Evans stirred, then he stretched, and finally he opened his eyes to the new day. He saw his school bag on the reading table, and he remembered the novel in it. Evans also remembered a paragraph from its fourth chapter: Amy spread her legs a little further, ready for the deep thrusts that would follow; she knew Jôse was about to spurt.
Evans felt the sheets, searching for a damp spot. He searched, but found none. He had to search, for a damp spot on the sheets had become an almost every-morning discovery, the evidence of a spontaneous orgasm. Evans rolled on the bed, certain that he had slept alone. His elder brother, Jerry, had marked another night of faithfulness to his newly-adopted practice, which involved sleeping on the three-seater sofa in the living room. Previously, Jerry had always returned to the room each night after watching a late night movie, but in the last three months, he had preferred the sofa. Evans could swear that Jerry’s action was deliberate. Nothing else, Jerry would leave the sofa and walk to the room, and the bed, once it was five-forty each morning, knowing that Evans, whose day normally began at five-thirty, would be awake, and out of the bed.
Their mother, Nneoma, had been vocal with her displeasure. Then, when the practice was yet new, it was common for Jerry to drift off to sleep, leaving the television on. It was also common for Evans to be awakened when a row started between mother and son.
“I’m twenty now, I’m not a kid anymore.” Jerry would remind their mother. “Find a suitable means to pass your message across, stop shouting at me.” Jerry’s voice, most times, sounded louder.
“We would not be having this conversation if you were responsible enough to act like every other twenty year old.” And she would continue, telling—same tales—of what others had achieved by the time they were past the teen years.
Whenever they were not loud enough to awaken Evans from his sleep, Jerry surely would not miss the opportunity to tell him they just had a brief argument, as Evans would be awakened by the bang of the door after he had walked into the room. These days, their mother would rather let her eldest child sleep while she switched the television off.
Evans tried to stand and he felt an ache in his head. Evans reached for the torch that lay on the floor, close to the bed. He turned it on, directing the light to the clock on the wall. The clock revealed that it was twenty-five minutes before six, and he had slept for less than five hours. It also revealed that he had only an hour fifty-five minutes before the deadline for the submission of his chemistry assignment. Evans was glad he had fetched enough water the previous evening. He only had to brush his teeth, take his bath and eat his usual breakfast of tea with bread.
Evans picked his toothbrush from the rack where he normally kept it—except the days he forgot it in the bathroom. He walked to the door, heading for the kitchen where the toothpaste was stationed, before he would follow the path to the bathroom, to brush his teeth and to take his bath.
“Ruth,” Evans called, after he had tried to open the bathroom door. “hurry up” he begged. He had felt an urgent need to urinate, so he had walked to the bathroom first. Evans then walked to the kitchen to get the toothpaste, hopeful that at his return, his younger sister would be out of the bathroom.
“Mummy, good morning.” he greeted. She was pouring hot water into a flask. Nneoma was fully dressed, which meant she was almost set to leave for her shop at Idumota market.
“Good morning.” she responded. In the past, she would have added, ‘how was your night?’ These days, she did not find it necessary. The responsibility she bore, since her husband died, had made her loose some of the niceties that were formerly hers. Jerry also made her burden heavy. Years back, Jerry had been her favourite—unsaid, but evident. Nneoma’s love for Jerry had grown after a prophet who had been invited to their church had later prophesied that Jerry would eventually become wealthy and also a prominent minister of God.
A thought crossed his wind, and he gave voice to it without much consideration. “How was your night?”
Nneoma was obviously surprised, and pleased. “Fine. Thank you.” Though she did not reciprocate the question, Evans did not mind. “There’s bread on the dining.” she said as she dropped the kettle that previously held the hot water she had poured into the flask. “Collect just enough, so there would be some remaining to eat with the beans in the fridge, in the afternoon.” Evans nodded, though he knew the message ought to be directed to his brother. He heard the sound of the bathroom door open, and he remembered his full bladder.
As Evans used the sponge on his slim, five feet eight inches body; his mind drifted to the events of the previous day in school. And it remained there for a while. Then he considered his father’s death, and the change in circumstance that caused him to be enrolled at Michael Adeshina college.
His thought went to the assignment on the reading table, and he hastened with his bath, pouring water on his body to wash away the soap, and dirt. Evans had spent more time than he anticipated, as the assignment on electrolysis had proved to be more complex than the examples the teacher had given. The constant drifts he allowed himself—while he wrestled with the calculations—also contributed to the delay. First, he had written on a piece of paper ‘I’m too bad to be seen hanging with a gay dude’—words Emeka had said to him. Then the words made him remember their first year in secondary school, and he remembered Femi—the boy who had peculiar characteristics that made most of his mates to avoid him. Femi was also famous for spotting repeated erections—sadly, whenever he sat close to a boy. Emeka, who shared a seat with Femi, soon found a new partner, leaving Femi alone. No one had used the term ‘gay’, but now Evans knew that was the right word for Femi. At that time, Femi’s actions were just unnatural enough for him to be avoided. Femi did not resume the next session. And a rumour soon peaked. It started with Gbolahun. He claimed that Femi had travelled during the holidays, and had died in his village. No one bothered to confirm how true the claim was. Maybe it was just a perfect escape, to rid their young minds from the thought of an unnatural boy.
Evans picked up his towel, and he remembered the piece of paper he had left in his chemistry notebook. On it he had written the names of three girls—all pretty; intelligent; popular; and in SS one, science department. Evans knew he would rather die than become another Femi. Before he had retired to bed, he had concluded the assignment and a decision to date Jacinta, the fairest among the three girls.
As Evans dried his body, he made himself believe that he could keep up with the part. He imagined Jacinta being in the bathroom with him, and he moved closer to the wall, fueling his imagination that he was moving closer to her. Evans touched the bathroom wall with his hands, body and penis.
He turned as he realised that someone had turned the knob of the bathroom door. “Who’s that?” he questioned.
“Brother, I’m ready for school.” he heard his younger sister say. Evans immediately recognised that he had stayed too long in the bathroom. “Hurry, I don’t want to go late.”
“I’m coming.” Evans said. He smiled. While he spoke with his sister, his hands had been busy with his penis. “I’m coming.” he repeated loudly, as his semen hit the bathroom wall, exactly where he had imagined Jacinta’s vagina would be.
“Don’t get pregnant, please.” he said to the wall. Then he smiled again.