*Sorry for the late continuation. I had some issues I had to deal with. Thanks for your patience*
Eric and Oleng knew they had little time together so they spent it wisely. They were now inseparable. After school, Eric would spend some time with her before going home. Whenever he was tired of reading, he would go over to her house. They spent their weekends together. This was their normal routine except when her Mum or Tessy was at home.
Time flew and Eric West African Examination Council Exams began. Then it was time for NECO. Eric decided to write the NECO exams just to spend more time with Oleng because it was only WAEC that was needed for his schooling abroad. He had already written his GED and passed. It was a hard time for Oleng because she rarely saw Eric due to his exams and she was preparing for her own third term exams.
The exams finally came to an end. On the last day of the exams, Oleng, Zinny and Marvy waited a short distance from the SS3 classroom. Physics was their last paper so Oleng was assured that Eric would come out smiling. He was a genius in physics. The art and social science students had finished two days earlier leaving the science students to finish theirs that day. It had been much joy for them and their friends from SS2 downwards had waited for them to come out of the hall to hug and congratulate them. Hence the three friends were waiting to do the same to Eric, Eddy and Dave.
“The way I’m feeling right now, I can actually kiss them when they come out. Oleng, hope you won’t mind if I kiss Eric?” Zinny questioned smiling broadly.
“Just try it.” Oleng warned and they all
“Its Dave I know I can kiss. Certainly not Eddy. That womanizer will read meaning into it and before you know it, he’ll want to get down with me.” Oleng said and they all laughed again.
There was a small silence before Marvy remarked with great emotion. “I’m really going to miss them. I can’t imagine lunch break without them anymore. I know for a while now we haven’t spent our lunch break with them because of their exams but it was just like a temporary thing to me then but now I realize its forever.”
“Yes Marvy. I’m really going to miss them. Eric’s charming personality, Eddy’s silly and flirtatious attitude, Dave’s quiet and cool nature. I’m not sorry to have known them. All thanks to Oleng here. If not for her friendship with Eric, we would never have been friends with such nice guys.” Zinny pronounced smiling.
“Yeah, thanks Oleng.” Marvy smiled also and hugged Oleng who just kept quiet.
Zinny and Marvy kept recounting all their experiences with the three seniors. They discussed how the three friends were like them in terms of tribe. Eric was from Rivers state, Eddy was from Anambra state and Dave was from Bayelsa state. They were all from different states like them too. Oleng was from Cross River, Ezinne was from Abia state while Marvy was from Rivers state.
They didn’t know the effect they were having on Oleng. All this while, she had put a mental block against thinking of living without Eric but as her friends talked continuously about him and his two friends, reality dawned on her. She finally saw her future without Eric.
“Oleng!” Marvy exclaimed as she saw tears rolling down her friend’s eyes.
“What’s the matter?”
Oleng cleaned her unheeding tears and picked up her bag. “Please tell Eric I’m sorry. I can’t stay.”
“Oleng, what’s wrong?” Zinny demanded of her friend who was already walking away.
Oleng stopped and turned around. “A week from today, Eric will be leaving for California where he’s going to school. He’ll be gone for about four years.” she announced still in tears.
“Please tell him I’m sorry that I can’t share his joy on a special day like this. I’ll only make a fool of myself if I stay because I know I won’t be able to look at him and not remember that I’ll lose him a week from now. I’ll only wet his shirt with my tears of sorrow instead of joy.”
With that sorrowful declaration she quickly walked away leaving her friends in a sad mood.
“No wonder she’s been so sad.” Marvy commented at her friend’s receding figure.
“Yes, poor girl. Marvy, we must make sure that she doesn’t feel Eric’s absence. We’ll be closer to her now more than ever.”
“Sure. That’s if she’ll let us.”
“No matter what, we must try.”
They waited there alone with others quietly. They however became joyous again when students started filing out with great joy and students were screaming and hugging each other.
The three people they were waiting for came out together. Zinny rushed to hug Eddy, Marvy ran to hug Dave too. Eric looked around for Oleng but she was nowhere to be found. He was both hurt and disappointed. Zinny rushed to hug him and Marvy followed suit. Female students who had been looking for an opportunity to get close to the gorgeous former senior prefect saw their chance.
They hugged and kissed him continuously. Zinny had to forcefully drag them away. She became his self appointed personal body guard. Eric put up a happy front but inwardly, he wasn’t happy. Where was his best friend on a day like this? He didn’t accept the excuse she had given to her friends. She had given no thought of his feelings whatsoever. Didn’t she think of how he would feel seeing she wasn’t there to share his joy? He knew how she felt but he felt the same way also.
He heard people whispering that they had quarreled, that was why she wasn’t here. For the first time in their relationship, he was truly angry with her. She had behaved in a self centered manner.
When he got home, his mum welcomed him like a king. His dad who was usually not at home at that time of the day was at home to welcome him like a king also. They had arranged a small party for him. He tried his best to be cheerful. His brother and relatives called to congratulate him. He however kept rejecting Oleng’s calls. He didn’t feel like talking to her just yet. When the small party was over, he went to his room with the excuse that he was tired.
After awhile, he decided to pick Oleng’s call. He answered the call albeit coldly.
“Thank God you finally answered.” Oleng was full of relief but he kept her quiet.
“Please can you come over? I need to talk to you.” she eagerly requested.
“About what?” he coldly asked. He was obviously still angry.
“Please. I really need to talk to you.” He could hear the tears in her voice but he just wasn’t in the mood.
“Sorry, Oleng. I can’t come over. I’m tired. I need to rest.” With that he ended the call. He told himself that he would switch off his phone if she tried calling again. He was surprised when she didn’t call back. She was probably crying her eyes out. He picked up his phone to call her back. He shook his head and dropped the phone. He was the wronged party here. Let her do the calling and begging. He laid on his bed but couldn’t sleep.
A while later, one of his cousins staying with them came into the room. He sat up on the bed. Boma was funny and mischievous and Eric liked her like that; and of course for the fact that she called him handsome.
“Handsome, your girlfriend’s here.” Boma informed him as she sat down on the bed.
“God!” he winced. “Don’t tell me mum invited Bridget to dinner without my consent again?” he lamented and laid back on the bed.
Boma laughed. “No, not that one. I mean your real girlfriend.” she stressed in an undertone.
“Here you go again, Boma. You know I don’t have a girlfriend.”
She laughed again. ”That one” She stabbed a finger in the air at Oleng’s huge portrait on the wall.
Eric turned and looked at it in ringing disbelief. “No way! That’s not true. Oleng cannot be bold enough to come here on her own. She doesn’t like coming here. She’s been here only once and that’s because it was mum and dad’s anniversary and I threatened to end our friendship if she didn’t come. I even had to go and pick her myself.”
“Are you calling me a liar, handsome? Or maybe I’m blind?”
Eric paused and surveyed her steadily.
“Boma please, I hope this isn’t one of your mischievous games.”
Boma got up then. “Well, I’ll go and tell her you don’t want to see her.” she said as a matter of fact and walked towards the door.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“Like a heart attack.” she laughed heartily.
“I can’t believe Oleng actually came here. She must really be sorry.” he murmured under his breath. He didn’t want to start explaining things to his nosy cousin. He got up from the bed. “Where’s she?”
Boma still standing by the door said, “The lounge, but be warned; your parents saw her. Your mum was talking to her before I left to get you.”
“O no!” he exclaimed, putting on his chinos trousers. “She’s terrified of mum.”
Boma giggled. “So was I until I got to know her. I discovered that that look of hers, that ‘Don’t come near me, you leper’ kind of look was just for show. She’s the sweetest person I know.”
Eric smiled in spite of himself. His mum was really like that to a lot of people. He had told Oleng a lot of times that his mum was different from the face she puts on but Oleng had never believed.
“Now that you know your parents are aware of her visit, don’t do what you guys normally do in her house.” Boma advised in a teasing manner.
“We don’t do anything in her house. What are you insinuating?” he asked buttoning his shirt.
“A handsome guy like you, a beautiful girl like her, tell me something else.”
“For crying out loud Boma, I’m just sixteen and she is just fifteen!” he protested.
“And Jesus died at the age of thirty three.” she put in as a matter of fact.
Eric just stared at her. “What has that got to do with the issue at hand?”
“Yeah well………….Okay, maybe it doesn’t relate with what was just said. What I’m trying to say is that no one is too young to taste the forbidden fuit. Joleen, my elder sister lost her virginity at the age of 12……….Ooops! Pretend you didn’t hear that.” she put a hand to her mouth.
Eric burst into laughter and walked to the door smiling brightly.
“Come on, handsome. Promise me you won’t tell anyone. Let this be our little secret.”
“Let’s see,” Eric pretented to think. “Little secret number thirty four? How much?” he held out his hand, grinning.
“Cash or kind?” she questioned, rolling her eyes at him.
“Both.” Eric smiled mischievously.
“Alright, spoil sport. I’ll think of something.”
“You better do. Cause’ we don’t want Joleen to know we know her little secret, right?” he remarked sweetly, still smiling mischievously and opened the door.
He walked slowly to the lounge. He knew his parents would be in the living room. He still didn’t believe Oleng had come to his house. He was indeed surprised to see her there. She quickly got up when she saw him. Eric had to appreciate Oleng’s mum once again. She knew how to buy good things for her daughter.
Oleng was looking drop dead gorgeous as usual in a beautiful top and hip hugging jeans, which brought out her hour glass figure. She wore chucks on her feet and he knew it was some kind of jewellery other than gold and diamond that adorned her neck, ears and wrist. God! Oleng was beautiful.
She walked shyly towards him while he just stood in the middle of the room and put his hands in his pockets with an air of indifference. She stopped before him and stared at the thick rug. She thrust out a beautiful hand-made card to him.
“I had this made specially for you. I should have given it to you earlier but………I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you were through with your exams….I just couldn’t handle everything then………I …” She was still staring at the rug. She smiled a little. “Zinny told me more than half of the girls in the school hugged you. I don’t blame them though. If I had been there, it wouldn’t have happened……I……..Won’t you at least take the card from me?” she queried when she looked up at him and he didn’t take it or say anything.
He waited for a full minute before he slowly removed his hand from his pocket and took the card.
“Thanks.” he quietly said.
“I’m sorry.” she apologised and stared at the rug again. When he still didn’t reply, she pleaded in almost a whisper, “Please say something.”
“What do you want me to say, Oleng?” he began impatiently. “You hurt me a lot today. For the first time since our friendship began, I was really angry with you. A very special day in my life and my best friend was nowhere to be found. I was surrounded by strangers and few friends but the most important person in my life was not there when I needed her just because she was too sentimental to hang around.” he said each word bitingly.
Tears slowly dropped from her eyes. She didn’t know what to say. At the time of her departure, escape had been the uppermost thing in her mind. She hadn’t thought about his feelings. It was when she had gone home and thought of everything before she realized the folly of her actions. It had been too late to go back and Eric had kept rejecting her calls making her more miserable. She had known she had to see him. She knew she would be in trouble if she got home to meet her mum. She would receive a heavy scolding but she didn’t care. She just wanted to make things right with her best friend.
“I’m very sorry, Ricky.” she sniffed. “I didn’t think before I left. I just wanted to escape. All I saw was my future without you. It was when I got home that I realized how you would feel and when I tried calling you, you kept rejecting my calls. I really felt like dying because I knew I hurt you. All I can say is please forgive me. I’m sorry. Please.” she conceded ruefully.
Eric couldn’t bear her to see her cry. He stepped closer to her and hugged her, forgetting his cousin’s warning.
“It’s okay. I forgive you. I wanted you to know how much you hurt me today. It’s okay, sunshine. I’ve already forgiven you. Don’t abandon me like that again, okay?” he informed her, looking down at her smiling.
She wanted to remind him that he wouldn’t be around for her to do it to him again but thought against it. Better to let sleeping dogs lie.
“I promise.” she declared smiling, still in his arms.
“Handsome!” Boma exclaimed from the door way. “What did I tell you?” She looked scandalized.
Oleng quickly struggled to leave his arms as she wiped her tears way. Eric let her go but held her hand.
“Come on, Boma. It was just a harmless hug.” he assured his cousin, smiling mischievously.
“Yeah right! And Jesus died at…………..”
“The age of thirty three. Yeah, I know.”
“Naughty boy!” she admonished, grinning brightly.
Oleng couldn’t help smiling. She wished Boma were in Tessy’s place. She wouldn’t have been lonely. Boma was such a nice person.
“What are you doing here anyway?” Eric inquired.
“Just checking on you. You’re lucky your parents went out to go get suya.”
“And they made you my body guard or should I say Oleng’s chaperone before they left?” he enquired smiling.
“Self appointed.” Boma put a hand to her chest and saluted as if she was a soldier reporting for duty.
They all laughed. Oleng informed them that she had to get going. Boma told her goodbye and wrestled the beautiful card out of Eric’s hand before they left. She read the inscriptions on the congratulations card and shook her head.
Fifteen and sixteen indeed! They were clearly infatuated with each other. She wouldn’t call it love because she felt they were too young to know the real thing. She at twenty didn’t even know the real thing. She would really love for them to end up together in future though. They looked perfect for each other. Eric, tall, fair and handsome while Oleng, petite, chocolate skinned and beautiful. She read the inscriptions on the card again and shook her head again.