Chapter Four

                                                    ~Moji~

                                                       

"It's basically a mission impossible to talk to Fola. She's a pro at ignoring people."

It has being a week since we resumed and I was sitting in the love garden of Lakeview with Tobi who was so engrossed in solving the rubics cube in his hands. He was busy twisting and turning the cube that I doubted if he remembered I was sitting beside him, not to talk of hearing me.

"And why are you so hell bent on talking to her? If she's ignoring you, then you should ignore her too."

So he actually heard me. He just decided to prioritize his rubics cube over me.

"Tobi, can you try to be a little nicer? I can't just ignore her. Besides, our class teacher told me to be nicer to her. She has not being in a normal school in...."

His hands stilled around the rubics cube and he looked up then.

"Oh. Is that why you're so hell bent on talking to her? Because you were instructed to?"

I raised my eyebrows at the tone he was using for me. It was the tone most mothers would use to chastise their kids.

"If that's the reason why you want to be one closer to her, then just leave her be. I don't even understand why Mr Williams would ask you to do something like that in the first place."

"Well, that's not the reason. I already liked her way before I was asked to do that."

He raised his eyebrows and the left side of his lips twitched upwards.

"Are you sure you're straight because I'm starting to have a rethink with the way you said I already like her?"

"Oh, what would you do if I wasn't straight? That means you'd have to be single for the rest of your life." I shook my head and put my left hand on my chest. "Tragic dear."

He looked at me as if I had grown two heads before he turned back to the cube. "You're the one that's tragic here."

I shrugged. "You still like me like that."

"I like the rubics cube more than I like you."

"I can't even start to argue with you. Let's see if you'll be able to say that after we graduate."

He raised his eyebrows before he continued his game again. It was no news that Tobi likes me, he never hide that and I probably like him too. He has been my best friend since forever; Since JSS1.

"I don't know why I like Fola though. Maybe because when I saw her, I instinctively concluded on the kind of personality she must have and she proved me wrong with the very first words she said."

He did not say anything and when I  turned to look at him, his lips were stretched into a smile.

And I had absolutely no idea why he was smiling.

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

"Read the next page in preparation for the next class because I'm going to ask you questions next class and don't slack around, tests are around the corner. Close your eyes, open them and it's the fourth week already."

Our Biology teacher said with a note of finality and she left the class. The class broke into loud whispers as they started to converse among themselves. Fola was writing in her notepad. She was always writing in that notepad. It's being 12 days since resumption and we've not said a word to each other since she basically told me off for being rude.

She has an obnoxious air about it and it was almost like, she wasn't interested in allowing anybody to get to know her and she wasn't interested in getting to know anybody too except Peju whom she spend time with occasionally.

Speaking about Peju, I couldn't help but to notice that she has gotten close with Leke too. Not like I particularly care. He did not even take long for him to settle down fully. I turned to look at Tobi but looking at Tobi meant looking at Leke. They were both engrossed in the rubics cube in their hands. It looked like they were playing to see who'd finish first. I kept watching them until Leke finished his and he looked up triumphantly. His eyes met mine and his lips twitched up in a lopsided grin. I looked away.

Now, he'd think I was staring at him. Too bad.

You were doing just that!

                             ***********

                                 ~Fola~

It's either people care too much or they don't care at all. When people care too much, it's almost like there's an edge of fakeness to it. Especially for someone like me.

It was after our group session and Adesua, our counselor had asked to see me separately. I actually stopped private sessions Seven months ago when we were certain my nightmares had ended.

I sat in front of the large woman with glasses sitting on the elm of her nose. It almost looks the glasses weren't aiding her eyes but her nose.

I remembered the first time I was brought to her. That was five years ago. I was tired, battered, broken, the scars were still healing up, it was difficult walking around. At that time, I just wanted to fall into a very deep slumber and never wake up.

I still feel like that sometimes.

But I was never going to voice that out to anybody. Not even Miss Adesua.

She closed and dropped the documents in her hands on the table. She turned to look at me with a smile on her petite face. Her eyes were warm and friendly, yet they were scrutinizing. It was almost like she could read pass the lies and walls of facade I've built around me over the years. I matched my expression, offering her a smile of my own.

"So School girl. How are you doing?"

I burst into laughter at the choice of her words.

"I'm fine. Who'd have thought I'd be called a school girl just five months ago?"

"Exactly!" She leaned forward on her chair and she folded her hands on the desk separating us. "So, tell me. How has it been for you? Adapting to school life."

I paused for a while, allowing myself to think about how it has actually been for me. I heaved a sigh.

"Strange at first..." I started, then trailed off. "Yeah. Strange because I've forgotten how everything used to be like or feel like, morning devotions, classes, L&D periods, extra-curricular activities, eating with friends in the cafeteria and every other thing too. So it was really strange and hard at first but now, I'm starting to get accustomed to it."

She nodded. "Good! So any new friends? You should surely have a friend by now. It's two weeks now since you resumed."

"I don't know if this particular girl count as a friend. She's mom daughter's friend. She's cool and charming and all that but I don't think we've spent five minutes together without her indirectly pointing it out that I'm not normal. But the prospect of ignoring her completely is kind of terrifying. Sometimes being in a toxic relationship is better than being alone."

Adesuwa leaned even more forward.

"Firstly, you're normal."

I nodded. "I know." I've said it to myself countless times that I've believed it even if it was far from being the truth.

"Secondly, it's never better to be in a toxic relationship than to be alone. Infact, it is better to be alone, lonely and sad than to be with people who'd continue to put you down."

I knew she was right but I could just keep ignoring Peju's words and not allowing them to get to me....

"And if you think you can't allow her words to get to you, you're wrong. If you keep being friends with her, it'll not only damage your mental health, you might even end up having a relapse."

I took a deep breath and relaxed fully into my chair. A relapse meant extreme pain, constant headache, nightmares, tears every time, cutting myself, believing I'm a monster.

It was a lane I'd give anything not to go down again.

Adesua was right. Actually, she was never wrong. I shouldn't keep putting up with Peju and her words.

"You're right. I should definitely write her off and I'll do just that."

She nodded and smiled brightly.

"That's the spirit. I trust you anyway. You're strong and you're definitely better off with the Peju girl. Why do I even dislike her already?"

She said with a hint of laughter in her voice and I smiled too. Then she reached out and grabbed my hands that were laying on her desk.

"I'm super proud of you. For you to have come this far, you've done so well."

She gave my hands a small squeeze before finally letting go. I smiled again.

"I should go now. I shouldn't keep the driver waiting any longer than I have already."

"Yeah, sure. We'll see each other next month, right."

"Definitely."

Our group session was once in a month, precisely the last Saturday of the month. I stood up from the chair and started to walk out. I already turned the door knob when she called my name again, I turned back.

"So during our next meet, I'd want to hear about your new friendsss and then, a boyfriend too."

She gave me a suggestive look and I faked a shudder before walking out. A boyfriend ko, an husband ni.

                               **********

Gooong.

It was the bell for lunch break and our civics teacher was even quick to leave the classroom then any of the student.

"Wow wow wow. Looks like someone is really hungry."

Isaiah, the guy I've figured out to be the most senseless in the class joked and the class burst into laughter before they started milling out in twos and threes. Peju and minion walked right up to me.

"Hey girlfriend, ain't you going for lunch."

I heaved a sigh. I did not even understand why she was calling me girlfriend. It was pretty obvious that she did not like me and she was only talking to me because of our parents.

"Actually, I promised Moji that I'd eat with her today."

Moji looked up from the book she was reading, a startled expression on her face. Peju looked away from me to look at Moji, eyebrows raised before looking back at me.

"Right! You should have fun then."

Then she walked away, her minion right on her tails.

"You promised to eat with me today?"

Moji asked, pointing an index finger at her chest. "Oh, am I missing something?"

"I had to get rid of her."

She started to nod, muttering oh oh and returning her attention back to her novel.

"But is it a bad idea if ask to eat with you?" She looked at me again and I subconsciously grabbed a strand of my air and twisted it with my fingers. "You don't have to agree. That was st....."

"Of course not, you're always welcome to eat with me. I invited you on the first day but you turned me down, remember? It's good that you're the one offering now."

She said all at once, excitement laced in her voice. It was almost like she had a price she'd collect because I talked to her. Her excitement was so contagious that I smiled subconsciously.

"Hey cute baby, are we skipping lunch today?"

We turned back to see two boys standing behind us. One was the guy that was always hanging out with Moji and the other was the guy that joined the class after me.

"Tobi, I've told you to stop calling me that name. I know I'm cute but I'm not a baby."

I burst into laughter without meaning to and the three of them turned to look at me.

"Oh sorry. I did not mean to laugh."

I said but my body was still shaking with laughter and it was hard keeping a blank face when I really felt like laughing.

"So you don't think I'm cute?" The girl in question asked, her left hand on her chest. She looked so cute and like a baby that I started to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

"Of course not. You're so cute...." Her face started to lit up. "....and you look like a baby too." She sobered up immediately and I started to laugh again. I did not even remember the last time I had laughed like this. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to be her friend.

"Okay then, at least we all agree that I'm cute..."

"I don't agree."

That was the other guy and Moji ignored him as if she did not even hear him at all.

"Let's go and eat now, we have less than 20 minutes left."

She stood up and I started to stand up too when I  felt someone's eyes on me, I looked up to see Tobi looking at me.

At the scars on my face obviously.

Except it wasn't that. He wasn't even looking at that side. He was looking at the other side that was completely untouched and I instinctively looked away, feeling the beginning of something warm at the pit of my stomach.

It was the first time someone would look at me like that.

"So Tobi, my new friend would eat with us today."

Her new friend? Really?

"Oh. No probs. Leke would eat with us too."

I did not miss the bad eye Moji gave the Leke and I definitely did not miss his own nonchalant shrug.

"Alright then, we should go now."

I followed them quietly to the cafeteria. Tobi and Leke conversed in things I did not understand through the entire short journey. It was more like they were speaking in another language. I've not being in the presence of a male in a very long time. My brother obviously did not count and my partners at the counseling sessions did not count either.

The menu was only one today so we had to order the same thing. After ordering, Moji, the cute little thing led us to the middle of the cafeteria where the chairs and tables there were long enough to accommodate 30 students. Some students already sat at the far end of chairs and we sat in the middle.

The few times I had ate with Peju and her minion, she had insisted that we sit at the far end of the cafeteria. Obviously because of me, so that that much people wouldn't stare at me. When I insisted that I was fine with sitting anywhere, she had maintained her stance on doing that to protect me because that was the instructions she was given.

Screw her and her stupid protection.

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