Chapter Three

                                                  ~Fola~

I took another deep breath as I entered the classroom with my new class teacher. He did not look at me oddly when he saw me. He only smiled and introduced himself to me as Mister Williams. I entered the classroom with my eyes fixed at the back of the classroom. My eyes scanned the whole classroom, taking in the students just like they were taking me in. They were talking in hushed whispers as they openly stared at me.

"Decorum Guys."

Mr Williams voice was authoritative and the whole class fell quiet at that.

"Now, that's more like Lakeview's students."

Someone chuckled loudly and I, alongside the rest of the class turned to the direction of the class. It was a petite looking girl whose face was lined with probably a marker. She has a very pretty face.

"I'm sorry sir. That was a slip of........."

She trailed off and someone else chiped in.

"....... a slip of laughter."

That was followed by deep laughter from the whole class and even Mr Williams smiled.

"Alright Alright then. Let's welcome the new student."

The class's attention turned  to me again and I felt like retreating into a safe corner. Maybe this was a bad idea. How'd I survive a year with all these strangers?

"My dear, introduce yourself."

He stepped back and I moved forward a little. I could feel my heart pick up race again and I instinctively reached for my pulse. The last thing I needed was to have a panic attack in front of all these strangers.

"Hi, I'm Folashade Coker, I've been homeschooled because of obviously..." I gestured to my face and they started talking again. Mr Williams gestured for them to keep quiet again.

"I'd like to experience high school life and that's why I'm here. I'd very much like if you don't stare at my face too much, it's not only bad, it's really rude."

They started talking again, this time more energized than earlier. The girl with lines on her face smiled brightly at me and I looked away.

"Guys, please!" They fell silent again and Mr Williams stepped forward.

"So, that's that about that. I hope you guys get along well. Now, Fola, go and sit down over there."

He pointed to the only empty seat in the class. It was beside the girl with lines on her face. I took another deep calming breaths before walking to the seat. I sat down quietly.

"Now, I'll leave you guys to get settled for the day."

And with that, he left and the whole class started talking at once. I couldn't make out what they were even saying. I busied myself with reading a text from my English textbook. I could feel eyes on me but I did not look up.

"Hey."

Someone tapped my desk and I looked up, it was the girl with lines on her face. She was smiling.

"I'm Moji. It's nice to meet you."

I stared at her pretty face and all of a sudden, her face started to shift form until it totally changed into my sisters face. A small gasp escaped my mouth and I instantly leaned back into my seat.

"Are you okay?"

She asked again, her voice laced with worry. I shook my head just as our first teacher entered the class.

Then I concluded I should try as much as possible to ignore the girl beside me.

                           ***********

I've missed how it feels like to have teachers enter the class and teach different subjects, to have teachers ask students different questions. To have students raise their hands to ask questions, to have a student make a joke about something in class. I've missed being in a class, sitting in a class and listening to the teachers explain something to the class.

"So this means that the price increased skyrocketedly."

The English teacher said after reading out a short passage from our English textbook and the whole class burst into laughter.

"Eeh eeh. Ebo yii naani."

Someone shouted from the back of the class and the laughter heightened. I couldn't help the smile the formed on my lips.

"Isaiah, don't be an ignoramus idiot."

The teacher cautioned and the laughter heightened again. The man was speaking through his nose and it was difficult making out what he was saying, especially with his big grammars and all.

"Guys! Keep quiet."

His words did not shut them up but his glare did and the laughter started to quiet down, until it reduced to low whispers.

"What's so difficult in skyrocket. Sky means high, rocket is something that flies up in the sky so definitely the meaning should be something very high. So what's the big deal there?"

He paused, allowing his words to sink in.

"Learning English words isn't that hard. Most of the so called cumbersome words have simple meanings. You just have to open your ears and eyes"

Gooooooong.

The bell went off and I exhaled. That was the 5th period that just ended so that means we were in the lunch break.

"Okay, guys. That would be all for today. Read the second page and answer the questions. See you guys next class."

He walked out of the class and the noise in the class grew immediately. My new classmates miled out in twos and threes. I closed my textbook, was putting it in my bag when I felt someone's eyes on me. I looked up to see Moji staring at me. Most of the lines on her face were faded now.

"Hey. Do you want to go to the cafeteria together?"

I muttered a quiet no before focusing my attention on nothing on my desk. She paused for a little, no doubt trying to figure out what my deal was until she probably gave up and she walked out of the classroom. I stared at her retreating back. She was so small that she could easily pass for a primary 6 student.

"Hi Fola."

I looked up to see Peju staring down at me. I had completely forgotten about her. One girl with a mean face was standing beside her.

"We've had a hectic day and I did not even have the time to say hi."

I stared at her, taking a minute to understand what she was talking about.

"Are you in this class?"

She nodded. "Of course. I sit right there."

I followed her pointed hand to the very back of the classroom. Oh. I did not even know we were in the same class.

"Oh, my bad. Meet my friend, Tina, Tina, meet Fola, a family friend."

I stared at the Tina who was busy studying at my face as if she was going to write an exam on it. Our eyes met and she hurriedly looked away, a small smile on her lips.

"Hi. Nice to meet you."

I smiled at her. I knew it wasn't nice to meet me. I disliked people who stare at my face openly like that. Which basically include everybody.

Peju sat down on the chair right in front of me and she crossed her legs on her laps.

"We normally spend the break in the cafeteria but we can just stay in the class today. I don't think you'd want to be visible to that much people."

I stared at her. If I thought I dislike her yesterday then I have to conclude now that I totally dislike her and her guts. I smiled.

"We should definitely go to that cafeteria. I know what I want. I really don't want you concluding this is what I'd want and this is what I wouldn't want."

Her mouth dropped in a small surprised O and it took a total of 10 seconds for her to regain her composure. She smiled again.

"I'm sorry. I totally forgot what you said yesterday. We should definitely go."

Then she stood up and she started walking out of the classroom, her friend right on her tail.

I closed my eyes, heaved a sigh before I stood up. I knew I wouldn't get to like her but I need her to show me how things are done for the next one week or so.

                            *********

"So how was school today?"

Mom asked, a voice a little low. I did not even understand why she lowered her voice. We were both in the kitchen, cooking dinner and I could hear dad and Daniel talking excitedly over a football match. Our evening routine had been like this for a very long time. Except that the routine never include me being asked questions like how was school today. The most questions I got were: Did you enjoy today's class? How was your new teacher? Hope it wasn't really boring for you to stay at home alone?

So when mom asked me that question, I smiled and I realized that I've smiled the most today. Even the forced ones.

"It was fine. You know, I've forgotten how it is to sit in a classroom and wait for teachers to teach us different subjects. Infact, I've forgotten how it feels like to be student."

I couldn't see mom's face but I could picture her smiling over the sizzling sound the pot of soup that she was making. Our backs were to each other. I was washing plates and she was stiring the pot of soup. I dried the last plate, dried my hands and turned back to lean against the sink. Mom turned back too and I could still see the huge smile plastered on her face.

"So, did you make any new friends?"

"I got closer with Peju."

I lied easily. I mastered the act of lying to my parents a long time ago. I did not want them to know the amount of pain I was always in so I resorted into lying to them.

"Oh, that's nice. She's a very sweet girl."

I nodded even though mom was really wrong. Peju was no sweet girl. We spent just 20 minutes together in the cafeteria and she pointed out thr fact that I wasn't normal in nothing less than 5 times. I choose not to allow her words get to me. The group counselor's favorite words were people's words don't define you and you shouldn't allow their words to get to you. So I ignored Peju's words. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even want to have anything to do with her.

"Hope your classmates are nice too?" She turned back to the soup and she started stirring it again. "No bullies? No one made you feel....?"

"Mom, no bullies at all. People are too caught up in their own affairs to even have time to think about someone else."

If at all, there was a bully, it would be Peju with her too wide eyes.

"Good, I'm sure you're going to have a fun filled year."

"Definitely."

I replied her but I don't know why I felt more like I was trying to convince myself than to reaffirm mom's words.

                             ***********

                                 ~Moji~

"So, her parents came to school yesterday. She was homeschooled for five years after the accident so she doesn't know much about how school works and all that."

I nodded. I was sitting in front of Mr Williams, we were in his office. He had sent for me earlier this morning and I was only chanced to see him just now. I had no idea he was going to talk about the new girl. I don't know why I took an instant liking to the girl. It's being two days since we resumed and I've tried to strike a conversation with more than 6 times, the most she did was to nod at my words or answer in monosyllables. That still did not deter me.

"So, you're probably the nicest girl in your class....."

My lips stretched into a smile at the compliment.

"I'd like you to be nice to her. Try to show her how things are done around here. Get to know her. She has been through so much. We all need to be nicer to her."

I swallowed and crossed my hands over my chest,right below my breast. I already knew there were more to the new girl than the obvious scars on her face. It was a fire accident, obviously and even much more than the physical pain she must have gone through, she must still be going to deep emotional ones. I couldn't even start to imagine.

"So, that's why I invited you here. You know how ignorant your classmates could be and...."

He trailed off but I already got what he was going on about. He wants me to be her friend. I was already going to do that except the girl in question seems to dislike me. If not, why would see keep ignoring me while she practically became Peju's friend in less than 8 hours.

And that girl was bad news. I did not even want to start to think of the atrocities she was capable of doing.

"Okay Sir. I'll do just..."

I was cut off by the loud knock on the door and I instinctively turned back.

"Come in."

A new boy I've not seen before entered the room and I had to tilt my head back to see his face. Deep black orbs stared right back at me. He has a very pretty face and his lips were curved right into a sensual smile. I fleetingly wondered if he always looked like this. How would girls be able to concentrate if a guy looks like this all the time?

He smiled at me, no, it was more like a chuckle and it almost as if he knew I find him attractive, as if he somehow have an hold over me because of that. I eyed him before turning back to Mr Williams.

"Good Morning Sir, I was directed to you by the principal. I'm a transfer student sir."

If I thought he has a pretty face, then, his voice must be prettier. Deep, sexy, resonating and his accent, oh wow, the words rolled off his lips as if they've been living there for a very long time. Geez.

But what exactly does he mean by transfer student? Surely, it couldn't be what I was thinking.

"Oh, you must be Oyeleke Balogun."

"Yes Sir."

I was already feeling unwanted so I started to stand up.

"I'll just return to the class now, sir."

"Oh! You should take him along with you. He's the new student in your class."

I sat down back. What? When did Lakeview start allowing this much new student in their final class?

"Have him introduce himself to the class. I know that's my job but I'm too busy right now."

He said with a note of finality and I muttered okay sir. I stood up and I instantly moved back because the new boy was standing right beside the chair. I barely reached his chest and I've never felt more conscious of my height than now.

Well, I'm not that short. He's the giant.

"We should probably start going."

Was that excitement and teasing I detected in his voice? I really hoped not.

I walked out of the office without a backward glance and I kept walking to academic block without caring about him following me or not.

"Wow, slow down. Even with my long legs, I can't seems to keep up with your pace."

Then cut them if they're that useless.

I did not answer and I intentionally increased my pace till we climbed the stairs and we got to the classroom. The class that was once rowdy and loud became quiet once we entered and I knew it was because of the new boy.

"So apparently, we have a new student again. He'll introduce himself now."

Still not looking at him, I walked to my seat and I sat down. Fola was writing something on her notepad and it looked like she wasn't even interested in anything going on in the class.

I crossed my arms over my chest and I fixed my eyes on the new boy. Staring at him like this, he looked oddly family which was wierd because I was pretty sure we've not seen each other before.

"Hey new classmates, my name is Jamal Oyeleke Balogun, I'd prefer you call me Leke. I'm a transfer student from Abuja and I'm pretty sure we're going to get along."

Someone actually started clapping and I could get everything that it was Isaiah. That boy and sense are like parallel lines, they'd never meet. My mates were talking in whispers again and I knew most of the whisperers were girls.

"Leke, welcome to Lakeview High and I'm pretty sure we'd get along."

I did not even need to turn back to know it was Peju. She was already probably thinking about getting to date the new boy. Well, good for them then. Who cares?

The new boy- Leke's eyes scanned the entire lenght of the classroom before his eyes finally zeroed on the only empty chair in the classroom. It was beside Tobi's seat and he walked to the seat. I exchanged a glance with Tobi who only shrugged before focusing his attention back on the new boy.

"Why did you add again when you wanted the new boy earlier?"

It took me a while to realize that it was Fola who spoke and that her question was directly at me. I turned to look at her but her eyes was still fixed on the notepad even though her pen stopped moving on it. That's good except that I couldn't make a sense out of what she just asked.

"Excuse me?"

"You said we have a new student again when you were introducing him earlier? Again sounded very much like you guys don't want new students or that the first new student was a bad news."

My eyebrows raised in confusion as I did not understand a bit of what she just said. I only added again because I dislike the new boy's gut. It totally has nothing to do with her.

"It was rude. You adding again."

Wow. I started to say something but I was cut off by the Economics teacher who just entered the classroom.

Oh wow.

That was what was on my mind throughout the day.

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