Chapter Four: Gone

“Why would he stay the night when he has a home?”

Joan stared at the floor.

“You have not given me a tangible reason, Joan. He cannot just stay the night whenever he wishes. He has parents, he has a home. He needs to be more responsible. So, NO King cannot stay the night. If you don’t have anything else important to say, you can leave my room. I am angry with you enough.”

Her mother turned the other way on her bed, concentrating on whatever it was she was doing on her phone. She sighed, shuffling her feet. She wanted to tell her mother the truth, everything about King but there was something holding her back, something she couldn’t quite figure out.

“Mum, please. I wouldn’t ask you if it wasn’t necessary, he'd leave very early tomorrow morning, I promise.”

Her mother didn’t reply. She moved the distance and stood in front of her.

“Its late. You can’t expect him to go out by this time.”

“I’m pretty sure the streets are still overflowing with people. He better leave now.” her mother answered, not looking up at her.

“Please…” she pleaded. Her mother sighed, now looking up at her.

“Give me a good reason.” she said.

“He's my best friend.” she offered, pouting ; trying to lighten the tense atmosphere.

“You already spend a lot of time with him if that is what you’re after. You can see him tomorrow. I have no major objections.” her mother stared impatiently.

“Its not that…”

“Then what!?” her mother flared up, sitting up on the bed, “ You think I am in support of your relationship with him! I only allow it to respect you, your privacy! That boy is a rascal! Coming here with injuries after injuries, keeping late nights and behaving all sorts of odd. If you want my opinion, you better stay away from him!”

“You say that because you don’t know!” She cried, “You don’t understand!”

Her mother closed her eyes then opened them after some seconds.

“Then make me understand, Joan. Make me understand why you of all people will be friends with such a person. Make me understand what secret the both of you are guarding so closely.”

“He saved my life” she whispered, her voice breaking, “Mama, he saved my life.”

“And you have thanked him.” her mother spoke, pulling her down to the bed, “You have thanked him, I have thanked him. You have stuck with him through these years, you don’t owe him anything anymore. Don’t you see you just feel indebted to him? You don’t actually care for him. Baby, it’s time to let him go.”

She shook her head, “ It’s more than that, mum. Very much more than that.” she insisted, thinking back to that day.


12 year old Joan ran around, playing by herself since the other kids refused to play with her. It was the birthday party of one of her mother’s friend's daughter and they had been invited. It was held at the celebrant’s house, at the pool though it wasn’t a pool party. They all had on party wears and she wasn’t excluded. Her pink gown got her a lot of attention and it made her shy.

“Hey, watch it, Pink girl!” a boy her age shouted after bumping into her on purpose.

“You bumped into me!” she shouted back, incredulous. One thing she had been when she was younger was pompous. Nobody dared push her down.

“Liar! You bumped into me!” the boy shouted, increasing his tone deliberately.

“Apologize.” an adult who had come up to them ordered her.

“No way!” she stomped her boot clad foot on the ground.

“He…” she said, poking the boy in the forehead, “bumped into me so he is the one to apologize.”

“You’re the inferior one here, young pink miss. Respect your superiors.” a teenage girl said. The birthday crowd had gathered around them.

She sneered, “ He is my agemate and if there should be an older one, it would definitely not be him.” she said, defiantly.

“Sissy” the boy poked her head, laughing hard, “ That’s not what we meant.”

“Don’t touch me.” she snapped at him.

“What we meant dear” an elderly woman spoke kindly, “ Is that you’re the odd one out here, the only black person.”

Her face scrunched up in confusion, “ What does that have to do with anything? It’s just colour.”

“Well everything.” the boy smirked.

Her nose flared in anger. She realized she was outnumbered and she would never win so she stomped off, pushing through the circle roughly to look for the next odd person. Her mother. She wasn’t the only black after all; her mother was half Nigerian, half Asian.

“Hey you!” the boy shouted hurrying after her. He had pushed her just as she made to climb into the corridor where chairs were arranged. It wasn’t his push that made her fall, in fact, she had regained her balance immediately. It was something else, something that she hadn't seen, something sharp and painful that had hit her on her forehead, like a stone, right after she regained her balance. She had tripped on her dress and stumbled backwards into the pool.

She had screamed and shouted; she didn’t know how to swim; but no one came to her aid. She swallowed water, lots of it and the water pushed her down and down…. Then she had faintly heard a splash and suddenly she was being lifted out of the water. Before she lost consciousness, King’s face had already been etched in her memory.


Joan walked wearily down the stairs. He mother still didn’t allow King to spend the night. He would have to go back home. She appreciated him coming over almost everyday but she didn’t like that he was spending a lot of money on it. He didn’t have much yet he spent a good amount each day, going back and forth. No matter how many times she pleaded, he wouldn’t let he visit him, she didn’t even know his address.


“King?” she called when she stepped into the sitting room and didn’t find him there.

She checked the kitchen and her room and the guest room but there was no sign of him.

King was gone.

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