The school bell rang, and Evans promptly closed the thick, cream coloured pages of the novel he had been reading—better still, just some selected sentences. Evans had scanned the pages in search of paragraphs marked with red ink. Obviously, someone who had read it before him had taken an extra time to mark those paragraphs—all erotic. The last sentence he had read was: Her moan deepened, and his thrusts too.
Evans pulled the zip of his black school bag, and in went the novel. His shoulders felt the weight of the bag after he had secured its content.
Time to go for the kill, Evans muttered. He stood from his seat and adjusted his trouser, pulling it down, an inch below his hips. It had become a common ritual each time he stood up; a ritual he would deem complete after he pushed back the large bump that always formed at the crotch-point of his hurriedly tailored trouser. Evans, for a brief moment, observed the chaos and noise around him. The final bell for the day had been rung, and the teachers would hardly care about the noise. The perfume of different brands of cheap talcum powder filled the air.
Evans walked towards his best friend, Emeka, who stood close to the blackboard. Emeka stood still as Gladys applied white powder on his face, while Memunat held up a small mirror.
“Chap, I’m off.” Evans said when he got close to the blackboard—and after he had gotten Emeka’s attention.
“Are you sure you don’t need my help?” Emeka asked.
“I could wait for you, so we go home together.” The girls who stood by his side did not seem pleased with that comment, and it showed on their faces. It meant they had to wait too.
“Don’t worry. Just go home.” Evans said, and turned to face the exit door. He felt a hand on his shoulder after three steps.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Emeka asked. “You look scared.”
“I’m fine.” Evans said in response. He knew he had to leave immediately, else his plan might fail. “I have to go, Mrs. Bassey would not be pleased if I show up late.”
At the mention of Mrs. Bassey, Emeka let go. “Okay. See you tomorrow.”
“But, why after school hours?” Emeka called out.
Evans just shook his head, an indication that he had no idea. He hurried out of the class, and down the stairs, until he was alone in the biology laboratory. Evans wiped his sweat off his face. He knew the weight his thoughts placed on him, more than the speed at which he had run, was responsible for the sweat. He was sure Imabong would appear soon. He found a broom at a corner of the laboratory, and started to sweep—anything to give as an excuse for his sweat when Imabong showed up. As he swept, he imagined what it would feel like to hold Imabong’s large breasts with both hands. He thought of Imabong standing close, with her large eyes staring at him, and he cringed, a bit. Emeka had described those eyes as sexy, but to him, they were just—large.
Evans raised his head just in time to see Emeka, through the slightly open window, walk past the coconut tree at the middle of the school compound, heading for the gate. Gladys by his right, and Memunat by his left. There was an addition, the shy but pretty Bimpe who walked behind the trio.
Evans resumed his self-imposed task, with the events of his first day in Michael Adeshina Comprehensive College in mind. It had also been Emeka’s first. The two new boys who were admitted rather late in the term were given a seat in front of the class, and a friendship had begun. They had become best friends after a fight and some shared secrets.
Evans heaved as he thought of a more recent event. Emeka had been the one who had conceived the idea of what he was about to do. He felt guilt run through him knowing Emeka may likely never get to know about his attempt. Evans had no doubt that Emeka believed his claim that as the newly appointed laboratory prefect, Mrs. Bassey had asked him to wait behind to assist her re-arrange the laboratory. He was also sure that Emeka had not noticed that Mrs. Bassey had left early, though the Biology laboratory had remained open. Evans was sure Imabong, Mrs. Bassey’s daughter, was also ignorant of this fact.
Evans heard footsteps and he swallowed. He turned to face Imabong standing at the door. Her face showed her surprise seeing Evans alone.
“Where’s my mother?” Imabong asked as she walked in. Her tone failed to show that Evans was a year ahead of her, and a school prefect. Imabong dropped her bag on a lab stool like it had been a burden to her.
Evans maintained a bent position when he gave a reply. “She has gone home. I’ll lock the lab once I’m done.” Then Evans stood erect, but he did not remember the usual ritual with his trouser.
She looked at Evans, and her eyes stayed a while at the lower half of his body. She moved close to him and crossed both arms just beneath her breasts. Her action reminded Evans of his thoughts. “Aside sweeping, anything else?”
“You could have selected some JSS 3 students to sweep this place.” she said. “Its a bit undignified for you to sweep.”
“I know. But I completely forgot about the task, until the bell had been rung.” Evans lied.
“Give me the broom.” Imabong said, offering to help. Assuming that Evans might decide to take his leave, she quickly added, “Since its your sole responsibility to lock the lab, you just have to wait for me till I’m done sweeping.” Imabong had been careful enough to stress the words—your, you. “Agreed?”
“Okay.” Evans said in agreement. She smiled. He smiled too—a grateful smile, and not because of her kind gesture. He was certain that Imabong had other things in mind. Even with the broom in her hand, she still remained by his side. She must have figured that another opportunity to spend time alone with him may not be forthcoming anytime soon, so the need to make the most of the moment.
Imabong grabbed Evans by his hand, and held it firm, as best as she could. “You’ve always tried to avoid me.” she started. “Why?” she asked. “Well, now we’re alone—just you and me.” Evans took in, with each breath, the perfume of the talcum powder she had applied. He knew he had to play his part well—Imabong must not sense his need. He made his hand free from her grip and took steps away from her. Imabong was surprised. His action had been unexpected, and fast too. Still, she easily caught up with Evans, and stood in front of him. And her breasts seem to grow in size with each heave of her chest.
Evans looked at her, and he remembered Emeka’s words, “Imabong looks like that kind of girl who should not be left alone with a boy, especially, one she admires—like you.” Emeka had said those words after Evans had received a surprise gift from Imabong at his last birthday. Mrs. Bassey had been the form mistress of his class, giving Imabong free access to his data.
“Are you scared someone would walk in?” she asked. She didn’t wait for an answer, before she continued, “Don’t worry. My mother has already fixed that problem—every student fears her, so no one would dare come here; and, as you must have noticed, she’s not so friendly with the other teachers.”
Imabong moved even closer, and kissed him.
The other party always initiates the kiss, he mused. Just like his first kiss had been—with Steve.
Evans had his eyes shut as Imabong’s lips touched his, and it remained so only for an extra second. In that brief moment, he had recalled a sentence from the novel in his bag; a sentence marked with red ink: Amy let her lips linger on his, and Jôse fed on the warmth and love.
Evans considered the open door, and it reminded him that Koboko, as the Vice-principal was ordinarily called, was usually among the last to leave the school each day—in his old Volkswagen car. It also reminded him that Imabong had omitted Koboko from the list of those who would stay a reasonable distance from the biology labouratory. Evans pulled from her grip, with an added reason—Imabong’s lips had a terrible taste. Evans was sure he would throw up if Imabong came that close again.
“I suggest you start sweeping now, or I’ll do it myself.” he said, his voice—a bit—shaky. Evans was certain he would have preferred the words, ‘Don’t bother sweeping, just go.’
“Maybe you are just a virgin.” Imabong said coldly. The stress in her sentence fell on the word—just. Evans quickly figured that virginity would be a state to be despised, if Imabong was given the task to set a new order. He marveled at her confidence. Evans could bet on anything, being fully persuaded, that Imabong had had sex in school. “Tell me the truth,” she continued, “have you had sex before?” Imabong looked straight at him.
Evans returned her gaze, and said, “I’m not a virgin.” Imabong smiled. Evans did not. He made himself believe that he had lied. But in fairness, Evans could not exactly pick the description that fitted him best—a virgin or not. He was not sure the extent a boy could go before he actually lost it. A thought crept in, one he always wished never happened. He promptly pushed the thought away.
Imabong edged close. Then a step closer. And finally, her breasts pressed against his chest. Her hands found rest on his chest—just a little space, on each side, that her large breasts were willing to share. Evans stood still, for a moment, expectant. He smiled, realising he had expected too much from himself. Imabong smiled too, but for a different reason. And her hands started a slow trail down his chest, reaching for the bump on the crotch point of his trouser. Evans took steps backwards; he knew that Imabong had mistakenly taken the bump for an erect penis.
“I’m off.” He announced, picking up his bag from where he had left it. As Evans walked to the door, he reassured himself that it was the right time to leave. He did not mind what Imabong would think of him, conceivably she might rate him high—if none had turned her down before. But, what occupied him most was the knowledge that he had prevented Imabong from reaching the emptiness in the extended crotch point of his trouser.
“Wait,” Imabong called out. “At least let’s go home together.”
Evans did not consider the request. He had reached a conclusion before Imabong was done speaking. “I’ve already wasted more time than I anticipated.” Evans said. He remembered the ritual with his trousers, and his hands made the required adjustments. Before he made an exit, Evans said, “Here’s the padlock, the key is with your mother.”
As Evans stepped out of the labouratory, he made a quick search, trying to find the lanky Vice-principal. He only saw the Vice-principal’s car under the coconut tree. Then he saw Emeka approaching. Evans swallowed and quickened his steps, trying to bridge the gap between them. He was sure he had earlier seen Emeka walk past the gate.
“What are you doing here?” Evans asked.
“I forgot my chemistry textbook.” Emeka responded. His words reminded Evans that the chemistry teacher had given instruction that the assignment must be submitted before seven-thirty the following morning.
“You finished quite fast with Mrs. Bassey,” Emeka continued. “I thought you would be there, at least, for another hour.” He said as they climbed the stairs, Evans some stairs ahead of him. “Why are you in a hurry, like its your books we’re going to get?” Emeka asked as he hurried to catch up with his friend. A thought occurred to him as he neared Evans, so he asked, “Was your babe there while you re-arranged?” The possibility of Evans and Imabong being in close proximity had gotten him excited, and it showed on his face. Emeka had a smile too.
“Imabong of course.” Emeka answered, conscious enough not to allow Evans’ irrelevant question to quench his excitement. Evans hissed, and Emeka’s smile broadened. Evans remained quiet. But he increased his speed on the stairs that led to the last floor of the building. Emeka followed after him. “Answer me nah.” Emeka begged. “Was Imabong there?”
“Oh boy!” Emeka exclaimed. “Tell me all that happened.” Emeka’s expression showed that his excitement had just been fueled.
“Nothing.” Evans responded as they approached the door to their classroom. He allowed Emeka to enter while he remained at the door. “Just get the textbook and let’s go home.” Evans took steps away from the door, unto the corridor, just in time to see Imabong throw away the sand she had gathered in a dustpan. He walked back to door, but this time he did not remain there.
“You act like you don’t have feelings for any girl.” Emeka said. He had already placed the textbook in his bag, which meant it was time to leave. Evans heard a bang, and he knew it was Imabong securing the door of the labouratory. This is not the time to leave, he muttered to himself.
Its not like I don’t have those feelings,” Evans heard himself say. He had not thought of those words, the need to keep Emeka in the classroom a little longer must have drawn the words out of him. It was a welcome line, judging from the smile Emeka nursed. Evans decided to pursue it further. “I don’t just know how to explain myself.” Evans said, helping himself to a seat. He prayed Emeka would do same. Emeka did not.
“Or, are you gay?”
The question took Evans by surprise, but he answered promptly. “God forbid!” he said. Evans did not miss Emeka’s expression—one which showed that a contrary response was not welcome. Its for our good that you remain ignorant, he mused.
“So, what’s your problem?”
“Ok. Fine. Nothing else, I’m too bad to be seen hanging with a gay dude.” Emeka said, with a playful punch at Evans’ left shoulder. Evans smiled. It settled well in his heart that he had to fully embrace a life that was not truly his—thanks to Emeka’s words. “You’re sitting like you don’t want to go home again.”
“Let’s go,” Evans said, same time, raising to his feet. His voice noticeably weak. It pained him that Emeka did not notice. “Let’s go.” he repeated.