by Kemisola Adetola
”The following week, she found a note in her locker, with a love tag.”
Finally, the most anticipated words Miriam had been waiting for came ringing in her ears, accompanied by the deafening sound of a bell. Her bed was by the window, the top bunk, so she got to bear the brunt of it. But tonight was different. She had been looking forward to that sound. Now she could let out those quiet sobs without raising anyone’s suspicion.
“Nobody wants me, oh- nobody wants me.” She cried.
Today had been the most embarrassing day of her life. She didn’t know whether to blame her friend or herself for being so gullible. Ella had convinced her it was no big deal.
“Miriam, just be bold for once and go tell him how much you like him!” Ella had said, immediately she had let the cat out of the bag, by admitting there was a boy in class she was ‘’gelling’’ for. Ella had been so excited for her, she had always teased her about not having a boyfriend. There were times Miriam would have to fake stories about meeting someone during long vacations, just to keep up with the rest of the girls.
Tonight, as she wallowed in her own tears that kept flowing like a broken reservoir, she kept analysing the event when she poured her heart to Max. The more she thought about it, the more intense the sob was. Max had spoken harshly to her. It was immediately after night prep, she had sighted him at the t-junction. It took her a lot of ‘pep talk’ and courage to walk up to him. Actually, she ran up to him.
“Hello Maxwell?” she had said still trying to catch her breath. No one in school ever called him that, except the teachers of course.
“Hey.” He frowned and kept walking, even faster.
Miriam felt she had to say something immediately; she could start by asking why he hadn’t accepted the friend request on Facebook, she had sent it when school was on vacation. She even let him take her seat at the dining table yesterday.
“Hmm, I think we-we should talk.” she stammered. She was sure she saw him wince, but he didn’t say anything. So she continued.
“I saw you at the games against class 2Emerald, that was really cool. Your knees must really hurt.” An opposing player had knocked him off. She went on for about thirty seconds and realised she had been blabbing and grinning sheepishly. Max hadn’t even take a look at her. Miriam had taken special care preparing for night prep. For the first time, Ella didn’t mind Miriam sharing her lip gloss and brown powder which she had sneaked to school. For some funny reason, she was convinced Max felt the same way about her. She had told Ella how she sometimes caught Max staring at her. Ella had laughed. Miriam was sure she wasn’t just imagining that, and to prove the point, Max had chosen her as his group-work partner at music class. She did it single-handedly, working all night to ensure their assignment was well done. Max would be so impressed and proud of me, she thought. She guessed he was, because they had scored second highest. Maybe I should let him know how I feel once and for all.
“Max, I know I shouldn’t be saying this, but I think I like you and- and, okay that’s it, I really like you.” Her heart was racing. A second passed, two seconds, three, he said nothing. She thought she would pass out. As she started again, he cut her off.
“I don’t know what you expect me to say, but I’m sure you do know I’ve got a reputation to protect.” He snapped.
She couldn’t believe her ears. “What does he even mean by that? Does he mean I’m not good enough for him?” With that thought, she cried till she fell asleep.
She awoke the next morning to the sound of the same bell, but this time it sounded annoying as usual. Today is Saturday, it’s social night. Everyone seemed to look forward to this night except her. She got to sit alone most of the time, and even when she made up her mind to take part in the activities, she just didn’t have the guts to do so, being the centre of attention and all of that. Wherever did that guts come from when to it came to Max?
Miriam’s imagination could be wild, she had read in a book that sometimes it’s insecurity that makes it so, when it comes to what people think about you. But she was sure this was for real. That morning, she could feel people staring at her. It was really uncomfortable. “Does everyone now know about it?” She wondered. What a shame that would be.
The following week, she found a note in her locker, with a love tag. It was from Max. She was so happy. She had heard and seen movies where girls her age got love notes from the best looking guy, now it was finally happening to her. She just couldn’t wait for the last class before recess to be over already! She wanted to be alone when reading her love letter, or so she likes to call it, where she could feel every word.
“Oh my Maxwell…” She fantasized.
The geography teacher finally left, then she came back with a man that had started coming to the school to talk to everyone in the senior class about the Gospel. He came every Wednesday during assembly, but today of all days, he had missed his time and decided to come at that hour. “I must find a way to get out of here.” Miriam thought to herself. She signalled to Mrs Peters and she beckoned her to come.
“Excuse me ma, I have a serious headache. I need to get to the sick bay.” She cried.
“Oh quick, do you need someone to go with you?” she asked. That would have been Ella, but Miriam was sure she would have called someone from her class.
“No ma, I would be fine.” Immediately, she signed a pass for her to take to the sick bay. “Health prefect, please go with her.” She added.
“Oh no!” Miriam almost exclaimed aloud.
Finally, Miriam got to a room the matron showed her when she told her she would like to rest for awhile. She opened the note and it read:
I have considered what you said the other day.
Meet me up by the Common Well at 8:30pm.
Show me what you’ve got.
Whatever that meant, Miriam really didn’t care. All she wanted was to see Max as he had said. That meant she would have to find a way to leave the class before night prep was over, where Max would profess his love for her.
Again, Miriam was wrong. Max took advantage of her that night. Wherever people gather in two’s and more, she could bet they were talking about her, she felt ridiculed. She was grateful to God that the school authorities didn’t get to know about it, and she never spoke to Max till they graduated. He didn’t even care, he was a “feeler” (the most sophisticated guy). Everyone wanted to be around him, he was respected in school. Things also became rough between Miriam and Ella, but later on, they became friends again. Miriam was too intimidated to make friends. Ella was her only friend.
After graduation, she wondered what would become of her. Everyone seemed to be moving on but her. She was yet to get admitted into the University, no guy was asking her out despite her efforts to look her best with makeup tips from her only, well maybe true friend?
Oluwakemi Adetola is a fresh Psychology graduate from the University of Lagos. This short story is one of the Collections of Short Stories for Teenagers and Young Adults she is working on, and would be published next year. She is also currently working as a Content Developer at SESEWA.