Evans had his eyes shut as Imabong’s lips touched his, and it remained so only for an extra second. In that brief moment, he had recalled a sentence from the novel in his bag; a sentence marked with red ink: Amy let her lips linger on his, and Jôse fed on the warmth and love.
Evans considered the open door, and it reminded him that Koboko, as the Vice-principal was ordinarily called, was usually among the last to leave the school each day—in his old Volkswagen car. It also reminded him that Imabong had omitted Koboko from the list of those who would stay a reasonable distance from the biology labouratory. Evans pulled from her grip, with an added reason—Imabong’s lips had a terrible taste. Evans was sure he would throw up if Imabong came that close again.
“I suggest you start sweeping now, or I’ll do it myself.” he said, his voice—a bit—shaky. Evans was certain he would have preferred the words, ‘Don’t bother sweeping, just go.’
“Maybe you are just a virgin.” Imabong said coldly. The stress in her sentence fell on the word—just. Evans quickly figured that virginity would be a state to be despised, if Imabong was given the task to set a new order. He marveled at her confidence. Evans could bet on anything, being fully persuaded, that Imabong had had sex in school. “Tell me the truth,” she continued, “have you had sex before?” Imabong looked straight at him.
Evans returned her gaze, and said, “I’m not a virgin.” Imabong smiled. Evans did not. He made himself believe that he had lied. But in fairness, Evans could not exactly pick the description that fitted him best—a virgin or not. He was not sure the extent a boy could go before he actually lost it. A thought crept in, one he always wished never happened. He promptly pushed the thought away.
Imabong edged close. Then a step closer. And finally, her breasts pressed against his chest. Her hands found rest on his chest—just a little space, on each side, that her large breasts were willing to share. Evans stood still, for a moment, expectant. He smiled, realising he had expected too much from himself. Imabong smiled too, but for a different reason. And her hands started a slow trail down his chest, reaching for the bump on the crotch point of his trouser. Evans took steps backwards; he knew that Imabong had mistakenly taken the bump for an erect penis.
“I’m off.” He announced, picking up his bag from where he had left it. As Evans walked to the door, he reassured himself that it was the right time to leave. He did not mind what Imabong would think of him, conceivably she might rate him high—if none had turned her down before. But, what occupied him most was the knowledge that he had prevented Imabong from reaching the emptiness in the extended crotch point of his trouser.
“Wait,” Imabong called out. “At least let’s go home together.”
Evans did not consider the request. He had reached a conclusion before Imabong was done speaking. “I’ve already wasted more time than I anticipated.” Evans said. He remembered the ritual with his trousers, and his hands made the required adjustments. Before he made an exit, Evans said, “Here’s the padlock, the key is with your mother.”
As Evans stepped out of the labouratory, he made a quick search, trying to find the lanky Vice-principal. He only saw the Vice-principal’s car under the coconut tree. Then he saw Emeka approaching. Evans swallowed and quickened his steps, trying to bridge the gap between them. He was sure he had earlier seen Emeka walk past the gate.
“What are you doing here?” Evans asked.
“I forgot my chemistry textbook.” Emeka responded. His words reminded Evans that the chemistry teacher had given instruction that the assignment must be submitted before seven-thirty the following morning.
“You finished quite fast with Mrs. Bassey,” Emeka continued. “I thought you would be there, at least, for another hour.” He said as they climbed the stairs, Evans some stairs ahead of him. “Why are you in a hurry, like its your books we’re going to get?” Emeka asked as he hurried to catch up with his friend. A thought occurred to him as he neared Evans, so he asked, “Was your babe there while you re-arranged?” The possibility of Evans and Imabong being in close proximity had gotten him excited, and it showed on his face. Emeka had a smile too.
“Imabong of course.” Emeka answered, conscious enough not to allow Evans’ irrelevant question to quench his excitement. Evans hissed, and Emeka’s smile broadened. Evans remained quiet. But he increased his speed on the stairs that led to the last floor of the building. Emeka followed after him. “Answer me nah.” Emeka begged. “Was Imabong there?”
“Oh boy!” Emeka exclaimed. “Tell me all that happened.” Emeka’s expression showed that his excitement had just been fueled.
“Nothing.” Evans responded as they approached the door to their classroom. He allowed Emeka to enter while he remained at the door. “Just get the textbook and let’s go home.” Evans took steps away from the door, unto the corridor, just in time to see Imabong throw away the sand she had gathered in a dustpan. He walked back to door, but this time he did not remain there.
“You act like you don’t have feelings for any girl.” Emeka said. He had already placed the textbook in his bag, which meant it was time to leave. Evans heard a bang, and he knew it was Imabong securing the door of the labouratory. This is not the time to leave, he muttered to himself.
Its not like I don’t have those feelings,” Evans heard himself say. He had not thought of those words, the need to keep Emeka in the classroom a little longer must have drawn the words out of him. It was a welcome line, judging from the smile Emeka nursed. Evans decided to pursue it further. “I don’t just know how to explain myself.” Evans said, helping himself to a seat. He prayed Emeka would do same. Emeka did not.
“Or, are you gay?”
The question took Evans by surprise, but he answered promptly. “God forbid!” he said. Evans did not miss Emeka’s expression—one which showed that a contrary response was not welcome. Its for our good that you remain ignorant, he mused.
“So, what’s your problem?”
“Ok. Fine. Nothing else, I’m too bad to be seen hanging with a gay dude.” Emeka said, with a playful punch at Evans’ left shoulder. Evans smiled. It settled well in his heart that he had to fully embrace a life that was not truly his—thanks to Emeka’s words. “You’re sitting like you don’t want to go home again.”
“Let’s go,” Evans said, same time, raising to his feet. His voice noticeably weak. It pained him that Emeka did not notice. “Let’s go.” he repeated.