Tonye stood in the middle of the corridor leading out of the senior secondary block, searching for someone… anyone that would bail him out of this conversation.
“Tee what are you saying now, just walk me home today and instead you’re giving me excuses”
Jessica was saying something but Tonye wasn’t paying her any attention; his eyes were searching franticly for a familiar face from the crowd of students pouring out of their classrooms.
“Tonye! Didn’t you hear me? I said it’s like we’re quarrelling, eh every day I have to chase you down just to have a word”
He turned to give her a polite rebuff only to find that she now stood a few inches from him, her enormous breasts were pressing against his chest, and her red chequered uniform had a few buttons off giving him full view of her cleavage. In an effort to distract himself he looked up and she was pouting her over glossed lips. Now he was getting really uncomfortable, he glanced up to see a few faces he recognised and seized the opportunity.
“Jessica, I’ll talk to you later yeah” He called out while pushing past the throng of students trying to exit through the narrow passage at the same time.
As he approached his friends, they were smiling at him and making hushed remarks. No doubt they had seen Him and Jessica. Mofe, a tall boy with clean cut features and an athlete’s body spoke first
“Guy, you no wan give these girls break o”
Tonye laughed and tried to brush the subject aside but he knew that this would be the subject of many future discussions. Henry, who was senior in class to them, was visibly fuming and giving Tonye the evil eye.
“Wettin dey worry you?! Ehn Tonye. How you go just leave Jessica like that. See me see trouble o, na wettin dat babe do you? You just fall my hand…come, this your fine boy forming don dey too much sef” His lips parted to say more but he only let out a loud high pitched hiss with one arm fixed on his hips. Tonye and Mofe turned to each other at once and burst out in a guffaw loud enough to attract the stares of passing students.
“Henry! konji no go kill you” Mofe said, and continued in fits of laughter.
Three of them crossed outside the big red gate that was the sole demarcation between Graceland International College and freedom. Tonye looked at his school mates littered around the main road, clustered around different bicycles hawking drinks or snacks. He sighted students with zobo or yoghurt in hand and some others munching hungrily on eggrolls. A few stood in groups according to age, class or clique. They were discussing controversial topics and light hearted subjects as well. He either smiled or inclined his head in a nod as he locked gazes with some people he knew. Chika, one of his classmates smiled backed at him, and her dimples were even more evident. With that he felt a sharp stab of pain. So far anything that reminded him of Alma, his ex-girlfriend caused his heart to ache. But with much effort he pushed the sad memory away.
Tonye and his family moved from Abuja to Rivers State albeit reluctantly. His father Chief Amakiri retired early and decided it was time to fulfil the many dreams and aspirations he put on hold while making money. Part of it was relocating to his home town, getting his family acquainted with the people and environment that influenced and moulded him to the man he is. Everyone disagreed at first, throwing fits and tantrums but after his mother joined in resistance was pointless. Tonye was excited, he had never been outside the borders of Abuja and the explorer in him longed to discover other parts of the country but his enthusiasm died down when he thought of Alma. He wasn’t sure what love is or what it felt like but he really, really liked her. He seemed to find himself in a tight spot.
It was only natural that Tonye talked to his father about his worries and Chief Amakiri assured him that everything would be fine.
“There are very beautiful girls in Port-Harcourt… look at your mother. When you get there you won’t even remember who Alma is. Son I know you think you’re in love and all but you’re just sixteen, You have your whole life ahead of you” on and on his father went reassuring and promising, chasing away all doubts that clouded his decision. He followed his father’s advice and left Abuja without a proper goodbye, without any goodbye. If only he knew how wrong his father was, leaving Alma only made him realise how much he cared for her, absence really did make the heart grow fonder. Some days when he yearned for her he fantasized, even contemplated running away to Abuja but the disadvantages outweighed the merits so he decided against it.
Tonye, Mofe and Henry fell into step leading the way through Ada George road, the short cut to the gaming station they would stop by before going home. They hurried along to avoid Mr. Dike catching up and scolding them, with one of his many speeches ending with them becoming meat sellers or truck pushers. The boys really didn’t care much for his stories, his comical gesticulations always gave them a good laugh but once Mr Dike began his hour long epistles, they had to be finished no matter how long it took.
Others who had seen Jessica and Tonye together had a thing or two to say or show on the way. But a sudden silence echoed around the boys, followed by the repeated koi-koi sound of heels slapping against the asphalt road. A petit form emerged, wearing a black dress flared at the end she seemed to sashay towards them. Some boys had already begun moistening their lips in an attempt to wolf whistle or holler as she walked passed. Tonye was glued to the spot he stood, reminiscing of his soul mate who looked more and more like the lady approaching them. There was something about this strange woman that caused the hairs on his body to rise while a wave of current swept through him. His heart skipped a beat and his pulse quickened as reality hit him hard.
“Alma! You! Jesus, Alma!”
Without thinking he ran to the approaching frame and lifted her up in a bear hug.
Her hazel eyes twinkled and she bared that charming dimpled smile he loved so much. Tonye felt faint and weak but she caught him and he rested his head on her shoulders. What felt like a few seconds passed and he mustered up enough strength to stand by himself, he looked at her squarely and the air around them seemed to sizzle, sixteen months had passed yet she had not . . . when his eyes roamed further he saw a woman, Alma had matured from the skinny, giggly school girl he knew into a very glamorous lady.
However she was still Alma, sweet beautiful Alma. He laughed out of joy and she hugged him tightly. Her body was soft and feminine against him and he felt a rush of pleasure through his body which was already charged and heated. He surprised her-and probably himself- when he released her hold on him, gently lifted her chin and kissed her full on the mouth. She tasted like heaven, but he could feel her pulling back way to soon. He cupped her face and held her in place, pouring all his unsaid words and pent-up emotions into the kiss, deepening it, until he felt all her resistance dissolve. He would have stood there at the side of the road holding her in his arms and kissing her forever but his wishes were interrupted by a shrill voice from behind the small gathering of students.
“Chineke nna me, Tonye what am I seeing?” Mr. Dike barked