The bell rang, and the class became rowdy as the teacher left. Her friend, Onyeche rushed to her seat.
“Dinma, Are you okay?” She placed her hand on Dinma’s forehead.
Dinma pushed her hand away. “Why?”
“Do you know how many times Mr. Festus called you? You didn’t even answer his question. He just gave the task of collecting the assignments to the assistant class-prefect.” Onyeche sat on her desk. Dinma slapped at her buttocks lightly. She stood up with a pout.
“Oh! I wasn’t listening.” Dinma packed up her books. It was a Friday, which meant the last period was for sports and club activities. She wanted nothing more than to go home, but as the Senior prefect, she was expected to be present in school until all activities ended.
“Which club are you going to today?” Onyeche hung her bag haphazardly over her shoulder they walked out of the class, squeezing themselves through the cluster of students that stood along the corridor.
“I’m supposed to work with the footballers today. You know they have an upcoming match. I don’t think the coach would even let me go home on time today.”
“But you are not playing. You don’t even know anything about kicking a ball. I don’t see why your presence or absence could affect their training.”
“You know how the Vice Principal can be. After all, I am the Senior prefect. Oche is also going to be there too.” Dinma shrugged. She agreed with Onyeche. If it had been the dancers or the debate club, she’d have been more than happy to join them. Being at the field only increased her stress levels and today, it would only be worse.
Onyeche nodded absentmindedly. “Okay. I will just go and join the dancers. I heard they will go with the footballers for the match competition. Cheerleading committee I guess.” She pumped her fist in the air. Dinma was unable to stop her lips from stretching out into a smile.
“Suit yourself. But it’s not the usual Nigerian dance. I don’t even understand what is going on in the VP’s mind. I think she wants it to be of an international standard, so its more of jumping and waving your hands in the air with some puff-puff things.”
Onyeche’s eyes bulged. “Ah? Which one is international standard again?”
“One of the schools that are coming is that British school, and you know almost everything of theirs is similar to foreign schools. I’m sure she doesn’t want to lose to them in any category. The footballers are under stress from the way she is making them train.” At least she was not a footballer, she thought wryly.
“Hm, but so far as it is to dance, I can do it.” She wiggled her waist. “It’s just moving your body to the rhythm of the song.”
Dinma coughed out a laugh. “Just go. I’m sure the coach is already looking for me.”
“Okay. See you later.” Onyeche waved and skipped away. Dinma shook her head knowing that she would have a lot of fun learning to dance the ‘international way’.
She paused on her way down the stairs as her phone vibrated. She opened it without hesitation. It was Devil’s Child. For a moment, she had forgotten about it. Her heart plopped as she read the message.
–After practice, come to the bar beside Charwad Hotel. If not…–
Charwad? Dinma’s legs lost feeling. She held on to the railing to prevent herself from falling down the stairs.
“What is it?” That familiar, somewhat mischievous voice came behind her sending tingles down her spine. His hand came round her waist, supporting her. The smell of a strong cologne with the faint tinge of acrylic hit her nose.
She quickly pulled herself from him, looking around with fear. “What are you doing here?”
His eyes went to the phone in her hand, he pulled it away. ”What are you reading with so much interest?” A smile played on his lips as he drew the lock pattern of her phone.
She reached out for the phone. “Give it back to me.” There was a reason why she had not told him about the pictures. She watched as the expression on his face changed as he scrolled through the messages, the smile disappearing as his lips tightened in a grim line.
When he looked up from the phone, Dinma trembled at the hard look in his eyes. “He sent them to you last night?”
Dinma nodded and made to move away from him. They were standing too close and she was sure their position would be a source of gossip if someone saw them.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
She frowned. “So that you can do what? It’s not like you know who it is.”
“Who said I didn’t know who it is?” His voice was low, but she heard him clearly.
She blinked in surprise. “I don’t understand.” A cloudy feeling descended on her chest. “Are you…did you…” She couldn’t complete the sentence. Was this a joke?
“No, no, babe. Listen to me. I didn’t know about this, I swear. But I suspect who is behind this.” He handed the phone back to her. The messages had been deleted. “Look, forget about everything. I will handle it myself. No matter the amount of messages you get, don’t go anywhere, don’t even reply. I have blocked his contact on your phone so you cannot get any message from him. After practice, go back home. Even if the VP says you should stay in the dormitory today, tell him you have to go back home. You understand?” He placed his hands on her shoulders, the look on his face commanding her to listen.
“What do you mean? What do you want to do?” Dinma searched his face. She was scared for him.
His soft lips planted a kiss on her forehead. “Just listen to me. On Monday, just behave normal. Don’t be as jumpy as you were today. You know you’re like a watch-tower in this school, every one keeps looking up to you. Any single movement you take will be noticed by many people. I don’t want to spoil that for you,” he said, then left just as he had appeared.
Her buttocks found the hard ground of the stairs, the urge to cry churning her stomach like a cake mixer. He was right. She couldn’t ruin her image by going to the bar. The place that was a center for students with questionable motives. As a girl, hers would be worse. Without the pictures, that alone could destroy the reputation she had struggled to build since she entered the school as a JS1 student.
She was scared of what the pictures would do, pictures of her entangled with the most notorious boy in the whole community. It would be a blast, especially when the two of them were supposed to be on two parallel paths.
The voices of female students arguing over teachers had her standing up and taking the stairs two at a time. As she ran to the football court, she thought of how he would solve the problem. She briefly wondered if it would only make the situation even worse.