Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Day The World Ended Episode 15

Eventually some people were able to gather bits of wood and dried leaves. A long stick was put into one of the still burning car wrecks until the tip caught fire then we used it to start a small bonfire at the centre of where we were all seated. Arnold and his boys had come back from the farm with oranges, pineapples, watermelon, bananas, plantain and yams; more than enough for our group of twenty seven. The yams and some plantain were placed at strategic points in or near the fire to roast while we ate the rest raw. Mr. Abel kept us entertained with his quick wit and brave humor and for a moment it seemed we were indeed out camping instead of being stranded at the edge of a crevice in the aftermath of a great earthquake that had torn the world into two.
By nine-thirty our little group had quietened down as some people started to fall asleep on their make-shift plantain leaf beds. Arnold had been darting around, making sure this was okay and that was well in place, not really coming to see us but always at the edge of our field of vision. Mr. Abel had stopped talking a while back and had put on the portable radio he had carried along with him from his office. There was some news on the local stations about an earthquake hitting the nation, some stations carried that it was a massive bomb that had been set off, other stations blamed the ruling party for not paying attention to tell tale signs the Americans had warned us about weeks ago. Numerous mentions of ‘Rescue operations’ being underway and ‘committees being set up ’ were voiced. The Federal government had already released N12billion for the relief aid to places that had been affected. We wondered if we were on that list as we were yet to see any sign of life or rescue on the expressway.
“At least there should be dead bodies.” Sola said quietly, echoing what a teacher had previously voiced.
“Why are you trying to scare us na?” Bimpe replied, hugging herself by the fire. “What are you trying to say?”
“Maybe the emergency people have already come and carried everybody away.” I offered.
“But there’s no sign of life or death at all.” Sola persisted. “No blood, no torn clothes, no shoes from people running…”
“What are you girls talking about?” Arnold approached us, washing his grimy hands with a sachet of pure water.
I felt hot around my neck all of a sudden and looked away feeling irritated. What was he doing here?
Sola went straight to the point. “Oh, so now you have finally decided to notice us, abi?”
Arnold raised his hands in defense. “No oh, I’ve…I’ve been busy, and…and…”
“And what?” She asked, putting her hands on her hips. I turned to him to see what he would say and our eyes met.
Arnold let his hands drop. He seemed downcast and for a moment I felt sorry for him. But it quickly passed.
“I’ve been busy with the duties I was assigned to do. And besides, it seems Dare has been keeping you company… so…”
“So you decided to abandon us because Dare has been keeping us company. Is that any way a gentleman should behave?”
“He has never been a gentleman.” I retorted. “More of like a…a…”
“A gorilla?” Arnold said quietly. I stiffened but kept my face straight. “Yeah, maybe I’m not flashy or handsome like wonderboy over there and I guess I have been stalking you somewhat, and I’m sorry about that. I didn’t know it was irritating you so much and so decided to give you some space. I just wanted to see if you girls were okay sha, I have to get back to Mr. Abel, we are planning how to cross this pit tomorrow before we go to sleep.”
He turned and started to walk away.
I just didn’t know how I was feeling anymore. I was angry at him for being so nice but at the same time so annoying, I was angry at myself for treating him badly and I think I was angry at whoever had let it slip that I was calling him gorilla behind his back. My thoughts and feelings were clashing together like an orchestra without a conductor. I suddenly got up and hissed after him
“Coward!”
He stopped in his tracks and turned around. “Eh?”
“Yes you!” I felt like yelling at him and I wasn’t sure why. I tried to bring my voice down. “Why didn’t you just come out and say what was bothering you instead of hiding it and forming for us? Is that why you have been ignoring us since?”
“Em, technically it’s not us he has been ignoring…” Sola said pointing at herself and Bimpe.
“Sola shut up!” I cried and she held her lips. Bimpe looked very alarmed and confused.
Arnold turned and came back. “You said I was irritating you and so I kept my distance…”
“Even in an emergency situation like this? If Dare had not come nko? We would have been like every other student…”
“Ah so now you acknowledge I’ve been giving you special treatment!” Arnold was getting angry. “I didn’t see you laugh anytime I did anything for you but you have been shining your teeth since wonderboy there started talking to you…”
“That’s because you don’t know the right thing to say!” I countered. “If you say what will make me shine my teeth I will shine my teeth!”
“What do you really want?!” Arnold asked, his voice rising now. A few people were beginning to look in our direction. “I talk to you and you tell people I’m disturbing you. I leave you alone you are angry with me, what do you want me to do?!”
“Just go! Leave me alone, don’t come and be asking how I’m doing if you think you are really disturbing me…”
“He came to ask how ‘we ’ were doing.” Sola chipped in and promptly stepped back when I glared at her.
Arnold was looking like he was going to burst a vein. He raised his hand and dropped it and raised it again.
“What are you waiting for? Go!” I shouted.
And he finally erupted.
“Yes I’ll go! I don’t know what I ever saw in you, you vain, selfish, naïve ignorant girl! You think you can talk to people anyhow because you are beautiful? Well beauty isn’t everything! I don’t have time for you self, I just came to check if my ‘friends’ were alright!” Here he pointed at Bimpe and Sola. “At least they don’t think I’m a gorilla! Wait, your prince is coming!”
He stomped off murmuring words like “Nonsense”,” Rubbish”, and “No respect!”
I stood there, wondering what had just happened. I turned to Sola and Bimpe, Bimpe looked as if she was going to cry. Sola was just quiet.
“Which of you told him?”
“What?” Sola asked
“Which of you told him I had been calling him Gorilla?” I fumed. “Sola it was you right? You never mind your own business!”
“Hey, hey, it wasn’t me oh!” Sola replied, “Maybe he overheard you saying it at the assembly or something. Why will I tell him a thing like that?”
I turned to Bimpe. There were tears in her eyes.
“Bimpe? How could you?” I gasped.
“I…I just told him to give you some space.” She squeaked. “I saw the way Dare was getting interested in you and I felt being the gentleman he is he would back off if he thought you were already spoken for.”
“What exactly did you tell him?” I asked now diverting my anger towards her.
“I just said he shouldn’t feel bad but that you didn’t feel the same way about him that he felt about you. He jokingly said we must be calling him policeman if you thought he was monitoring him so closely…”
“You told him I said he was monitoring me closely?!” I almost shouted. She retreated and I held my peace. “Go on.”
“Em, he said we must be calling him policeman and I laughed and said no, that our pet name for him was ‘gorilla’. It wasn’t anything serious, he even laughed at the time. I didn’t know he would take it so seriously…”
“Bimpe as of this night you are officially unfriended. I don’t want to talk to you again till I leave secondary school!” I turned and walked angrily away leaving Sola to comfort the now weeping Bimpe.
I must have been sitting by myself for almost half an hour when Dare approached me carrying a blanket. I had gone to sit somewhere away from the others where I could be alone. I was so engrossed in thinking about what had just happened, the whole exchange with Arnold and Bimpe, that I didn’t notice Dare was approaching until he was right next to me. I almost jumped out of my skin when he touched me on the arm.
“Whoa. Take it easy, it’s only me!” He said, smiling that his gorgeous smile that could turn any girl’s knees to water. I heaved a sigh of relief and gasped in surprise as he handed a blanket to me.
“Where did you get this?” I exclaimed, admiring the softness and sweet scent coming off of it.
“In one of the cars,” Her replied, sitting down beside me. “ Apparently the people that left were in a big hurr because they didn’t carry their luggage with them. We've found documents, travelling bags with clothes, some foodstuff and roadside snacks…”
“Any money?” I asked
He looked at me and laughed. “No, no money, or maybe someone has found money and is keeping it to himself I don’t know. Why are you asking?”
“Because if no money is found its possible that people were here before us, maybe robbers, and took the money and other valuables and left.” I replied.
“You have a point.” He said. “Very intelligent observation. I told you you were smart.”
I blushed. I didn’t think the observation was that smart. But I was very grateful for the blanket. It beat sleeping on plantain leaves anyday.
“Thank you for looking out for me, Dare.” I said, looking at my feet shyly. “You have been so kind.”
“Its not a problem, seriously. I feel honoured to have been of assistance to a pretty damsel like yourself.” He replied. “You make me want to do kind things.”
He edged closer and I suddenly felt very hot. I felt his skin against mine as we sat close together and for a moment even the mosquitoes seemed to cease their constant bombardment. The night lost its repressiveness and took on a romantic feel as I felt his hand draw lines down my arm. The feeling was electrical, in a goo sort of way. He cupped my face in his hands and stared into my eyes as I looked up at him. Flustered, I stood up quickly.
“Let me arrange the blanket here.” I said, using my feet to clear away stones and debris from the side of the road that was to be my makeshift bed. He got up and moved away, watching me work and smiling. I cleared the area, found some plantain leaves to line the road so it wouldn’t be too hard, then spread the blanket on top of everything. It looked a little lumpy but other than that it was nice and far more comfortable to lie on than I had even imagined. I took off my shoes and sat down at one side of the spread blanket. Dare, taking my cue, sat down beside me once again.
I honestly can’t remember what we talked about after that. All I remember was his skin rubbing against mine, his hands holding my shoulder and then my hands and then our fingers intertwining. His voice was like that of an angel, soft and deep and very mature. I had been approached by boys before for a relationship and I had scorned all of them, the most annoying being Arnold who had not even been brave enough to say what he wanted from me; but none of the boys had made me feel special the way Dare did. He talked to me like he wanted to take care of me, to watch out for me. I forgot all about my annoying encounter with Arnold and my friends and slowly melted into his arms as the night wore on.
I must have fallen asleep in his arms when I felt something brush against my cheek. It was soft and cool and for a moment I thought a butterfly had flown past my face. Then the feeling again, this time more firm, more purposeful. I woke with a start and saw that I had been resting my head on Dare’s shoulder. I was about to go back to sleep when Dare bent his head down and kissed me on my cheeks.
Okay so I had never been kissed anywhere before, not even on my hand in a mock play, so I was pretty much blown away. I froze, not knowing how to respond, what to say or do. My heart started beating very fast as I started visualizing various outcomes in my mind. What if he gave me a real kiss? Should I let him? Or should I play hard to get? I quickly threw the latter thought out of my mind, There was no way I was going to resist Dare, the man of my dreams on such a romantic night like this one! He felt my subtle movement and knew I was awake. He kissed my cheek a second time and it was like those butterflies in my stomach again. I had never been so excited in my life. I felt his hand leave my shoulder and I half expected to feel it on my chin as he drew my mouth to his and our lips lock in magical embrace. I imagined what it would feel like to be kissed for the very first time, under the night sky. It was almost like a scene from one of the romantic novels I had read.
And then I felt his hand, but not where I was expecting.
It came down to my chest and rested gently on my breast.
Instantly the magic disappeared and the night became cold again. I stayed still not knowing what to do next. Unfortunately, Dare had no such confusion. He slid his hand further down until his fingers touched my Tip and then he gently squeezed.
I pushed his hand off and shifted away from him.
“Dare, what are you doing?” I asked. I didn’t know what else to say. I was in shock.
“I’m sorry, did I hurt you?” He asked , his voice full of concern. I looked into his eyes and for a moment I wanted to drown inside them he looked so concerned. I felt foolish and childlike for behaving the way I had. After all, Dare was more matured than I was, and was probably trying to treat me like the big girl he thought I was.
“I’m sorry. I was just-surprised, that’s all.” I replied.
He held out his hand and I took it and he drew me back to himself. I grinned gamely but felt immediately uncomfortable when his hands found their way to my breasts again. He pressed them gently and then more firmly. I decided I didn’t like it and didn’t wanted to be treated like a big girl anymore.
“What’s the matter now?” Dare asked as I moved away from him again.
“Nothing.” I said. “I’m just not…I don’t feel this is right.”
“Do you want to be my girlfriend?” He demanded quietly.
“You know I do.” I breathed.
“But you didn’t answer me the first time.” He replied. “Maybe you think I’m disturbing you…”
“NO!” I cried. “No, I don’t think you are disturbing me. I like you, I like you a lot, Dare.” I added shyly.
“Good. Because I like you too. And this is what boyfriends and girlfriends do. This is how they show they like each other.” He finished.
“It is?” I asked quietly. “I mean, okay, but…I don’t know how far…I haven't...”
“Wait o , Temi, are you a virgin?” He asked a little too loudly.
Well of course I was and I had never been ashamed of it before. Not before that night anyway. But at that moment, the way he said it, I felt like the earth should open up and swallow me in another earthquake. I looked around quickly but most people were out of earshot or asleep. I felt so embarrassed I didn’t know what to think. Where were Sola and Bimpe?
Dare saw the way I was fidgeting and stifled a laugh. It was the most cruel thing he had done all day. He suddenly seemed like a monster to me, a selfish beast intent on having his way with me. I didn’t know if I was over-reacting but I suddenly became very angry once more. I got to my feet and he followed suit.
“Please leave.” I said.
“Come on, take it easy Temi. I didn’t mean to tease you.” He said as he approached me. “Let me teach you…”
“I don’t want you to teach me anything!” I replied. “Please go.”
“Come on. There’s no big deal in it.” He replied, coming closer. “I like you. Okay forget that. I love you. I’ve been in love with you for a long time. I want to take care of you. As my girlfriend you will not be punished in that school again even when I pass out as headboy. I’ll maker sure you are well taken care of.”
He held my arms and drew me back to himself. “You will be able to come as late as you want, no prefect will dare close the gate on you. Also you know my dad is rich and I’ll be travelling to the U.S next month. I’ll buy you whatever you want and maybe on my next travel I can even ask dad wether you can come along.” He kissed me on my forehead. It felt wet and hot. “Just give me this chance with you tonight and all these will be yours. Let me show you how I love you…”
He was pressing me to him again and I felt his hands go round my buttocks as he drew my hips to his. I felt a swimming sensation in my head, it wasn’t pleasant at all. A part of me wanted all he had promised me but another part was just screaming to be let go, the other part that knew this wasn’t right. He grabbed my bum again and I stepped back and dealt a slap across his face, causing him to stagger backwards. It was so sudden even I was shocked.
I was even further shocked when Dare viciously grabbed my arms and pulled me to himself. I opened my mouth to scream but he grabbed my neck and squeezed so hard the scream died in my throat. The strength that coursed through him was frightening. He half dragged half carried me from the road into the bush, and to my dismay nobody seemed to notice we had gone.
Tbc

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