Hi! I am sorry you had to wait so long for this one. I lost the story when saving it and had to rewrite it, because a promise is a promise. Hope you enjoy it! It was written with love- twice! Happy new year!
Akpene could not sleep. She kept tossing and turning, wondering what she could do to fix the situation.
K Beck is in trouble because of me. What if he gets suspended? It is all my fault.
She kicked herself mentally for telling him her story. That was probably the only reason why he felt like he had to defend her. But then again, he had been looking out for her long before she told him about everything.
God, please help me. Just when I felt like things were not so bad, this happened. Please save him, please!
She could see a light under the tent that Sister Charissa had made around her bed. She was probably studying. Akpene smiled to herself when she smelt the Gashit* Charissa. It smelt heavenly- the combination of gari, shito, Starkist tuna flakes, corned beef, baked beans and sliced onion rings- the type of Gashit she could only dream of and not afford. Sister Charissa had all sorts of food stuffs under her bed and was always nibbling on something under her tent. Her school daughter was the one that Akpene pitied. She was the one who was sent to warm palm nut soup with an iron at 3am in the morning, the one who was sent to go and look for onions and tomatoes during siesta, the one who had to wash all the dishes and the one who never tasted any of her school mother’s inventions.
Across the room, she could see Agnes on the top bunk bed with her left leg suspending at an obtuse angle. Agnes’ sleeping patterns were always a source of amusement. One time, she had ended up with her head hanging from the edge of the bed, all the while sleeping soundly. The most amazing thing was the way she was able to maintain her balance throughout the night. She was not the only one with newsworthy sleep escapades. Nasiba was famous for sleep walking- people called her the Night Glider because she seemed to be gliding her way through corridors, mysteriously missing buckets and trunks, with her eyes shut. She had been known to walk from Liberty House to the basketball court, with a dreamy smile on her face. One time, she had ended up on the table in the staff common room in her cotton nightgown. It was Mr Hormeku who discovered her. It is rumoured that he exclaimed, ‘Lord God and Father of mankind!’ and rushed out to call the Form 1 girl who was sweeping the upper courtyard to come and cover her with a piece of cloth.
K Beck could also not sleep, not because he was worried about getting suspended but because he was sure that Akpene was probably blaming herself for getting him into trouble.
I wish I could talk to her. If only I was invisible or there was a way of crossing over without being caught…
Once again, he replayed the whole thing in his head.
Curtis was being a jerk that day. There had been many times that he had resisted the urge to punch him in the face ever since the term started, but that day, it seemed like Curtis was on Jerk Pentium Pro. He had spoken about Amanda’s breasts, Boakyewaa’s legs, Linda’s teeth and Constance’s butt. From the corner of his eye, he could see Adriana squirming in her seat and for the umpteenth time, he wondered what she saw in him. Just then, he heard Curtis saying, ‘And oh yes, how could I forget the Cinderella of the class? K Beck’s heartthrob! That girl’s body mehn! I am sure she has been giving him the time of his life. Her waist looks like it has had some experience, if you know what I mean. I would not mind a taste of-‘
K Beck’s fist knocked the words out of his mouth.
‘You picked the wrong guy to mess with. You will regret this!’
‘I doubt it, Curtis. No amount of punishment, not even suspension, can reduce the pleasure I have of being the only one bold enough to stand up to a jerk like you.’
K Beck also wondered if Akpene had heard what Curtis had said. He didn’t want her fretting about whether or not she looked like a virgin, or whatever it was that girls worried about. He saw the look of fear in her eyes when Mr. Hormeku pulled him up. The chants did not do much to help his case, if anything at all, they worsened it.
‘You think you are a hero because they are hailing you? Wait until tomorrow when you are brought before the Disciplinary Committee. You will be sorry!’
Muffled laughter broke his concentration. Some of the Form 2 boys were carrying Nii Adom to the bathhouse again. Nii Adom was the only person that K Beck knew that could probably sleep through a hurricane, an earthquake and a tsunami all at once, snoring and drooling while he was at it. Every now and then, some of the Form 2 boys would carry an unsuspecting Form 1 boy to the bathhouse in his sleep and leave him there. It was called transplanting. The poor boy would probably wake up on the cold tiled bathhouse floor, surrounded by buckets. Their favourite target was Nii Adom of course because they didn’t have to struggle to ensure that his eyes remained shut. One time, Cephas, one of the Form 2 boys, had gone to the extent of blowing one of those World Cup vuvuzelas directly into his ears when they had transplanted Nii Adom to the bathhouse. He did not even wince in his sleep. He simply turned sideways and also farted in a way that almost mirrored the sound of the vuvuzela. After that, the boys left him alone for one month but judging from what was happening now, his grace period was over.
Time check- 03:07am.
It was going to be a long night.
Papa Kofi Welbeck was used to making this journey. This was the first time he had had to make it for Kwamena. Strangely enough, he thought Kwamena could go through school without getting into trouble like his elder brothers did. By 7am, he was packed in front of Gagert’s office, waiting for her.
‘Mr Welbeck. Hello again! It has been ages.’
‘Yes, it has. I will go straight to the point. I do not think it would be in your interest to suspend my son.’
‘And why is that?’
‘If all my years in life have taught me anything, it is that one cannot fight on his own. There were two people in this fight. Why is my son the only one in trouble? Secondly, if what i heard was right, that boy deserved to be beaten. In fact, he deserves to be taught a lesson. No self respecting boy should talk about other girls like that. Thirdly, my son is the star of your basketball team. You are this close to winning the Interco this year and you are going to throw this away simply because my son chose to silence a bully? I don’t think so, Gertrude. You are smarter than that.’
‘I should have expected a defense like this. I don’t know why you didn’t take my advice to become a lawyer.’
‘Is that why you didn’t accept my marriage proposal? We could have had a happy life together, you and I. But that is a story for another day. Today’s visit is about Kwamena. I am not making excuses for him. He is a good kid- kind and empathetic like his mother. I just don’t think suspension is the answer.’
‘Good. How are you, Gertrude?’
‘I am tired. Papa, they are still fighting me for the school. I am tired of fighting.’
Reaching across the table, he held her hand, hoping that his silence would comfort her and knowing that she could hear all that he was not saying because with them, words weren’t neccessary.
Akpene could not believe her ears.
K Beck was not going to be suspended!
It was like God was smiling down at her again. The whole assembly hall was buzzing with excitement. He was going to be suspended internally for a week, both he and Curtis. Mr. Hormeku’s face looked like thunder itself. After the scene he had made, this punishment felt like an anticlimax. Giving that boy 100 lashes would have felt more rewarding.
K Beck smiled to himself. This had his father written all over it. That man never ceased to amaze him. How he got to know the real story and how he managed to convince Gagert would just add to the list of ‘Reasons why I am convinced my father is a FBI agent or a superhero’. His eyes searched for Akpene’s. Their eyes met and they both smiled, both of them doing a secret happy dance in their hearts. Akpene turned her attention back to Gagert.
‘This time, they were let off easily. You might not be this lucky next time. This punishment is meant to be a deterrent to all of you. Think hard about it before you throw another punch or open your mouth to insult someone else.’
K Beck’s first assignment was to scrub all the male ‘downs’ before supper. It was an extra Herculean task because he had to make trips to the borehole to get enough water for the task. He was so engrossed in the work that he missed breakfast. Shortly after the siren went off, he saw Akpene running towards him with something wrapped in a polythene bag.
‘You smuggled bread out of the dining hall for me? Wow, I am touched. Thanks Akpene!’
‘That’s not all. I bought you a drink from the tuck shop as well. I know you don’t like Milo- it makes you sleepy, doesn’t it?’
K Beck was lost for words. Knowing how much of a sacrifice it must have been for her to buy him a drink, he said the only thing that came to mind.
‘You didn’t have to.’
‘No, but I wanted to. You are always doing nice things for me. It is my fault that you are even stuck here in the downs instead of listening to the dos and don’ts surrounding the Pythagoras theory. I finally got to do something for you too.’
Akpene was grinning from ear to ear, obviously pleased with herself. The sun was blazing and its rays were hitting her face. K Beck took off his gloves and used his hand to shield her face from the rays. Overcome by emotion, he leaned in and did the one thing he had been longing to do since the first day he rescued her- he gave her a peck on her left cheek.
‘Wait, what are you doing?’
See you next week!