She tossed and turned as the night dragged on. Her sleeping wrapper at the foot of the bed, in a heap. What made her sleep flee was nothing but his soft and sincere words that threatened to make her lose all sense of judgment. She sat up and looked around the dormitory; all was quiet, except for Bimpe and Kate who seemed to be in some sort of snoring competition. She leaned back and pulled the covers over her head. Morning couldn’t come early enough. She wanted to go to class. Talking with him was always the high point of everyday.
She rushed through her chores as soon as the morning prayers were over, eager to get on with the day. Assembly seemed extra boring today. She tapped her feet as the principal went on and on about the break-in at the school store. Too bad.
Her first class had hardly finished when he walked in, tall and regal in his full five feet two inches. Okay, maybe he wasn’t that tall but that will change, she knew it. Her foolish heart flipped and flopped and she just knew she would pen these words down someday.
He walked up to her seat and said “Hi”. He never sat down in her class, too bad they weren’t in the same class.
“Huh…, I thought you might need this”, he dropped a book on her table, left hand in his pocket, his eyes never leaving her face.
She picked it up and turned it round, ‘quick facts on scientific instruments’.
“Thanks, really” she said, excitedly, her tummy doing the flip flops.
“I was gonna ask you something’ he said, a tiny hint of a smile on his face.
“Why don’t you plait your hair? I mean, other girls do”
She ran her hands over her cropped hair, “why? You don’t like it?”
“Oh, I do, really. I was just wondering”
“Well, my mum thinks I won’t concentrate in boarding school. You, know, no steady person to help me plait it.
So, zap, it had to go”
“And you don’t mind?”
“No, not really. By the way, I need to study hard. No distractions. Won’t be easy to become a doctor” she said playfully, her head cocked to a side.
“Oh, you wanna be a doctor?”
“Oh really, good” he nodded
The noise of students rushing in changed the scene.
“Teacher…. He’s here…” students whispered as they scrambled to their seats.
“You have to sit down.” She pulled him down into the seat in front of her. “Mr Bolade will scold you”, he gently obeyed.
She loved his style, calm and unhurried.
Mr Bolade announced the forth coming exams, when he finally got the attention of the class.
“You will not be allowed to write the exams, if you do not pay up your fees. Tell your parents. The timetable will be written on the board by the class captain. See me if you have any questions.”
The class was once again thrown into commotion as the teacher exited.
He stood up and looked at her. He held her gaze for a while and looked away.
“What is it?” she asked
“Nothing. It’s just, I wanted to tell you something but I…I changed my mind.”
“Come on, you can tell me” she said playfully, drawling, “tell me, pleaaaase”
“No, I shouldn’t. It’s actually this dream I had.” He paused and looked around. “Forget it; I shouldn’t have mentioned it at all”
She frowned a little, wondering how to make him talk. There was obviously something on his mind and she wanted to know what it was, by all means.
“I have geography class now; I’ll come when it’s over. And then you can tell me?” she half stated, half asked. He shrugged. She left.
His mind raced as he waited. He wanted very badly to tell her but he knew enough to know it wasn’t a good decision. He had to thread softly, they were too young to get carried away.
“Carried away?” he chided himself. They were only friends, and that’s the way it will stay.
She showed up immediately the class was over. She pushed so hard he had to say a little to let her calm down.
“Huh, well, it’s actually the way I feel about you … and the way you make me feel” he shrugged, the last words burning his lips as they rushed out. He panicked, ready to scram.
Her next words froze him to the spot.
“I don’t understand. How do you feel about me ….and how do I make you feel?” she said, trying to look into his face. Her voice soft, the touch of her hands on his shoulder, the same.
“You promised not to ask any questions”, he held his hands up in defense.
She sighed and picked up her bag, “you won’t explain what you mean?”
“Maybe sometime else, if I can. Not now though” he meant it.
“Okay” she shrugged. They left the class. Silence hung in the air as they walked to the boarders’ quarters, each trying to read the other’s mind.
They parted ways at the girls’ dormitory.
Their decision to meet after afternoon lessons settled but unspoken.