Tera woke up early the next morning to watch a re-run of her favourite South Korean soap opera. She rushed down to the kitchen and was caught in the act of hijacking a box of cereal by her father who was getting ready to go to the office.
” Tera..why are you up so early? This is quite unusual.” The handsome man in his late forties asked his daughter with a crooked smile on his face.
” Good morning Dad…I woke up to study,” She rejoined falsefully and adjusted the rims of her glasses impatiently.
He smiled and dragged her arms which were crossed behind her back forward. Alas! A carton of kelloggs’ cereal and the t.v remote control fell to the floor.
” What did I tell you about lying? I just knew you wanted to watch… what is it called again…Beautiful?..” He asked and pulled her cheeks lightly.
” I’m sorry Dad. Its Beautiful Imaginations ” She responded coyly.
” Ehen..I knew it was something like that. Don’t forget to attend your jamb lesson and private tutorship classes with Marilyn today. ”
” I won’t forget Dad.. And I promise to give you a feed back as soon as you’re back. I love you,” she rejoined and hugged him tightly.
” I love you too my Princess.. Don’t take too much of sugar with that ” He commanded as she escorted him to the garage and bade him farewell after which he zoomed off.
” Why are you so slow sef? What’s your problem? How many times do I have to tell you that its 6400? ” Marilyn asked impatiently and pranced around the room with a frown.
” I’m sorry..please be patient with me.. I’ll try again…” Tera replied and tried solving the math problems all over again. She was distracted by a knock at her door,it was Mark.
” Hello…” He announced after gaining entry into the rather girly room.
” Mark! ” Tera roared and hugged him tightly. ” You bought it! ” She added and dragged the white paper bag which housed a medium sized bowl of chocolate chip ice cream.
” I didn’t buy it for only you…we must share it equally ” Mark responded and realized that Marilyn had been staring at him the entire time.
” Where are you off to? ” Marilyn asked when she saw that Tera was about to twist the door knob.
” The kitchen..I want to bring bowls so we can scoop and share the ice cream ” She responded with a bright smile.
” Ehn? Have you finished solving? Aren’t you too fat to be running after food like this? ” Marilyn added with a loud laugh.
” I’m sorry,I’ll keep solving ” Tera moved back to her reading area and got busy with her calculator. She looked like a six year old who was just scolded.
” Don’t talk to her that way. My bestie isn’t fat. ” Mark answered defensively and sat down next to Tera with a hand to her back.
After solving and cancelling for hours,she eventually got the right answer, much to Marilyn’s surprisal.
It was two weeks after the ice cream incident with Marilyn. Following the complaints of several parents about the refusal of their children to read due to mass media influences,the Director of Tera’s Program organised a camp retreat which was scheduled to last for three weeks. She didn’t feel like going,she hated being away from home,especially since her peers weren’t so fond of her.
” Tera! What are you waiting for now? ” Her mum yelled out loud,they were parked in front of Machinee’s,a top notch boutique located around the outskirts of the city. She heaved a sigh of discomfort and reluctantly alighted from the Sequinoa Jeep. Tera hated boutiques,they housed everything she had a problem with;fake people,skimpy outfits,mean sales attendants,and scary looking mannequins.
” I still don’t know why we’re here. You practically changed your wardrobe last month..don’t tell me you need more clothes? ” Tera grumbled as they walked past a few dressed mannequins in the glamorous boutique.
” What makes you think this is for me? Aren’t you a lady also? ” Her mother replied with a weird grin on her round face.
” Ehn? Why do you want to…” Her question was interrupted by Mark who seemed to appear out of nowhere.
” Mark? What are you doing here? ” She asked him with a look of anxiety.
” I’ll leave you two for now ” Her mother chipped in,and proceeded to the top floor with a quite garrulous sales attendant.
” What’s wrong with my look? ” She asked and attempted to bite back tears from her eyes.
” Nothing..but you can look more presentable…those girls don’t respect you because of your dress sense… You’re much more beautiful than people give you credit for ” Mark responded and removed her glasses so he could stare right into her eyes.
” Give me a good reason why I should agree to this..you’ll take me out for lunch for a whole week? ” She asked with a mischievous smile.
” I’ll make a better offer. If you agree to this,I’ll unveil Ms X to you,” He responded with a big grin.
” Really? We have a deal then, ”
” Let’s shake on it ” He added and stretched forth his light skinned palm. She shook him briefly and proceeded to hug him tightly thereafter.
Ms X was Mark’s dream girl,basically every page of his One note diary was filled with tales of this ‘angel’ who gave him goose bumps. He began to write tirelessly about her since his 10th grade,which was about four years ago. Although she hadn’t read all that he’d written about Ms X, Tera had a premonition that it was either Marilyn or Polly,these were the only girls in their lesson who attended the same secondary school with her,and according to Mark,the mystery girl was her high school mate.
” Goodbye Mum..” Tera bade farewell to her mum and jumped onto the bus.
” Who can I sit with now? ” She asked herself the moment she walked into the air conditioned bus filled with hormonal youths, who were currently staring at her like she was made of gold or something.
” Ehn? Who be this fine babe? No be Tera be this? Ah ah..how this one take happen? ” Yemi,the lesson prefect asked loudly and virtually everyone on the bus opened their mouths in awe.
She refused to listen to Yemi’s outbursts and looked for a place to sit,almost all the seats were occupied. She bothered not to sit next to Marilyn’s clique for they were already eyeing her and hissing loudly,her presence seemed to infuriate them greatly.
” Do you mind sitting next to me? ” Nicholas asked loudly from the back of the bus where he sat. He was her crush for several years. Although he never really paid attention to her,Tera loved his chocolate skin and proportionate side burns. After smiling sheepishly for seconds,she accepted his offer and gently eased onto the seat next to him. He wore a multi coloured varsity jacket with a matching pair of sneakers.
” This feels too good to be true ” Tera soliloquised and nodded her head gently. She was dressed in a banded polychromed skirt,which was accompanied by a white chiffon shirt neatly tucked into her skirt,and a golden costume necklace. Her brown human hair fluttered gently due to the cool breeze,and her eye brows were traced and perfectly trimmed for the first time in her life.
” Terri..You look quite disconcerted…I’m sure music would help. ” The handsome young man affirmed and carefully placed one of the plugs of his ear piece into her ear and the other into his. Marilyn stared angrily at them both and nodded her head briefly in contempt.
” This is my best friend’s band. He’s the lead vocalist in this song, ” She said to Nick with a smile on her face. Amongst other things, Mark was also a talented singer and the assistant leader of a trending band called ” Luminous.” Their love songs were a massive hit loved by all,especially teens.
” Really? ” He asked and held her hand in his. His touch made her tingle,she smiled briefly at him and let go the instant she remembered her peers calling him a casanova back then in high school. Nick was already in college but the Director of the Tutorship Program pleaded with him to mentor these ‘jambites’. He was the youngest mentor on the bus,thus making all the girls seek his attention,but they all felt defeated after his gesture to Tera. Her legs hurt badly because she was crossing them,this was the first time she had ever crossed her legs in her life. She always felt disgusted when she saw her mum practising this posture and now,she was imitating her.
” No sacrifice is too much for my Nick.” She thought to herself and wore a plastic smile for the remaining two hours,till they arrived at their destination.
They had just arrived at Linen Boulevard,a luxurious set of hostels which belonged to Linen High School,Tera’s alma mater. It was endowed with a surreal landscape which consisted of a serene environment and beautiful gardens. After a random grouping of the students into threes,they waited for the hostel attendants to arrange their luggages for them before settling into their respective rooms. Tera silently prayed for her roomies to be cool people,and kept dialling Mark’s number to no avail. He was supposed to meet her here as soon as he finished his concert but he was nowhere to be found. She hid her phone the moment she saw Mr Nduka for fear that it would get seized. Phones,and all sorts of electronic devices were forbidden,students were advised to come with their books,toiletries and clothes,nothing more.
She climbed onto the top bunk in her room eagerly. Her room mates were Aminat and Oghene,two kind of cool but garrulous and extremely corrupt girls. The former was short and quite lean whilst the latter was tall and really big.
” Hmmm..sexy Tera..you’ve really changed ohh..when did you start dating Nick sef? It was a clandestine relationship until today abi? ” Oghene asked her inquisitively.
” Of course not,we’re just friends. ” She replied.
” All na wash jor,omo Pastor toh bad gan ” Aminat added. She was a wealthy Imam’s daughter who was rumoured to have seven wives.
” Give me Mark now…” Oghene added with a wink. Tera laughed aloud.
” These girls are something else ” She thought to herself and ran downstairs to welcome Mark.
Tera ran down the flight of stairs happily,she felt butterflies dancing in her stomach the moment she saw Nick waving at her. She hugged Mark tightly first,before introducing him to Nick.
” Marckie..how I do I look? ” She asked and swirled around for him,her wet flip flops weren’t fit for such movements and thus,she almost fell to the floor. She was saved by Nick,who reached down to support her with his strong, masculine hands. His touch made her skin swell with passion,she stood still and motionless for several minutes,unaware of the fact that several students were staring at her,her frozen posture was melted by Mr Nduka’s loud voice.
” Olagunju ! Is this what you came here for? ” He thundered and walked hurriedly towards them both. Nick pulled her up and she tried to maintain her composure,Tera felt like sinking into the ground,all her arch enemies were present with a look of disdain in their eyes.
” I’m sorry Sir..its not what you think… ” She stammered quietly.
” I won’t take that from you… Get ready to perform kitchen duties for this whole week…and just pray that I don’t inform your father of what I just saw.” He responded and walked out on her.
Mark dragged her out of the lounge and into the colourful garden which was sited a few kilometres away from the hostel.
” Sweetheart…is there something you’re not telling me? ” He enquired of her after stuffing a few balls of creamed popcorn into her mouth.
” Nothing..but…you remember Nick right?…he’s on a mentorship program here…he likes me,and I think I do too, ” Tera responded with a wide smile that lit up her face.
” You can’t like that bastard! Its absolutely impossible.” Mark responded with an angry expression on his face,he stood up from the bench where he once sat and turned his back away from her.
” Why? What’s wrong? You rarely use such words to address anyone …” She asked him tenderly and adjusted the rims of her glasses.
” Just trust my judgement,I can’t tell you why..but I just can’t …”
” Why can’t you tell me ? For the first time in my life..an attractive guy seems to have fallen for me and you’re telling me that I can’t acknowledge his feelings? I know I can’t date till I get into college,but what stops me from telling that to him? What makes you think that he can’t wait? ” Tera asked with bitter tears dropping from her large eyes.
” Tera..trust my judgement…” He reaffirmed with a hand to her shoulder.
” I refuse to listen to you…your words have just hurt me so terribly…maybe you think I’m too stupid to make the right decisions…you’re just like the rest of them…but,I’ll make this work..Nick would wait for me..I’ll prove you wrong for the first time in my life Mark..just watch and see.” She responded after sniffing profusely,and walked out on him.
Mark bent his head down in confusion. He hated it whenever they had an argument. ” I’m sorry Terracotta…..” He soliloquised and walked to the hostel with a somnolent look in his eyes.