The phone vibration under her pillow interrupted her Saturday afternoon nap, she stretched lazily and looked at the time it was just four o’clock meaning she had slept for just thirty minutes. She reluctantly reached for her phone which was ringing for the fourth time, it was just a number displayed on the screen. The first instinct was to put the phone on silent mode and go back to sleep but she decided against it and pressed the answer button. “Hello Noenye this is Uwem” came a familiar voice, “hey girlie longest time” she replied and after they had inquired about each other’s family and friends, Uwem popped a question Noenye was familiar with.
The memories kindled pain but Noenye could not stop it from coming, the pain had been there since the incident but she told no one not even Remi her closest friend. She had expected it to go away but it didn’t, the thoughts kept coming and today just the mention of the name had unlocked memories so vivid that the past years seemed like just yesterday.
Noenye and Remi turned out as best friends after they met in their first year and started moving together, their colleagues referred to them as “book worms” because they were serious with their academics and were less interested in campus social activities, Ekene their male counterpart came along and though he stayed outside the school(off camp) and the girls in the hostel, they were good friends. He too was very intelligent but he loved to mix school work with fun unlike his friends and still made very good grades. Somewhere around their second year Grace a fellow colleague came into their lives.
Grace was a girl whose beauty was difficult to hide, she had this skin colour that made one assume she was half caste, with beautiful brown eyes, she was enviously a “figure 8”,with well molded straight legs and dark rich hair. She was the kind of girl that would make heads turn in her direction whenever she passed by. Grace became almost like the fourth member of the group but was not as closely knit to the group like the trio was to each other.
Though Grace had “book worms” as friends, she was not as serious as they were with academics and they tried to help her by calling her before every lecture and informing her of assignments just to keep her on track. Then she skipped more classes and when confronted by either of her friends she would feign one excuse or the other, this continued until the unexpected happened-she left school for the MTN project fame audition without telling either of her friends and examinations commenced the week she left.
Everyone tried to reach her all to no avail then she came back after registration had ended for the new semester, obviously she did not make the audition and for a school like University of Ibadan that meant she had lost that semester. Though Noenye and Remi said nothing to her when she came back, Ekene was in touch with her, but the girls thought to teach her not to mess with her friends. Then the news came that she was sick, they would have gone to visit but they did not know exactly where she was as she was not at home and project submission and defence deadline was closer so the visit was postponed till further notice. Then the phone calls came in tens and twenties, “Noenye is it true?” someone asked, Remi “What happened?” the other asked, Ekene complained of the same thing, everyone wanted to know. Today Uwem had called early that morning to ask the same thing, “What happened to Grace?”.
Noenye let the tears flow, tears she had held back for the past one and a half years, she did not cry when a neighbor to Grace’s family told her of her death. She had tried to wave it off and good enough she was done with school, she carefully tried to avoid everything and everyone that could remind her, but deep in her heart she felt a loss she could not explain. The tears trickled down her cheeks; as she reached for her album which she kept on her bedside table. With much effort she flipped through till she found the page with Grace’s picture, this made the tears come even more, she grabbed a biro and scribbled behind R.I.P and returned the picture to its place. Only then did she accept that it was over, Grace was gone and the long battle with denial was over.