The yellow streetlights sped past in sequence as Ekow’s bare feet hit the pavement in quick succession. His heart beat so wildly it was as if it was getting ready to burst out of the jail that was his ribcage on a solo venture. He was so terrified that he didn’t even bother turning his head to see if he was being pursued. This isn’t one of those movies, he told himself silently as he rounded a curve ahead, casting his eyes widely around looking for any car in sight. 12:37am on the clock – not a single self-respecting taxi driver would be down here at this time… Huffing and puffing, he finally slowed down to lean against a palm tree by the roadside. He finally let his mind roll back to the significant events that led to his midnight marathon down Thieves Row…
Oh yeah? I’m flattered. Abi ure d main bosschick on campus. *Swoosh*
*Beep* Oh see you! As if I’m teln u sth nu – I bet u even use those same words on all d otha girls, eh?
Wey other girls? Naa paa! U kno me, Solo Rider #1 😊 ! D girls don’t like me lyk tht o 😢 *Swoosh*
*Beep* Ei Ekow, u wnt me 2 blv u? What abt those girls hu always seem 2 be hangn arnd u in class? Or those ones who I always come to meet in ur Room???
Ei Naa BNI dat! See d way you present ur research like dat. Abeg, point of correctn: if ure talkn of Adelaide & Gyikua, u rmbr tht we’re in d same midsem project grp, ryt? And thm girls u dey see for my Room, abi u know sey my roommate be PIMP, ryt?? Lol! I just entertain them for Prince sometimes whn he’s not in o *Swoosh*
*Beep* Ekow! Sweet Talker #1! See how ure easily makn me blv u? I hear u. SO, are we hanging out this weekend or what?? Ders ths jazz singer @ some nu plc I’ve found. I’m sure u’ll like it. I’ll snd u d address n we meet up at 9:30pm there, cool?
That WhatsApp conversation was just last night. He cast a quick glance about as his ears pricked toward the sound of heavy footfalls coming from the direction he’d initially run from. Not waiting to see whoever or whatever was coming, he took to his heels once more, praying fervently as the second burst of adrenaline pushed him further. Somewhere at the back of his mind however, he doubted that he would get much of a response in light of his most recent personal failings. His mind was inevitably drawn to other quarters as he huffed and puffed down the quiet road, accompanied by barking dogs from the few walled compounds he shot past…
Ekow snapped his fingers in triumph – finally! Eno was showing the first signs of cracking at last! It had been tough even talking to her initially because of their first meeting in level 100 – he’d been the mastermind of a prank that had ended with soaking all the girls in their class from the first floor as they posed downstairs for what they thought was a professional photo session after lectures one day! Generally, they were a good sport and the boys didn’t get into trouble with the authorities for that but Ekow was at first blacklisted that whole year by all the girls and their obedient boyfriends – even receiving a few threats of a beating to remember in some dark corner of campus one day on occasion – that is, until they realized that he wasn’t just a slacker and a prankster, but also one of the most brilliant minds in the Creative Arts class of 2015.
He’d spent the rest of the year winning the grudging respect of the class…all except Eno, that is…
At first it was just an oddity, then it became an annoyance in the background of his life – like a fly that buzzed just out of your reach every time. He’d even tried the vaguest of apologies at some point, but she’d given him the coldest of shoulders when he tried striking up a conversation afterwards.
Up until his ‘breakthrough’ during the premiere of a movie on campus almost 2 months before, that is.
As luck would have it, she’d plunked down into the only available seat at the back, only to discover too late during the opening montage that she had the aisle to her left and Ekow to her right.
Grinning widely, he’d offered her his popcorn. Staring daggers at him for almost a full minute, she surprised him by taking the whole bucket from him and proceeded to look at him quizzically when he made as if to dip his hand into it to have some for himself a few minutes later.
She looked at him with a raised eyebrow until he corrected himself.
“Sorry, Your popcorn…”
She allowed him a handful and then shifted the bucket promptly over to her other side when he was done!
Ekow, be calm, he told himself exhaling peevishly. At least she’s talking to me now.
The unexpected good news was that with the rollicking comedy that kept the audience laughing ever so often, she forgot herself a few times and ended up laughing along with him before she could catch herself.
“Abi you know that we’re friends now whether you like it or not, right?” he’d cockily asked as they queued to exit the auditorium.
She’d paused for a long second.
“Maybe. We’ll see.”
The next Monday morning saw him switching seats with Bobbie so he sat next to Eno in the front row. Suffice it to say that he was now well and truly intrigued by the tough girl who cracked a rare smile that transformed her already unique features into a divine work of beautiful art.
Grudgingly, they became friends, until they stood at the very precipice of maybe something a little bit more now. Eno seemed like just the right person he needed in his life that he didn’t know he wanted there. Everything was going on so well and he just teetered on the edge of actually doing something about it all…
That was, until the day only Naa and him showed up for a group study meeting one evening and ended up bonding over the latest episode of Scandal and how annoying Fitz & Olivia’s relationship was becoming. They’d talked for over an hour waiting for the other members and when none showed up, he’d walked her to her room on the other side of campus and said goodbye past 12 midnight.
It started innocently at first – Eno had to go for a family function and so had been excused from lectures that whole week so he’d hung around with Naa for most of the time after lectures instead. And boy, were they different! They were both beautiful by most – if not all – standards, only in different directions like comparing sunlight to moonlight. You see, where Eno was pristine and cool for most of the time, Naa was a torrent of indeterminate emotions depending on the time and place! Where Eno would smile and wag her finger in your face at a naughty joke, Naa would burst out laughing and be sure to repeat the punchline at other inappropriate moments. Whilst you had to coax Eno out unto the dance floor for not less than half an hour, Naa would take sole ownership of the song and was the life of every party.
As any guy would confirm, Ekow knew that it was always a good thing to be friends with a beautiful girl too. Contrary to public perception, Ekow was not your typical chilling-prone student and actually preferred keeping to himself most of the time. Naa, however, made sure to drag him to each event she was invited to and he sure had the time of his life going out in her company.
Sharing a cab with a few other new friends she’d introduced him to coming back from a club one night, it suddenly struck him that he was feeling something new within him when she rested her sleepy head against his shoulder and snuggled close to him.
But we’re just cool…and I like Eno instead, don’t I?
He froze as his breath caught in his throat, but she continued mumbling something about a class assignment and then something else, before he relaxed somewhat.
When he later got to his room, he was troubled, not really because of what he’d heard, but of his internal reaction to it. His heart had positively leaped within him when she’d mumbled those words, totally at odds with what he’d thought he had been feeling for Eno!
Do I now like Naa instead? Or I didn’t really like Eno to begin with? Me koraa, am I still correct at all??
Days later, he’d decided to ask Prince for his opinion.
“Don’t go after Naa. Stick with Eno, abeg waa. You’re a good guy, don’t two-time!”
That, coming from Prince Da PIMP, was incredulous!
“I’m not two-timing anybody biaa o! I’m just asking your opinion on what’s going on. Why you dey always love catch the bad side of everything??!”
“I’m just cutting to the chase here. I know Naa from SHS. She’s not your type. She bad pass you. You go be kiddie give am sef. Just don’t try.”
“Mtcheww! I figure sey you go tell me something important a, see where you dey take pass?!”
With that Ekow stormed out, annoyed at his roommate for assuming he wanted to do something with Naa.
By mid-afternoon that day however, his reasoning was running along the lines of After all, I’m not going out with Eno sef…and she’s shown no sign of wanting much more from me than friendship…and Naa dier, she’s HOT o!
After lectures, Eno was being Eno again. He couldn’t remember when last she’d been so annoyingly…herself.
“Aren’t you going to come for the Faculty Week drama rehearsal again? You know we need someone to work the lights since Paul fell ill yesterday – are you even listening to me?”
“Of course, I…er,” he still had his mind preoccupied with Naa and had missed the first half of her questions.
“Seriously?! So what I’m saying isn’t important again eh?”
“Oh, it’s not like that. I just have a lot on my mind, that’s all.” Without even turning his head, he could hear Naa laughing loudly with some other girls at the back of the class as he tried to focus on his assignment, and not seem too suspicious to Eno at the same time – his concentration was broadly split.
“Since you’ve got more important things on your mind, let me know when you’re available wae.”
“Okay, thanks,” he replied absentmindedly as he bent over his canvas, failing to see the hurt in her eyes as she tightened her lips and walked off.
“Ekow, can you step outside and check out my assignment for me?”
Smiling slightly at the welcome relief of the distraction, he accompanied her outside the lecture hall. Stepping around the corner of the clear hallway, she stepped into an alcove there and drew him in, then turned round quickly so his back was to the wall instead a second later.
“I’ve been waiting for an answer for too long. Or you didn’t hear my question? Do you like me or not?”
To say he was shocked would be an understatement. His adrenaline was pumping though – and that felt good.
Her oh-so-soft lips against his was the second shock he had in under a minute!
“Ok wait, you answer me when we meet later tonight, ok?”
With that she stepped back from the alcove and smiling coquettishly, left him there still, back up against the wall.
That was the exact moment when he started thinking with his small head at the expense of the big one…
To Be Concluded…