Bukky knocked on the door again. Was he home? Has he gone out? Maybe she should have called before coming. It had been a while since she had seen him. She missed him. She knocked and knocked, hoping that he was around. She heard the jingling of keys. She sighed with relief and took a step backwards. The door swung open.
“Hi…” she broke into a smile.
He just stared at her, his face expressionless.
“Em… can I come in?” she didn’t understand why he just stood there looking at her. She could sense that he wasn’t prepared to move away from the door.
“It depends,” he folded his arms across his chest. The red short-sleeve tee-shirt clung to his body like a second skin.
“The last time I saw you, you told me to leave you alone.”
“I was just…” she swallowed hard. His cold stare made her heart to lurch. She must have hurt him that day.
“I thought we were friends…”
He shook his head, “I have reasons to believe that you wish to live in your own little world alone.”
“No! No… look, I am sorry. That day, I wasn’t…”
“Your sorry cannot solve anything right now,” he looked her up and down. The sky blue cap-sleeve, V-neck, knee-length A-shaped dress fitted her perfectly.
“Please, let’s go in and talk,” her pleading eyes remained on his firm face.
He eyed her, “Now you want to talk.”
She shifted on both feet. Was she going to lose him too? She had just broken up with Gbemiga. They had a huge argument earlier on because she didn’t come to meet him at the back of the kitchen. He said a lot of hateful things to her and she ended their relationship. He exploded. She had never seen him that angry. She cared less at first, but, now, she felt lonely and distressed.
“Are we… are we still friends?” her lips trembled.
“I am not sure.”
She sucked in breath and looked straight into his undaunted eyes.
“I am kind of busy at the moment. Next time, call me before you come knocking at my door.”
“Chike…” her dark eyes smarted with unshed tears.
“You said I should leave you alone.”
She gave a shake of head, “I didn’t mean it,” she whispered.
“That day, you did. I am just following your orders,” he backed into the room and slammed the door.
She trembled. A tear slipped down her dark oval face, followed by another, then another, till her face was flooded. Maybe it was a good thing that she was alone. She could focus on herself and God. She turned on her heel and headed home.
Chike watched her through the window. He felt he had to send her away. She cannot eat her cake and have it. She cannot decide to want him one minute and reject him the next minute. He wasn’t a pendulum bob. He refused to be tossed around like a basket-ball. He wasn’t toilet paper either. He wouldn’t allow her to use him whenever she felt she needed him and push him away whenever she desired. He was valuable and she must learn to treat him that way.
His chest tightened. He didn’t feel good at all. His heart ached for her. He thought his feelings for her would die a natural death, but, it kept on growing with each new day. It was crowding his mind, filling his thoughts and distracting him. She wasn’t even available. She had a boyfriend. Why pine over someone he might never have? Maybe he might travel sooner than he planned. The farther he was from her, the better. There was no need for them to celebrate their birthdays together. He would only be hurting himself.
Gbemiga organized a party on his twenty-first birthday. Many of his friends and course mates came around to celebrate with him. His mother and sisters cooked while his father bought drinks and hired a DJ. None of their neighbours were invited. Most of them remained in their rooms while others stood around the building, watching the young adults make merry under the wide canopy.
Bukky stayed in the room with her aunt, but, she couldn’t concentrate on the soap opera they were watching. The loud music played at the party outside the house echoed through the walls. She hoped the landlady would drive them away soon. The woman gave them till midnight to wrap up the party. She glanced at the wall clock and groaned. It was just past nine.
It was her nineteenth birthday and there was no one except her aunt to celebrate with. Her ex-boyfriend was having fun at his party and her friend, Chike was MIA. She couldn’t believe that he travelled home to Owerri without letting her know. Why was he taking their disagreement that far? She tried to call to apologize, but, he doesn’t even pick her calls. She also tried texting him, but, he sent no replies. Why was he so upset with her? She hoped that things would return to norm when he returned to Lagos after the long holiday. He had really been a good friend to her and she doesn’t want to lose him. Suddenly, she felt like going to the toilet. She got up in a hurry, slipped on her Dunlop slippers and hurried out of the room. Lucky for her, the toilet was empty.
Fifteen minutes later, she stood outside by the tap, washing her hands. On her way back into the building, she heard voices. The sound was coming from the back of the kitchen. Out of curiosity, she tip-toed to the area and peeped.
She saw her ex-boyfriend butt naked, slamming into one of the girls that came for his party. The girl’s chest was bare and her jeans lay at her feet. The sight disgusted her. She half-ran and half-walked back to her aunt’s room. Her eyes pooled with tears. It hurt that it didn’t take him long to find another hole to lodge his lustful groin.
She threw herself on the bed and covered her head with a pillow. Why was she even crying? It was over between them. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Why was she feeling so hurt? Why do her heart ache so bad? Hasn’t she gotten over him completely?
She wished Chike was still around. He would have been able to advice and comfort her.