The night was windy and cold. The sky was half covered in rain clouds while the other half was decorated with sparks of twinkling stars and the half moon in their middle. Trees waved their leaves, moving in what ever direction the wind took them.
The time was 9:05PM and almost everyone was still awake in the Okoji family house. It was a four bedroom bungalow and the only flat in the compound. Mr. Okoji liked it that way. He didn't want close neighbours because he didn't want their trouble, especially if the so called neighbours were actually gossipers.
That night, everyone went about his or her own night activities while anticipating bed time. Dinner had long been over and the dishes washed. Mr and Mrs. Okoji watched the 9 o, clock news in the sitting room while the children either read their books, played or chatted away happily in their separate rooms. The boys had their own rooms, the girls had theirs and there was a spare room for visitors.
While the other girls were in the boys' room, playing or reading, Nkechi remained in the girls' room. She laid face up on the bed and stared unwavering at the ceiling. Not even the rotating blades of the staggering fan could make her flinch. Her mind had traveled back to the birthday party she attended earlier. Most importantly, her mind went to her meeting with Alex. She couldn't help but remember his stark, handsome features, neither could she forget the rippling muscles underneath his fitted native attire. She remembered his face, his lips especially and his charming smile. Unconsciously, she smiled too.
"And what's making her smile?" Her elder sister asked. She had just stepped into the room when she saw Nkechi smiling dreamily. Although she was in her night dress, she looked beautiful and very homely; her hair neatly tucked beneath an orange hair net.
Realizing she had been caught, Nkechi quickly straightened her face as she looked in her sister's direction. "Nothing. I'm just remembering something Bose did today at school" She lied.
"I'm not a baby Nkechi." Her sister countered, moving closer to stand by the bed. There was a knowing smile playing around her lips as she spoke her next words. "That smile I saw just now has absolutely nothing to do with Bose. Are you seeing a man?" She asked.
"Wha....what? No!" Nkechi denied flat. Her sister's correct interpretation of the situation completely caught her off guard. But she did her best to throw her sister off the right path. "I won't dare! You know how mummy and daddy feel about such things. They'll kill me if I do that."
"Well I'm not daddy or mummy." Her sister said, sitting on the bed. "I'm your sister. Tell me the truth so I can advise you wisely."
"Ah, ah, Sister. I've told you now. There is no man or boyfriend anywhere. If there was I would have told you."
"I still find that hard to believe. You are beautiful. Men will trip and toast you senseless. Give them a chance if you want." She advised. "But don't spread your legs for them. Men are evil."
"You mean some men?"
"I mean all men. Take it from me. I know. Anyway, since you have denied that there is a man, I will let you be. But if I see that smile on your face again, just know that this conversation will repeat itself and it will not end until I get the truth out of you."
"No problem big sis. You can knock yourself out. You won't get anything because there is nothing."
"Ok." She took what she came for and left her younger sister to be. As soon as she was out the door, Nkechi turned the other way and chuckled lightly. Oh, only if her sister knew what was really up.
"By the way what's wrong with you?" She thought. "Just lying there and smiling sheepishly. What am I doing? I should be picking out something for tomorrow's meeting."
She got off the bed and walked over to the wardrobe. There she looked through her clothes, trying to find something suitable she could wear to see Alex the following day, after school. Earlier at the party, they had promised to see each other the next day at one of the famous eatries along Muritala Muhammad Way. Nkechi wanted to look good. There was just no way she was going to fall her hand in front of Alex. She had to meet up to expectation. She was still going through her clothes when the light went out.
"Ohhhhh!" Everyone chorused randomly from various parts of the house.
The following morning came with all its demands. While Nkechi and her siblings prepared for school, her mother prepared to go to work; she ran a big shopping mall at Surulere. Mr. Okoji on the other hand, prepared to go to the bank where he worked as a customer care agent.
" Nkechi Please come over to my shop after closing hours." Her mother said as she headed towards the front door, already dressed and set to go.
"But mummy I have to be with Bose." She protested.
"Bose again? I thought the party you girls were invited to was yesterday?" Her mother asked, frowning.
"Yes it was." She replied, wincing at her own miscalculation.
"So, why again are you meeting?"
"We are supposed to go to a small library to read. Our final exam is fast approaching you know."
"Yes I know." Her mother sighed. "You will read. You hear? But first meet me before you go. It's very important. I want you to meet someone."
"Ok mummy." She said, resigning to fate.
Within the next thirty minutes, everyone left the house and went about their activities for the day.