VIVIAN WAS CONTENT with her mid term results and that really boosted her confidence in herself; she felt more intelligent and knew in her hearts of heart that she was not a dullard after all. She continued to work hard towards the end of term examination and visited Dupe often for advice and tutorials. Her life was finally beginning to look good and she felt good about it, this changed her attitude to a lot of things and she started to smile a lot and play with her classmates and friends more. Some even commented on her change and asked what had happened to her, all she said in response was “God loves me”. Little did she know that a certain heart had started beating and lusting after her.
Seun sat on his table and watched Vivian as she laughed and threw her head backwards, he had never really heard or seen her laugh before and that picture struck a chord in his heart. He could not take his eyes off her, he did not care if he was staring. He watched as her lips curved into the sweetest smile he had ever seen and in that moment, he told himself that he was going to kiss those innocent lips and he was going to get Vivian to be his girlfriend. Just then, Vivian looked towards his direction and caught him staring at her, but he did not move his eyes, she looked away immediately, but Seun never took his eyes off her and he caught her stealing frequent glances at him every now and then, he was happy, it was a good start now that she had noticed him. He kept watching her.
After school hours on Thursday, Vivian could not wait to leave the classroom and run to her hostel, she wanted to escape the eyes of Seun, who kept staring at her through out the day. Her heart was beating fast as she packed her books and locked her locker. As she turned to leave, Seun was standing right in front of her.
“Hi, why are you in so much hurry?” he asked
At first, Vivian did not respond, she did not know what to say. Seun was the most eligible bachelor in her class, (that was how they described guys in her school who were handsome and not dating anyone). She caught herself immediately and hoped he had not noticed the effect he had on her.
“I’m not in a hurry, I just want to catch up with someone. How may I help you?” She finally said
“Just wanted to ask if your literature note is complete and if I can borrow it”
“I’m sorry, I just gave it to someone else. I really have to run now” She smiled at him and walked away.
Seun was content, he had seen her reaction towards him, even though she had tried to hide it, and he smiled as he waited anxiously for another Friday night.
Vivian felt tension build inside her heart as she thought of what had happened that afternoon after school. In Balm of Gilead, girls always get excited whenever a guy who has never spoken to them asks for their note, a biro or something really absurd. They had just started reading Robinson Crusoe in literature class and there was no new note to copy. Vivian sighed as she thought about it, it could mean only one thing; Seun liked her. She thought of going to Dupe to ask for advice, but she decided that she would wait and see what happens that Friday. She did not want to get her hopes high and get it dashed. She remembered what Pastor Chris had said about meditating on the wrong things so she closed her eyes and thought about how wonderful it felt like to know that somebody in heaven loved her.
Seun knew Vivian would be expecting him to make a move on Friday night, so he did not. He only greeted her casually on that night and went about his business. He wanted to take his time and not seem too forward. He decided he was going to be first a good friend and then hit the nail when she is not expecting it at all.
ON SUNDAY MORNING, as Chioma and Dupe strolled to the hall for church service, Chioma was giddy with excitement. She was smiling and chattering unusually. Dupe had to ask her what she dreamt about the previous night, but Chioma said nothing. When the service started, Chioma excused herself and went out of the hall. After the praise and worship and testimonies, the moderator called on the Ambassadors, a dance group everyone had come to love and admire in school as far as gospel dancing was concerned. When they climbed up stage, Dupe gasped as she saw Chioma on stage too.
The music started and they started dancing. Dupe’s eyes were fixed on Chioma as she flexed and moved her body to the music. She was surprised, she never had any idea that Chioma could dance so well. The audience cheered loud as Chioma came forward to do her solo.
Behind the hall, Timi watched with equal amazement as Chioma danced. He joined the audience to cheer as she did her solo and then they concluded the dance. Timi joined everyone as they stood up to cheer the group. A thought crossed his mind, he smiled as he watched Chioma walk down the stage.
Dupe could hardly wait for the service to be over; she was so excited to talk to Chioma about her new found talent. As soon as they shared the grace, a lot of people gathered around Chioma to shower her with praises. Dupe could scarcely get to her, so she decided to let everyone have their time with her now since she could have her all to herself in the hostel.
Chioma was so excited, she was smiling from chin to chin as people came to shower her with praises.
“Hey girl! where on earth have you been hiding that talent?” Timi said
Chioma smiled at Timi as he shook her hand and appreciated her. He returned her smile and winked at her before he left her hand and walked away. Chioma’s heart did a double flip. Her heart was soaring as she made her way to the hostel.
As soon as the executives finished their usual meeting, Dupe dashed to Chioma’s room. When she got there, she met the X girls talking to Chioma. These were a group of girls that were very popular in school; they were pretty and the desire of many guys. They were also good dancers but not gospel dancers. They danced during the social nights. When they spotted Dupe, they excused themselves telling Chioma to think about their offer.
“Chic, which offer are they making you?”
“They want me to come and join their dance group”
“I hope you are not considering them o! What does light have to do with darkness?”
“Dupe don’t worry, I am not even giving it a thought” Chioma lied.
“Where on earth did you learn all those moves Chioma? I never knew you could dance so well.” Dupe said. “How did it happen?”
Chioma narrated how she was dancing in the hostel on Saturday afternoon and one of the girls in Ambassadors dance group spotted her and invited her for rehearsal that afternoon before choir rehearsal.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I wanted to surprise you jare” Chioma replied smiling.
“You are now the talk of the whole school. I’m so glad you are my friend. Imagine, my friend is the latest celebrity in school.” Dupe said so excited.
Chioma just kept laughing, she did not tell Dupe about the wink she got from Timi. To her, that was the best greeting she received that afternoon. They gisted for a while before Dupe went to her room to rest before lunch. Throughout that day, Chioma basked in her new found popularity; she did not need Dupe to be popular after all. Before night prep, many other people came to talk to her, even guys who had never looked her way before. She was so happy.
The week went well, and another Friday night came. Chioma had enjoyed the week so much. The X girls were still presenting their offer to her and the whole school knew about it that even increased her popularity. Timi had been unusually nice to her during the week too, so she was not surprised when he asked to walk her to the hostel that night. Dupe had been beside her when he had asked her, but Chioma did not even seek her opinion, her answer was prompt like she had been expecting it.
Dupe felt uncomfortable with the arrangement but decided to keep her opinion to herself until she heard from Chioma what Timi had told her later in the night.
Around that same time, Seun had put his plan in place and had decided to ask Vivian out that night. He had played a good friend for about 2weeks and had gotten a reasonable percentage of her trust. As he saw her approaching the class he walked up to her.
“Hi gal, how are you doing tonight?”
“I’m cool and you?” Vivian responded coolly.
“Fine, thanks. Just wanted to know if I could walk you to the hostel tonight”
Vivian gasped for breath and just stared at him. When she recovered she asked him why.
“I just wanna talk to you?”
“Ok, no problem then.” Vivian said and hurried into class. Her friends made some funny sounds as she went to her seat, she just ignored them.
When the bell rang, Vivian’s heart started beating fast. Seun waited for her at the door, and then they started walking towards the hostel.
“Hope the fatigue was not too stressful?” He asked
“What I want to tell you is very important Vivian and I mean every word I am going to tell you tonight.” Seun said
“For some time now, you have been constantly on my mind. In think about you every time of the day. I should have spoken earlier but I wanted to be sure of myself”. He paused. When Vivian did not say anything, he continued. “You are very beautiful Vivian and I don’t know how I could not have noticed till now. I love you Vivian. I would like to have you as my girlfriend. I promise to treat you like a queen that you are and love no other person but you”. Seun concluded and waited for her to respond.
As they came to a halt in front of the girl’s hostel, Vivian looked at Seun and asked for time to think about it.
“I love you very much Vivian and I mean it.” He said before saying goodnight. As he walked away, Vivian stared at him for a while before turning into her hostel. Her heart had melted when he said he loved her. No one had told her that before and it sounded good in her ears. She smiled as she entered her room and lay on her bed. All she could think of was the look on Seun’s face when he said he loved her.
At that same time, Chioma had the same smile on her face as she walked into her room. She could not believe Timi, the head boy and most eligible bachelor in SS 3 had asked her out. She felt giddy as she remembered the words he had spoken to her. He had also said he loved her and promised to love and cherish her like a queen. Chioma was so glad. The week had turned out so well and she knew better things were coming. The only problem she had was how to tell Dupe. She knew Timi had wanted to date Dupe but she had turned him down several times. As the thought ran through her head, Dupe came into the room.
“Chic, oya, come and gist me. What did Timi say to you?”
“What else, he asked me out of course”
“What was your reply Chioma?”
“I said yes now! Or were you expecting me to say no to him?”
“Chi, are you sure you know what you are doing? I feel something is not right about this. Don’t you think he just wants to get to me through you as my best friend?”
Chioma felt a surge of anger in her heart. “What is that supposed to mean Dupe? Do you think you are the only beautiful girl that a guy can love? You think no guy can actually love me for who I am?”
“Chioma that is not what I meant. I am only concerned about you”
“Thank you very much; I do not need your concern. Do you know what I think? I think you are just jealous because he left you for me.”
Dupe opened her mouth but no words came out.
“You know what, I am done being under your shadow. You are just jealous of my new found identity and popularity. Face it girl, there are other pretty gals on the block and your time is up” Chioma said. She was surprised at herself and what she had just said to Dupe. But she could not take it back. Everyone in the room turned their attention to them. Dupe quietly stood up and left the room. Chioma just stared after her.
Dupe ran to her room, shut the door behind her and jumped on her bed crying. She could not believe Chioma had spoken those words to her. How could she be jealous when she didn’t even like Timi. Dupe cried herself to sleep that night.
Chioma woke up the next morning feeling bad about what she had said to Dupe the previous night. She remembered how she had committed herself to the process of renewing her mind and letting go of all her bitterness. But she had let it out again and hurt Dupe again too. She felt really bad. She stood up from her bed and went to Dupe’s room. Dupe’s room was open but there was no one in. Chioma entered the room and decided to wait for her. She walked over to Dupe’s reading table and saw a book with ‘My Journal’ written on it. Curiosity got the best of her and she picked it up and opened a few pages. As she read through, she found the page where Dupe had written about the day she had been in the garden and Chioma had come over to call her for fellowship. A particular phrase caught her attention, it read;
“Lord, I can’t believe I masturbated today again! Why does this keep happening to me lord. Please, will it ever stop?”
Chioma could not believe what she was seeing. Could it be true? She flipped through the pages and saw similar entries. Chioma dropped the journal in disgust. She refused to believe that the same Dupe she was hurting herself over and wanting to be like was actually a hypocrite, a masturbator. Chioma was so disappointed; someone everyone thought was the perfect take home to mama type, someone she had longed so much to be like. She did not want Dupe to meet her in the room now that she had known her secret.
A sudden surge of anger and sadness engulfed her. She could not face Dupe and say anything to her. Chioma hurriedly left Dupe’s room and ran to her hostel. She had just learnt a hard thing about her best friend and it was hard to swallow. She knew something inside her had changed with the recent discovery and another thing she knew from the depth of her heart was the fact that, their friendship would never remain the same again.
Dupe walked into her room with tears in her eyes. Early in the morning, she had felt strong sexual urges and she had known that if she waited another minute, she would masturbate. So she had hurriedly put on something decent and ran to the school garden. There she had gone on her knees and cried out to God to save her and help Chioma. The events of the previous night played in her head and she cried her heart out to God. The fear she had some weeks back engulfed her again and drove her to her knees weeping and pleading to God. In the midst of all that, God had whispered in her ears “Be strong child, I am with you always” She sat on her bed and looked around her room.
Her journal was on the floor, opened to the page where she had written about masturbating and then praying in the garden, which she had done today again, only this time, she had run from the temptation. She picked it up and closed it. She was happy that she was able to overcome the temptation that day. She only hoped no one had come to her room while she was away because she did not wait to lock her room before she left in the morning.. She thought of Chioma and decided to go and apologize to her. This time, Dupe patiently locked her door as she left the room to Chioma’s hostel.