“Alone you came into this world, alone shall you leave.”
Every elements of the world were on their own and each day they kept to their demand; the sun to shine in the day and the moon glows in the night, rain falls when its cloud is filled. Who knows if the animals aren’t on their own? If they hide collective actions to be themselves in a single world.
The world is single so everyone is to his business as mother do say, ‘my daughter, if you depend on anyone including me you may be turned down someday! On your own is the capital of this world.’ I wondered if her comment of the world is good.
“Should it be her experience?” I thought. “If so why?” I haven’t been given an explanation on why is everyone individualistic, why when collective actions are planned it’ll end up in commotion and lost of trust.
That once happened between father and some of his business partners, I remembered father yelling on the phone that the attained profit should be equally shared otherwise it will be a battle not planned for.
“Sir, the deal was that the contract will be a fifty-fifty share but not the profit, although wasn’t said but as we brought the contract we’re supposed to get the higher pay. That’s how professional business men do…”
“You must be a cowboy!”
“Sir, we’ve come to conclusion and period.”
Father smiled as their dishonest comment, “I think a lawyer should tell me that.” He cut the call.
“Fools! They tend to exaggerate at their victory.” 
“Honey! Why not let them be, perhaps it’s an eye opener. You now know that Aba men aren’t common men in business.” Mother justified.
“Don’t worry!” Mother bluffed, paying rapt attention to the television. No time for argument, they just concluded one during the weekend and now- three days later another trying to arise. I glimpsed at her knowing that she couldn’t continue to watch me stare at their arguments either about money; attitude, events, lack of responsibility… And others that causes ensues of argument between my parents.
“So this woman has gotten her immoral act to my house…” Father once yelled as he walked inside to find some strange male clothes on the sofa.
“What again!” Mother entered.
“Where is him?”
“Your lover, you pros-“
“Dad enough! Mum bought them as gift for your birthday.” I interrupted.
He grinned as he went into his room with some suspicious stare wondering if we’d coaxed him to a hush.
“Your lover!” As little as a sixteen years old teen, I was in a single world. Father’s statement always make me to think who, I tried to know the so called mother proposed lover that father always emphasize, daily. I observed mother looking young and gorgeous and had never denied rather she just bluff the comment.
“Who told father of that?”
“Juli, this life is not collective. Everyone is on their own, don’t buy anyone’s trust because even your own blood can sell you, don’t be ruled by others opinion otherwise you’ll fail. Alone you came to this world, alone shall you leave…” Mother said as usual.
Then we’re planning dinner before father returns with furious words in his mouth. It was past ten and father hasn’t returned, mother didn’t complain; she’d never, she once mentioned that he closes by six from work- which is about four hours ago.
“Mother but you’re married to father!”
“Yea, but your father has married his job.”
“How mother?” I asked.
“Can’t you see,” mother checked her wristwatch, “it’s past ten and he’s not yet back, what’ll a married man be doing away from his house by this time.”
“But mother it’s better, than he returns and start yelling for dinner.” 
Mother gave a stern look, “how about that! Isn’t him the head of the family?.”
I turned away from mother, was sick and not able to reply; to argue words with her especially about father. I wanted to ask like other times “who’s your lover?” But wished it won’t cause a scenario.
“Mother, who’s… Is… Your… Lo-ver?”  I stuttered as I stared at the table which mother placed her hands, I couldn’t give a direct stare, the fear was strong.
“Your father’s trying to use-“
“No mother!” I interrupted, “just that with father’s constant nagging about it, it…”
“It what!” Mother barked.
I was taken aback.
‘go on!’ my conscience encouraged me.
“…it worries me.” I replied lamely.
Mother sighed as she gave a relaxed breath, “don’t follow your father.”
“He’s always crazy!”
“Mother!” I cried.
“Yes, he’s!”
I stared at my mother, at the two fixed pupils in her eyes, at her look of depression and willingness to say what she had over and again-
“How mother,”
“How does he know I have a lover?”
“So mother you do!” I cut in.
“Juli enough! What kind of joke is that?” Mother digressed her attention to the food on fire.
“Mothers it’s no longer a news.”
“Your lover!”
“Enough Juli!” Mother yelled, “should I tell you about your father, should I?”
I was fed up. She had exclaimed more than my ears can hear, ‘should I say an unfaithful couple!’ I soliloquy.
“A lady called!” Like dream I remembered mother exclaiming. That was precisely a year ago, after my parents marriage anniversary which was also my birthday. July 2nd 2016.
“Who’s she?”
“She said her name is Tracy!”
I turned to father who seemed anticipated to hear if mother will say any more comment, his eyes were fixed on mother.
“She said you both have meeting by…”
“Yea, I know! She’s the bank manager I told you of.”
I wanted to interrupt if mother has forgotten but it was lack of manners to do such. I remembered father once mentioning of the bank manager to be a man, how come the manager has turned to a lady?
“I thought the case was over?”
“Ah-ah! I thought I told you that of the contract Mr Tony and I did that the bank got involved… They need their money.”
“Why not transfer it?”
“This is business transaction not shopping transaction.”
I left the sitting room for my parents as their quarrel was much. Silently I crept into my room which is a bit spacious, the door was shut but the altercation from the sitting room was echoing in my room, the window was widely opened as I wondered if this is the best life to live. If the photocopy of my parents are the originals of life.
I could hear mother, “you’re too crooked!” She echoed.
Few minutes later, I was on my bed having no definite thought. Different monsters were in my room, around me like in an operation room, with some biased results. Their whisper and images put some odd thought to my heart. Lust was taking over as I imagined myself caressing my body, so silly! What joy will I derive from it? I remembered Gloria my best friend who had been so nasty sometimes with some immoral acts.
I remembered that week she exclaimed with tears to me that her boyfriend cheated on her, that he broke her heart. With pity I couldn’t imagine myself being heart broken, not like Gloria that’d done several abortion, has gotten several breakup.
I stared at my nudity as I walked into the bathroom, my eyes were gazing at my chest especially as I could see the reflect on the mirror hung opposite me. I remembered Selina exclaiming the her breast has fallen. I wondered how.
By the time I was out mother was already in my room, on my bed.
“Nne…!” She spoke her Igbo tongue.
“I’m fine mum,” I interrupted with a look at her, trying to know if she was injured by the arguments. “You ain’t good mother.”
“Umm, just stress.” Mother paused, “I knew you were depressed, I saw as you crept out.”
“Um, I know, mother!”
“It’s your father!” She stuttered, “he prefers his sugar girl to staying with his family.” 
“Mother!” I felt bewildered.
“Yea! Your father, his debauched lifestyle is out of control.”
“But he mentioned of seeing you hanging out with a… Man!” I stressed.
“Juliana! It’s your father…” It was like an echo to my ears.
I couldn’t stand to listen to all the bluffing comments against my father, he spends more on liqueur, cheap girls and less on his family. I’m happy he pays my fees at the beginning of the term even though he can leave without breakfast being decided.
“He gave his friends some money to support their family, at work they honour him, respect him a lot.”
“But mother he do give you.”
“After I protest, after I stop him from going out, try to make he late for work. Is that supposed to be so?” She asked.
“It may be his appearance, don’t judge him.”
“What has judge got to do with it?” Mother asked, “what appearance? It’s his nature! Blood, his relatives all the same.”
“Mother it’s much! Perhaps words can’t change anything.” 
“Let it be since that’s your opinion,” she got up.
“No mother, your tongue is cruel.” I cried.
“Like father! Like daughter!” She walked out.
We were still in the kitchen as I tried to stop remembering lots and lots of the argument between my parents. I stared at what my mother is doing, I could see her sip the soup in little quantity on her palm, the kitchen was a bit hot and silent. The loud noise I could hear was our generator steaming violently at our backyard, I could feel its vibration when the door was open.
“Mother is quarrelling good? Is it the vitamin for a successful and happy home.” I was bewildered.
“Is that an insult or what?” She stressed. I wished to reply but don’t know what to say. Mother has finished cooking as she removed the steaming soup from the fire, I was happy that it’s out, that father won’t query mother for late dinner. But was it supposed to be so?
My question was reserved for George who had kept his nerve to win me as his girlfriend. I remembered his admirable words, his notes, his passionate speech of eloquence and his exceptional appearance; his blue trousers lined vertically and bright sleeve. But I couldn’t accept him all for his nice appearance, not even his snazzy jewelries or his mountain cost phone. Thinking of my parents argument put no sense of love in me but fear of having some later misunderstanding.
Mother called but I ignored, sitting on the small stool and pretending to be dizzy. But I was- the situation at hand caused it. It made me dropped to ‘B’ in my last academic result. I can’t study as my parents echoed their voices, it was so devastating.
I watched as mother arrange for dinner, after all she told me of single world, bit abusing father not yet back? I wondered.
I checked the time on my wristwatch to be five minutes to eleven and only or generator is disturbing the seven flats. I bluffed all thought as I pictured George, I thought of what to ask him. While I was thinking of George a hand tapped my shoulder… “Juli, your father is back!” I felt disturbed as my mother said, “go and welcome him.” I wondered why mother won’t do it, why she won’t receive his briefcase, kiss him and make him feel comfortable. Why me?
“Mother but-“
“He’s your father, go!”
I shrugged my shoulder as I walked with slow steps. I faked a smile when I got to the living room displaying some dimples with my upper teeth being shown.
“Welcome dad!” I exclaimed as I hugged him.
“Sweet angel, how was school today?” He asked as I sat on his laps like usual with my hand across his neck like the sugar girl mother do exclaim of- his extort pipe.
“Fine dad,” like mother was expecting I asked, “dad, why are you returning late?” My countenance changed.
He grinned as he was staring at me; perhaps through my vest, at my teenage breast. I observed but couldn’t resist.
“Father!” I interrupted when I couldn’t hold his lustful stares. He’d been on it, sometimes he caresses my butt but I kept silent as I can’t share it with my furious mum, it’ll cause another house war.
My father seemed to be jovial with attractive ladies and loves to have them sexually. Sometimes I try to stop mother from sending me to him but I can’t tell why.
One of the days he came back early around the hour of eight, that day he looks more happy as he bought me some snacks, it was fun as I succumbed to him feeding me. Some crumbs fell inside my clothes, it hung between my breast quite voluptuous which marvels my mother. He tried using the opportunity to have a touch but wasn’t fortunate as my mum barged in.
“Em, my daughter… Work! My work!”
“But it closes by six, so within an hour or two of driving you’ll get home.”
He puts his hand on my shoulder as I shrugged it off wishing mother will appear in the dinning where she usually welcome him.
“Not everyday, as the manager of a huge company, there are more works for you than any.” 
I cut in, “father, that won’t last till late!”
“But what father, that you’d another day of vodka.”
Mother barged into the dinning as she glimpsed at us.
“What nonsense! Is that what your mother’s teaching you.” Father shouted.
“You her father, what’re you teaching her? To get drunk, follow men…” Mother sighed.
‘why did she join?’ I thought.
“How will you say a thing of such, is that how you greet your busy day husband?” 
Mother sighed, this time was so long that I imagined how does she do it, “busy day husband or busy day drunkard?” She gave an odd expression.
“Father wanted to attack her but I held him, I did all I could to prevent the long night of murmuring and complain.
“God help you?” Father shook his head.
“Juli, come for dinner!” Mother digressed.
I sat on the arm chair nonchalantly, waiting for my father to be set so that we can have dinner together.
By the time we arrived the dining mother was sipping her glass of red wine. I thought of her calling father a drunkard but also drinks alcoholic wine excessively. I was introduced into drinking by Gloria who consumes much. Damn! George is not left out as he consumes in galore. The day I’d a glass it ran down to my brain as it was like the cold mentholated spirit to my skin, my breath was smelt of alcohol, it gave me a crazy sleep.
I watched mother as she stared at father; at his scattered eye brows, his desperate eyes as he wolfed the food. Her silvery fixed nails shone at me, looking attractive. Although I haven’t fixed it but wished to though mother still calls me a child.
“Ray, I want to start something, I want to open a supermarket.” Mother started.
“That’s good!” Father exclaimed.
That was the first time I’m hearing mother calling father by his name, although father do echo Stella different times. Mother to own a supermarket, that’s good though she never told me even when we were in the kitchen. I watched them discussed, quietly. While I pick chunks of fish from my soup.
“I need money!”
“You’ll have it,” father added.
“Are you asking me?”
“Ray!” Mother paused, “I said I need money!”
“And I said you’ll have it!”
“So how much will you give me” mother asked.
“Are you expecting money from me?” Father paused as he reached for his eba.
“So why am I saying it if I don’t need money for you?”
“I dunno!”
Father seemed to be going off as I listened.
“I need money, how much are you giving me?” Mother asked.
“Please can we say this another day?”
“Ray can’t wait, I’m exhausting patience.”
Father paused, “can’t you see I’m eating, or don’t you want me to have a perfect meal? I don’t know why most women are of that kind, love to disturb their husband during meal time…”
“Father it’s okay!” I yelled. I didn’t wanted to hear about the so called sugar lover.
“Don’t be like your father,”
“Meaning!” Father asked.
“You’re so irresponsible!” Mother barked.
“How dare you!”
“Yes, you’re heartless-“
“Oh lord!” I cried out, “what again?”
“Can you see what you’re teaching this girl, to interrupt-“
Mother interrupted, “can’t you respect yourself and she’ll respect you.”
Father went for the sink, “don’t blame you.”
“Father aren’t you eating?”
“So that your mother will kill me. No!” He exclaimed.
“It’s not me that will kill you but one of your so called sugar lover.” Mother laughed disgustingly.
Father wanted to attack her when I wanted for help, I held my chest while gasping for breath. At first I faked it but later couldn’t hold it as pepper hung around my throat.
“Juli!” Mother rushed me as she helped me to have some comfort, by then my appetite had gone sleeping as I was weak and looking dull.
Mother helped me into my room.
“Goodnight dear.” Mother replied as she kissed my forehead. Before then I felt loved as she wrapped me in her arms, making me feel her warmness; I stared childly at her nipples revealing through her transparent wear, looking seductive.
As my mother left me, my monsters appeared. The first thing I did was to lock my door and shutters adequately, then off the bulb as I’m free in the dark- the dark Knight laughed as he appeared to me. I smiled because Bruce Wayne is my amazing actor, I touched the bronze bat brand on his chest. It was like the soft and smooth chest of George, suddenly he varnished. George was the one on scene proclaiming his love for me. I was on the desk and my legs resting on his laps, he caressed it lightly from the calf to the shin down to my sole, I smiled as his hand ran to my thigh.
I shook my head as it disappeared, I wondered if it happened? Yea! It happened. The reminiscent still remain, I thought of what happened but he walked out after that scene, I followed him as I gave a frown.
“You’re too childish!” He said.
I didn’t reply as I bend my head a bit towards my shoulder, it’s not the first time he’s saying such. Many have wondered how a child develop more than her mother.
Gloria considered as the mother of the class. “Her asset is small!” Buchi whispered, “but yours is big! In fact bigger than all eyes can contend.” He stressed it that I became ashame of my chest.
“Okay, but I’m scared.” I said coldly.
“How there’s nothing there, prevention is now available.”
I was amazed at his statement, like Rex, some boys appear with packs of runner contraceptive sheath.
“I’ve not tried it.” I wondered if it will leak, if the milky liquid will tear out. I knew George will be glad, I knew fate goes to the fearful.
“But we can, nothing just occur without trial!” 
I remembered the pain Princess cried of when she had her first penetration.
“It may be painful but pleasur…”
“No!” I exclaimed with tears dripping from my eyes. “I can’t!” I walked out.
All had been like drama as George kept his lust over me, sometimes he calls me ‘his luscious girlfriend.’
I was still on my bed, the ceiling fan was swaying speedily.
‘What’s my mum up to?’ I thought as I imagined my mum having fun with a young man maybe like uncle Roland or young like Sir Thomas my class teacher. 
‘Did it ever happened?’ I wondered till I slept not minding the chirping of the crickets.
“How about the money?” That voice was my mother’s voice. The echoing woke me up, this time mother hasn’t knocked on my door to wake me up, but her voice did.
“I’ll give you later!”
“You aren’t leaving-“
“Woman lemme pass or…” Father barked.
“Or what?” Mother yelled. I believed she’d tied her wrapper tightly.
I sat up on my bed. My phone was glimmering, why? I reached for it as I saw some messages from George.
“Good morning angel of my heart…” I smiled as I started reading his daybreak text, “…my queen of ecstasy…” I read it hastily as I knew it’s another of his love message just to get my fancy. “…love without bound, for heart feels joy when it thinks of you.” That was the last comment. I chuckled as I read it.
Not too long mother voice went high again.
“What will you do?” Mother barked.
“Okay, how much” I was glad as father succumbed.
“According to the budget it’s over a million…”
“What’s it, but you bought a Toyota Venza for Tracy or you feel I’m naive about it?”
“Toyota Venza!” I whispered, “Tracy!” I was astonished, “is it true?” I asked.
Father didn’t argue as he murmured, “can’t you reduce it.”
“I won’t reduce anything.”
“Okay, okay fine!”
I didn’t hear any noise again rather it was from the neighbours flat.
“Take it, cash it by twelve!” Father exclaimed.
I smiled as I heard mother lavish sweet words on him, I could hear the sound of her kissing his cheek. I wanted to spy but was lazy on the bed just resting to my pillow.
‘mother didn’t bite him again but pet him,’ I thought.
Few minutes later I heard a knock on my door.
“Yes mother!” I tottered as I went for the door.
“Are you just waking up?”
“No mother,” I dabbed my eyes and yawn noisily with my hands stretched up.
“Prepare for school.” Mother said, “are you ill?” She touched my forehead and neck severally.
“Yea,” I admitted. I don’t want to got to school that day, I forced illness and it came gradually to my room, from the tiny space between the door it passed and sat opposite me on my bed, I watched its wry smile; its teeth of agony at it shone at me, disgusting. I sniffed in its breath and by the time I was with my mother it’s already displaying like microscopic germs all over my body, feverish condition, tiredness, dull face… Its control over me was sudden.
“You need to see the doctor!”
“No… No… No!” I cried as I shook my head, it inspired me.
“Okay, anyway your father wrote me a cheque of seven million…”
“Seven! What for?”
“I want to open a mall…”
“Nice thought!” I fell on mother’s arm as she led me to the sitting room while declaring her intentions which was meaningless to me.
I watched as mother brought a tray of coffee with some sliced bread, I smiled as I took the coffee, my teddy bear was by me as I sipped it and with a fantasy of feeding the teddy.
“I’ll be leaving soon to check some stuffs!” Mother broke out.
“Okay mum,” before then I’d mentioned of not going to school, I thought of how boring the house will be. “Mum, I’ve changed my mind, I’m going to school.”
“Okay, I’ll drop you when you’re ready.”
I smiled as I went into my room and threw my teddy in the bed then rushed to shower.
“Mother!!! I’m waiting!” I shouted as I got to the sitting room. After several calling and no response, I quietly walked towards her door.
“We gonna have some party!” She said while on call.
“So it’s true! Mother is in another relationship.” I whimpered as I leaned by the wall, the complicated relationships in my family crumbled my feet but that’s just the beginning as George and I is about to start one.
“Your mother now own a mall.” George said while we were having some chit chat during break. Weeks after my mother’s proposed for a mall and now it’s blossoming like the geranium flower in our compound, the purple Bougainvillea close to my window. Thanks to God that mother used it rightfully even though it’s now a channel for her late coming and sluggish attitude.
I’m now in the world of my own as I’m in charge of the house till late hour.
“Yea?” I sat close to him as it gives me comfort, our arms touched each other although he’d tried to cross his arm around my neck but I refused. Though I wished he tries again as he do say that ‘trial has no end!’
“I do visit there only but the weekend.”
“Why?” He asked with a pause from drinking his chilled Ice-tea.
“How’re you then faring? Staying at home or hanging out with friends?”
“I’ve no friend especially at home…”
Just as I was replying Selina and Kuyt passed, I watched as Kuyt hand was around her waist while she laughed at his exaggeration.
“… I, I…” I was stuttering as I caught George glimpse.
He knew I admire their relationship but I’ll constantly refuse his proposal.
We’re still living as casual friends and so I always resist when he starts anything silly. 
I watched him as he went to disposed the trash, “is he caring?” I asked.
“What’ll you be doing today?” He asked.
“I’ll be free…” I was happy he asked, perhaps we can hangout 
His eyes were admirable as I never stopped looking at it.
“Why not we hang out…”
While he was talking Buchi interrupted with his attention needed by a teacher.
I was still till George returned, Buchi who was George’s best friend. Looking fat and short even in his dark complexion he was a fan of hip hop as he never miss the latest.
Unlike George a moderate tall light skin guy with nice smiles and some charming eyes. His favourite was science fiction movies, he was staring at one even as he walked into the class. Unlike me that loves soap opera, I glared at the video awfully as he sat beside me.
I finally got hold of his phone as his attention was turned to me.
“George I wanna ask you something.” I grumbled.
“My parents are divided, my father seldom returns home, I can’t remember when last he tasted my mother’s food.”
“I dunno!”
My father who is now among the board of directors in one of the leading oil company- Total E & P.
That alone has made him to stay far from home. Unlike when he was a branch manager when he returns late or during the weekend. Mother now use her mall as an excuse for returning late.
“That’s unfair, though my parents are mostly busy, work, business had kept them far from me but we’re still united.” George held my hand, he squeezed it lightly, “you can bring them back together.” He whispered.
“How?” I asked desperately. If I can I would be so happy, so happy to see my parents in unity, to see my father wrapping mother in his arms whispering at her some sweet words, I wish I could stare at them with a smile of a happy family. But then it was fantasy ringing!
“You can talk to them.”
I wondered if he’s right, if it’ll work, if my words can unite them.
“But my father’s not always around.”
“You can call him, visit him or send message.”
I smiled at his idea.
“That’s okay, but I don’t know if his hardened heart can be turned.”
“But you’re his daughter?” He asked.
“Yea and-“
“You’ve the key to his heart.”
“How, I’m not his wife!”
“You’re more close to him than his wife.” He smiled.
Break period was still on as it was only us in the class, noise of student playing football was echoing in the classroom, although the door was shut but the noise sneaked in. Also rowdy junior students from downstairs were also disturbing.
I was supposed to be in the music class learning violin with my school orchestra and during the second break playing badminton in the field but here’s George keeping me busy with some chats. He got me before time because he know I wouldn’t be available.
“You once mentioned of having some close chats with your father.”
“Yea, I do welcome him but all those were before, he even use to…” I paused.
“To what?” He was keen to hear.
“Nothing, just that he sometimes takes advantage of my weakness.” 
“As in?” He cut in.
“George don’t worry, take it like that!” 
“If I got you, that’s sexual harassment.”
“Ozugo!” I said in aside. I wasn’t ready for his grammar at that moment. 
He crossed his hand around my shoulder as my body for closed to him.
“…I dunno but he can’t resist your attractive…”
I cut in, “he’s my father and shouldn’t have interest in me.”
His comment was so irritating to my ears, is he in support of my father’s action.
“Dunno, but his intentions aren’t like mine.” George said.
“Stop saying my father loves me to his wife.”
“I’ve seen fathers that wed daughter.” 
“George stop, it’s ain’t funny!” I gave a stern.
“Okay, I’m sorry if it offends you.” He pleaded.
“Don’t compare me with my mother.” I smiled.
He smiled as he said with a low tune. “I love you.”
“Did I hear that?” I laughed.
“I can shout it out. I love you!”
He stopped and stared at me for reply.
“I got no reply!”
I stared at him, I knew That’ll be his say, “and if I don’t reply?”
“I’ll persist!”
I stared at his desperate look, immediately I received a message, I checked it and discovered that it was George. It was his usual “I love you!” Bulks were stocked in my phone and I’ve not replied.
“I’m flattered.”
“I can send more.” He smiled.
“Please stop, it’s much.”
“Then reply!”
“Why?” I asked. I wondered how we’re still together, why he always beg for my reply. “I don’t think I can accommodate any relationship till I’m done with my secondary education.” I said with biased thought.
“You envy others as you watch them having fun in their relationships, but-“
“No!” I cut in, “I envy their predicament.”
“What predicament!” George asked. So ridiculous was it to my ears.
“The after effects…”
“Who’s feeding you with bull shit. Damn you!” George yelled violently, he banged the table forcefully as I was taken aback. I watched him had some mood swings as I wished to apologize. I felt remorse, within the few minute he left my side I could feel the strong wind from the window, it was so sudden that the trees were dancing to its torment, I knew the class will soon be crowded.
George stared at me bitterly, I knew he was but my eyes didn’t focus on him or his outrageous look. I finally got up and walked out of the class not minding if he’s staring.
This relationship can’t stand! I walked slowly through the staircase. The school, Busyminds Academy comprises of a two story which is their student block, beside were blocks comprising of staff office, laboratory, music class, ICT and other recreation classes. 
I stared at some Junior students frolicking on the field in the spacious compound, some were chatting as they hanged around the fountain of water gushing from the mouth of a lion statue which was at the middle of the compound.
I felt like going back for my music class but know it’s over as I’ll miss some grades, I wondered if my relationship with George can ruin my studies.
My desire was craved- being an actress was my goal, as I daily do some rehearsals, I wondered if George will boost my goal or crumble it.
“Come in!” Sir Thomas said.
I walked into the music class which was filled with different music instruments. My eyes glimpsed at the cello, clarinet, bass, flute, oboe, piano… And my best loved violin.
“Sir, sorry… I came late- em, I, I didn’t show up…” I stuttered shamefully
“What’s wrong with you.” He asked, “you no longer attend classes, too cold and lukewarm, performing poorly than expected…”
I felt guilty at every comment he uttered, I couldn’t hold George because I’ve previously missed some back to back classes.
“Sir, I’m trying but-“
“But what!” He stared at me, I couldn’t hold it as I bent my face to the ground. “We’re performing in the national schools orchestra and you my hope have missed four consecutive classes, why!”  His words made me to feel my tears flowing. The championship of different schools music band performing in orchestra had been my goal.
“Sir, am I among?”
“How can you when your performance is not seen.”
I fought back my tears as it looked impossible.
“Sir, please I wish to join…” I cried.
I can do anything, I knelt down as I pleaded with tears.
“There’s nothing much I can do except that…” He paused.
“What sir! Anything please…” I pleaded.
“Get up, sit down…”
I responded as I can’t stand missing out. He sat close to me on a long pew like seat.
“You see, I know you’re going through some hard time and…” That time my heart was caught with fear as his hand was on my lap.
“Sir, please…” I removed his hand, “I can’t do this…”
“But you want to join?”
“Yea, but not by this…” I paused, “I just can’t!”
I was in a great dilemma, this is the only condition he’s giving for me to be part of this competition which I greatly desire to be.
“I’m busy now, can we talk later.” He said after a paused, “but if I don’t call you meet me in my house.”
“Okay sir,” I said wishing it’s not otherwise.
“Juli, why George dey vex?” Gloria asked as she met me closed to the canteen.
“Vex!” I asked confusedly.
“Oh!” I chuckled, “we argued.”
“Why?” She asked.
“He is just having sexual feelings over me, and I don’t want. I’m just scared.”
“Scared of what?” Gloria asked.
I swiftly nudged her to understand, not wanting any to know especially those passing.
“Dunno! Maybe you should help me explain to George my fears.”
She shook her head confidently, “see girls with assets make much money, don’t waste yours. My sis got over a hundred thousand naira yesterday…”
“How?” I was surprised.
“Dey there, recession no reach your side, she met one sugar daddy who gave her one hundred and fifty thousand naira-“
“That’s not good,”
Gloria laughed, “I told her to link me up, see girls are making it.”
“So you’re deceiving Rex with some girlfriend flatter.” I shook my head in surprises.
Gloria laughed, “just dey dull.”
‘father have a sugar girl, mother have a sugar boy, if I now have sugar daddy what will become of my family?’ I said in aside.
“Sir Thomas wants me to sleep with him before including my name among list for the music competition.”
“I knew it!” She paused, “he had been making eye at you.”
“That can’t happen!” I exclaimed.
“Then you’ll be out.”
“I don’t want to.” I said with some confused look.
That evening George and I hangout was cancelled as his countenance was sad, I knew it’ll only be fantasy. I was up to meet sir Thomas in his house with desperate thought of being included. On my way I was praying he changes his mind and ask for money or any favour aside the one he requested for…
“Ah Juli!” He said as he opened his iron protector door and made way for me to enter.
“Good e-vin…” I stressed.
“I thought it’ll be hard for you to locate my house.”
“No!” I paused, “Gloria briefed me the direction.” I sat on the bed as no chair was found in the one room apartment, wardrobe was by the side and a table where he kept his plasma television and some books beside. It was cool and fresh as I sniffed the lemon fragrance of his air fresher.
“So sir, you said…” I turned to him as I couldn’t continue staring at his room.
“Em, yea! You wished to join, to participate but…” He paused, “where have you been all these while, you are getting more poor grades. You that seemed better is now dropping, where are you when we do have classes?”
“Sir!” I cut in, those questions weren’t to be answered. “Have you shortlisted the names of those representing?”
“Oh goodness!” I cried.
“I can add your name but you’ll pay…”
In my mind I feel like saying ‘pay keh’ me that don’t have money.
He looked at me with some lustful eyes as he swayed his hand around my neck. “Why not we have some chemistry.”
I was naive as I wanted to tell him I’m art student but before I could he was patting my back with some soft touch.
“Sir… I can’t do that.”
“Then you don’t want to be among, you know what honour it’ll be to play before the governor and…” I was battered as he was exclaiming the attractive parts. I was confused as his price was tearful.
“But sir, can’t you help me…” I pleaded.
“What’s there, but you class do more of hanky-panky.”
“How do you know?” I asked passionately.
“Jamb question, I know all that you are doing. You and George, so just cooperate to avoid embarrassment!”
It was left for me, confusion was my backbone, I glimpsed at him as he was struggling with his stiffed erection. Then I knew he was high as I rushed for the door. 
“Are you going?” He grabbed my hand.
I didn’t reply but just waved off his hand.
“Don’t cry… I know it’s hard to accept but its nothing compared to what you’ll gain by joining the competition!”  
I pushed him as he wanted to lay his hand on me not minding if he fell on the bed.
I wondered why? Why Sir Thomas couldn’t help me till I satisfy his feelings. He now use it as hedge to get me. 
‘It’s a single world!’ I thought, ‘trust no one.’ I cleaned my tears as I decided to visit my mum. I walked through the interlocked walkway silently, watched as some clustered around. I wondered if they’re facing anything related to my predicament, if they’ve met any like Sir Thomas.
The mall was an amazement to my eyes, large and spacious and fully air conditioned. Different products were sampled at different corners; commodities, accessories, cosmetics, appliances etc. I followed the escalator to the up floor where the restaurant, cinema and game centre was.
“Mother!” I yelled as I barged into her office to see her with a young guy in a love like mood.
“What’re you doing here?” My mother asked.
Her words made me feel if she loves me or not. “Mother so this is your office, a home of adultery.”
“I know not what you’re saying.” Mother said, “take care of yourself.” Mother said as she kissed the guy, I was devastated as I watched him leave.
“Who’s he?”
“What kind of interrogative question is that? Why are you here?” She paused, “for money or what?”
“Mother am I not permitted to visit?” I stared around. 
A nice office, properly arranged with top priority furnitures, the marble tiles were so attractive. 
“Not without my permission.” Mother cut in as she interrupted my admiration.
I cried bitterly as I wished to leave not minding my mother who wasn’t remorse as she sat on her swivel chair.
“You’re a disgrace mum!” 
“Hold it, what insult is that?” She rioted, “I think you should be going.”
“I’ll but you’ll be punished for this…” I cried, “father must close this mall.”
“So you came here to insult me.” Mother gave a hard stern, “go ahead, you’re in support of your father who you haven’t seen for long; who is housing his concubines-“
“Is that why you’ll betray your faith?” I asked.
Mother got vexed, I knew shell discharge me soon. That have been the reason why I refused visiting, so when she said leave! I wasn’t surprised but tears dropped from my eyes even as she was focused on her iPad.
If it’s money or something edible my parents won’t hesitate to provide. They’re too concerned about their financial needs and don’t care about me or my emotional problems, I haven’t had any chat with my mother for long not even my father. I hid my feelings and disturbs, the time I tried to confide with my mother my issues at school she cursed me with nasty words, condemning me to be a spoilt egg.
“Come here, ” she said as I was about using the door, I smiled as I turned to my mother feeling she’d realise and is sorry.
“Take this… I think you need money!” She handed over to me a bundle of nearly wrapped notes.
“What for?” I asked.
“For your welfare, you feel sad, just have it and chill out.”
“Chill out?”
“Please go and stop asking more than your age.”
I pondered, more than your age? Why did she mean by that? I’m asking more than a  sixteen years old girl should ask. More than what a high school student should ask, that was irritating. It just showed me how the society influenced teens and rather otherwise.
I watched her as she was making sure her make up was good, then she got up and was about leaving.
I know their faults but can’t do anything to help, but I watched as it’s effect were coming on me. I was on the surface of knowing they were wrong unlike Duke parents, Salmona parents, Wright parents and other neighbours who pay careful watch over their children. Wright’s dad withdrew Wright from our school because of the immoral influence our school has. Me I can’t withdraw- to where? To Dominica high school, Palmea secondary school, Rose of Sharon Missionary school… All these schools were stressing for me to attend, to wake up early before the early train leaves; before father leaves, if at all he’s around. And then have some boring sections of learning after the stress of preparing, impatience teachers trooping in and out even if it’s not lecture hour… All those were stress that could loose the thread on my hair, cause me to touch my neck as the hotness burn my palm. But without doubt I love Busyminds Academy where lectures is at it pleases.
These days my ears were breaking from hearing some nasty words like “…this immoral woman, abominable wife!” All because father was away, argument was away till he returns. But the same time mother has dug dip in her extra lustful relationship maybe with some vague acts. Perhaps she might be on her way to meet another, I watched as she had some discussion before leaving the mall.
“Aren’t you coming for a ride?”
I turned with surprise as mother asked me to join her for a ride, she hasn’t mention such since she got her glossy creamy Crosstour. I haven’t seen inside as she hates me being around the car because I’ll ask how she did got it. 
At first I stared at her as she smiled in her brown suit, looking corporate, I thought it to be in disguised.
“Where to mum?” I asked while inside the car.
“I’ve am appointment with…” She paused, “a business partner.”
“Who’s he?”
“You are sometimes crazy, what do you know?” She exclaimed, “you ask more than your age a lot, if you don’t know you’re still a teen!”
“Mother please halt, I wanna see a friend.” I said. She parked without questioning, I felt it not secured being with my mother as I hoped out of the car.

By penhouse

Jaja Godspower is a creative thinker and business strategist. He an award winning writer, blogger, author and a film maker from Nigeria. He is motivated with the desire to grow brands and businesses through adequate branding and visibility with his writing expertise. He is the founder of Penhouse Initiative, one of the largest growing writing hub in Africa.

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