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.
…TO BE CONTINUED.