pack the plates and Tunbosun had told them she wanted to include her friend. When they had consented, she hurried to call her. She had introduced her as Shade. She seemed to be a nice girl. Fatima looked over Shade’s shoulders, and saw a girl walking towards them.
The girl looked like the girl that had danced the same night Fatima performed her dance-drama. Fatima wondered what such a girl would be doing walking towards them. It was then she heard His voice.
“She has just returned home – a sheep that strayed; please welcome her and nurture her”. Hearing that, Fatima understood clearly what she had to do. While the others were still getting acquainted with Shade, she walked round the table and walked towards the girl. On reaching her, she extended her arms for an embrace, and the girl, without a word, received the embrace. The next sounds Fatima heard where sniffs as the girl began to cry.
Fatima had not known what to expect; she was only obeying God. Now, tears came down her own cheeks too. It was like God put His own heart into hers and she could feel what He was feeling at the moment. It was then she remembered the parable of the prodigal son; how the father welcomed the son home.
After a while, still holding the girl, she walked her to where the other five were standing; watching and waiting. When she got to the table, she helped the girl to her seat. When Shade saw the face, she went over to her.
“You know her?” Fatima asked.
“Yes I do. What happened to her?” Shade was asking Fatima.
“I don’t know the details, but God told me she is a sheep that has just returned home” Fatima said, and noticed that Shade’s hand flew to her mouth and her eyes filled almost immediately. Fatima smiled; Shade likely knew something they all didn’t.
Shade reached out and hugged Faith, who was still lost in tears. Every other person watched silently as they watched another miracle like they had witnessed in the morning. Tara, who was an observer this time, watched in awe. They were about to hear the story.
When Faith eventually lifted her head, Fatima told her what God had led her to do. She then introduced the others, trying to assure Faith she could feel safe with them, and open up to them. It was after Fatima’s words that Faith found her voice.
She started from the beginning and told them how God had used her greatly when she was much younger. She told of how she heard God speak to her clearly, how He revealed secrets to her in dreams, and how he even used her once to bring to life a baby that had just died; still in her mother’s arms. As she spoke, they all listened with rapt attention. No one wanted to miss a word of the things she was saying.
She told them about her exploits in Federal Government College, Ipetumodu. Shade confirmed the things she said. “Almost everyone who had a problem came to me for counseling and prayers; I was just a junior student. I was just so in love with God and as I served Him, He blessed my family, my academics and every other thing that mattered to me. So, I was encouraged to go on”, she said.
Shade, who thought she knew so much of Faith’s life when in FEGGI was herself dumbfounded when she heard the things Faith had done, and experienced in her relationship with Jesus. Faith even told them of the day, while in JSS3 she went on a three-day marathon fast, drinking only water. For a JSS3 student, Shade thought that was very remarkable.
Then, Faith got to the part where the tears threatened to begin again. It was the part that had changed her life till this moment. “…Then, one month after we moved to Calabar”, she continued, “my mother was diagnosed with advanced cancer of the breast. My faith had never been has strong and has adamant as in those few months my mother lived after that. I prayed so hard, fasted, stopped watching TV, and just did everything I could do to let God know I was sacrificing so much for my mother’s health.
“I told my mum and everybody that cared to listen that my mum was going to get well ‘cause God would heal her. Four months after her diagnosis, she died.” Faith said, as a tear made its way down. “That’s when I revolted. I felt I needed to give God a classic revenge; not an ordinary one; but a record-breaking one that would hurt Him so bad. So, I did everything I had preached against, gave my body to every boy in Cross-River who cared to have me. It was simply terrible.
“And with every day, my sorrow grew deeper and my heart harden the more.” She sniffed. “Sometimes I longed to have again what I had lost but I always succeeded in dragging myself back to the pit. But today, for the first time in close to two years, I heard God whisper words of love to me in my most depressed state; that was all it took.”
She looked round at them. “I’m here now, and I feel His love around me like I have never felt it before.” She started crying again, but continued through her tears. “What grieves me most now is the time, years, and opportunities I’ve lost to sin. I can imagine how far I would have gone with God, if I didn’t go on this crazy journey I embarked upon”
She shook her head, and then lifted her hands to God with tears streaming down her face, unashamed. “But I thank you dear Father that you didn’t for one day quit on me. Thank you for forgiving me. It’s so so so good to be back home, Lord. I’ve missed you. Lord Jesus, I love you!”
Putting her hands down, she wiped her tears, and for the first time in two years, she smiled. A smile that came from deep within her soul; a smile of rest and contentment.
The moment was so precious, everyone just remained silent. The only sounds heard where the sniffs of the different people lost in the moment.
“I want to rededicate my life to Christ today”, Shade said, breaking through the silence. “Please you all should pray for me.”
“Me too.” Tunbosun said as she walked towards her friend and they both knelt down before God, in the presence of the others. Fatima, George, Uche and Tara formed a chain around the three girls; the two who were rededicating their lives to Christ and the one who had just come back home and began to pray for them.
When they were done, they took their turns hugging one another. Then, Fatima looked at them all and said she had a message for them. “God says it’s no coincidence that we are seven right now. He wants to use us to be instruments of His these next seven days of the conference. He says we would experience and see things we have never seen before. He’s asking us to offer our lives for His service as He uses us to bring liberation to students here.”
As she said it, she could see the fire in each person’s eyes. Only the devil himself could have been in that atmosphere, seeing God work mightily and not want to be His instrument in spreading that fire to many more seeking, lost and confused students that littered the conference. It was going to be a great task indeed.
They agreed they would meet immediately after the briefing the next day. They encouraged each other to pray ahead, so God could lead them as to how to go about the whole plan.
George looked at his wristwatch. “We’d better hurry up with the packing of plates. We are behind schedule.”
They started work immediately, the new recruits not left out. They were done packing all the plates and cleaning the tables in less than twenty minutes. The women thanked them as the custom was now. The seven of them felt fulfilled.
As they exited the hall, jubilant at the responsibility God had laid on their shoulders, they had no clue that the enemy too had just upgraded his own arsenal and was ready to cut them down one after the other. It was going to be war, and the war was starting the same night. Immediately.
Shade turned when she heard her name to see Stanley beckoning on her. He looked rather sober; not acting like the player-boy she knew him to be. She decided he must have something worthwhile to say. She had been straggling behind with Tunbosun; others were quite a way ahead. “I’ll meet you in the hall, go ahead”, she said to Tunbosun, who then jogged up to catch up with the rest.
“Why are you not in the hall?”
“They’ve not started yet.” He said.
“What’s up?” she asked, noting that just a few people were any where in sight.
“Utibe sent me to you” he, said, lying. While he waited for her, Stanley had cooked up several lines he was going to use in persuading Shade to walk to the back of the dining with him. He would do the rest from there; he just needed her in the right spot. Of all the lines he had tried, this seemed to be the most logical, and he was going to use it very well.
“I thought he was to go early to help with the setting up for the show.”
“Yes. He has done it already and came back. He then told me to tell you something; something he was too afraid to tell you himself.”
Shade was scared. She wondered what it was that Utibe would be afraid to tell her about. She dreaded the feeling that was creeping up her spine. She couldn’t stand it. She was afraid.
Stanley on the other hand was happy; he could see the fear in her eyes. He just needed to choose his next words carefully, and Shade would be vile in a few minutes.

Novella: La Conferencia (Chapter 23)

Christiana was so full of smiles. There was nothing particular amusing going on up the stage but she was excited because she had just caught her second fish and she had done it in less than twelve minutes. The victim was sitting much to her front; feeling macho, not knowing that he had just been reduced to zero. She’d deserted him immediately as she had done the day before to her first catch.
With the guy conquered, all that consumed her thoughts was that Igbo chap she had to have next. She needed to mock him and his God at the same time. She wondered where he was. She resigned herself to the fact that she couldn’t see him again; he would most likely be in front because the program was underway and she felt she was one of the last people to enter the hall.
She suddenly noticed movement behind her and looked. Some folks were walking into the hall. She wondered if they were escapades folks too until she saw the Igbo boy among them. She couldn’t believe her fortune. She was so happy. She hoped he would seat next to her as two seats to her left were free.
Just as she desired, he eased himself into the chair next to her and his Hausa friend sat on the next seat, by the aisle. He hadn’t noticed her; he was so preoccupied with ensuring his other friends had found seats, which they were doing on the other side of the aisle where few chairs were still available.
She decided to give him time. Before the show was over, she would definitely make her presence known to the guy. ‘It is no coincidence you’re sitting next to me, boy. You’re meant to be my next trophy, and you will be’ she thought to herself as she returned her attention to the stage.
Uche felt privileged again to be the one sitting with Fatima. It was his opportunity to pop the question. He had been so confused as to how to go about it earlier in the day that he had decided to write out his feelings in a sheet of paper. He felt so cowardly doing that, but he preferred expressing himself that way than not expressing himself at all.
He had taken his time to scribble down all he felt for Fatima. He left nothing back. He had taken one last look at the letter before he folded it; he had been impressed with himself. He had a good handwriting, which only added to the flavor. He had surprised himself with the romantic lines he had written down. He hadn’t known he was that skillful.
Reaching down into his breast pocket, he brought out the letter, smiling as he replayed the words there in his mind. He wondered what Fatima would say after reading it. Looking at the way things were with them, he was almost sure she would give him a yes. His palms were wet – he was dead nervous.
Uche tried to remember the first time he had written a love letter. The memory shot a chuckle through his throat. Fatima turned when she heard his chuckle, smiled and returned her gaze, probably assuming he was chuckling at a sight on the platform.
It had been one girl in his Primary 5 class. Uche had always had a penchant for long hair, and this girl had it in abundance. She was a half-caste. She was pretty, fair and long-haired. That was just enough to get Uche’s little and growing heart so enamored. Her name was Cecilia. It had taken Uche several attempts, over weeks, before he could pronounce her name well. It had seemed the hardest name in the world at that time, and yet it was the one name he longed to know how to pronounce.
Uche shifted in his chair as the conference participants applauded; they must have been fascinated by something. He didn’t care. He resumed his memories. Cecilia was also a very pleasant girl, which only added to Uche’s problems. She usually brought sweets for all her classmates at least once a week; sweets Uche cherished, not because there was anything special about them but because of the person that gave him.
Uche had the last straw when there was reshuffling and Cecilia became his seat mate, as they sat in two’s. He liked her so much he became so shy and reticent; afraid to talk to her lest he would say something that would make her plead for a change of seat. He was going to be content with her sitting beside him.
But as time went by, she started talking to him, sharing her mid-day snacks with him, and asking him to explain assignments to her. Uche had been content with the state of their friendship until he watched a Disney film in his house and saw a boy his age write a love letter to a girl and the story ended happily ever after. That was the inspiration Uche needed.
Unfortunately for him, the boy in the film hadn’t read out the letter for rookies like Uche to know what to write. So, he had decided to do the writing himself. It was simply woeful. Uche smiled as he remembered.
He had given the letter to Cecilia on a Friday afternoon. He gave her and ran into his mum’s car immediately. He wondered and worried throughout the weekend what the result would be. He got his result on Monday. Cecilia, without saying a word to him, asked their class teacher for a change of seat. Uche was miserable for that whole week but eventually got over it. Till the present moment, Uche still had no clue what prompted the girl to do that. Was it the words of the letter? Did she show her mother? He had no idea.
Uche laughed at himself. ‘I must have been very un-romantic’ he thought. He fingered the letter he had in his hand, wondering what the result of this would be. He decided he would never forgive himself if he was a coward enough not to tell Fatima how he felt about her.
He straightened up and looked at Fatima who was watching the show. With his heart in his mouth, he tapped her and she turned. He handed her the letter. “I wrote something there for you.”
He couldn’t miss the look on her face. It was a combination of surprise and curiosity; wondering what her friend wrote about.
“Can I read it now?” she asked, smiling.
“Sure” Uche said, barely above a whisper. He could only hope she would still be smiling after she read the letter; that was all he longed for. A smile. And a YES.
Feeling nervous and wanting to get distracted while Fatima read the letter, Uche put his right arm on the arm rest of his chair, tilted his head backwards and closed his eyes. He suddenly felt warmness on his arm. He tried to register that feeling without opening his eyes. Someone had placed a hand on his arm; it was probably a mistake and would soon be removed.
His eyes flew open when the hand stroked his arm. ‘Who would dare…’ His thoughts were halted midway as he looked to his right and saw the girl he had met in the dinning hall, giving him that smile that set his hormones on fire. He literally jerked his arm away from her. He scowled at her but she didn’t seem affected by it; it even seemed to deepen her smile.
Uche had to look away from her. He was losing control. He had removed his arm immediately but was still feeling sensations on his skin. Little did he know that Christiana had only started; she had more things in store for him – things only a dead man could resist.
The show had run for about ten minutes already and George was impressed at the efforts participants had put into it. He was flanked on the left and right by Tara and Tunbosun respectively; Tunbosun seating by the aisle, and Faith seating close to Tara on the other end, with an empty seat, to her left, reserved for Shade.
He had made it so far to keep his thoughts straight; he had avoided looking lustfully at either Tara or Tunbosun, but he wondered how long he would last. Before he gave his life to Christ, from experience, he knew that the moment he gave in to lust, he was most likely to stay down for about a week before he found enough strength to get back up. He dreaded what that would make of him for the rest of the conference.
He knew he had to tell Fatima as soon as possible; she would have the counsel he needed; he wondered why he hadn’t told her after diner. He looked in her direction and saw she was reading something from a paper. He wondered what was written there that seemed to get so much of her attention. He smiled at how carried away she was, reading it. For now, he had to bear his cross himself.
He looked back at the stage but permitted himself to be a distracted a while, as he wanted to talk to God. ‘Father, thank you for how you’ve held me so far. I’m so sorry for falling to lusting after Tara earlier today. God, you know I’m so weak now and I don’t have the power to help myself. Please help me; I cannot afford to do what I shouldn’t. I trust you’ll help me’.
George prayed knowing that was his only hope. If God didn’t help him, he was sure he would never leave the conference the way he came; the next seven days were enough for lust to kill him. He only hoped he would overcome.
Stanley smiled. “You don’t have to be afraid, Shade. Nothing went wrong.” He said, trying to be the knight to the lady in distress. His words seemed to re-assure her. He was glad. Things were working according to plan. It was now time to get to the point. He was behind schedule.
“Utibe was too shy to tell you this in person, so he told me to help him. He didn’t want to see the expression on your face when he told you”
Shade was now confused. “Tell me what?”
“He said he wanted you guys to do some restitution”
“I don’t get”
Stanley moved closer, and spoke barely above a whisper. “He said he wanted you guys to go to the same spot you made out yesterday, and apologise to each other on that spot.”
“I see no reason for that. We didn’t have sex.” Shade said, wondering where Utibe would have gotten such an idea from.
Stanley nodded. “I know. He only said that he feels so guilty he ever touched you.” Stanley saw he was losing this; Shade wasn’t convinced. He had to say something smart.
“He said it would mean a lot to him” He observed Shade softened at those words.
“Where is he now?” Shade asked, sincerely concerned; wanting to do it only if to make Utibe happy. They were not going to do anything wrong; just to apologize to each other. That was not too much for her to do for him.
“He’s already waiting for you.”
“Okay. Thanks.” She said, and started heading in that direction, not wanting to keep Utibe waiting. But she noticed that Stanley was following her. ‘Wasn’t he just supposed to deliver the message and go?’ she asked herself. But she discarded the thoughts. He probably wanted to follow her to make sure she was safe because the back of the dining was dark.
Shade turned the corner to the back of the dinning where it was so dark, anyone who hadn’t been there before wouldn’t know where to go. As she turned, she tried to see the spot where they had been the night before but it was still a distance; she couldn’t see from there. She needed to move forward some more.
Shade was unaware that Stanley had closed up on her. She began to have doubts about the whole thing. She noticed there were no other couples around. Getting close enough to the spot, she saw no one was there. In fear, she turned around, and saw a figure five paces from her. ‘What on earth have I gotten myself into?’
She wanted to scream but couldn’t find her voice. She stood transfixed until the figure got closer and she could see the face. It was Stanley. She sighed, relieved and wanted to ask him to escort her back when she saw his eyes in the moonlight. They were not the eyes she had seen a few minutes ago. They were full of raw lust. Full of evil.
Her eyes went wide with fear and she opened her mouth to scream but Stanley’s hands was faster. He covered her mouth with one hand and grabbed her with the second.
Tunbosun was watching the show and had noticed Shade’s friend, Utibe, helping with the production. She suddenly noticed him walk down the back stage and walk up the aisle towards the back; he probably wanted to use the gents. She felt a nudge to greet him. It was unlike her to greet the guy but she just felt she should.
“Hi” Tunbosun said, as Utibe drew closer, just before he passed her.
He stepped back, and recognizing the face, greeted her. “Hi, how are you?”
“I’m good”. She noticed he quickly scanned the seats close to her.
“Where is Shade?” he asked.
“Your friend stopped her to talk with her when we were coming here”, Tunbosun said casually but saw the drastic change in his features.
“What friend?” he asked, trying to keep calm.
“The tall, well built guy”
“Where was that?” he demanded, hurriedly.
“Outside the dinning, just before…” She hadn’t finished her statement before Utibe dashed past her. He was sure fast-footed. She wondered what the matter was and couldn’t think of a possible cause for his reaction. She looked away and continued watching the show.
Utibe ran at top speed. He hoped against hope that he hadn’t seen Tunbosun a second late. He would never forgive himself. He knew what Stanley was capable of and he wasn’t going to let it happen. As he approached the dinning hall, he saw no one in sight. His heart was getting heavy; dreading the worst. But he kept running hard and fast.
‘Shade, I’m so sorry for putting you through this’, he thought. Then through gritted teeth, he said, “Stanley, I’m going to kill you”. Those were his last words as he turned the corner and ran into the darkness, hoping for a miracle.