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The Fabric Red Rose - Literature - Nairaland

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The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 10:36am On Jul 09, 2017
CHAPTER ONE

January usually came with dusty harmattan wind and cyclones that raised dust, crashed trees, and this was no exception. It was the period when plants suffered an excruciating dryness and breathing felt like what was close to being difficult to do. The period when breads became rock hard if left exposed, the period when fine films of dust coated everything, including eye lashes.
It was the beginning of second term in Holy Field High School. And as it was usually done, new prefects were appointed in second term, posts were transferred from the SS3 students so that they could focus on their imminent Senior School Certificate Examination, to the SS2 students which certainly stares at their faces.
“Welcome back once again. I hope you enjoyed the holiday?” the principal said. He was a stout-figured man with a regular look that one would mistake him for the school gardener. Although his spectacles—which left horizontal lines on his temple when he removed them—gave him a gentle-man look. There was a loud response from the students—mostly the junior ones who responded in the affirmative with so much gusto, and the senior students, insouciantly responded with a “yes” that was almost a mutter. Some of them did not even answer at all.
After a few words of advice to the students, the principal proceeded to calling out the new prefects. “So, I call on Sunday Olaoluwa as the new head-boy and Olajumoke Matthew as the new head girl.” A loud round of applause welcomed them as they climbed up the raised platform, uniforms ironed so well that they looked papers, and smiles of accomplishment spread across their faces, obviously intoxicated by the new power they were going to enjoy, or use to intimidate others, as the case may be.
“And Richard Adams for labour prefect.” The round of applause did not stop until after Richard was called out, his face was yet without an expression at first, but he quickly put a little smile on, to veil his disappointment. ‘Of all posts, why did the principal decided to give me the post of a labour prefect?’ he mused. Maybe because he usually mobilized his fellow students to clear up the grasses outside their gate, maybe it was because he loved to make the school surrounding clean by picking up dirt without any instruction to do so at his leisure time; what other students would not do until compelled. The principal must have seen him once or twice doing this from his office.
Richard knew that the principal could see the whole school surrounding from his office one day when he summoned him. He had bent slightly and had seen every nook and cranny of the school premises from there. The gateman, an old man with a long cap like a bucket, was sitting at his gatepost nodding in sleep. The principal had sacked the previous gateman because he slept a lot, firing grammar at him, some of the grammars, Richard doubted he would find them in the dictionary when he looked it up and doubted that the principal himself understood it: “Your lackadaisical attitude will make me dispose of you today. I can not tolerate a lazy and insolent gatekeeper! Imagine him, incapios, indomestic element, kokonbility miscabullous!” he had said, and here was the new gatekeeper, risking the same circumstance that sent his antecedent packing. ‘Didn’t he know the principal could see him from here?’ Richard had wondered.
In the classroom, a fine film of dust had coated his desk and chair like a transparent grey cloth. He hated to dust the wooly thing but did however, so did the rest of his classmates. Most of his them had not resumed and would not resume until next week. It had become a culture for students to give themselves a one-week extra break and Holy Field was not left out.
Richard already envisaged how the day would go: the day would drag by, at a speed that would make snails look like they were rocket missiles, the clock would be very slow if not work backwards and he would be bored until the closing hour. First days of resumptions wer

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Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 10:48am On Jul 09, 2017
Creeza Divepen1 Larrysun Apollux

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Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 12:51pm On Jul 09, 2017
First days of resumptions were always like that for him especially If Fizzy and Messiah did not resume that day.
He was still dusting his locker when Fizzy entered. A fellow who was about his age, and whose name was originally Afiz but ‘modernized’ to become Fizzy and the name stuck as his alias. Fizzy seemed to squeak when he talked like the way a scratched CD sounded, when being played.
Richard in his bent position did not see Fizzy enter until he felt a tap on his back. On raising his head, Fizzy made a swift motion with his hand, in the air, as if to slap him but Richard moved back and caught his hand mid air. They laughed.
“You will be good at fighting karate,” Fizzy said.
Richard laughed. “You have come this term again. How you doing na? I thought you were not going to resume today,” he said extending his right hand to Fizzy who took it with so much enthusiasm as though amongst all the things he had missed in school, was Richard’s handshake. They shook hands, a handshake that ended with the snapping of each other’s finger tips. To them, it was the way big boys shook hands and they should not be left out.
“Rich Rich, how the holiday na?” Fizzy asked as he paced to his seat, greeting the rest of his mates too.
“Well, I thank God, yours?”
“Fine. How is Rachel your sweetheart? Did you guys see during the break?”
Richard smiled. Did he have to add “your sweetheart?” Fizzy had just brought the memory of that naughty girl to his mind. “Well, she’s fine thank you,” Richard responded avoiding the second question, knowing how the chap loved meddling.
“You’ve not answered my question,” Fizzy said, pausing to read Richard’s face, a mischievous smile crescented his lips. He would not stop putting Richard on the spot, a thing he hated so much, especially if the matter had anything to do with Rachel, like this one.
“Afiz don’t even start. Whether we saw or not, it’s none of your business, we will see eventually when she resumes this term.”
Fizzy cleared his throat. “Am just trying to be nice o,” he said as he bent to arrange the books in his locker.
A little uneasy silence gained dominance between them, before someone entered, it was Messiah.
“Hey guys!” Messiah said as he entered. Fizzy and Richard raised their heads at the same time in order to see the person. Now they were complete. Three friends, that each one was pleased with the rest. Fizzy and Messiah was two perfect match; they never left each other except during closing hours when they inevitably had to separate, sort of like twins. One would wonder how they got along so well though, because Fizzy was a football fanatic and knew nothing about science. Aside the first twenty elements that they were all taught in SS1, he knew nothing else, and that, by now, he was sure to have forgotten, and dear Messiah on the other hand barely knew how to kick a ball. It was either science or nothing at all. Richard had love for painting in the past but the love still lingered somewhere in him, and a little literature and football did it for him. His world revolved around painting, literature, and a little bit of football.
“Messy Messy, how are doing?” Richard said as he hurried to receive him. Fizzy stood still.
“Fizzy how was the break?” Messiah said, not wanting to leave him out of the conversation.
“Well, I thank God, it was fine.”
“Did you travel this time?” Richard asked.
“Don’t you trust me? I went to Abuja this time,” Messiah said.
“Good for you, I know it’s your first time visiting Abuja,” Richard said, an undertone of a seeming mockery.
“Yes, but at least am better than some people,” Messiah said looking at Fizzy.
“Better than who? Don’t try me o, who told you I haven’t been to Abuja?” Fizzy said frowning.
Messiah laughed. “I was only joking Fizzy. Who annoyed Fizzy this morning na?” he said.
“Don’t mind him. See, Fizzy, you better come off this attitude of yours, this is a new year and you know new year, new system,” Richard said. Fizzy crumpled a sheet of paper and threw it at Ric

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Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Priscy01(f): 1:49pm On Jul 09, 2017
U dont invite mean but hia I am....
Lemme park hia bfre other comes
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 5:25pm On Jul 21, 2017
Fizzy crumpled a sheet of paper and threw it at Richard which he dodged gracefully.
“Rich, why are stepping on Fizzy’s toes na?” Messiah said.
“It’s because I asked of his, Rachel, don’t worry this term am getting a girlfriend as well,” Fizzy said.
“As long as you don’t start running after those JSS1 girls,” Richard said and they all burst out laughing.
Soon, Rachel walked into the class and some of the girls hooted. She was quite popular, and for this, some of her classmates liked her, some despised her and others were simply indifferent. After greeting some people who she thought were worth it, she walked to Richard’s seat and sat.
“I missed you,” she said, squeezing his hands lightly.
“I missed you too,” Richard lied conspicuously.
Rachel blushed, flattered, she looked quite stunning when she did that. Her eyes, round like limes and her face was always smooth from talcum powder. The whole of her smelled of talcum powder and body lotion.
“If you know you missed me, then…” Rachel said placing her left index finger on her right cheek.
Richard looked around, Rachel was putting him in a difficult situation and if he dared refuse, he would literally be in trouble. Rachel and her dramas, she had not changed.
Though the class was noisy and every attention was with someone else, but Richard still felt uncomfortable with it.
“Rachel please we are in class and you know I can’t do it,” he begged.
“You had better do it,” Rachel said authoritatively. She liked to be the one in control, the oga.
Richard felt too tied down to refuse. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to withstand the tantrums Rachel would throw at him later should he refuse. He pressed his lips on Rachel’s cheek so quickly that he thought no one saw them.
“Ehen lovey lovey,” Blessing George said.
‘That witch!’ Richard spat inwardly. He thought she had seen them.
“Don’t mind her,” Rachel said when she saw the I-regret-having-to-do-this look on his face. “She’s just jealous.”
“Oko ati Iyawo,” Blessing said, drawing the attention of the rest and soon, everyone knew about it.
Richard made frantic efforts to stop Blessing from saying further but she refused to budge.
“They were doing lovey lovey,” Blessing said crossing her hands on her chest, cuddling and rocking herself, and pursing her lips now and again to show how the lovey lovey was done.
The class erupted in laughter. Some of them took it as far as calling Richard a ‘romantic labour prefect’.
Richard bowed his head while Rachel tried to defend them: “You people are just jealous, go and look for your own,” she said. His head burned. He later walked out and remained there.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 5:27pm On Jul 21, 2017
Priscy01:
U dont invite mean but hia I am....

Lemme park hia bfre other comes
Lol am sorry... Please invite your friends too.... Sorry for the late update too, been really busy!

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Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 5:28pm On Jul 21, 2017
CHAPTER TWO

In his room, he lay on the bed with his shoes on, staring at the ceiling. Rachel could be funny sometimes, he thought. When would she notice that he was beginning to become bored of her unsolicited public display of affection?
The door swung open. It was Timothy, his brother. A taller figure in the family, who took after all the attributes of his father, both physically and otherwise. Timothy loved basketball. A game Richard disliked because he thought the court was too small for those men to run around in and because their scores were usually ridiculous; as much as 48, 60 and so on.
“Boy!” Timothy said. He looked attractive in his The Ballers jersey which, even when turned inside out, still had the name in its normal printed form.
“Bro, good afternoon.”
“Welcome boy, what did you learn at school today?” Timothy asked. He was always interested in what Richard learnt at school. Maybe he was just playing the big brother, but when Richard told him and explained, he never seemed to understand a thing.
“When I was your age, I was very brilliant,” he used to say, intimidating Richard, until one day Richard came across his secondary school report cards. He usually had the 15th position to himself. No wonder he always seemed to keep his results dearly and with fine care. What made Richard laughed was the principal’s comment: Unserious student, try to improve next session. Another had said: Dirty boy, always playing. And after Richard told him about the result, which he tried to deny though, he still asked him “what did you learn today?” as if he had forgotten that Richard had once seen his result.
“You have come again, you better go back to your school,” Richard said.
“ASUU is on strike, how many times will I have to tell you that?” He was studying Economics at Tai Solarin University of Education. He had thought the course would come up roses, but Timothy knew the reverse was the case when he came across a lot of calculations. Of all the bad things in the world, calculation was what Timothy hated most, dreaded most; it was like a nightmare to him, a thorn in his flesh.
He headed towards the corner of the room, where he kept his basketball, carried it, and bounced it on the red rug. At one side of the four walls was a large wallpaper of Usher Raymond with unclad chest, revealing attractive muscles and a red Ferrari just below him, supposedly his. At another side of the walls was the picture of Michael Jordan, holding a basketball and laughing with his tongue stuck out, a red head band encircled his head—a quintessential boys’ room. Maybe it was Michael Jordan whom Timothy imitated when he laughed, who knows? And yet another picture of some Asian ladies at the shore of a beach with clear sky, their skins, flawless, on sun glasses that looked a little too big like welding goggles, in an all-white bikini, lounging under the warm sun, legs stretched out and a glass of drink in each girl's hand—all Timothy’s properties. Mr Adams had frowned at those pictures once, ordering Timothy to remove them which he did but pasted them back on after some time for reasons Richard could not decipher. Richard was indifferent about those pictures. Pictures or no pictures, he didn’t bother, he had other important things to bother about. Nonetheless, he had a few paintings plastered on the wall just above his bed. He had once painted the feminist writer, Buchi Emecheta, in a severely sequined blouse that glittered, and a wrapper embellished with horses standing on their hind legs, and a few others. The pictures reminded him of the days he used to be keen about colours and brushes and spatulas, but now, the zeal was gone, and for some funny reasons, Richard pushed the idea aside for now.
He stared at Timothy, he had never seen someone so in love with basketball like him. “Do you have a match today?” he asked, removing his shoes.
“Yes, by 5. I hope we beat Ray’s team today, we are playing with them.”
Ray was Timothy’s close friend, they shared the same passion: basketball, almost equally and one would not be able to tell who loved it more. Good thing, they attended the same school as well, so aside Richard, Ray was yet another brother of Timothy.
He passed the deep orange ball between his legs, jumped high and threw it in an imaginary basket. “You might just want to come and watch,” he said.
“You guys always seem to bore me.”
“I bet you will enjoy today’s, it’s a match and not the training session that freaks you out,” Timothy said, heading towards the door now.
“Alright then!” Richard stood up and changed into something sport-like, ready to go with him.
Half way through the short walk, Richard said: “Tim, something happened at school today.” As far away as he seemed to be from Timothy, he was the only person he shared little secrets with and confided in.
“What is it?” Timothy asked in the easy manner of the big bro who would always proffer a solution to his troubled younger bro.
“My girl made me kiss her today.”
“Wow, that’s cool!” He said and wanted to give Richard the chop knuckles but was rather startled when he saw a blank expression on his face. He laughed, sticking out his tongue. He tried to say something and stop laughing but the laugh wouldn’t be repressed. The more he tried to suppress it, the more it escaped like a stubborn rabbit in a loose cage, making Richard look more or less silly.
“Bro, you are laughing,” Richard said, straight-faced. “It’s not funny, we did it in class!”
Timothy stopped laughing, almost abruptly. “Ehen, and so what? See, I kissed a girl when I was 8 and we did it in the market and here you are, 17, you just kissed a girl and … oh come on bro, you have to be the man, I mean, you should feel great!” Timothy said. Richard wondered what man Timothy was talking about.
Timothy was pleased that Richard was coming off his baby-baby behaviour, but the guilt is what he did not understand. ‘Tims The Happening Guy’ as his friends usually called him—a ladies’ man and loved by his fellow guys too—didn’t set any good example for Richard.
One day, Tim had made advances towards Bolade, their house girl, when his parents were yet to return from work and Richard was still in school. The day was slow, the sun, blazing, and the white clouds drifted slowly across the bright-blue sky. Tim was alone in his room, bored. He picked up his phone and streamed some sex videos on YouTube. He was fond of doing that, a bad habit he formed when he hit puberty newly. It might not be too unfair to think that Timothy touched himself when he was alone too. He had only started streaming when Bolade entered, she had brought lunch and Timothy had grabbed her wrist when she was about to leave, all the while, staring at her backside and her cleavage. Bolade looked back, surprised and scared. Surprise that Timothy could even touch her let alone grab her, because she had always thought of herself as the last person he would want to look at, judging from the pictures of the beautiful girls she saw on his phone sometimes when she delivered meals in his absence, and scared that this was probably not the right thing and the right time to do anything, unknown to her that anytime was right for Tim.
“Ah, Uncle Timothy, what is happen?” she asked looking frantically around to make sure no one was coming.
“Shhh. Stop shouting, I just want me and you to…” he made furtive gestures with his fingers, forming a ring with his left index finger and thumb and motioning his right index finger in and out of the ring. Bolade grew more frantic. She knew the meaning. If there was anything she would love to do with Tim, it was romance and not anything ‘far’, at least not in this house. “…Don’t worry, I promise to be very quick,” Tim said convincingly.
“Promise to be kini? Ah, mogbe!” she said, trying to free her wrist from his miserable grip but Tim seemed to be incredibly powerful, like someone possessed by an evil spirit, and maybe he was, who knows?
“You had better comply or else, I will tell Mummy about the cow leg you hid for yourself,” Tim said and grinned mischievously at her shock, and then her face took on a helpless look.
Bolade froze at first; it had not occur to her that someone had seen her hid the huge legs of the cow she had bought from Alaba Rago Market two days to New Year Day.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 5:30pm On Jul 21, 2017
Tim drew her closer and made her sit on his thigh as Bolade resigned in dragging issues further. “Please nau,” she begged with that knowledge that Timothy would never let go until he had what he wanted, she had stayed in the house long enough to know he was adamant with his decisions, and truly, her pleas fell on deaf ears.
“Please what? It’s either you comply or…”
Bolade felt hesitant before lying on her back on Tim’s bed, something she would have considered a rare privilege but not right now, not in her current circumstance. “Madam go angry o,” she said.
“Who is Madam? I am the madam,” Tim said, not even sure of what he was saying as he forced a condom out of his pocket, his hands, shaky. He knew both of them would have their heads on a platter should they be caught, but it didn’t bother him much, as long as he would be done before anyone came in, after all, it was ASUU’s fault that he was at staying home and not his.
Bolade closed her eyes and hoped that everything would be over in few minutes as Tim promised. She had to succumb because she couldn’t risk being humiliated and fired over the issue of the stolen meat, should Mrs Adams get to hear about it.
Just then, they heard the living room door slid open. It was Richard. They quickly organized themselves and pretended almost perfectly that nothing was about to happen.
Richard noticed Bolade’s sweat when she passed her and she seemed to be in a hurry to leave, it was unlike her, he knew her to be relaxed. He shrugged. He didn’t want to think that something happened or was about to happen before he interrupted. The food on the table shot out his suspicion. ‘She must have brought lunch’, he thought.
“Yo! Bro, you back,” Tim said. He looked fidgety but Richard still did not suspect anything.

There was quite a crowd at the basketball ground. Richard had not supposed for a minute, that it would be this big. Timothy might be right; maybe he would enjoy it after all. He was glad he came. Among the faces in the crowd was one that did not look familiar at all. It wasn’t like he knew everyone in his neighbourhood, but he could definitely spot a new face when he saw one. It was a girl. So beautiful from what he saw. He thought he only saw such girls in Nollywood movies. She was standing alone at one corner, away from the jarring crowd, hands folded across her chest. She had the gracious look of foreignness. Not everyone took notice of her, they were all engrossed about the match that was about to begin.
The whistle brought back his attention as he tried to focus on the men on sleeveless jerseys on the court. Timothy gave him a hand signal, as if to say “we will win,” and he gave him a thumb up in return.
“Go Bro!” he shouted from the crowd.
The match was between The Ballers and Victory Boys. Ray was a member of the Victory Boys while Tim was a member of the other. The game started on a calm note: muscular legs, running here and there and hands, as swift as birds’ flights, were making dexterous moves.
Suddenly, some minutes later, The Ballers shot a far-away throw into the basket of the Victory Boys. Fans of the winning team erupted in cheers including Richard.
Richard shot an inquisitive look at the girl’s direction and the expressionless face still greeted him, he assumed that she was a fan of the Victory Boys and decided to study her a little more.
Soon, the Victory Boys were in possession of the ball, dribbling past their opponent and before everyone knew it, the deep orange leather-like ball had sailed through the net of The Ballers. A huge guy had thrown the ball. He had dribbled past his opponents, jumped high up, threw the ball through the net, and himself remained hanging, his legs dangling in the air. Their supporters erupted in a loud derogatory cheer.
Richard stole a glance again at the girl again and noticed she was just looking through space instead of watching the match, which apparently was what she came for. Now he knew his earlier assumption was wrong. ‘What’s wrong with her?’ he mused. Of course it was none of his business that a total stranger was apparently troubled, he could have just minded his own business and forget about her, but Richard could be weird sometimes. If there was anything peculiar to him, it was curiosity and an unending desire to dare. When he was a child, he would wonder why the Sunday column of the calendar was red. He also loved to watch the birds fly and after a while, he would try to fly but always ended up bruising his knees thereafter, feeling bad that he couldn’t fly like the birds until his mother pacified him, telling him humans don’t fly—or, well, maybe they do, but not the normal ones. And Richard would stay on the staircase and wonder why God had cheated some creatures, making some able to fly and others not to. That curiosity still lingered in his being. He didn’t know how it came about but he thought he liked it; it had kept him on the advantageous side.
He looked at her again and this time, horrendously, she had tears in her eyes which she dabbed occasionally with a red bandana. He felt sudden tenderness towards her, a soft, well meaning pity he usually felt for a mother hen with a broken leg or a butterfly with soaked wings. He felt an urge to go to her and wrap his arms around her and say nice things like “Hey, I saw you from afar, you look troubled and I think I can help you out,” or “Hello, I am Richard, would you like to be friends with me? I promise to carry your burdens as mine.” But his legs felt stiffened.
The final whistle went off. The match ended with Tim’s team defeating Ray’s, though, narrowly.
“Bro! We won!” Timothy said as he walked towards his brother. He looked a bit more handsome when he was sweating. Sweat usually tended to make his physique more defined and sensuous. He expected a cheer from Richard but was confused at the forlornness he met.


******************

The basketball match had not been an interesting one for Aisha. She had left even before the match ended. She slumped on her neatly dressed bed, covered with a pink bedspread which had red feathery roses arranged in the shape of love as embellishment, energy, drained. Long and short bottles of cosmetics stood on her dresser. She was a lover of cosmetics before something took away that love, something strong enough to even kill her. A teddy bear was sitting on the edge of the bed; she had left it there before going to watch the basketball match. She wondered what propelled her to go though, because she had never been a fan of the game. She made a mental note not to go there again. Of what usefulness was it when instead of feeling better, she felt worse? It was difficult to keep her mind from wandering; the thing was like a recalcitrant insect that kept struggling inside of her to be free, free to torment her, to make her miserable. She looked sideways at his picture on the yellow-painted wall of her room. The picture in which he camouflaged with green leaves, looking like a growing masquerade flower, and tears blurred her vision.
It had been 6 months since she lost her dear father to the deadly terrorist group, Boko Haram. Isaac, alongside his colleagues were eliminated by the deadly terrorist while on a mission to keep northern Nigeria at peace.
Aisha was shocked to see her father’s colleagues in their compound in Kaduna without him. She looked in askance but the men in the khaki seemed to ignore her and talked to her mother—Abena—instead, in low a tone, beating about the bush as though scared that she would unleash her anger and grief on them if they told her outright. What was that for? Didn’t they recognize that she was his daughter and that whatever had gone wrong with him, she deserved to know? Minutes later, she heard her mother wailing loudly, and one of the soldiers patted her back.
“Madam, sanu, please be strong,” he had said. Now Aisha became alarmed. What was he talking about? ‘Be strong? For who? For what?’ she thought. The question prompted her to ask one of the men in khaki.
“Excuse me sir, what’s going on?” she asked one of the men waiting outside, beside the Hilux vehicle, his gun, slanted across his chest, her voice, shaky.
The man had looked at her and shook his head slowly without uttering a word. After a little consolation with Abena, they hopped into the vehicle and zoomed off, leaving a cloud of dust behind, their guns, jutting out of the windows. It was after they had left that Aisha asked her mother if everything was okay even though she could sense doom lurking somewhere in the atmosphere, so visible and solid she could almost touch it. Her mum told her that her father was, but history.
Aisha had passed out at the news, and when she woke up, she would not speak for 3 days that her relatives began to fear she would become permanently dumb. Aisha would weep from when the day cracked with a purplish hazy tinge, to when roosters sauntered to their pens, with only few persons to console her, at a point; she became frail from starving and incessant crying. Her father’s relative were somewhat indifferent, they just had to pretend that they care, after all, they had warned Isaac not to join the army because of the ruthlessness and cheap death that accompanied the job, but Isaac wouldn’t listen; he wanted to defend his fatherland. Apart from the gallant appearance of soldiers which he loved so much, Isaac had a passion for defence and anything strategy-related. Painful thing, he was not lowered into the ground because the corpse could not be obtained and so, sadly, there was nothing to bury. The thought of this was one of the reasons why Aisha passed out over and over again.
The most painful and unbelievable thing for her was that her mother suddenly changed from being loving to being brutal and fierce. All she did was curse as though after losing her husband, she lost her senses too: “I hate Nigerians, they are murderers!” she would say and since then, the only thing she thought she could do to express her hatred for Nigerians was to neglect her young and only daughter. A Ghanaian woman married to a Nigerian soldier.
Isaac in his early years in the army was sent alongside his colleagues to calm a tension down in Ghana. There, he had met Abena and fell in love with her. Abena had a baby for him there and after peace had been restored in the region, he decided to come back to Nigeria with his small family. Since then, Abena had been a good and loving wife until Isaac passed away, then she developed this I-don’t –care attitude towards Aisha, who was shrinking helplessly with emotional torment.
Aisha on her part had shut out on the world. She was angry at everyone for what happened in her family as though they were partly responsible for it. She was angry at her father’s family members, for no clear reasons though, at the Nigerian government, for not providing the soldiers with adequate weapons to fight the terrorist, and at her own mother because she could not understand the reason why she would re-marry just after three months and without her consent! Worse still, is choosing to relocate from Kaduna to Lagos. Perhaps, that would cushion the sadness of losing someone, and at Abena’s husband, her step father, Philip, a 48 years old Nigerian, because she simply could not understand why he always asked her “How do you do?” with his tone tinged with what sounded like mockery.
At these, Aisha became stuck up in a world of her own. She had successfully built a thin wall between herself and the world and really wouldn’t mind remaining this way. She stared at the picture again and it brought back fond memories of moments they shared together like when he carried her on his square broad shoulders so that she touched the ceiling fan, but she would not touch the fan for fear of falling off his shoulders, and he would say “C’mon, touch it!” but instead of touching, she would hold him tight by the neck, gurgling, showing white milk teeth. It was so easy to see the immeasurable love that bonded father and daughter together. The highest love she had ever been showered with, whose height only Mount Everest could compete.
Since they relocated to Lagos, everything became worse. Her heart sank further as though she had lost something tangible too by moving out of Kaduna. Everything about Lagos upset her; the busy streets, the lousy conductors, the area boys, the dirty surroundings, and mostly, Philip, her step father.
“You will start school next week,” her mother had said earlier today. Aisha missed her former school, Nigerian Turkish International College Zaria, and did not think that any other school would be like it, but she looked forward to starting a new school anyway. You could never tell where happiness would come from.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 10:22pm On Jul 21, 2017
Bibijay Chumzypinky Everton4real
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 10:24pm On Jul 21, 2017
CHAPTER THREE

It was one week later, school activities were now in full swing in Holy Field. At the principal’s office was seated Aisha and her mother. Abena had finally decided to enroll Aisha into Holy Field after much advice from friends and neighbours within and without.
The principal was going through Aisha’s result, nodding his head as he did this.
“So, Madam, be rest assured that your daughter is now one of us. I believe she will thrive, she is very brilliant according to the report here,” he said, pointing at the large report sheet. “You can now take her to her class. You are welcome Madam.” He smiled a thankful smile for patronage.
Aisha peeked at the picture of Governor Babatunde Fashola and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan just above the principal’s head on the wall that also bored the school calendars, before following her mother behind.
In SS2 classroom, was an English teacher standing before the students. The teacher and Abena exchanged pleasantries then she said: “I brought my daughter, she’s a new student.”
“Oh, you are welcome young girl, what’s your name?” the teacher asked.
“Aisha,” she said.
“Ok, you are welcome to SS2, do have a seat please.” “Madam, thank you for coming,” he said as Aisha walked to an empty seat
“It’s my pleasure,” Abena said.
Aisha was greeted by too many eyes. Normally, she would have steadied at the concrete floor of the classroom to avoid their glaring stares but she had a grim look on, instead.

*************

Richard was looking for his pen inside his locker, head bent in a serious search. That thing always seemed to grow legs or wings and walked or flew away. He had jokingly told Fizzy and Messiah that he would plaster his next pen on his shoulder to prevent it from flying away and the duo had laughed derisively, how funny Richard could be sometimes but it looked like the most reasonable thing to do as he kept spending so much money on pen. Just then, he heard the greetings the teacher and a stranger were exchanging.
“I brought my daughter, she’s a new student.” He raised his head and paused when he saw her. He knew her at once. It was the girl he had seen at the basketball ground. Now he could see her more clearly. She had an oval face and a small head that framed short silky-looking hair that looked too beautiful to be natural. Her brows were sleek, forming a fine arch. Her long stretched-out lashes did justice to the bright almond-shaped eyes. She looked like the smaller version of the Ghanaian actress, Nadia Buari without the hair because hers was short instead. One didn’t need to look too hard to see that some of her mother’s beauty had rubbed off on her because she too, looked just as stunning especially with the jewelries on.
Richard was dumb for a moment, and then confused and then happy. Since the day of the basketball match, he had been thinking about her. He had chided himself for not having the courage to talk to her then. He had been looking for an opportunity to see her again, perhaps, this time, he would be able to say something but unfortunately that was the last time he saw her. He had taken to the streets one afternoon, when he was idle, hoping he found her, all to no avail. He felt restless, unfulfilled, and regretful. And now, here she was, coming to sit in his class, great!
Soon, the bell sounded, jangling and strident; it was break time.
Aisha was seated alone, her head resting on her right fore arm which was placed atop the left on the desk. School was staid as it promised. And this feeling, the feeling that always made her head burn and her throat tighten to a big knot, impinged on her.
Rachel was out for break. She had insisted that Richard followed her but he refused for reasons she could not fathom but left him alone anyway. Fizzy and Messiah had left too after asking Richard if he’d like to come with them. Richard pretended to be writing a note so that his excuse looked evident when he said “Sorry, I can’t go with you, I need to finish up this note.”
When the whole class became silent, he slipped to Aisha’s seat, happy that he had finally gotten the opportunity to talk to the beauty queen.
Aisha jumped. “Are serious? What do you want?” her finely-arched brows were close to each other in a tight frown. Her words spurted out with vehemence.
“Hey, calm down,” Richard was surprised and flurried at this sudden snap. “I was only going to ask for your name,” he said out of nervousness, inwardly chiding himself for ruining everything in just few seconds!
“And you had to move like a snake to my seat?” She obviously didn’t want to be disturbed.
Richard could not understand why she spoke with so much venom. First day’s new comers were known to be usually calm and shy but this one seemed to be the direct opposites. For a moment, he regretted wasting a large chunk of his time ruminating about her since the basketball match day, because now, it sure wasn’t worth it after all. He felt indignant now, because he meant no harm. “Oh, I am sorry,” he said.
“Don’t sorry me, just leave!” she said.
‘When a girl asks you to leave, just leave at once, she will not say that to you when you come next time’ Timothy had said on one of his lectures on how to woo a girl.
Richard didn’t say a word afterwards. He felt humiliated though, but Timothy’s rule said ‘shut up and leave’. Slightly miffed, he walked gently back to his seat and soon he left the classroom after some moments of uneasiness.
Outside, close to the football field, he saw Fizzy and Messiah strolling idly, he decided to join them. ‘The day must not end like this’ he thought.
“Hey!” Fizzy squeaked when Richard jostled in between them.
“It’s you,” Messiah said. He had a habit of having his buttons done up to his neck, even when it was hot. His transparent glasses—which he adjusted often—gave him a serious-minded-person look.
“Yes guys, so what’s up?” Richard said, he sounded foreign, confused, and unnatural, like someone who needed to say something fast but couldn’t find any possible thing to say.
Fizzy and Messiah looked at each other and burst out laughing.
“Hey, what’s the laugh about?” Richard asked, feeling unwelcome.
Instead of replying him, Fizzy laughed harder.
“Oh, what a day,” Richard muttered.
“And I can guess what happened.” Messiah had heard him. “I noticed you were writing in slants in your book and something told me you were just waiting for us to leave before you strike a conversation with the new girl which probably went the wrong way,” Messiah said, adjusting his glasses. If there was anything he was gifted with, it was guessing correctly.
“Yeah, right,” Richard said, staring into space as he spoke. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her, she seems too prickly.”
Fizzy laughed again, a forced laughter, a mischievous laughter that was intended to be a revenge for the shoddy way Richard had spoken to him on the first day of resumption when he had asked about Rachel.
“Fizzy, why don’t you just stop laughing already?” Richard said, he was beginning to get angry at Fizzy. This was a serious matter to him.
“You think it’s every time the girls will like you, you better stick to Rachel and her alone,” Fizzy said. He wasn’t much of a ladies’ man; he barely even went near the girls in his class. Though, he always told Richard and Messiah that he would get a girlfriend soon but was not even making any effort, and when he came face to face with one, he hid his face. For this inability of his to engage them, he always tried to frustrate someone else’s effort.
Messiah adjusted his glasses. “Guys let’s just forget about this topic, we will discuss it lat…” The bell sounded, interrupting Messiah from finishing.

****************
That night, during dinner, Richard spoke little and ate little. Even when his mum asked if everything was okay, he only gave a nod as an answer.
“Hmmm… such a nice meal,” Mr Adams, Richard’s father said. A round-headed man with stubborn beards that usually seemed to grow too quickly after being shaved. He had insinuated his way from work earlier than normal just for tonight’s dinner. He always said his job was important but that his family was more important.
“Thank you,” Mrs Adams said.
“Mum, your cooking is eleven over ten,” Timothy said. Timothy always tried to impress his parents when he had the opportunity to, as though bribing them, and talking them in so that they became less brutal when they talked about his poor academic performance.
“Thanks Tim,” Mrs Adams said, glowing with smiles.
All eyes turned to Richard who was staring at his spoon. He did not know they were looking at him.
“Richard!” Mr Adams called.
Richard jumped. He had been hearing voices but could not tell which voice was whose or what exactly it was saying, and they all sounded faded like whispers, loud whispers.
“Hmm?” Richard was confused.
“Eat your food even though you would not comment on the cooking,” Mrs Adams said. “By the way, what were you thinking about?”
“Don’t bother Mum, it’s just this topic on mathematics at school,” Richard lied.
“That’s my boy, always thinking about studies. Don’t worry, as time goes on, you will definitely understand it,” his father said, amid mouthful of rice. Maybe it was his bulgy cheeks that over-emphasized it or the quantity of rice he had stuffed in his mouth but his cheeks looked extra bulgy as though he had a whole egg roll in his mouth, muffling his voice as he spoke.
Richard let out a little smile. How easy was it to lie to somebody because they did not know, could never know what is going on in your head.
“The food is nice,” he finally said after scooping two more spoonfuls of the jollof rice, the colour of a fully ripe pawpaw.
“Mum, do you know why we are suffering in Nigeria?” it was Timothy.
“No,” Mrs Adams said. Even if she knew the reason why they were suffering in Nigeria, she would still say “No,” just so she could hear Timothy’s reason.
“It’s because our leaders don’t know which policy to adopt; whether monetary or fiscal policy, and too, people have low marginal propensity to save and a high marginal propensity to consume,” Tim said, a proud smile played on his cheeks as he watched his father nod with what looked like admiration.
Mr Adams laughed, impressed, a strange kind of laughter that started off with his mouth closed and then open, so that his laughter sounded half series of hums and half laughter, like someone who decided against laughing enthusiastically at first, but couldn’t repress it any longer and had to laugh out loud. “I told you my son would soon become brilliant, you see now?” he said to his wife who was busy gulping down a glass cup of orange juice.
“Yes, we are proud of him, he is finally coping, unlike his secondary school days,” she said in compliment when she settled the glass on the table, though the low voice with which she said “Unlike his secondary school days,” denoted a hidden sneer.
Timothy smiled like a Cheshire cat. He felt triumphant; he had only rehearsed that line from a microeconomics textbook. His parent had always liked and respected display of brilliance, so if Timothy would have to fake his to get this respect, he would.
Richard had a sneer on his face as he glanced at his brother. The last time he saw Timothy’s CGPA, about three months ago, it was 1.8, but he let him win anyway, he didn’t want to burst his bubbles, at least, not right now.
“Darling, don’t you think Bolade should bring more food?” Mr Adams suggested.
“Okay,” Mrs Adams said and turned her head over her shoulder, towards the kitchen and called: “Bola! Bola!” She usually called her twice, as though Bolade would doubt the first call, and although, sometimes she did doubt first the call like now.
“Ma!” Bolade answered in a shrilling voice that one would think that the owner of the voice was beautiful. Mrs Adams had employed her because of the severe warnings from friends that beautiful girls were husband snatchers.
Bolade hurried out of the kitchen and stood beside Mrs Adams, she smelled of curry, garlic, onion, nutmeg and thyme. She was a dark plain Jane with eyes, the size of cow peas, which looked as though she were squinting them, as if struggling to see clearly, and her thick lips were so stretched out so that they looked like a duck’s beak, and long shapeless legs that seemed to be knocking each other at the knees when she walked. But against all these, Bolade had a lovely hair and an elaborated backside that always left Timothy breathless when he stared. Sometimes when she was alone in her room, in front of her mirror, she would say “God, why you no kuku take my hair make you give me fine face?” And then she would cry and laugh again at her own silliness. Bolade was a case.
“Please bring more food,” Mrs Adams said. She usually added ‘please’ when she needed Bolade to do her a favour. “Nobody should be looked down on,” she would say, “Everyone should be treated equally no matter their status or what they do.” Maybe she meant this only in words, because Bolade did not have what they had. In fact, her room was merely empty; only a few tapering cosmetic bottles, a chair, a table and a mattress—if the mat-flat looking thing was worthy to be called a mattress—littered the place.
“Okay ma,” Bolade said, bending her knees slightly forward. To her, that was the way of showing respect or gratitude or courtesy as the case may be. She does that to everyone in the house including Richard until he told her to stop; he didn’t want to seem too important.
Timothy had his eyes fixed on Bolade’s round and protruding backside as she walked away tilting his neck in her direction until Richard thought he would fall off the dining chair. He kicked him with his toes under the big mahogany table and Tim regained consciousness immediately, breathing quite loudly like someone who had just recovered from a trance. What was it with him? Richard gave a look as if to say ‘why don’t you just behave yourself this once? Have you forgotten Mummy and Daddy are here?’ Meanwhile, Mr Adams and his wife were lost in their own world, staring into each others’ eyes with a feeling of mutual love so palpable like a billboard on their faces.

And when it was bed time, Richard would still not speak. It was the first time he wouldn’t say a word to Tim before going to bed. It was the first time he wouldn’t be engaging Tim in an argument about how Arsenal was going to defeat Manchester United in their next match. He didn’t want Timothy in into his thoughts; he was not ready for his usual silly jokes or his awkward suggestions.
He turned to the wall and muttered under his breath ‘what have I done to her? I was just trying to be friendly.’ The question remained unanswered as his consciousness was ebbing away and his thoughts, as clear as they were mere moments ago, were beginning to come to an end.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 10:26pm On Jul 21, 2017
CHAPTER FOUR

Rumours started to spread about how cantankerous the new girl was. How she snapped at everyone who tried to be friendly, that the principal had to call her to his office during break period, today at school.
“You sent for me sir,” Aisha said. She sounded incapable of someone who could get so cranky easily, someone who could rip apart a television set at the slightest provocation.
“Yes young woman, please sit down,” the principal said, gesturing to an empty seat opposite to him. She felt cushioned on the chair. There was something exquisite about the principal’s office; the plush rug, the lush cushions, the queer smell of new books and old files mixed with the Airwick fragrance that protruded the ceiling just above the blades of the ceiling fan that when it spun—like it was doing now—it pushed the scent to all corners of the office and the chilly air conditioner that didn’t make one want to leave in a hurry.
“I have been hearing something unpleasant about you since you came to this school. Of course it has nothing to do with academics as I heard that you are coping just fine, but it’s about your relationship with others students. They said you get angry easily without any obvious reason. Talk to me, what is the problem?” the principal asked calmly, his fingers clasped on his big, well-polished mahogany desk that carried some dirty heaps of old looking files, school stamps, a stapler and varieties of pens and his eyes squinted behind his transparent glasses, ready to listen, just if only the girl in front of him would speak.
Aisha stared at the ring on his finger, envying it; she imagined what it would feel like to be around that finger, to be wrapped around something, a finger, to be safe and cozy. She adjusted on her seat. The urge to cry was beginning to nudge at her again, but she tried to fight back the tears. Whenever issues like this were brought up, issue of her querulous attitude, all she did was cry. Trapped between shedding a tear and replying the principal’s question, she lost her voice, hence, silence became the best option, though, her throat strained a little from the effort of preventing the tears.
The principal was moved. He felt that there was more to her behaviour than they had seen. Since the girl in front of him would not speak, he decided to let her go and made a mental note to speak to her mother on phone before the end of the day. Some children could hide something very well but their parents would not, if they knew about it.
Aisha stood up and turned away.
At the back of the school yard, close to the school toilet whose door was always left ajar to reduce the stale smell of urine, she sat on an uprooted mango tree, rested her head in her palms, sobbed and then cried. The tree had its root up in the air like dread locks, huge dread locks and baked soil clung to it like glue.
“Why does it have to be me all the time?” she asked rhetorically almost silently. “Daddy why did you have to leave like that, making me act like am going crazy?” she said, as though it was her father’s fault that he went beyond the grave. “God why?!” her voice pierced through the serene ambience of the school, careless that she was still around the school premises.

*************

Richard looked around the classroom and noticed that Aisha was not on her seat, it wasn’t time for break yet. He wondered where she would be. She had never stepped out on her own since she joined the school few weeks ago. What could she possibly be doing outside today?
It was a free period. Fizzy and some boys were discussing football in one corner of the class, making such much fuss about Messi and Ronaldo while Messiah was busy with Dark Mysteries, a science fiction he had borrowed from the school library. The class was half silent, half noisy. Richard walked out silently; he was sure not many persons saw him considering how engrossed each group was in their activity.
He looked up the basketball court but couldn’t find her, how would he think that she would be there? He looked down the football field too but she wasn’t their either, then he gave up the search. Her whereabouts was none of his business. He decided to ease himself before going back to the class. As he made to go to the school backyard, where the toilet was situated, he heard sobs but wasn’t sure where it was coming from. He shrugged. Perhaps it wasn’t even a sob he had heard but his curiosity grew when he heard a cry and then “God why?!” almost a scream. That caught his attention as he was about to step a foot into the toilet. He turned round and found Aisha, the new girl, on the uprooted mango tree, sitting with her head resting in her palms.
Richard stood for a minute to study her as though he would detect the problem with her by doing so. The last time he had tried to be friendly with her, she had shouted at him with so much anger. Now here she was, at the school backyard, crying all alone; a new student fa. Richard could only read one meaning into the whole thing: that he had not really done anything to upset her in their first encounter. Mollified, he walked silently towards her. His heart thumping in his chest that he feared it was going to leap out; he didn’t want to risk another scene of discomfiture, yet, that thing in him that always wanted to try again; to dare, diminished the fear of the envisaged imminent embarrassment.
He cleared his throat when he got close to her enough. “Hi, I think I heard you crying, is anything the matt…”
“What is your problem? Can’t you just mind your business?” Aisha cut him halfway without even turning back to take a look at who it was; she had registered the voice in her head since the day he said “Oh, I am sorry”, and could recognize that voice anywhere. She was that good in remembering voices.
“Nothing, I just…”
“Go away!” she shrieked, interrupting him again, tone hoarse and rough like someone who was being delivered of a demon.
“But…”
“Now!” she said, now turning to look at Richard. Her eyes still looked bright even in tears.
Richard swallowed. Patience. They say if you are patient, you will cook stone. Nevertheless, Richard was only human and was bound to get angry. Was it a crime to be nice? This was the second time he was being sent away by the so-called new girl. Maybe Timothy’s rule of ‘shut up and leave’ was fake after all or maybe the girl was just a cold piece of work.
His face, grim, he turned and left without saying a word again. He even forfeited easing himself as he walked past the toilet to his class in long angry strides.

**************

In the large sitting room was Abena lying on the yellow couch with her husband. Philip was sitting at the edge so that she rested her head on his thighs. Her laughter rang carelessly around the four corners of the room as they both glued their eyes to the plasma. There was a Nigerian film on, ‘Mr Ibu’. A movie Abena never got tired of watching because of how comical and funny the major character—Ibu—was. She liked that Africa Magic repeated films even after some years of dominating the airwaves. Occasionally, she picked some popcorn and chewed carelessly like a child. She was still laughing when Aisha entered and greeted, then she paused abruptly amid a laughter that sounded too real, and her face took on a dramatic turn.
“Your principal just called me few moments ago, he told me that you have this nasty behaviour at school and that you are very unfriendly. Aisha, just what is that supposed to mean? Do you want to disgrace me?” Abena said without answering her daughter’s greeting.
Aisha was still. A feeling of both hatred and melancholy surged through her.
“Answer me!” There was silence. Even Mr Ibu on the television screen seemed to understand the delicate situation at hand that he too maintained silence. “Next time I hear such thing, you will see what I will do to you, stupid girl.” she hissed.
Aisha remained still. Bile rose to her tongue but she held her peace. It would be disrespectful if she talked back at her mother. Instead, she let a tear stray and land on her stockings, if felt cold, she had thought it’d be warm like the one she cried when the soldiers came to their house in Kaduna.
“How do you do.” It was Philip. A seemingly mischievous smile stretched his lips. Aisha had once speculated that the man had had to be mentally unstable sometimes in the past. The madness must have been cured as it appeared to be, but she thought it still lingered, sort of reluctant to let go. Was it amusing? Why then was he smiling? And this question would want to make her carry the swivel chair of the bar behind the settee and hit him so hard, over and over again until his brain squashed on the Persian rug; the man always seemed to drive her to the wall. She gave him a devilish look and left without answering him.
She locked the door behind her when she entered her room and sat on her bed. She looked at her teddy bear; at the ‘I love you’ written with different colours on its chest. Her father had bought it for her on one of his frequent trips to Lagos on her birthday. She remembered how he carried her on his thighs in the birthday photo. His khaki, crisp and neat so that it was looking like a paperboard and the Nigerian logo at his left shoulder made him looked more formidable.
Would she ever find happiness? How? Aisha didn’t really mean to be cantankerous, but those people in school would not just let her be, especially that boy. She loved and cherished her own peaceful company that any foreign company could make her want to scream her head off. She thought of her mother. Does she even have a mother? That question, she could not answer outright, because the one in the sitting room was only concerned about the disgrace she thought she would cause her and not about her feelings. Was that how a mother was supposed to relate with her hurting daughter? What happened to her and the love they used to share?
She grabbed the bedside lamp and hurled it violently against the yellow-painted wall. The lamp shattered, with the pieces clinking as it fell to the ground, and the jagged points twinkled brightly from the ray of the sun that penetrated the glass windows. Aisha felt like doing more. That spirit had come. That spirit that made her destroy things when she was angry. That spirit that made her did only the things that she wished. Some of her relatives said she inherited it from her military father. The same obstinate spirit that had made her father joined the army even after severe warning from his parents. Even Isaac himself had once joked with her, calling her a boy. She liked that he called him a boy because it kind of made her feel he thought she was strong, bold, and that she didn’t have a heart of glass, but instead, she had a heart of rock.
There was a knock on the door. Abena had been alerted by the sound of the clattered bedside lamp.
“Aisha, open the door!” she shouted from behind the door. She sounded a mile away because of the thickness of the bullet-proof door, but instead of opening the door, she hurled more breakable thing against the wall and on the floor. First, she hurled a glass cup and then flung the pink wall clock that had a fabric red rose flower at the center, the flower fell to the ground looking like an abandoned Valentine gift and then, the dressing mirror. She went on and on and on, yet, she was not sated. Abena’s knock on the door grew more frantic and harder.
Aisha pressed the two pillows firmly against her ears and let out a very loud scream, a scream so loud that it could have shattered the glass windows too. She felt her world crashing into pieces and doubted if it would ever become whole again.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 10:27pm On Jul 21, 2017
Creeza

1 Like

Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 6:16am On Jul 22, 2017
CHAPTER FIVE

Richard, in his mental research, had found out that something entirely different had to be wrong with Aisha, considering the sad look on her face on the day of the basketball match between the Victory Boys and The Ballers, considering how harshly she spoke to everyone and not him alone, the tears she had shed all alone at the school backyard the other day. So it wasn’t him who had gotten the problem, it was actually her. Richard wanted to help her out of whatever she was apparently going through and restore her joy. He would derail from his original intentions and help her find happiness first. The girl needed help and as soon as possible but how could he possibly proffer one when she was so grouchy, making it more or less difficult for him. He was still thinking about this when Timothy rushed in.
“The strike has been called off,” he said, his face, radiant with excitement.
“Hmmmm…”
Timothy gave him a strange look as if trying to invade his mind and see what was going on there. “Bro, what’s up?” He said, waving his hand across Richard’s face who kept staring at him like an animal with amnesia.
“Nothing. Oh! The strike, it’s been called off?”
“Yeah, I mean where was your mind?”
“It’s nothing. The strike, great news! It’s been called off.”
“Whatever. And guess what. I will be leaving next week, Dad just confirmed that,” Timothy said, bouncing his basketball on the rug and then threw in an imaginary basket on the wall. He always did that when he was happy. The thud created a distraction in Richard’s head; in fact, almost everything about Tim distracted him these days. “Am so happy,” Tim said as the ball bounced back to him.
“Yes, you should be,” he said sarcastically. He was sure his dear Timothy was not perky because he was going back to face the stress of school or the wahala of book as he usually termed it; he was only happy because he was going to meet his long-seen babes once again and not having to be chasing the neighbourhood girls around or having to be moping at of Bolade’s elegant backside anymore. He confirmed this the previous night when he overheard Tim on the phone with a girl that Richard could tell was his girlfriend from the cozy and relaxed manner she talked, like someone who had just woken up from sleep. Timothy sure knew how to get through with the girls.
“I can’t wait to see your pretty face again,” he had said.
“Me too,” the girl responded. Richard had heard her clearly because Tim had her on loudspeaker unknown to him that someone was eavesdropping.
Richard thought it would be a great relief for him when Timothy left. The boy had been some sort of disturbance and distraction to his gentle-flowing thoughts.
There was a knock on the door. It was Raymond. Ray for short; Timothy’s friend. He had a sleeveless basketball jersey on, which had the faceless and shadowy image of Michael Jordan with legs widely stretched apart, and his right hand, holding a ball high up in the air. The jersey revealed his attractive biceps and triceps. At the back was boldly printed ‘Jordan’. Ray had a taut, flat tummy that promised six packs.
“Bro, what’s good?” he said as he shook Tim’s hand. “What’s up lad?” he said to Richard.
“Am fine.” Ray would rather prefer him say “Am cool” or “Am great” but it looked like Richard was a softer version of Timothy with a seemingly innocent mind.
“Younger bro is always looking meek,” Ray said.
“Don’t mind him, he’s Mummy’s Boy,” Timothy said, and Richard shot him a look which Tim thought was funny and laughed.
“So! School’s finally resumed, kent wait tew geu back men! Missed the basketball shit in school jeez!” Ray said. At school, they were in the same team but at home, they were incorrigible rivals. Ray usually tried to imitate Americans when he spoke, that Richard wondered if it was the basketball that was having an adverse effect on him, making him deceive himself, thinking he could be like the Americans someday by speaking like one; omitting the ‘I’s, slurring his ‘T’s and rolling his ‘R’s.
“I can’t wait too. Good thing, I will be moving out by next week,” Timothy said.
“Wow, great! Would be moving out the same time too, how about moving out together?”
“Well, that will be cool, at least I will have someone to chat with in the bus,” Tim said and they both chuckled.
The strike that had lasted for six months had finally been called off after several issues were being dragged back and forth by the Big Men in Abuja.
“So, what’s up with your girl, Damilola?”
“That shakara girl, we talked last night sha,” Tim said.
Richard was listening to their conversation. He discovered that the girl’s with whom Timothy was talking last night name was Damilola.
“Ma girl, don know what’s wrong wi her, she’s nah been picking ma calls,” Ray said.
Richard stood up made for the door. He thought he had heard enough, he needed a clear head. The two barely knew when he left, maybe Richard made it so or because they were simply too engrossed in their discussion about their girls in school.
He walked with his hands in his pockets and his eyes fixed on the loamy Lagos soil walking with no particular direction. He didn’t realize he was already at the bus station until he began to hear conductors calling out the names of destinations. One of them passed him by, his soaked black T-shirt, which had a faded CK at the back, smelled of engine oil, sweat and cigarette. A rope, an intended belt, tied at his waist. His pubic hair which jutted out of the little space his irregular trousers provided like newly growing grasses during early rainy season, could be seen when he raised his hands to call on passengers. Richard squeezed his nose.
The atmosphere was dry and hazy. The busy and noisy ambience of the bus station was a bit calm. Saturdays were always like that, unlike the ever-busy Monday mornings when multitudes of persons would be standing by the roadside, waiting to catch a bus. And when they were running late, the women would be checking their wrist watches and be hissing and the men, mostly on suits, carrying suitcases, would be tapping their feet on the ground, only to find out that they were not actually as gentle as they appeared to be because at that moment, when a bus came, everyone jumped on it with so much struggle, not caring if they were hurting someone else. It would be interesting to know that the ladies struggled more, pushed more, kicked more and punched more—if necessary—just to get on the yellow coaster buses.
At the roadside was a young girl selling oranges in a semi-rusted tray. Her bum-bag tied to her waist and she swatted at stubborn flies occasionally while peeling an orange. Her hand moved so swiftly at angle 90 degrees and the peels of the oranges fell on the ground with a measured precision. She wiped her watery eyes with a wrapper lying idle on a bench. Richard felt a little pity for her. He adored her up-and-doing behaviour, and he thought it would be unfair if he didn’t patronize her.
“Good evening,” he greeted.
“Ah, customer welcome,” the girl said. She looked surprised—or so it seemed—that Richard greeted him, because most of her customers never greeted her and they always seemed to speak in a gruff manner to her like “Who dey here?” “Hey small girl, bring orange”, and so on.
“How much is your orange?” Richard asked.
“This one na N50 and this one na N20,” she said as she pointed from three big oranges to three small ones.
“Okay, give me that of N50,” Richard said, pointing at the three big ones.
The girl tied them up quickly, adding an extra one. “See, I don put jara,” she said.
“No please, take it out, thank you,” he said. He had bought the oranges not because he wanted them but because he had been impressed by a young girl’s effort of making ends meet instead of opening her legs to those men with pot bellies, and here she was, adding an extra orange, that, he would not accept. Though he still couldn’t be sure she didn’t open her legs too, but she just looked too busy to be preoccupied with frivolities.
She thanked him once again and Richard walked away while the girl’s eyes followed him, a lucid admiration for integrity written on her face, until he disappeared into the crowd like a drop of tear in an ocean. She was still surprised at his attitude; which customer would reject jara? Jara was almost more valued than the actual goods purchased. “Goodu boy,” she said aloud and continued peeling her oranges while humming a song only her understood.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 6:17am On Jul 22, 2017
CHAPTER SIX

At the school cafeteria, the next Monday, Richard Fizzy and Messiah were seated around a white round table. Each of them had a straw stuck inside a bottle of Sprite and a ring of doughnut each, in front of them.
“Guys, am seriously confused,” Richard started, nibbling his doughnut in small bits.
“About what?” Fizzy asked, he looked serious today.
“About the new girl, Aisha.”
“I just don’t understand you, what’s your business with her? Is it by force?” Fizzy said, he couldn’t quite get why Richard seemed to be so torpid over the issue of the new girl.
“Fizzy, you don’t understand.” Richard took a deep breath. “I just like her.” he exhaled through his mouth.
“And so you want to kill yourself? I mean…” Fizzy already started to laugh before he finished. Richard raised a brow.
“Fizzy it’s not funny!” he said. Fizzy laughed more.
But Messiah seemed to understand Richard’s feeling; a kind of likeness that couldn’t possibly be explained. “So, what do you want to do now?” he asked.
“Good question. That is why I want you guys to help me out. I don’t know exactly what to do but I know I want her to be mine and that would mean getting her attention first. Could you guys help me with suggestions as to how to get her attention?”
“That girl na shakara kill her o,” Fizzy said.
“No, Fizzy, I disagree, I don’t think so, there has to be something else bothering her.” Richard nibbled at the snack in a smaller bit, shifting his gaze from Fizzy to Messiah as if to say ‘or… what do you think?’
“Oh.” messiah adjusted his glasses.
Fizzy laughed. “Are you serious? Is that all you can say?”
“I don’t know what else to say. Why don’t you try talking to her?” he said, just for the sake of saying something, bereft of ideas. He wasn’t sure of how he sounded but he knew the silence meant that he was being awkward.
“I don’t see how that is helpful, he had done that before. See, why don’t you try putting her in a painting, some people appreciate the way their look in paintings, like personally, I love paintings, and besides, I noticed she brings her picture to school sometimes which means she likes pictures, she might just like paintings too,” Fizzy said.
Richard’s face lit up as he had a light-bulb moment. He never imagined Fizzy to be this reasonable. He looked at Messiah as though seeking his assent. Messiah smiled; an assent. Richard had joked with him in the past saying he would be perfect being a businessman in future because of the way he usually had his button done up to his neck but Messiah had disappointedly told him he wanted to be a scientist, so that he could give explanation to certain mysterious happenings like the one he saw in the newspaper that a woman gave birth to a child who came holding a Bible.
“Wow. That was thoughtful of you Fizzy. Let’s see if that works,” Richard said, half smiling.
“Am sure it will,” Fizzy squeaked.
“Hi five!” Richard said and they all raised their palm and slammed it against one another’s.

***************

Things became a little upheaval the day Timothy and Ray left for school as if an angry god somewhere was about to unleash its wrath; the harmattan thunderstorm became so fierce that it raised so much dust and settled them on the patio behind their house. Bolade’s hands had slipped from the aluminum handle of the pot of stew she wanted to bring down from the gas cooker and it had poured on the ground; it’s oil, had crept towards under the kitchen cupboard, and the chickens lay around like a place where there had just been a chicken massacre. Mrs Adams had developed a slight headache, a headache that would not be subdued by Paracetamol. That afternoon, Richard starved; there was nothing to eat at that moment because Bolade had to make another stew. He thought the bread they had for breakfast would still be left, but was utterly disappointed when he found out that Timothy had left it exposed on the fridge before he left in a hurry, and the once-soft thing had become rock hard that a bite could knock off a tooth. Mr Adams had a bad day at work.
Amidst all these, Richard smiled. In his silly, naughty, little mind, he thought these things were happening for a reason and that all bad lucks—if any—was going to stop today, and maybe it would, who knows?
Back in his room, he thought about how plausible the idea of putting Aisha in a painting was. How would she feel about it? Would she appreciate it, smile, and tell him: “You know what? I like this”? Or would she seize him by his shirt and say “Look here idiot, let this be the last time you would do something like this in your entire life you hear me? Silly thing!”? Richard shook his head and began to think. He doubted if she’d appreciate it. The girl doesn’t look like someone who appreciated things. He thought up to a point, that the idea was becoming mundane to him but he had no other one, after all, he was the one who had sought his friends’ opinion, so he dragged his feet into the execution.
***************

Two days later, at school one afternoon, the principal summoned all the senior students to have a word with them. News had filtered into his ears that some senior students were treating the junior ones like slaves, especially the prefects, telling them to fill the buckets in the school toilet with water even when there was enough water there already; sending them on dangerous errands outside the school premises and warning them not to mention their names if they were caught, and when the junior students were sometimes caught, they would not mention their names as instructed to avoid being punished secretly by that senior. On some occasions, they were punished by the teachers for going out and on others, they were not, depending on how reasonable their excuses were until a certain junior newbie boldly mentioned the name of a senior that had sent him to buy rice for her outside the school gate. Though she stood a chance of being punished by that senior student but then it was how the principal got to hear about it and she sort of emancipated the rest.
“There are some things I don’t joke with. There are things I don’t tolerate. The junior students are as good as your junior brothers and sisters at home. This has to stop!” the principal said as he paced back and forth the classroom pavement, his steps short and aggressive.
Richard looked around; every senior student was present. He stole a glance at Aisha. She had a surprised countenance on. There was an opportunity to go into her bag to get her picture, perhaps she came with one as usual.
He studied the principal’s moving pattern and noticed that he spent more time facing the female students as though it was them who needed the warning most. When he was sure he had his back to him, he melted away and walked quickly to his class without looking back.
The class was quiet except for the noise coming from the junior classes. He made quickly for Aisha’s schoolbag and started to search. His hand touched something paper-like; he wasn’t sure what it was so he brought it out. All the while, his hands trembled, his heart palpitated and perspiration broke out on his forehead like tiny beads. ‘What if I am caught and reported for stealing?’ He thought. When he brought it out, he discovered it was a portrait picture of Aisha and a man who appeared to be a soldier. Richard supposed he was her relative or maybe even her father from the resemblance and the relaxed manner with which he put his arm around her shoulders. He thought the picture would look close to perfect in a painting. “That’s it!” he said to himself and hurriedly put it in his bag, kept Aisha’s bag exactly how he had met it, and fled.

**************

The house was empty when Aisha returned from school. Abena and Philip must have gone for shopping or sight-seeing as they usually termed it. Those two behaved like siblings; like twins. She went straight to her room. ‘How can some people be so wicked?’ she mused as she thought about the junior and the senior students’ saga. She removed her shoes, smoothed her warm feet and cracked her knuckles; an activity she enjoyed doing when she was bored. If only knuckles would crack as many times as you crack them, she wouldn’t mind doing it forever. She was too tired and hungry to go through what they had been taught today at school today but she still wanted to do so anyway. That was the first thing she usually did when she returned from school. She shoved her hand inside her schoolbag and made out with her Agric note, they had not done anything on Agric today, rummaged through again and discovered that something was missing. She didn’t immediately know what, until she emptied her bag and discovered it was her picture with her father, the one she he had his hand around her shoulders; the one she usually held dearly and peeked at from time to time like an assurance that she once had a father. Where did she keep it? Didn’t she take it to school today? She opened the bedside drawer and searched among the rest of her pictures carefully placing one picture behind the other but she still couldn’t find it. She resigned in searching further. Hunger was taking a greater part of her; she needed to eat something and as quickly. Later she would search for the picture again. She thought it had to be in her bag somehow, she just didn’t have enough strength to search right now, besides, and she still had many pictures of herself and her father.
After meal, she decided to relax a bit in the sitting room that had recently become Abena and Philip’s bedroom and sitting room altogether. She barely had access to the place since Abena married that man. She put on the sound system and played Never Far Away. Her favourite musician was Lagbaja, the mask-faced Afro-beat musician. Although, she also loved other artistes who also sang the same genre. Aisha had started to like him since she listened to his song: Never Far Away. The lyrics always seemed to mean so much to her; it seemed to be explaining exactly how she felt even when it was nothing close to loosing a dear one. True, her father was no more, but she believed he was still there with her, somewhere in the darkest cave of her soul and was never far away. The female voice that sang:
Wherever I go
Wherever you are
Baby baby you are never far away
You are always on my mind,
made her cry like she was doing now.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 6:18am On Jul 22, 2017
Divepen1
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 6:20am On Jul 22, 2017
CHAPTER SEVEN

Richard was putting finishing touches to his painting. He needed to return the picture quickly before it was too late. He had jolted once when Bolade opened his door without knocking.
“Shey you go like chop now?” Bolade had asked.
“No, later,” Richard had replied without shifting his gaze from the painting. He was too busy to be distracted by mere food. Besides, lunch was beans and he was not a lover of beans. Aside that it gave him bad breath, the awful stench that resulted each time he belched, and the bloated stomach that emerged afterwards, were other turn offs for him.
Bolade shut the door, muttering not-too-audible words, but was meant to be resentments.
“Perfect!” Richard said suddenly as he took one more look at the painting. It looked real. Only if it was possible to give breath to the male image and make him pop up to live as a real human again. Just only if! Richard thought he had forgotten his paintings skills that this one surprised him. If Aisha didn’t accept it, he would just hang it on the wall of his room so that his effort would not be wasted.

*************

It was Tuesday. Mr Kolawole, the mathematics teacher was in the class. Mathematics was always put at the first lesson in the morning on the timetable because it was believed that that was when the students’ brain would still be fresh.
“This is an unknown value, let’s call it X. now to find X, we would have to substitu…” Mr Kolawole was saying as he pointed at the arithmetic on the board. The class was quiet; it sounded and looked all Greek to them. Mathematics always proved difficult.
Richard was restless; his attention, divided between listening to the teacher and returning Aisha’s picture and the painting to her bag which was slightly opened; she had forgotten to zip it after bringing out her exercise book. He thought this was an opportunity to return the picture alongside his painting. He sat at the back seat, so he had the privilege to do some things unnoticed.
Each time he wanted to slide them into her bag, his eyes caught with Mr Kolawole’s, a couple of times and he noticed he was restless, so he asked: “Young man, are you alright?”
“Yes sir,” Richard had answered, his heart thumping. ‘This is definitely not the right time to do this’ he thought.
There was a match today between the senior and the junior students during the break period and everyone was supposed to come and watch so Richard had a better opportunity to return the picture and the painting which he did surreptitiously. He met Rachel at the corridor on his way out with some of her friends whom she gossiped with. They were saying something in low tones but stopped abruptly—and some of them even looked away—when they saw him.
“Dude, you’ve been kind of keeping my distance these days, what’s happening?” Rachel said as she walked up to him.
For a moment, Richard thought she was going to say “Look, I saw you putting that picture in her bag and am going to tell her.”
“Young woman, as you can see, am about to go and play some football, so, we will talk after the match,” he said as he pulled up his short and tucked in his shirt.
“You haven’t answered my question,” she said.
“I said when I come, we will talk,” he said and stormed away. He sounded unequivocal. He had no inclination whatsoever to discuss anything with her.
“Richard!” Rachel called. He was long gone. She stood there and stared at him as he jogged into the field, at the number 9 on the back of his blue jersey. Richard had never talked to her in this manner before; the Richard she knew was the one that always obeyed her and always wanted to please her, the boy had changed and she wondered what the cause might be. How dare him trample upon her ego? Disgracing her before her friends whom she had painted herself to be more important than. She wasn’t the crying type; she would have just let a tear stray, instead, she was the fire-for-fire type. She decided to keep an eagle’s eye on him.
The whistle went off. The junior students were more energetic and enthusiastic while the seniors played like people who had just finished a big bowl of garri; sluggishly and disorderly that the ball seemed to pass between their legs every now and then.
The whistle went again; a junior student had been hacked down by a senior player. The junior had dribbled the senior and the latter, out of sheer embarrassment, had slid under him, making the boy fall flat on his face. The referee issued a yellow card. His right hand aloft in the air.
Soon, Richard began to move like a wasp; shooting the ball, doing the finesse kick and doing the flying header but it seemed today was not his day, was not the seniors’ day. He was utterly disappointed as the match ended 0-2 with the junior team winning.
The senior boys exchanged words of blame as they walked out of the field, their shirts glued to their spines like cellotape would, on a round, smooth metal surface, and cold sweats were dripping from their jaws which had already started to sprout few strands of beards. Richard was indifferent about the junior students’ victory; he was only a bit angry at himself and his teammates for not putting ‘enough effort’

**************

It had been two weeks since the day Aisha returned from school and met her parents’ absence. It was a Saturday; she decided to do laundry. She had not made any friend at school because they in return had stopped bugging her since all she did when they came close was scream her head off. What a girl. Why was she overreacting? Was it their faults that she went through what she had been through?
Just as she was bringing out her books to wash her schoolbag too, she touched something. She brought it out and discovered that it was the picture she had been looking for. How come she had not noticed it all this while? Little wonder, it came with a white placard that was folded in four crisp quarters. She unfolded it and saw herself and her military father in a painting. She gasped. She was both shocked and surprised even when she did not know who had orchestrated it yet. ‘Who could possibly do this?’ she thought. She looked closely again, at the down right side of the placard, and what she saw was ‘From Richard, The One You Hate’. She smiled, guiltily. From what she had read, she knew it was from that boy that always ‘disturbed’ her. The one she had spoken to quite unfairly. She felt sorry for him, this once. She had never meant to be belligerent; those words were only spurred by burning emotions.
Inside her room, she sat on her bed, sobered. In the cold light of day, she realized that she had overreacted and felt wicked that the innocent boy had to go all the way just to get her attention. She wondered how many of her classmates had the impression that she hated them too. How silly was she to have transferred her aggression to the people around her, innocent people! Wouldn’t she just get it over and done with already? She took a look at the drawing again. If there was any word better than ‘perfect’, she would have used it to qualify it. She smiled; a little smile that creased only her left cheek.
“Beautiful,” she said aloud as she ran a finger across the painting as though expecting it to scratch her finger underneath. She had a secret admiration for paintings. The painting looked like one of those pictures in her Macmillian Primary English textbook. She liked it. She had never for once thought that anyone could make her smile, not this soon. So what was she going to do now? Was she going to tell him she liked it? How? She had already been so unjust to him and wasn’t sure she would be able to look into his eyes for shame. She blamed herself for putting up the forlorn attitude and thought it was high time she came off it; it wasn’t helping her, instead, it was distancing her from people who were ready to be true friends like Richard, the boy had done nothing wrong.
The glass sitting room door slid open, she heard some laughter, and then a pause, and then the laughter continued. She knew it was those siblings, those twins; Abena and Philip. Philip’s size was twice her mothers’. His hands were usually apart when he walked and his breaths, so strangled that they came out but only as snorts, short, noisy snorts. Aisha heard him snore when he slept. He slept like a child; his legs scattered wide apart and his lips did the involuntary rapid forward and backward movement. She had once checked the top of his head to know if he had fontanelle too. She would wonder what impressive qualities her mother saw in him that made her marry him: was it his full lips like loaves of bread? Or his bushy moustache like overgrown bushes? Or his falling nose like London Bridge? What exactly? Had she lost taste for handsome men? Her dad’s specie? Since she married that man, her whole attention had been diverted to him, leaving her to whatever. Even when she craved her love and affection, she couldn’t get it. It was one of the reasons why the memory of her father wouldn’t release its grip on her being. It was one of the reasons why she was behaving like a piece of new technology controlled by a mysterious remote control.
“Aisha!” Abena called from the sitting room.
“Yes Mummy!” she hurried towards the sitting room. The twins were holding hands. “Good afternoon,” she greeted.
“Thank you,” Abena replied insouciantly instead of her former informal way of welcoming her: “Welcome dear, how was school? Have you eaten?” And so on. Abena chose to be precise these days and it killed Aisha, viciously ravaged her soul like a helpless butterfly in the midst of giant hungry soldier ants.
“How do you do?” Philip asked. Aisha shot a frown at him. She wanted to do more like ask him: ‘what the hell is wrong with you? Is that the only thing you know how to say?’ but she hissed instead. A hiss she thought was inward, but had already escaped her lips before she knew it. As she turned to leave, Abena called.
“Come back here!”
She stopped and turned, folding her arms across

1 Like

Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Creeza(m): 12:34pm On Jul 22, 2017
Thanks for all the mentions .

Review upcoming later . But so far so good. I enjoyed iitt . Richard and aisha .

The story is synonymous to _ Last days at forcados high
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Jsaviour(f): 11:07pm On Jul 22, 2017
Nice one. Following diligently.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:04pm On Jul 26, 2017
Creeza:
Thanks for all the mentions .

Review upcoming later . But so far so good. I enjoyed iitt . Richard and aisha .

The story is synonymous to _ Last days at forcados high
Really? I read the book about two years ago... Never knew they're synonymous

1 Like

Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:07pm On Jul 26, 2017
Jsaviour:
Nice one. Following diligently.
Thank you, please help me invite friends to have a read.. I don't have much friends to invite
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:07pm On Jul 26, 2017
“Come back here!”
She stopped and turned, folding her arms across her chest.
“Do you know that that was disrespectful?” She was quiet. “Don’t ever try that your life again, you witch!” Abena said. She never always lay a hand on her; she just left her shattered with words instead, and somehow, Aisha would have preferred beating.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with her,” Philip said. For quite some time now, Aisha was just hearing Philip say something different from ‘how do you do’.
“Don’t mind her,” Abena said. She had a noticeable stark Ghanaian accent that her ‘don’t’ sounded like ‘dant’ and her ‘her’ sounded like ‘hair’ so that ‘don’t mind her’ became ‘dant mind hair’.
Aisha let the tears drop from the corners of her eyes. She didn’t bother to wipe them; she just let them go. However, she knew she was wrong for hissing at her step father, and though she had not meant to, at least not outwardly, but how could her mother have called her a witch? That was gross! A woman that was supposed to be her comforter was now the opposite, distancing herself from her that she was now merely a stranger which was too much for her poor heart to carry. How quickly she had forgotten her promise of being there for her when Isaac passed away.
In her room, she let the tears roll a little more before talking to her teddy bear. She talked to the lifeless thing and expressed her feelings to it as if it could hear and understand her. Afterwards, she brought out the painting and glanced at it. She smiled through fresh tears; the painting sort of brought a little mysterious happiness and feelings of nostalgia to her. She placed it on her chest and smiled and, this time, the smile creased both cheeks.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:09pm On Jul 26, 2017
CHAPTER EIGHT

Meanwhile, Richard had been waiting for his fate but had not seen any. What was happening? He was still wondering when a junior student walked into the class
“Who is Richard Adams?” the boy asked. Richard looked up at once to find a small boy in shorts in front of the class.
“Yes, I am, any problem?” he asked apprehensively.
“Yes, the principal wants to see you.”
Richard had his heart in his mouth when he heard this. He thought it had finally happened; she had finally gone to report to the principal; the new girl, or that someone had seen him while he was taking the picture out of her bag. He was sure because the principal did not summon students to his office often. Once, a junior student had entered their class, and asked “Who is Blessing George?” and when Blessing asked if there was any problem, he had said “I don’t know, he just asked me to call you.” When Blessing returned, her eyes were red. She was given a two-week suspension and asked to bring her parents.
Earlier that day, Blessing had insulted a new youth corp member, Miss Chisom, by saying she had a small ‘behind’ and that hers was bigger than Miss Chisom’s, but unfortunately for Blessing, the corp member had overheard her while passing the corridor, and that was where her tribulation started from. Blessing was known to be foul-mouthed; she mentioned the male and female genitals with reckless disregard. The boys avoided her because such person was bound to attract trouble at anytime. Lastly, Blessing believed that the world revolved around a big behind, but the principal countered her belief, showing her that it did not and it never would.
Now the boy who had called Blessing admitted that he did not know why the principal sent for her but this one sounded too sure! Since Richard started attending Holy Field, he had never had a bad record and he wondered if this was going to be the first. He shuddered. Poor Richard!
At the principal’s office, the air conditioner felt a little chillier than it had always been, Richard moved in short, slow paces. “You sent for me sir.” His voice was modest, his hands behind him and his upper part, bent slightly forward. He was stiffened with fear and perplexity, made more so because the principal would not raise his head from whatever he was writing and would not say anything either, leaving him anxious. Normally, he would have said something like
“Hey Richard, welcome, please sit down. I err… have some work for you,” while opening a file or something.
“Yes, I want you to…” he was saying when he trailed off. If he had put off the humming fridge, he would have heard Richard’s heartbeat. He had never asked for a favour without adding ‘please’, maybe this wasn’t going to be about asking for a favour anyway, maybe something opposite. “…to get the junior ones to clear the grasses at the school backyard during labour today,” he said, finally.
Richard almost gasped for air. “Ok, Ok sir, is that all sir?”
“Yes please, for now,” he said, squinting through his lenses at a big file in front of him. “And remember to be diligent in the discharge of your duties,” he said, barely raising his head, he appeared to be putting up something together and he apparently had limited time to do so. Richard was one of his favourite students so he gave him instructions to pass to others.
“I will sir.” Richard said before he finally left.
The principal noticed a little stiffness in him but he shrugged, ‘students could be funny some times’ he thought.
On Richard’s way back to his class, he thought of what to do to the little boy whom the principal had sent to call him. The one that said “Yes, the principal wants to see you” when he asked if there was a problem, how could he be so sure?! He later forfeited the thought, considering that he was only being a little boy that he was. But really, did he know what a problem was? A problem was when the principal handed him a brown envelope saying: “Richard I am really disappointed in you. You were accused of stealing and we came to believe that through some evidence. You are hereby suspended from the school for two weeks but you have to come with your parents first tomorrow.
At the back of the classes, where the principal had ordered him to get the junior ones to clear, Richard sat at the window and watched the children work. Occasionally, he scolded a lazy student. It had been three days and he had not heard anything from Aisha; something must have gone wrong. Maybe she didn’t see the painting or maybe she saw it but wouldn’t just say a thing about it. He exhaled loudly. He was finally convinced that he had done, yet, one more stupid thing. A thing, so stupid that the girl had decided not to react at all, leaving him in a more perplexed and flurried state. ‘I told you it’d be stupid!’ his thought played.
He picked up some pebbles and threw them into a wall with so many holes, one by one, the holes lizards played hide and seek in, making sure that each pebble entered the small hole. He replaced any one that did not enter with another one on the ground. An act he wasn’t conscious of.
He noticed one of the students was not working. “You there, bend down and work!” he ordered. The principal had chosen him as the labour prefect because of his ability to compel others.

***************

Meanwhile Aisha was still looking for the perfect time to tell Richard how much she loved his painting, how much it made her happy. She never thought that her father would look so handsome in an artwork until she saw it.
Throughout that day at school, it had been lessons throughout; from one lesson to another. And although, she was secretly relieved that something had stood in her way, hindering her from meeting Richard, because she wasn’t sure she would be able to face him even though she would still have to face him eventually, like now. Her behaviour towards him had been meaningless. It was like being angry at someone because the key to the door of your happiness had been misplaced only to find out later that this ‘someone’ had a spare.
She looked around the school premises but found no one except some junior students and someone sitting by the window, more like a supervisor, he looked very much like Richard but she couldn’t be sure yet because she was too far and he had his back to her. Suddenly she remembered that today was labour, and as expected of him, he was supposed to be around the junior classes performing his duty. Aisha advanced towards the place. As she approached, she noticed that many of the male students were bent, cutting grasses and the females, raking the dead grasses with so much sense of duty that they were almost smiling. They looked too busy to be distracted, none of them saw her. Even if they did, it was none of their business what she was going to do; anyone could walk around the school compound.
When she was few paces close, she discovered that he was throwing pebbles into a hole and the command: “You there, bend down and work!” finally made her to be sure it was him. That voice had come to stay in her head and very soon, would come to stay in her heart too. She wondered what she was going to say and how. She had not prepared for this; she just knew she needed to see the boy anyway. She continued walking silently until she got to him and stopped. She held her breath and released it, it used to help her talk better when she had done a wrong thing and Isaac wanted to scold her, or when she had a fight with a friend and was asked to explain what happened, and hoped that it helped her now but unfortunately, it did not.
“I… I like your painting, it’s… it’s nice.” she stammered. Her palms became sweaty.

**************

Richard was still throwing stones when he heard the voice: “I… I like your painting, it’s… it’s nice.” He was shocked. He turned gently and found Aisha. He threw away all his pebbles, jumped down and dusted his hands on his trousers on impulse. He wouldn’t do that on any other day, he would dust them by rubbing them against each other, but right now, the thought of doing that had leaped out from his head so that he didn’t know how else to clean his hands than to clean them on his trousers. He was more shocked on seeing her. Standing close to her was something he never thought could happen again, would happen again. She looked stunningly beautiful; her short and precise hair was literally glittering under the sun. He could not find his voice immediately, and even when he finally could, all he could say was “Okay, okay.”
Aisha wasn’t sure what else to say, the boy looked sort of nervous. However, she decided to use the medium to apologize for her nonchalant attitude:
“I am very sorry for the way I have been talking to you, I didn’t mean any of those words, it’s just that…” and that was the extent to which she could go, sort of like her elastic limit. She didn’t want to spew her problems just yet. She looked away. Those tears, they would never let her be, welling up in her eyes already and making her voice grow shaky. Apart from taking a candy from a baby, another thing that was easy for Aisha to do, was crying tears. “I am facing so much in my life.” She finally said out of Richard’s compelling gaze than necessity.
Richard was moved. He felt the goose bumps rise on his skin. He knew he wasn’t too far from the truth when he speculated that there had to be more to her behaviour than he knew. He put his arms around her and patted her back while Aisha rested her head on his shoulders, sobbing almost inaudibly. “It’s okay, whatever it is, be rest assured that you have a shoulder to cry on now, I will stand by you,” Richard said and immediately wondered where it came from. The American teenage movies he had been watching recently were having effect on him, and he thought it welcomed.
Aisha was surprised at how relaxed and warm she felt in the arms of the boy. Since she lost her father, this was the first time she was being held close, a gesture she had missed so much. She wished she could remain in his arms until hell froze. She felt a little guilty though but didn’t know exactly what for.
Richard wished as well, that they remained like that forever. He still couldn’t believe his eyes and ears. This was the girl who had spoken to him as though he were responsible for the mysterious misfortunes in her life. The girl that had treated him with what he thought was so much hatred. And now, here she was, in his arms. Truly, if you are patient, you would cook stones. The painting had done the magic. All credits to Fizzy, and, well, Messiah. Richard thought that this could be one of his usual eccentric dreams as well, and he dreaded that later, he would wake up on his bed by his jarring alarm which always shrilled in a high tinkling sound.
Richard thought this was not the right time to ask Aisha what it was she called ‘so much’ she was facing in her life, that would be another time or day, for now, it was all about remaining in this embrace.
Suddenly, Aisha detached herself as if her consciousness had just returned, she looked into Richard’s eyes, and he looked back at her bright eyes that never became slightly red from crying, his gaze, consistent.
“I will see you later. Am going to the class,” she said, sniffing and dabbing her eyes with her red bandana, the one she tied around her small head sometimes.
“Okay,” he said and watched her go. Occasionally, she quickened her short steps and looked around to make sure no one had seen them. Richard’s heart sank for her; what a lovely girl she was, weighed down by circumstances. But he promised to be at her rescue, to be her superhuman. It was only a matter of time before they became good friends. He threw a punch in the air and hurried back to see how well the junior students were doing.
“Hey!” he shouted at no one in particular. “Be fast!” “You come here,” he said to one of the boys who was already about to do what he had just instructed. “No, go back. Don’t bother anymore, just do your part,” he said and the boy was just about to return to his initial position when he called again: “You know what? Just join the other boy.”
The boy stood up, he looked seemingly frustrated, arms akimbo, “Senior, just which part am I suppose to do nau?” he asked, pouting.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:10pm On Jul 26, 2017
CHAPTER NINE

Rachel felt some sort of uneasiness. She felt something negative happening. She couldn’t tell exactly what and where it was happening but her instinct always told her when something was not right, or seemed not to be right. She looked around the class and there it was, lying bare, so easy to see; Richard was not in class and so wasn’t Aisha. She immediately felt a sense of connivance and sprung up like someone who had just been bitten by a soldier ant. She shut out the noise in the class and headed directly to where her instinct led her. She walked a few paces across the field and over to the junior classes because she supposed her dear Richard would be there since today was labour day. Just then, at the back of the classes, were two figures she suspected were Richard and Aisha. She wanted to be sure, so that she didn’t make a false observation. She stared intently at the two and, sure enough, it was them. They were locked in an embrace. As she wondered why no one had seen them, she wondered what it was they seemed to be discussing too. Richard sounded mollifying. She didn’t quite hear him clearly, but the last words were delivered to her by the wind, she had heard that part clearly. “I will stand by you,” the boy was saying. She held back. What? Did she tell him she couldn’t stand alone? So what on God’s-green earth was he standing by her for? So this was it, the new girl, the reason for his recent eccentric behaviour toward her. She wasn’t surprised. She just had always had this feeling that Richard was cheating even though she could not place a hand on any evidence, now this looked like one.
“So it’s the new girl,” she muttered under her breath. “I thought it was someone better than me.” Anger boiled through her as she peeked once more, only to find out that they were still entangled like Hausa ropes. She snapped her fingers at the both of them, sort of like the we-shall-see kind of finger snapping.
Nose flared, she walked to her class with eye brows almost darting into each other in a tight frown. The thought of what to do to the boyfriend snatcher did not let her see a stone lying halfway into the ground. She tripped over it, narrowly escaping a fatal fall. She regained balance and her nose flared further in multiplied anger as though Aisha was also somewhat responsible for her almost-fatal fall.

**************

The world is a place where people meet people everyday. However, some right people meet the wrong people and some wrong people meet the right people but in Richard’s and Aisha’s case, the right person met the right person. The foundation of their friendship had been laid since the day she told him that she liked his painting. It wasn’t difficult for them to get used to each other; Aisha just let herself be and every other thing fell into place.
The bell had just jangled for the break period and in less than two minutes, the whole class became quiet; everyone had fled, they could barely wait. Richard had come off this attitude, “Big boys don’t get too excited at break,” he would tell Fizzy and Messiah in a tone that sounded somewhat disdainfully superior, as though, he, was one step ahead of them by not getting too excited at break. Meanwhile, he had merely changed just after he met Aisha.
“Would you like to go out?” he asked Aisha who had earphones plugged in both of her ears. She was listening to Lagbaja, but lately, the lyrics of Never Far Away was beginning to take a new turn, beginning to mean something different to her. Though she was yet to understand what it was beginning to mean but it was welcome anyway.
“Well, I don’t mind,” she said. She had a slight nasal Hausa accent, very little that one would barely notice, at least not on her first speech.
They walked side by side to Iya Bolu’s shop, the woman that sold snacks and other goodies in the school premises. She had a small son, Bolu, who was about a year old. Bolu, as meekly as he always seemed to look, could be quite fidgety and disconcerting; he would carry one sweet from one box and drop it in water and then a biscuit, his eyes furrowed in rapt attention and utmost seriousness as if his whole life depended on it. His mother would later turn to check on him, to know what had kept him so busy that she didn’t hear ‘Tata’, his usual gibberish and on seeing what Bolu was up to, would snap at him: “Boluwatife, mima na e o!” in Yoruba, meaning ‘I will beat you o’ though, playfully. She called him by his full name, Boluwatife, when she wanted to lay emphasis. Bolu, who would know, somehow, that he had done something wrong, would burst into an apologetic cry. He was cunning.
It was obvious that Iya Bolu loved everyone who loved or played with Bolu, but her likeness for Richard was different, apart from the fact that he was fond of Bolu as well. Richard was very close to her that one would think she was his mother, and she on her own part, did not stop showering him with praises and prayers: “waa sere omo dada,” she would say.
Today, Bolu was quiet; his eyes were feasted on the students that ran here and there and would occasionally gurgle. Break period was the only interesting time for him as he got to see older children playing. He looked mature when he sat quietly.
Richard and Aisha had an earphone plugged to their ear each, listening to Lagbaja. Richard had jokingly told Aisha that she was old-fashioned and had suggested that she listened to more aggressive songs from Timaya or Terry G and the likes. She had laughed at this and punched Richard in the belly playfully. He had given her a scowl and they had both laughed. They were still laughing when they got to Iya Bolu’s shop.
“Good afternoon ma,” Richard greeted at the same time as Aisha.
“My shudren, welcome,” Iya Bolu said. If it had been Richard that came alone, she would have said “My shild”. She had to learn to say this when Richard told her that he didn’t understand what Omomi—what she used to call him— meant.
The both of them smiled at her Yoruba-accented English. A smiled that got Iya Bolu bemused. She usually said Richard laughed at her Englis and hoped he was not at it again. She suddenly made a face as if to ask ‘who is she?’
Richard who understood her countenance said “Oh, sorry, I should have introduced her earlier, she’s my friend.”
“Ah, Oyibo, ekabo” Iya Bolu said. Apart from the fact that she didn’t speak English, she had an inestimable pride for her dialect and would not care more, whether the recipient understood her or not.
Aisha smiled. She knew Oyibo meant a white man or a fair person or an albino depending on which one applied to the person in question, and in this case, she knew Iya Bolu meant ‘Fair Person’.
“Yes ma, good afternoon,” Aisha greeted again. She didn’t know how to act. She pinched Richard on the back of his palm and made a face whose mouth would have said “Did you have to introduce me? Was it necessary?” but for the woman in iro and buba in front of them with tribal marks that fitted her like make up.
“Please give me Lacasera,” Richard said while Aisha turned to look at the little boy on the bench whose surface was convex-shaped, like a canoe; it had to have sustained so many Blessing George’s behinds overtime to have looked that way.
“You no ass for your boy,” Iya Bolu said as she handed them the bottle of drink—which looked like the colour of a typhoid patient’s urine—and a blue straw each.
“Oh! My boy,” Richard said, noticing Bolu for the first time, sitting quietly on the bench, his tiny legs dangling half way to the ground. He carried him and threw him up not too high in the air. The little boy gurgled, showing few milk teeth. Aisha smiled wistfully. Things like this made her remember her father, she wished she could turn back the hands of time but she shoved the thought aside briskly; Richard was already doing all he could to bring back her happiness so why frustrate his effort? “I almost forgot,” he said. He took Robo, coloured chocolates from one of the containers, gave it to Bolu, and paid his mother. Richard discovered that the coloured chocolate was Bolu’s favourite. Bolu was mostly fascinated by the numerous colour of the chocolate and would stare at it studiously for some time as though wondering why they all tasted the same yet were so different in colour, before throwing them into his already drooling little hole as mouth.
“Oh, my shild,” Iya Bolu said thankfully as Aisha and Richard walked away just as they had come.
They walked around the football pitch for a while silently before Richard broke the silence. “Do you like the drink?”
Aisha took a look at it, as though, from its look, she would detect if she liked it or not. “Yes I do,” she replied, then shifted her gaze to some junior students running around the school premises. She imagined them trembling at the gatekeeper’s question of their whereabouts when some cruel seniors sent them on secret errands, their eyes close to tears and their legs, suddenly becoming a bit too feeble to carry their weight. Poor little things! The children were playing catch-and-do, a game that had to with an unfortunate participant who must catch another participant who takes it up from there to catch another participant too, the lapels on their pinafore’s shoulders, flapping against their shoulders like improvised terrestial wings.
They finally rested their backs on the trunk of a mango tree whose leaves were all over the place, covered in rich dust, the colour of rust. Aisha noticed that one of the running children had short stubby legs but could run quite fast with them. She seemed evasive; the stubby-legged girl, everyone had been caught and had caught someone in return except her.
Richard paused the song they had been listening to, and removed the earphones from their ears. “By this time two weeks ago, you were fire!” he said, a statement that was intended to be a tease. It had been exactly two weeks since he met her crying alone at the school backyard.
Aisha nudged him, smiling with what looked like a little discomfiture.
“So, tell me about your self,” Richard demanded suddenly.
“You go first.”
“It’s ladies first, remember.” They laughed, and smiled, and stopped.
“Well, I am not a very happy person,” Aisha started.
“Why?”
She smiled; a little smile that veiled volume of unspoken agony.
“It’s a long story,” she said suddenly and her face took a dramatic turn of grim look.
“I love long stories,” Richard put his bottle of Lacasera—which was half way down—aside.
Finally! She had been caught: the stubby-legged girl. She looked disappointed but she could not break the rule of the game, so she hitched up her skirt so that a small portion of her smooth tiny thighs were revealed, set to catch that one unfortunate participant.
“I lost my dad six months ago.” The wind blew heavily, raising dust and the cyclones took it from there, twirling and twirling them around. She paused to savour the apple flavour of the drink. Normally, she wouldn’t have told anyone this, but because Richard had proved to be different; caring.
Richard felt an arousing pity for her from the pit of his stomach. “How? What happened?”
“Good question. Now it would have been less devastating if he had died a natural death but we lost him to the miserable hands of the terrorist in the north. He was a soldier, a brave one,” Aisha said, a little admiration for her father’s valour could be detected in her voice. These days, she barely cried, Richard’s presence propped her so well so that she didn’t remember how to shed a tear, how to cry.
Richard paused and let his brain do a quick scan. He remembered the man in the picture he took from her bag, the one in a military uniform. He had speculated that he was her father from the resemblance. He was overwhelmed with pity for her. He had heard of many operations of the terrorists in the northern Nigeria but he never had a close account of any affected person.
“They were sent to calm a tension down in Bornu, only for his life to be snatched from him by the beasts!” she spat. “Worst of all, my mother, who is suppose to be my comforter changed abruptly to something else; she no longer hugs me, tell me that am beautiful, to keep my head up high and never give up. I don’t know what came over her.” a tinge of wistfulness in her voice. “And my step-father is no exception; I don’t know what to say about that one.”
“Does he molest you?” Richard asked, alerted at the venom and the underlying contempt with which she said “that one.”
“No, far from that. Just that I am not sure if he’s normal. The only thing he says to me is ‘how do you do’ no matter the situation he finds me. So, I am that unfortunate child who lives in a world of her own,” she said, sounding far away.
“No, you are not unfortunate. And I promise to live with you in that world of yours.” He sounded eager. Aisha stared into his eyes and held, as though searching for evidence that he was being sincere about living in her world with her. She smiled.
"Your turn"
Richard gulped a mouthful of his drink and started. “We are average Nigerians. Am the second and last of my parents. We are from Kogi State but I have never been there, unheard of, isn’t it?” he chuckled. “And my two good friends are those I introduced to you yesterday.”
He had introduced her to Fizzy and Messiah the previous day, during the closing hour.
“Meet my friends, Afiz, popularly known as Fizzy and Messiah the great scientist,” he had said, smiling.
“Oh, it’s nice to meet you,” Aisha said in a shrill feminine voice. Richard was not sure he had heard her speak that way before because she always spoke with the other one, the pensive, low, cold one.
Fizzy felt a little uncomfortable as Aisha’s stare lingered on him. She had a penetrating gaze and would pause for a few seconds to scrutinize you as though she could see through your anatomy, your veins, the moving blood from the heart and back, as though she could see what you were made of and could detect your next action.
“Nice to meet you,” she said to Messiah. She found him to be more reserved, more introverted and reticent; less likely to be heard often, she liked such persons; they tended to know much sometimes. The direct opposite was his friend, Fizzy.

Aisha felt like a heavy load had been lifted from her chest after she opened up to him. She let her mind drift to the painting again.
“How did you become so crafted?” She asked out of nowhere.
“Crafted? I… I don’t know.” He laughed. A short, glorious laugh.
“Your painting is nice.”
“You said that before.”
“I don’t mind saying it over and over again.” She turned to stare at him.
Richard felt goose bumps rise on his skin that for a minute, he imagined himself a chicken, stripped of fur so that the only covering left was the oily skin dotted with bumps.
The bell sounded. The playing junior students walked to their classes, satisfied at having fully utilized the break. Sweat streamlined their faces and perspiration stood on their foreheads like transparent second skins.
Richard held Aisha’s hand and that way, they sauntered to their class.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:13pm On Jul 26, 2017
CHAPTER TEN

Richard and Aisha were still getting to know each other bit by bit. He noticed she wasn’t the type that spewed everything about herself at once even when they talked as much as they could everyday on their way from school, so he decided to play along with her gently.
Today, Richard was in the kitchen helping Bolade out. A rare thing. They were expecting Aisha today. Days before, Richard had told his mother about the girl and she had suggested that she joined them at dinner today.
It was Friday evening. The atmosphere was damp outside and the sky was orange. A very cool breeze swept First Street. It was a sight to behold; the street looked like one of the pictures Richard had painted in the past: the picture of an urban environment. The houses were glass and had languid lawns surround them like green carpets. Each garage had a sport car parked in it. The coconut trees looked bent to the force of the wind, and birds were flying across the sun. Richard had added the coconut trees because the one in front of their house made it beautiful and he thought would make the houses in his painting more beautiful if he added them.
He felt a sweet tingling sensation that he could barely wait to see Aisha. The kind he got just before and after sneezing. He decided to join in the cooking to keep himself busy before her arrival. Bolade was startled at first to see him in the kitchen, and more startled to hear him say “I have come to help you.” Madam had warned her not to laden her chores or share them with her children.
“Cook? Ah, don’t worry, I will cook,” Bolade said confusedly. She knew she would be in trouble if Richard insisted.
He smiled. “Alright, don’t worry, I have asked Mummy if I could join you and she said ‘yes’.”
“Okay, oya help me pluck am,” she said, pointing to some spinach at her feet while she did other things. Relieved that it was ‘Mummy’ who had given her assent.
Richard plucked them gently; noticing that some of the leaves came off easily while others were too crispy to come off at the first pull.

****************

Aisha sat in front of her mirror. A new one had been installed alongside the other things she broke the other day and the stern warning that accompanied it was something Aisha would not forget in a hurry. Since the past three weeks, she had returned to her make up after six months of abstaining from it, not even powder. The girls in her class had offered her lip gloss once but she had refused; she seemed to turn everything they brought up down, it was one of the reasons some of them deserted her. Aisha wasn’t bothered though, the only thing she did was toning down her forlornness.
She looked into the mirror again and nodded in satisfaction. She looked dressed up to the nines; she was going to pay Richard a visit, her first visit. After much haggles over the issue, she decided to give in to it especially when she learnt that Richard’s mother knew and approved her coming. She was a bit anxious as to how they would receive her. She took Enchanteur and poured a small portion on her palm and smeared it on her face. Enchanteur was her best powder because of how pleasant it smelled. She raised the cylindrical container up to her eyes and stared at the three red roses on it. “Two for me, one for Richard,” she said. “No, one for me, two for Richard,” she said before bursting into laughter. This was the kind of happiness that she has been relishing in since she met him. Recently, a certain feeling plunge at her whenever she came in contact with Richard, but this feeling, she could not place a finger on. And funny enough, this feeling always made her want to hold his face in her palms and say “Boy, you’re handsome!” But she would not because she didn’t want to seem eager.
“Aisha you’re stupid,” she said to herself. She peered at the mirror one last time and muttered “Great, time to go”. Though, she always told Richard that she didn’t love him whenever the chap asked: “Do you love me?” And Richard could not really tell if she was joking or not because her low tone would not let him be sure, yet anytime she came face to face with this Richard of a boy, she would feel a sudden need to straighten something, her skirt, or smooth her hair and she couldn’t quite understand what it all meant, or, well, she pretended not to.
She took a look at herself. Her white blouse had the picture of a pink teddy bear at the middle and her black skirt was straight down and ended just above her knees. She applied a lip gloss until it looked like she had just finished an oily meal without wiping her mouth. She applied a little gel on her short lustrous hair. “Make sure you behave yourself there,” she said to herself before making for the door.
At the sitting room, Abena and Philip were watching a drama series on the TV when Aisha appeared.
“Mummy, I need to see a friend at First Street,” Aisha said, holding her small purse with both hands in front of her skirt and staring at the intricate pattern of the tiled floor.
“Okay, don’t stay long,” Abena said without shifting her gaze from the TV. A little peace now reigned between them lately but Abena could never be predicted, she could decide to become brute again.

The table was set. Rice, salad and shredded carrots graced it. The chandelier that hung down low from the ceiling, covered with white POP, made the sight of the food more delectable.
“What time did she tell you she is coming?” Mrs Adams asked.
Richard took a quick look at the wall clock in the dining room and said “Six. She should be here anytime soon.” The time was few minutes to six.
Bolade could be seen going to and fro the kitchen and the dining room to either get the toothpick or to take an extra plate back to the kitchen.
Just then, the bell went off.
“Yes, come in,” Mrs Adams said. Richard could swear with his life that it was Aisha.
Aisha stepped into the sitting room. ‘Wow, such a big house’, she thought. She was confronted with a grandiose sitting room with state-of-the-art furniture. The plasma TV hung largely on the wall like a large blackboard, the air conditioner vent, swayed up and down. It swayed down in time with Aisha’s arrival, thus, greeting her with its dry coolness. The cushions, a leather of milk, matched with the frills on the wine curtains, and the curtain drapes’ tassels were golden, like the tassels of a young growing corncob. ‘So much for the average Nigerians’, she thought.
“Good evening ma,” she greeted. Her legs felt a little stiffened under the consistent gaze of Richard’s mother that for a moment, she wished she had not come at all; the woman looked like someone who could pop up questions at any moment like “Hey, what’s going on between you and my son?”
“Beautiful girl, come here,” Mrs Adams heard her self saying, her arms opened wide to receive her.
Aisha walked mechanically towards her, all the while, avoiding Richard’s eyes. She fell into her embrace and remained there for a few seconds. The woman smelled of attachments and exotic body lotions. She deduced that from her beauty had Richard tapped his facial features.
“Good girl, what is your name?”
“Her name his Aisha,” Richard said just as Aisha was about to speak for herself.
“I didn’t ask you,” Mrs Adam said jokingly and they laughed at the same time. The laughter came as though they had always had this conversation before, and knew just when to laugh.
“Aisha, good name, please sit down,” she said courteously.
Aisha pulled out one of the dining chairs which were padded only at the seat and the backrest. She tried not to look around but with little success as she kept staring from one thing to the other, a habit. Mostly, she tried to avoid the poised stare of Richard’s mother. The woman had been stealing glances at her ever since she stepped her feet into the house, sometimes smiling. Aisha wondered what was going on in her mind, what Richard had been telling her to make her smile this way.
"My son told me a lot about you. He said you are the most wonderful girl he'd ever met."
Aisha thought as much; Richard had been feeding her with so many things, she did not know how to reply. Mrs Adams thought she saw the red colour on her cheeks.
“So, let’s pray,” she said. “Aisha you can pray the Muslim way.”
“Am a Christian,” Aisha said almost immediately as though, she had already envisaged that the woman would assume she was a Muslim.
Richard and his mother looked surprised. He didn’t know as well that Aisha was a Christian; he had assumed her to be a Muslim too, so there was no need asking her what religion she practiced.
“So, how come you bear a Muslim name?” Mrs Adams asked.
“My mum gave it to me, she said she liked it,” There was a little pride in her voice as if she was the one who instructed her mother to give her the name at birth.
“Oh, great. So, Pastor Aisha, pray for us,” Richard teased.
Aisha looked at his mother who nodded slightly in assent. She cleared her throat and started: “Lord, we thank you for….”
After what seemed like eternity, she opened her eyes.
“Do you attend Mountain of Fire?” Mrs Adams teased.
“No, I am a Catholic,” Aisha said as she picked up a spoon, not quite comfortable with the joke.
“Oh,” she said as she served the rice and stew, making sure to scoop enough meat for their guest.
Silence befell the room like a thick blanket. Only the clinking sound of spoons on ceramic plates could be heard afterwards.
A knock on the entrance door distracted them and the door opened almost immediately.
“Hmmmm, my nose is filled with fine aroma, what is going on here?” Mr Adams asked. He was carrying his suitcase in his left hand.
“Don’t mind me darling, Richard was expecting a guest, so I decided to prepare a little something for her. Welcome.”
“Oh, really,” he said and kissed his wife on the cheek. Aisha looked away. Richard smiled.
“Why did you come late today, being a Friday,” Mrs Adams asked.
“I had to finish up some things. You know I have passion for my job,” Mr Adams said, but from the way he was staring at the chunks of chicken and the red stew on the snow-white rice, it was easy to see what he really had passion for.
“Good evening sir,” Aisha greeted.
“Young woman, you are welcome. I hope you are enjoying yourself?”
“Yes sir,”
“Good.”
“Welcome Daddy.”
“My boy, I can see you are having a good time.”
“Yes Daddy.”
“Good,” he said giving him a slight playful punch. “Ok, I will see you guys soon; need to freshen up.” He said hurrying away, his red tie, flying over his shoulder as he climbed up the spiraled stairs in threes.
All the while, Aisha had been staring at her food as though the white grain held some sort of mystery but she was only doing it to kill time. She didn’t need to look too hard to know that this family shared a mutual playfulness, understanding and love—a thing she craved so much and could only get in her fantasies—and she felt awkward in their midst.
“You are not eating,” Mrs Adams said.
Aisha jolted. She knew somehow that the statement wouldn’t have been meant for anyone else.
“Oh,” she said.
Bolade brought bottles of drink on demand, making sure to stay as far away as possible from Aisha; she couldn’t risk the aura of the loathsome smell of some spices being mistaken for body odour.
After the meal, Richard took her to his room. She walked slowly behind him, clutching her purse tightly as though scared that some unforeseen spirit would snatch it from her.
“This is my room,” Richard said as he led her in.
“Wow, it’s nice.” Aisha looked from one thing to another. Her eyes caught a picture of him and another boy whom she supposed was his brother. “Is that your brother?” she asked.
Richard traced her eyes and let out a little laugh. “Yes, do we look alike?”
“Hell no, you look like your mother,” Aisha said in a way that Richard didn’t find it difficult to notice the admiration in her voice. He sure looked like his mother facially and in behaviour, his skin was totally his father’s; a slight brown, like the colour of Ovaltine. She needed not to remind him that his brother looked like his father. Her eyes caught the painted picture of Buchi Emecheta. “Is that your work?” she asked.
“Yes.”
“It’s nice.”
“Thank you.”
Again her eyes caught a pile of books beside the CD rack. She was not just a bookworm but also a booklover but lost interest overtime.
“Novels I guess,” she said.
“Yes. You want to have a look?” Richard said, giving her one of them; a white book with a title in red texts.
“Wow, good to know you read.”
Richard laughed a short triumphant laughter. “Thank you.”
Aisha needed not to think too hard to know what floated Richard’s boat: painting, literature and maybe football. “Looks like we’ve got something in common,” she said.
“And what’s that?”
“Reading.”
Richard laughed again. Laughter seemed to be a way of keeping his guest comfortable, like something so necessary that if not done, an uncomfortable silence may ensue.
Aisha nodded slowly while staring at the cover of the book. She had read it before; it was Americanah by the acclaimed Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
“Have you read it?” Richard asked.
“Yes.”
“Oh, really? So who’s your favourite character then?”
Aisha raised her face to the ceiling; it’s been a while since she had read it. “I would have loved Ifemelu but she’s unnecessarily stubborn,” she said, a palpable dislike for Ifemelu. “I think I like Aunty Uju, she’s quite accommodating and tolerant.”
“That’s nice. I think I like Obinze, he’s the man!” Richard said.
“Because he’s a man?”
“Not really, is that even enough reason to like him anyway? I just like his humility and gentleness. Which scene do you like most? For me, I think I like the part where Ifemelu had a face-off with Sister Ibinabo.”
Aisha laughed. “Shows how stupid she could be sometimes. Even she herself couldn’t explain the sense behind her actions. And she actually usually ate the coleslaws and the jollof rice which she said the 419 men offered, so what’s the point? Well, for me, I think I like the part where Obinze was originally supposed to meet Ginika but instead, got carried away and diverted his attention to Ifemelu.” They both laughed.
“Obinze is indecisive,” Richard said.
“Do you think so? He didn’t actually tell Kayode he liked Ginika, it was just an arrangement made by Kayode for Obinze to meet Ginika because he supposed he would like her, but the tables turned and favoured Ifemelu in the end. You don’t predict love,” she said.
Richard listened. He never knew Aisha knew much about love. He smiled. It was only going to make things easier for him. “It was love at first sight for them,” he said.
The silence was continually altered by the whirr of the ceiling fan that protuberated the ceiling, spinning so fast that the blades looked as though they were running into each other so that they formed a circle, like a spinning tray. Aisha imagined it falling out of place and slashing their necks. ‘Richard’s neck’ she thought, and she immediately felt callous for excluding herself.
Richard kept staring at Aisha as she bent her head towards the book, dithering between touching her and not. “Do you have the inclination to write someday? Perhaps,” Richard asked, finally deciding not to touch her; she could misunderstand it.
“No, am not sure I can construct those beautiful sentences. I tried writing a story in the past, trust me, it was disastrous.”
“I can imagine, characters playing one another’s roles right?”
“You are not serious!”
Richard laughed. “How about poetry?” he asked.
“Poetry?” Aisha asked back as though poetry was a dreaded beast she wouldn’t want to toy with, a dangerous path she wouldn’t want to tread. “That one is worse. I don’t always seem to understand it. I think am better off a reader than a writer.”
They both laughed, at nothing in particular. It made Aisha felt a bit loosened. The more time she spent with Richard, the more she became familiar with smile and laughter. And that night, when she lay her back on her bed and closed her eyes, that smile would not leave her face. She dreamed that she, Richard and his mother were sitting around a big, round mahogany table in a house without a roof. Instead of a chandelier, it was a very big stone that hung down from the ceiling, and strangely enough, it provided light. And instead of a housemaid, a robot brought the bottle of drinks, its short pause-pause movement amused her.
“Thank you,” she said to it and the machine bowed slightly—its joints creaking—before leaving, lifting each leg with what looked like so much effort as though a log of wood was tied to them.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:15pm On Jul 26, 2017
CHAPTER ELEVEN

There is a proverb that says ‘there is nothing you would use to wipe a dog’s nose that it will become clean’, because dogs are always known to have runny noses. The same was the case with some of Rachel’s incorrigible friends who derived unending joy from maligning.
Rachel’s ears were filled with so many things that could get her mad already, and added to the one she had witnessed herself made her bubble with fury. It was high time she became proactive. She had decided to teach the boyfriend snatcher a lesson today.
During closing hour, the principal summoned all the prefects to have a word with them which means Richard would not be going home with Aisha today.
“Sorry, I won’t be joining you today,” Richard had said.
“Oh, no problem.” She was the type who had learnt to be on her own in times like this, so she wasn’t bothered. She would have love to go with Fizzy and Messiah but those two would head for the left after few paces from the school gate and she would head the right.
Outside the school gate, Aisha walked calmly, her earphones plugged to her ears. Even though cell phones were not allowed in Holy Field, she still had a way of sneaking it in. She decided to take the short route home. Richard had always insisted they took the long route so they could chat as much as they could before they finally separated at Second Street. She had complained that it was not necessary since they would always see each other after school, somehow, but Richard always insisted. These days, she let him have the final say.
The sun was scorching high up in the sky so Aisha hastened her pace, sweat left parallel lines at the sides of her face. Apart from Richard and his two good friends, she had not really made friends from her class. Though, she wasn’t bothered because she felt comfortable with few friends who knew her worth and would not gossip about her anywhere.
Just at the back of the school fence that led to the short cut she was headed, some girls jumped from a smaller fence around a taller one. Aisha had assumed them to be some of the stubborn students the principal usually made references to every Monday morning on the assembly ground, but she looked again and discovered that one of the faces looked familiar; in fact, all of the faces looked familiar. They were her classmates, the ones who always felt more important than everyone else. The most familiar face of all was Rachel’s, as she had heard them call her. She noticed the girl usually sort of gawked at her but she didn’t quite get the reason for that. And the girl had a queer way of walking which Aisha found funny: placing one leg in front of the other and deliberately making her backside quiver with each step. She wondered what they were all doing at the back of the school fence.
She maintained her pace and refused to bother, but definitely began to, when she saw Rachel advancing towards her and the rest of the girls blocked her way. She smiled wryly, somehow, she knew she would not get out of this uninjured.
She came face to face with Rachel. Rachel clapped thrice and said “Well well well, so you have refused to respect yourself the way you have been doing the first few days you joined this school right?”
Aisha folded her arms across her chest and spoke with that subtly cold tone: “And what is that suppose to mean?”
“Oh! Looks like we’ve come to say hello,” Rachel said.
“Sorry, you can save your greeting for another day, excuse me.” Aisha was feisty. She tried to push the rest of the girls out of her way to walk away but Rachel dragged her back, making her stumble.
“Not so fast,” she said.
Aisha was irritated. What the hell was she talking about? She tightened her fist and clenched her teeth. “Please could you leave the way?” she asked one of the girls standing directly in front of her who had chewing gum in her mouth, but the latter only blew air into it and popped it right at her face. Aisha tilted a little backwards to avoid the stale smell of the banana-flavoured gum.
“Leave where?” Rachel mocked, now moving in slow circular motions around her.
Aisha smiled. No one tested her patience for a long time. Her fist tightened and her breaths changed into snorts as she listened to Rachel talked about her snatching Richard from her. She felt exasperated. She would rather fight over the case of a stolen pen than over a boy whom she was only fond of and was not yet sure was in love with. How did she get herself into this mess? Well, it wasn’t Rachel’s fault; Richard never told her he had any lover named Rachel. She did not blame her; the girl knew no shame anyway, so it was easy for her to put up the act.
The girl in front of her was still popping the chewing gum in her face and she felt bile rise to her tightened fist which she tightened some more.
“You see, I don’t want to fight, please leave the way,” she said slowly to the girl, almost spelling out the words in that tone that the girl should have known an undiluted rage, which denoted imminent fatality, lay under it, but the latter just blew more air into her gum and popped it right at Aisha’s face. Aisha thought that they had to be acting on instruction because none of them had said anything so far. She was at the verge of loosing her patience.
A loud shrilling cry was let out by the chewing-gum-popping girl when Aisha’s blow sent her reeling backwards in pain. She tried to walk out but was dragged back again by Rachel and this time, she instructed the girls to deal with her by cocking her head to one side, and each person threw her punches, blows, kicks.
Aisha lay there, somewhat unconscious. Though, once, she had grabbed one of them, beat the living daylight out of her and slammed her on the floor afterwards. It would be surprising to know that the sight of the girls did not scare her. The chewing gum girl couldn’t join them as she had earlier received her own share of the cupcake. Aisha wasn’t a couch potato altogether, they had only succeeded in beating her this much because they were more.
The girls fled in seconds into the same direction, after their atrocity.
Aisha felt something running down her nose, she wiped it and her finger came red. She sniffed. There was no need to cry, big girls did not cry. She thought of going back to school to report to the principal but she decided against it when she remembered that she wasn’t totally innocent, what would she tell the principal if the girls said she hit them first? And besides, when the news got to her mother, she would not believe she was confronted first, she would always want to believe that Aisha was the guilty one alone.
Someone tapped her, it was Fizzy. He was walking with Messiah when he saw he saw a figure lying down unconsciously by the secluded part of the school surrounding.
“Whose there?” Messiah asked from the distance Fizzy had left him. Fizzy waved him to come over.
“Aisha who did this to you?” Messiah asked staring at the redness on her cheeks.
“Rachel and her friends,” she said in even a lower tone as though angry at herself for what she thought was incompetence.
“Which route did they follow?” Fizzy asked apparently ready to delve into any of the four routes.
She slowly pointed to one of the directions and Fizzy dashed away quickly while Messiah thought for a second, whether to follow him or stay with Aisha.
“Are you okay?” he asked, adjusting his glasses. Staying with Aisha was more reasonable.
Aisha nodded, wiping her nose often.
“What happened between you two?”
“Don’t worry, I will be fine. You can go, thanks for your concern.”
“No, I will rather stay with you.”
“No, don’t worry, just go.”
Messiah watched her with pity as she wobbled away, still wiping her nose as frequently as she could.

Aisha entered the sitting room silently. Abena was trying on a new jewelry and Philip was nowhere in sight. Aisha thought he had to be in the bedroom having siesta, she imagined his legs scattered wide apart and instead of breaths, snorts after snorts would be heard.
Abena put the necklace on her neck, holding it with both hands at the back of her neck unclasped. “How does it look on me?” she said as soon as she saw Aisha, even before she greeted.
“Looks nice,” Aisha said, feigning a smile; she needed to keep this as secret as possible.
“Thank you,” Abena said as she relished in the compliment, but noticed a slight unusualness in her daughter. She looked further intently and said: “You are bleeding.”
Aisha had not wiped her nose since the past few minutes, she forgot to, she was too deep in thought about what just happened few minutes ago, too surprised that someone had just accused her of stealing her lover.
“Oh, yes, I mean... no,” she found herself saying.
“Shut up! You had a fight in school. So this is what you’ve been doing; fight? Spoiling my name?” Abena asked, putting down the jewelry. It was funny how temperamental she could be, how she could switch like an electric switch from cold to hot with a relative ease, she didn’t even look like someone who had just relished in a compliment few moments ago.
“It’s not what you think Mum,” Aisha said. A fresh wave of fury engulfed her as she remembered Rachel laying a hand on her. Richard had definitely got an elaborate explanation to make.
“I say shut up!”
Aisha stared at the linoleum which they changed every year as Abena hit the ceiling.

***************

Meanwhile, while Fizzy was running to towards the direction Aisha had pointed, he met Richard coming out of the school gate; they had just rounded up their meeting with the principal.
“Hey Fizzy, why are running like a squirrel that had found a prey?” Richard was smiling as he talked.
“Something had just happened; Rachel had just beaten Aisha to pulp.”
“You said what?” Richard asked holding Fizzy at both ends of his collar, almost strangling him as though he was somewhat responsible for the bully or something, his face taking on a dramatic change and his breaths became audible. How dare Rachel touch his anointing?
“That way,” Fizzy said, avoiding Richard’s question.
They both sped off while Messiah jogged slowly behind them.
“Where is Aisha now?” Richard asked as they kept running at the speed of sound. He clenched his teeth and furrowed his brows. Fizzy had to keep running with extra effort to keep up with his long and quick strides. He dreaded what he would do to Rachel when he saw her because, from his countenance, he looked like he would kill her!
Rachel and her gang were still chatting freely when she heard her name.
“Rachel!” she looked back to find Richard and his friends. She froze. She wanted to run away but thought against it; the boys would always catch up with them, and besides, it would be undignifying to do so, it would diminish her ego.
Before Rachel could turn to explain what they had not even asked her to, a resounding slap landed on her left cheek. She had the taste of her own medicine. Fizzy thought of what to do to the rest of the girls but felt Richard had done enough to the instigator.
“You slapped me?” Rachel asked unbelievably, holding her cheek. “Just because of that thing! Oh God!”
“Shut up, how dare you call her a thing?” Richard said, his eyes looked like a place where there had just been a volcanic eruption. “I don’t love you, leave me alone!” he said.
And those words would forever live with Rachel. Those words, ‘I don’t love you, leave me alone’.
“You don’t love me?” she asked back as though something suddenly blocked her ear drum when Richard said it, forgetting her throbbing cheek for a second.
Richard stormed away, pushing the rest of the girls who stood in awe out of his way. He wasn’t a wife beater but what Rachel had done was nearly unforgivable to him. In fact, if he had seen the blood running from Aisha’s nose, he would have done worse. Messiah and Fizzy walked quietly beside him. It was definitely not the right time to calm Richard down but they did anyway.
“Imagine her!” he said, turning to look at her. The rest of the girls had formed a ring around her, all quiet, sort of like a silent homage while Rachel paced back and forth, her hand still holding her cheek, feeling angrier because Richard had just bruised her ego.
Richard met Rachel back in their JSS1 days, when both of them were new comers, though Richard came before her. Some weeks later, he started to hear from his friends that Rachel was proving a hard nut to crack, that she would not talk to any of the boys because she probably found them unworthy. Richard thought it was due to their sheer impotence and decided to try the wooing skills which Timothy had taught him, being someone who always wanted to dare to prove competence and manliness and not necessarily because he loved her. But if only love was all about beauty, he would worship Rachel because beauty was as good as her other name. She was a rare gem when it came to beauty. Her skin, a smooth, fine and well-blended, perfect brown, the colour of groundnut husk, adorned her.
It would have been better if Richard had left her alone, because when he discovered that Rachel was the madam-kind-of person, who wanted other people to be below her, it was too late. And when he met Aisha, whom his heart truly belonged to, his love for Rachel—if there was any at all—totally waned.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:18pm On Jul 26, 2017
CHAPTER TWELVE

It was a Saturday, two days after the bully incident and Aisha wouldn’t stop looking at her face in the mirror. The redness on her cheeks like the blush make up had finally transformed back to normal. She felt no more pain except the pain of humiliation and that was what hurt her most; that that thing called Rachel could lay her filthy hands on her. What effrontery! She couldn’t believe that she crossed swords with her; the girl never crossed her mind a bit. She hissed slightly as she turned her head this way and that in front of the mirror.
Abena was on a trip to Kano for her jewelry business. She had left with Philip after the latter had whined like a baby on breastfeeding insisting on following her. Abena had wanted to report the incident to the principal, but one thing or the other had distracted her before her trip and Aisha trusted her to forget when she returned, especially now that the bruises had healed completely.
She heard a knock on the door. They did not have any house help, her parents were not home, and she wasn’t expecting any visitor, so she wondered who it could be. She stood up from the padded seat of the stool she sat and made for the sitting room door. Normally, she would part the blue linen curtains first, to have a glimpse of who the knocker was, but for some reasons she couldn’t decipher either, she slid the door open straightaway and found the least expected person in the world on his knees, holding a small card that bore the inscriptions: ‘From A Sorry Heart, Richard’. Aisha knew he had made it himself knowing how crafty his hands could be. She was surprised and angry at the same time; surprised at how he was able to locate her house; she had never told him where she lived, they had not discussed it, because she didn’t trust her mother not to pour him beans water if he showed up, and angry that he had the effrontery to show up after what happened as if he should have remained remote about it. Richard was only able to locate her place after describing her to every Dick and Harry he saw in Third Street, where he knew she lived.
She slid back the door which was almost going to a lock when Richard put his fingers between the door and its frame, preventing it from shutting totally.
“What’s your problem?” she barked, she sounded just the same way she had when she told him “Go away!” some weeks ago; that possessed manner of someone being delivered of a demon. Aisha felt her head heavy with anger that, for a moment, she wished that her imagination about the ceiling fan in his room had been real; that it had actually sliced his neck off.
Richard blinked rapidly. He wondered where he was going to start from. “Am sorry,” he finally said.
Aisha scoffed: “For what?”
“For what happened yesterday, trust me, I dealt with her.”
“Oh please! Look for a better lie; at least you were not present when it happened.”
“Fizzy told me.” He breathed out. “See, let’s not go through this, please just accept my apologies and let everything go.”
Aisha folded her arms across her chest. “It baffles me the way you boys do your things; you were in a relationship with somebody else and you didn’t tell me about it, who does that? You fooled me; you deceived me and lied to me! Thank God I haven’t said I love you because I wasn’t sure you did, and at least I can hold that back now, because it’s obvious you don’t.”
Richard was hurt at this. “It’s…it’s all my fault, I agree, but please accept my apology, I promise it won’t happen again,” he said, a strained mildness in his voice. “I don’t love her, it’s you I love. Come hell or high water, I promise to keep loving you.”
Aisha stared at a distant while Richard’s lowered his eyes to the ground, uncertain, he wasn’t sure how he sounded to her. She bit her lower lip and shifted her gaze to Richard. His handsomeness was one of things she could not always stand; it made getting hold of herself quite an effort, and literally made her weak in the knees; it was like a hard drug which got her drowsy over and over again.
There was silence now; the only sound that could be heard was the peaceful drone of the LG air conditioner that hung on a metal wedge on one side of the balcony. The condensed water had formed a small hollow in the ground at the point where it repeatedly dropped. Some little grasses were already pushing up their green spear-like heads out around the region, the only grasses that withstood the wrath of the furious harmattan dryness.
“Am sorry, forgive me,” Richard broke the silence.
Aisha did not remove her gaze; she just kept staring at the boy as though searching through his mind and thoughts to know if he was truly sorry. She remembered the dream she had about him on the dining table, in a house with no roof and almost laughed at that but ended up with a smile, she remembered their silly discussions on their way from school every day, and most importantly, she remembered how widely she had smiled when she discovered his painting in her schoolbag.
She collected the flower and the card from him with one hand and helped him up with the other. The flower looked like the red roses on her Enchanteur’s container, only that this one was made of fabric.
“Stand up,” she said as she helped him up, and hugged him. Richard smiled, hugging Aisha never felt this good.
“So, is anyone at home?” he asked mischievously when they detached.
“You are lucky, no.”
“Great, so can we spend some time together?”
“Sure.”
She ushered him in and slid the door close, making sure to draw the linen curtains too. She had a suppressed smile on while doing this. ‘Why was it so easy to forgive him?’ she wondered. Why was she smiling? Something like a spell had to be at work, and this spell, she was still yet to discover.

***************

It was yet another match day between the junior and the senior team, but this time, it was hosted by the juniors. Fizzy and Richard had vowed to play their best today. Messiah and Aisha sat among the cheering crowd, watching the boys from there. Everyone was doing one thing or the other in preparation. The senior team looked ready to revenge today. It was going to be a head-on battle as the juniors too did not look less prepared either.
“So, how did it go?” Fizzy asked Richard on the pitch.
“We’ve sorted things out, we are okay now,” Richard said. Since the day of the incident, they had not seen each other.
“Great., I was scared for you.”
“You don’t need to be. And hey!” he shouted when Fizzy was about to leave for his position, “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention, what are friends for?”
“peeeeee!!!” the whistle went and the junior students kicked off.
“I hope our boys win today,” Messiah said as they both watched the boys on the field play with incredible energy, adjusting his glasses.
“I hope so too,” Aisha said, she was holding Richard’s school uniform. The last time they had been together alone, in her room that Saturday, they had played a little, throwing teddy bears and pillows at each other—Richard was truly lucky to have met Abena’s absence—and cuddled up a little, and in those fleeting moments, Aisha had felt her heart beat faster. It had made her sort of drawn to him.
There was this sense of security she usually had when she was with any of Richard’s friends; Fizzy or Messiah. Some of the girls in her class avoided her because, of course, they thought she was weird in a way that they could not afford to make friends with her. Since the bully saga, she had come to believe that Richard loved her with each passing minute, with the things he did and said, like volunteering to carry her schoolbag for her during closing hour, like holding her close to him and whispering sweet words into her ears and generally playing with her like a child, and she loved that he played with her like a child because it made her feel real and alive, and not like a new piece of technology being controlled by a mysterious remote control.
“So, tell me, why don’t you like playing football like other boys?” Aisha asked, smiling. Messiah was someone she had come to understand was cool as a cucumber, she liked his simplicity.
“Because I am not other boys,” Messiah said, laughing aloud.
Aisha laughed too, a little. “Be serious,” she said.
Messiah had not expected the question but was grateful that she noticed something about him. He adjusted his glasses and said: “Well, I don’t have a particular reason for that; I just didn’t develop the love for it while I was growing.” He would rather read a book on science and technological innovations or a new science discovery or go to the school library to read about scientific explanation to phenomena.
“So, what are your hobbies?” Aisha asked.
“Reading.”
“Wow, I love reading too, you know, literature.” She stared at a boy, twice Richard’s height, far off on the field, who had a funny way of running that almost made her laugh; like a toddler hurrying to get something held out by an adult but fell often.
“Literature? Yuck, I don’t seem to understand anything about it, especially that thing they call poetry, it always seems to sound meaningless to me.” Messiah adjusted his glasses.
“I agree with you, but I think you are looking at it with the eyes of a science student. Just try and read one, am sure you will like i…”
“Goooooooooaaaaaaallllllll!!!” the crowd went in uproar as the first goal hit the net of the junior team.
“Looks like it is Richard who’s scored the goal,” Messiah said as she noticed the rest of the senior boys rob Richard’s hair far away on the field.
“We’ve not been watching,” Aisha said, relishing like a coach, as though she was partly responsible for the goal Richard had scored.
“Go boy!” Messiah screamed. “So, tell me about your family,” he asked out of nowhere.
“Well, I am the only child of my parents. My mum is a Ghanaian. My father died, or was rather killed by the terrorists in the north not quite long at a gun battle between the Nigerian soldiers and the Boko Haram.”
Messiah’s eyes widened. “Seriously?” he asked. “This is the first time am hearing and seeing someone who is affected by the insurgents in this country, sorry about that.”
“Thank you, let’s say other things, I don’t want to go into it,” Aisha said, pulling the plug.

It was three months later. Aisha was feeling better and better by the day except for the occasional torture from Abena which she was already even getting used to and bothered less about because she had someone who would console her when she needed it, and someone on whose shoulder she could cry freely; because she had someone like Richard; because she had Richard.
They now talked on phone every night before sleep and the part she loved most was where he usually said “Goodnight Sweerie”. She had asked what sweerie meant and Richard had said “I suppose you should know.”
“No I don’t,” she had pretended.
“Well, Sweerie is my own modified word for ‘sweetie’, you know, like an American version,” Richard had said through the earpiece on one of those nights, whereas, he had only once heard Ray call someone—most likely to be a girl—on the phone, ‘Sweerie’ and he thought it romantic.
She laughed saying “You are something else. Did you have to modify it?”
“Yes dear, I want to be different.”
“And you had to change the meaning of a word to prove that?”
“Hey, the meaning doesn’t change, and even if it does, it doesn’t matter, as long as you understand.” And that was how the name ‘Sweerie’ stuck.
Aisha did not know he was romantic until they started making the nightly calls.

Abena returned from her jewelry business days ago and the first thing she did was to complain that Aisha was too lazy to wash all the curtains , clean the chairs and dust the glass TV stand, she always complained of one thing or the other. Even though Aisha did most of these menial chores, she still did not appreciate it; she barely appreciated anything, especially anything Aisha did.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:20pm On Jul 26, 2017
CHAPTER THIRTEEN

The glass windows in Aisha’s room were misty as tiny dews fell from the starry sky. The wind was swift and cool and the leaves dropped at measured intervals outside—it had just rained.
It was not the first rain. The first rain had come more violently and the wind had blown feeble objects around. The wind pushed the fronds of the coconut trees in First Street around and the fronds rustled so ferociously that they looked like dancing mad women with loose hairs. And in the end, after the violent tussle, the rain fell in wee quantity, laden with dirt.
Richard had been disappointed that the rain fell in small quantity, but was grateful that it did a little good; it brought breaths of fresh air, washed the dust-laden roofs of the houses in his neighbourhood and accentuated the greenness of the plants.

It was past nine. Asiha fell under her blanket and wrapped herself and placed the teddy bear on her chest. She fondled with the keypad of her Blackberry; his call would come in anytime soon. She dropped the phone and stared at the ceiling and counted them and jiggled her toes. How grateful she was that Richard had come just at the right time; just at the time she was about to give up on herself, on her sanity and on the world. She wondered what she would have ever done without him; his joviality, his jokes, everything. Everything about him made every part of her soul that she had killed—because she thought she wouldn’t need them anymore come alive again, like opening sunflowers in the morning sun. She was coming back to her usual self again, breaking out of the carapace of depression and soulfulness, and she couldn’t be less happy.
Her phone rang. The caller ID read Sweerie. It was Richard. She had saved his name as Sweerie.
“Small Girl,” Richard joshed from the other end immediately she pressed the green button.
“Oh, you think am small?”
“Urrh… maybe not, maybe only your head is.”
“Oh, my head.” she laughed, touching her head. “You are silly!” she said and they both burst out laughing. They laughed often on phone, very often than in reality, perhaps, because phone had a mysterious amusing thing attached to it.
“Did it rain at your place?” Richard asked.
“Definitely, we are too close for it not to rain.”
“Great, and I know you are in your night gown, on your bed, you have your teddy bear to your chest, your phone to your ear and you are staring at the ceiling as you speak to me,” Richard said in a voice that sounded too sure. He had learnt that Aisha loved teddy bears the day he visited her or rather, the day he came to apologize.
“Oh my God! Are you kidding me? How did you know all these?”
Sensing how surprised she was, he decided to play along. “Well urrrh..”
“You probably guessed it,” she cut him short.
“No, I just know.”
“Then you must be some sort of evil spirit hovering around my room, I need to get my gun ready.”
“You got a gun?”
“Yeah, a toy gun.”
“And you think you can get rid of me with that?”
“Yeah, at least when I put ground pepper inside and shoot your eyes.”
“Olodo, I will wear my resistant glasses. That glass has the power to send whatever is being shot at me back to the shooter!”
“Richard puhleeeeez!” Aisha choked with laughter. The boy wouldn’t just stop cracking her up. Richard on the other end let out a soft chuckle; sort of proud that he had done a great job like the coach of a winning team.
“Good thing I made you laugh,” he said.
“Sure, you did crack me up.” Aisha dabbed the corners of her eyes with her red bandana.
“Goodnight Aisha.” Silence. “I love you,” he said and listened keenly for her to say her part. Silence again.
“Sorry, I can’t answer you; am not convinced yet,” she lied.
“Whatever,” he said and she imagined him smiling from his end.
“Just get off the phone naughty boy,” she said before the beep in her ear went. She threw the phone on the bed and talked to her teddy bear.
“Dear Teddy Bear, I am falling in love. Though I don’t trust my feelings and am not sure if I can handle heartbreak. Do I fall?” she asked the lifeless thing on her chest and stared at it expectantly as though it would give her an answer. She imagined the inanimate thing saying “Don’t worry, just fall, he wont hurt you” and burst out laughing at her own silliness.
How best was it to end the day with Richard’s call. She switched off her bedside lamp and turned to the wall, wrapping herself further, a little unconscious smile played on her face. The cold never felt so good!

*****************

Richard felt bored after the Sunday service. It had been three days since he spoke to Aisha on phone. He lay on his bed and fondled with his Samsung. He wanted to send her a text message to meet him under an almond tree just after First Street, but he thought again, maybe she would be busy with one thing or the other, knowing how her mother always engaged the poor girl with so much house chores, nevertheless, he sent her one: Sweerie, how is your day going? How was church? I would like to see you today, under that almond tree, you know… and threw the phone on the bed.
The time was past 12pm; the day had just halved, there were still many hours to bypass. He had just returned from church with his parents. Only Bolade had been left at home and been instructed to prepare rice and stew for lunch. It was their usual meal on Sundays. In fact, most Nigerians ate rice on Sundays; it had become more like a culture or an obligation to do so.
There was a knock on the door. It was Bolade. Richard knew from how immediately the door opened without the knocker waiting for a response. A bad habit she was used to. A habit that made her and Timothy locked horns sometimes.
In seconds, Bolade was standing beside him. He wondered why she had to come so close to deliver a message though.
“Shey will you eat food now?” she asked.
“No, later,” Richard said. Bolade walked out almost immediately as though she just knew Richard would say “No, later”, and miffed that he always said that. She wondered if the boy ever ate anything at all, unlike his brother.
Richard twisted his nose. Bolade smelled of garlic, his worst spice, it nauseated him; she always seemed to smell of one spice or the other. Unlike Timothy, he also hated it in his meals, so she had to always prepare a different stew or soup as the case may be, but Timothy was a voracious eater; he could eat anything, whether garlic or no garlic. In fact, he could eat poison, as long as it had been mixed together to look like food.
After some minutes, Richard’s phone beeped; a message had come in. It was Aisha. It read: Okay in fifteen minutes. He had better start going, he thought. Though it would only take him roughly five minutes to get there, yet he made to go, it was better to be there before she arrived.

Richard checked his wristwatch, thirteen minutes was gone. Two minutes more to see the beauty queen.
Just then, he saw a figure advancing toward him, even from afar, he could tell it was her; the small head, the red bandana, the short brisk steps and the complexion could never be mistaken. He had once teased her about her amber skin, the colour of a burning hurricane lamp fire, becoming the only source of light in a suddenly dark room. She looked older and bigger. Funny how the checkered red and white school uniform made her look like a child, younger. The uniform was always too elaborate to remind him that not only Blessing George had a big behind. Her white shirt and black skirt with frills around the edges, adorned her in the most subtle way. Her bandana and her stiletto were matching reds. Richard wondered for a second, what mystery red colours held for her.
He smiled, and like they say, a smile is contagious, so, she smiled too.
“Why were you smiling?” Richard said when she got to him.
“Why were you smiling too?”
“Because I just brushed my teeth with Close-up.”
“Good for you,” she said, a punctuation in her voice to mark the end of the joke.
“Sweerie, I just wanted to see your face today, I was dead bored at home,” he said.
“Oh, really, that’s sweet.” She had recently made up her mind to fall without being apprehensive. Since the night they talked on phone, she had thought that falling in love with him might not be a bad idea after all. She had dreamt that night too, that the teddy bear had told her to fall in love, and as dim-witted as the dream seemed to be, she felt positive about what the lifeless thing told her that she did not consult her conscience as she usually did when she need to make a critical decision, she just went ahead and fell like an iroko tree that had just had its stem sliced.
“I didn’t plan for this, it just came up few moments before you got here,” Richard started suddenly.
“And what is it?” she asked, half-closing her eyes and cocking her ears. Though, she could merely guess what he had in mind.
“You know what? Just forget about it,” Richard felt his palm sweaty for the first time as long as he could remember, he was skeptical about saying what he had in mind, especially on a Holy Sunday like this.
“No, Richard, say it.” There was something different, unique; something welcoming and accepting about the way she slowly said “No, Richard, say it.”
Richard was still a bit scared. Though, it was something he said quite often, playfully and did not know it would be this difficult trying to say it on a more serious note. He cleared his throat.
“I love you Aisha, do you love me?” he blurted out before he would not be able to say it again, not be man enough to say it again, first time he would be doubting his prowess. He had always been daring and fiery, so why was he now acting like a child on a first trip on roller coaster? Maybe because love was nothing close to a child’s play, love was something that twisted and wrung you until you emerged dry, love was like a hurricane and likely to make you submit to its force. An eerie silence ensued. And in that fleeting moment, Richard wished the earth would open wide and swallow him. He dreaded what she would say, how she would react to it? The girl was unpredictable. She could say:
“Sorry I don’t love you, if I ever said I did, I was probably joking,” or say “Is that why you called me all the way here? You know what? Don’t even talk to me anymore.”
Aisha turned to stare at him; God, the boy was handsome! Richard stared back, blinking rapidly, his heart slamming against his chest, he could not guess what she had in mind and for a moment he wished he had simply kept his mouth shut and had not said anything at all. The silence lingered, making him more uncomfortable.
A lizard with a red head, grey trunk and an equally red scaly tail fell hard from the top branch of the almond tree to the ground with a thud. Its scale was half shed and the charred remains clung around its waist like a translucent skirt.
Aisha shifted her gaze from Richard to the lizard. It bobbed its head over and over again as though it knew just what they were talking about and was nudging Aisha to reply in the affirmative.
Moments later, the lizard ran into a hole in a nearby wall, its half-shed scale, rustling behind it like dry onion husks.
“Yes, I love you too Richard,” she said, looking back directly into his eyes. “I have been meaning to let you know for some time now but I just wanted to be sure it was love, and that I was not going to fall into the wrong hands and now I have seen.” Richard thought he felt his ears twitched. This was unbelievable!
The initial feeling that Aisha could not place a finger on, the feeling that changed the lyrics of Lagbaja from what it used to mean to her to something else, the tingly feeling she had felt on the day she sat in front of the mirror about to visit Richard, the feeling that had prompted her to forgive him so easily, that spell she had always thought had had to be at work, she had finally discovered it; it was the spell of love. She had not felt this way in a while now, though she couldn’t compare this love to the one she and her father shared, but each one was unique in their respective ways. This one came with many flavours and colours that tingled her all over. She was glad to have this feeling once again, a close substitute to her father’s love, it was a wonderful feeling.
They held hands and looked intently into each other’s eyes. Aisha looked away. As masculine as she thought she was, as aggressive as she thought she was, as rock-hearted as she thought she was, she never thought, for a minute, that anything, anything at all, could reduce her to a woman, to a girl that she was.
Richard did not shift his gaze; he held them on steady as though he had just gathered a little confidence from what she had just said. Love, written all over his face that Aisha imagined the red and purple and blue heart-shaped things floating in his eyes.
“Would you mind a kiss?” he said.
She said nothing. She didn’t want to act eagerly. Let him ask for everything and let him initiate it first. But she wouldn’t mind a kiss if she was to answer him.
He placed his lips on hers and words would not be enough to describe how they both felt.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:22pm On Jul 26, 2017
CHAPTER FOURTEEN

One of those nights, when the streets were slightly dark, only faint lights from the street lights that stood rickety like an 18th-Century infrastructure, did little to salvage the streets from total darkness, casting short shadows on the tarmac. Each pole of light stood at quite a distance from another so that a slight darkness gained dominance between one pole and another. In the far distance, were Richard and Aisha advancing, holding hands. They became more defined as they approached each street light. Their silhouettes under the moon looked like the cover of a story book.
Aisha now enjoyed a new freedom now that she had decided to be at relative peace with her mother and step father and every other person. Though her mother usually warned her not to stay out for long, and she heeded to her instruction but tonight, she had stayed longer than normal and didn’t know when time flew. They had both been seeing a movie: Walking Dead, in Richard’s sitting room from 6pm until they discovered that the nocturnal birds had started to screech. Annoying how time flew like shooting stars when one was enjoying oneself!
More than once, Aisha had held Richard by the hand at the sight of the zombies in the movie. Their torn clothes, their drooling, their unsteady and sideways gait, their pale faces, their dark eyes, their bruised skins, their thick scruffy hairs and their snarl, had scared her a little that she had asked Richard to see her off to Second Street.
“Don’t tell me you are scared,” Richard teased.
“No, not anymore Sweerie,” she said.
They walked in silence. The love they planted some months ago had already started to germinate, its tendrils, climbing and coiling the both of them up in spirals. They felt snug in the confines of this tendril that they wouldn’t want to shake off or disconnect it anytime soon. For Aisha, she thought that Richard had succeeded in capturing her heart, whole nine yards, and for Richard, he felt this was whom he should have been with, this was his first time of falling genuinely in love.

Richard loved the serenity of Second Street. The unpainted houses, the yellow lights that dotted the gable of every house, making the street flicker in an ocean of yellow lights, the peaceful bubbling of the stale water in the gutter at both sides of the road, the relentless women selling biscuits and sweets and chewing gum all in wide yellow trays, embellished with caricatured fishes, along the road, appealed to him.
They walked up to Iya Mateh’s shop—one of the food vendors that dotted Second Street at day—and stopped. This was the point where Richard wanted to say his goodbye. Third Street was not far from here and it was even busier than Second Street, so he supposed she could go on her own from here.
Richard pushed Aisha gently backward, so that she leaned her back against the iron bars of Iya Mateh’s gate. Aisha closed her eyes and savoured the coolness of the bars on her back for a moment, and then he leaned a little forward toward her, supporting his weight with one hand on a bar, and the other hand, holding Aisha at the jaw. From afar, they were only shadows.
“Richard, I don’t know where to start from. I don’t know how to thank you enough. Since I met you, my life has changed. I have not felt this way in a long time and it feels good to feel this way again. Forget about the lovey-dovey and all that, although there is a little lovey dovey-anyway, but the happiness you made me feel inside is immense. Thank you for everything,” Aisha said.
Richard was attentive. He loved that she acknowledged his efforts to prove to her that he loved her, finally. He remembered the first day he saw her at the basketball ground, the look she had on, he remembered when he met her crying at the school backyard, and he remembered his undying efforts and was happy they all counted after all.
“You remember that day at school I told you I would stand by you?”
“Of course I do.” Maybe she had been saving this particular voice for a day like this, he could not say, but she definitely sounded different, angelic, and Richard did not want to imagine what she would sound like when she sang. She seemed to have so many voices and knew just when to use which; the low cold one, the shrilling one and this one, glissando.
“You see, I kept to my promises!” He said, smiling proudly like a sprinter who had just come first in a competition.
“Yes, you did, and trust me, I appreciate it.”
“Thank you for acknowledging my effort. No problem is too big to be solved. Next time, don’t transfer your aggressions to the people around you, especially if these people know nothing about what you are going through. They might just be helpful if given a chance,” Richard said, he sounded like a sophisticated adult when he advised people.
“I have learnt that.”
He raised his head and his eyes caught up with a rectangular notice board which Iya Mateh had hung there. It read: ‘No credit today, come tomorrow’. He wondered if it meant that there was no selling of food on credit today and that a particular customer should revisit the next day but only for them to come back ‘tomorrow’ and still find it there, it seemed Iya Mateh’s tomorrow never ended. It was written in white chalk but the wind had blown most of the chalk particles away, making it less visible. Only if you knew what was written there before it became less visible, will you know what was there now that it had faded.
Iya Mateh was the only food vendor who had the highest number of customers. She would bring five hefty coolers of akpu and rice in the morning and sell everything before the clock hit 4pm. This made other food vendors green-eyed monsters and slurred about her. Some of them even speculated that she washed pant put inside her stew. Richard knew washing pant put inside her food probably meant that she was using a charm to draw customers to patronize only her, but he still imagined Iya Mateh, alone at the backyard of her house, where no one would see her, literally washing her extra-large underwear and using the soapy water to prepare her stew afterwards. It was one the reasons why Richard didn’t eat outside: those speculations, one could never be sure which one was true.
“Do I need to remind you that I love you?” He said, shifting his gaze back to Aisha.
“No, don’t bother; I have not forgotten the last one you told me.”
They both laughed. How easy it was for Aisha to let out that happy sound; to laugh. They locked their lips again that this time, Aisha thought she was floating on still air, both of them doubted if they would come out of it not suffocated. They breathed down hard when they finally let go. Jesus Christ! It was heady!
“That was impeccable, you are a good kisser!” Aisha said.
“I learnt from you.”
“You are not serious,” she said in that glissando voice; that voice that Richard wouldn’t want to imagine her sing with.
He removed his sweater and slung it around her shoulders. “You need it, it’s cold.”
“Awww… how caring.” She blushed.
“Alright, see you at school tomorrow,” he said.
“Alright, goodnight Sweerie.”
That would have been the last thing that he would have heard from her but thank God it wasn’t.
And then, they separated. Richard thought he saw her looking over her shoulder at him more than once. His heart felt like melting sugar, happy that he was finally responsible for Aisha’s happiness. It was a mission accomplished for him considering the tough times she gave him.
“Let’s see, let’s see if Jonathan will next year’s election or Buhari. It will be a battle. The militants in Niger Delta no go gree, but anyway, let’s see, let’s see, let’s see, let’s see, let’s see, let’s see, let’s see.”
Richard had to look at the direction that the voice was coming from when it looked like the ‘let’s see, let’s see’ wouldn’t stop, and discovered that it was Liverpool, the neighbbourhood lunatic. He should have known but for the change in topic today. Liverpool always talked to himself about football, about how Gerrard was playing rubbish and how Kolo Toure missed a ‘fine’ penalty.
This was his time. He was known to always come out day and night to rant before going to sleep. Richard knew about this but Liverpool just came out earlier than usual today.
It was said that Liverpool’s madness had started one evening at a football viewing center not too far from Iya Mateh’s shop. That day, Liverpool FC played Manchester United and lost to Manchester by 3 goals to none. It was gathered that Liverpool had been loosing their matches back to back and was at the verge of being disqualified from the English Premier League. The match against Man U was the only match that would have saved them from being disqualified but they lost. It became unbearable for Mike (Liverpool)—before he was rechristened—who watched with burning rage. Apparently he was a fan of Liverpool FC.
Suddenly he started: “Liverpool, stupid team, common Man U, they cannot beat, what would they ever know how to do? Liverpool? Nothing! Liverpool? Nothing! Liverpool? Nothing! Liverpool? Nothing! Liverpool? Nothing!” he had said. Everyone in the room thought he was only venting out his anger until his “Liverpool? Nothing!” would not stop, and then the owner of the center, a hefty man with a bushy moustache, became aware that something had definitely gone out of place.
Liverpool didn’t stop. He kept jumping from one seat to another, shouting “Liverpool? Nothing!” at everyone he saw. He even went to the TV and punched the power button repeatedly. He soon left the TV and carried the DSTV decoder on his head, moving here and there. It was then that the center owner pleaded with some boys to help him get rid of him before he did damage to his electronics. Since then, Mike had been rechristened Liverpool.

Richard walked as far away from him as possible and muttered “God help us all.” Just then, he heard sirens blaring from afar, he thought he would be in trouble if those policemen caught him. Nigerian policemen did not always give listening ears to pedestrians especially if you were caught idle at night. So he hid behind one of the kiosks that projected the front of almost every house like mobile balconies, only for an ambulance to wasp past him. There was an upheaval and everyone was running towards Third Street.
Though it was dark, and he could have just minded his own business and head home straight but curiosity took a greater part of him and he turned and followed the rest of the people who were headed toward Third Street.
On getting there, he met a crowd; it made it difficult for him to see the victim lying seemingly lifeless on the ground.
“What would a young girl be doing alone on the road at this hour of the night?” one of the persons from the crowd asked.
Richard didn’t know how he did it, but at the mention of ‘a young girl’, he jostled and pushed his way through the crowd. He saw the blood first before he saw her.
“Aisha!!!” he screamed so loudly that his throat burned and his head ached.
“You know her?” another person from the crowd asked. Richard didn’t answer him, he just stared at his sweater, the one he had slung around her shoulders mere moments ago, soaked in her own pool of blood and, for a moment, he thought he was loosing his sanity. It seemed surreal, like a scene from one of his childhood nightmares. But it was too real to be a dream; the people in his dream did not make so much sense when they spoke and their voices always swam into one another's, intertwined, so that they sounded like one long speech.
Meanwhile, Aisha heard her name being called: “Aisha!!!” it sounded millions of miles away. The voice was familiar, she knew it was Richard's, somehow, and she wanted to answer: “Yes Sweerie,” but something was rapidly seeping away her energy that all she could do was open her mouth and let out series of strained grunts.










END OF PART 1, WATCH OUT FOR PART 2!!!

1 Like

Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Lemmy123(m): 3:29pm On Jul 26, 2017
I decided to post everything already, even though I did not get encouragements, it doesn't matter... Someone, somewhere, someday, might just get to learn one or two things from it... Gracias Creeza priscy01 and Jsaviour...
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by empress101(f): 5:57pm On Jul 26, 2017
woww.. this is good.. I dint stop reading till the end... can't wait for the second Part.. Nice work dear
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by waliyarh01(f): 7:21pm On Jul 26, 2017
It's really a great work!!! Weldone sir.
Re: The Fabric Red Rose by Priscy01(f): 8:44pm On Jul 26, 2017
Lemmy123:
I decided to post everything already, even though I did not get encouragements, it doesn't matter... Someone, somewhere, someday, might just get to learn one or two things from it... Gracias Creeza priscy01 and Jsaviour...



I for read this Story but.....I don't like story that is not tab...


Check out Bukky Alakara by SheWrites..


That's how I like a story to be written..

Anyways ... **thumbs up**

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