Michael Ade-Cole. Long after Ada had left my office, his name kept running through my mind. In a world of Facebook, Twitter and even email, it would seem really strange that I had not seen or spoken with Michael in more than five years. We hadn’t spoken since before he left the country after his National Youth Service. If other people wondered why we hadn’t communicated at all, I didn’t, because I knew. It was because I was afraid. I was afraid of how much I still loved him, still wanted him, I was afraid of how his being in my life would affect me.
I met Michael in my first year at university, through Eddie Bakare. They were family friends. When we were introduced, Michael was in his final year and I was the greenest fresher that ever was. For some reason, He took a great liking to me. Whenever there was anything happening, like the cool parties he or his friends usually had, he’d invite Eddie and tell him to bring his “cute friend Sophia”. As for me, in those first days I was in awe of him, he was really handsome, tall, and slim with a smile that could do things to a girl’s insides. For a girl straight out of a girl’s only boarding school, he was like a Mills and Boon hero come to life.
After a while, Eddie kind of dropped out of the equation. Michael would pick me up after my classes and take me to lunch, he knew all the best places to eat and the best places to just hangout. He used to listen to me talk and talk, in those days I had views on everything and I was always sure I was right. He would listen and laugh and call me a breath of fresh air. The first day he came to the girl’s hostel to visit me, my roommates were all agog. I hadn’t realized before then, how popular he was. It turned out that everyone either knew him, or knew of him. Rich, handsome, brilliant, funny and friendly, guys liked him and girls loved him. He was a campus legend.
I was very innocent at the time. The fact that his interest in me seemed to be purely platonic made me very comfortable in my new friendship. It made me less insecure. I sincerely doubt that the fledgling confidence I possessed at the time would have supported a romantic attachment to the most desired guy in school. But if I was comfortable, his avuncular attitude also made me aware of my lack of siren power.
I wasn’t too bothered at the time. I really didn’t want a relationship. Before starting university, I had heard countless stories about the ‘Jambites Rush’ the annual seduction of freshers by more experienced male students. Determined not to be a statistic, I had resolved not to date anyone in my first year in school.
But sometimes when I thought about the possibility of going out with Michael, I could feel my resolve weakening. I daydreamed about him so much it was a wonder that I got anything done that year.
Once, when I was presenting my views on the ‘Jambite rush’ to him, and making fun of the guys who had tried to ‘rush me’ I mentioned that I had no intention of going out with anybody for at least my first two years of school.
“Seriously!” He exclaimed teasingly. “So if I were dying for you right now, you would just tell me to get lost?”
Even though my heart had skipped a beat and was now pounding erratically, even though my mouth had gone dry and I couldn’t really arrange the thoughts in my head, all of which seemed to be screaming ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Tell me you love me and see what happens!’ I shook my head stubbornly and gave him a challenging look.
“Really! Sophia!” He groaned comically. “You just broke my heart, so I have to wait for like, two years?”
“Yes.” I replied stubbornly, forcing myself to laugh as if I wasn’t taking it all seriously.
“Hmm.” He shook his head. “Two years is really long, I might just have to polish my Casanova skills.” He said laughing, “By the time I give you the smoothest lines ever invented, you won’t even know when you’ll be agreeing to marry me by this time tomorrow.”
No one can understand the kind of elation that conversation gave me. What I had always seen as impossible now seemed like a distant possibility at least. Even when we started talking about other things, hilarious pickup lines and such, my heart kept soaring. Yes! Yes! Yes! I was going to go out with him!
However, nothing ever came of that conversation, even though, every day I fell more in love with him. Somehow, the school year passed, our friendship continued, and his graduation came around. Sometimes it was like a fever, all the time we spent together was like some sort of sweet torture. I had to pretend all the time, that I wasn’t dying for him, that it wasn’t all I wanted for him to tell me that he couldn’t wait any longer and would I please go out with him.
It was hard to convince my friends that we weren’t dating, everyone thought we were. If only they knew.
By the time his graduation came around, I was convinced that he really didn’t have feelings for me, that he had only been teasing me that day, and that we were and would only ever be friends. I had also heard millions of rumors, a girlfriend he had at home, in another school, outside the country, etc.
On the day of his convocation, his whole family came to school, and there was a huge party. I had met his mother before, but now I also met the rest of the family. They all knew of me, and called me Michael’s baby. They made such a fuss over me, it felt like I was the one celebrating something.
The next day, after his family had left him to pack up his stuff and come join then at home, I called him to ask how the packing was going.
“Horrible.” He replied, sounding dejected on the phone and begging me to come keep him company.
He sounded so miserable, I readily accepted.
I had been to his rooms a lot of times. He lived in a self-contained apartment close to the campus. I had done a lot of my studying there. Whenever he travelled, he would leave his keys with me and I would sleep over there until he returned, watching cable television and trying to match his prowess on the playstation.
When I got there that day though, all his stuff had been packed into boxes and cartons, apart from the deep blue rug that lined the whole apartment, which he was leaving because he had no place for it at home, the apartment looked stripped and bare. I could see why he was depressed.
“My house has disappeared.” He said with mock desperation when he saw me. He looked so comic, I burst out laughing.
“Seriously though.” He said, when the merriment was over. “Tell me you will stay here and I’ll unpack right now and return everything to how it used to be. Please.”
He had offered me the apartment before. I had only refused because my parents did not intend to let me stay outside the campus hostel for my first two years of school, and I didn’t want any of my numerous guardians sending reports of my ‘bad’ behavior to them.
“Sorry.” I said soothingly, “but it’s still no. Anyway, it looks like you’ve finished packing, there’s nothing for me to help you with.”
“I just stuffed everything into boxes and cartons.” He said with a slight grimace “I’ll sort through them when I get home.”
“How are you going?” I asked. I knew all his stuff would never fit into his car.
“I got a truck to take the stuff home.” He informed me. “It will be here soon.” He frowned. “I will be leaving later today, after the truck leaves.”
I nodded, he’d told me that before. “I’ll miss you so much.” I said earnestly, and because I couldn’t help it, I went to him and hugged him tighter than I had ever hugged him before. He was my closest friend and constant companion, his leaving was devastating for me.
He seemed surprised at first, we hadn’t really been the touchy, huggy, kind of friends, but after his initial hesitation, he hugged me back.
Then he kissed me.
My first kiss, surprisingly.
It was crazy. One minute my arms were around him in a very platonic friendly hug, the next, I was on fire, and no matter how he much touched me, it was not enough.
We made love, my first time, in his room, on his soft blue rug. It was slow and sweet and the best thing that had ever happened to me. His passion, his eagerness, the expression on his face when he touched me, when he lost control, made me feel like I was the queen of the earth and sky.
Afterwards, as he held me and stroked my hair, my body was singing with pleasure, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long. When I thought of how we had wasted a whole year we could have had together, I felt so sad I wanted to cry.
It was around then that he got up, leaving me alone on the floor, I lay there wondering what was wrong, because I could have lain in his arms for the rest of my life.
“I’m sorry.” I heard him say.
I could only gaze at him, puzzled. Sorry for what?
He had already started getting dressed. “I’m so sorry.” He repeated, not looking at me.
I couldn’t process what he was saying. I started to feel naked. I found my blouse and held it against my chest. As a covering for my nakedness and also I think, as protection from whatever it was he was going to say.
“I’m sorry.” He repeated. He looked sad, the direct opposite of how I’d felt just a moment before. “I really hate the fact that I have done this to you.” He said.
Done what? Didn’t he know that everything he had done to me had made me feel beautiful beyond words? He looked so guilty that I began to wonder. What was he saying? Was he sorry because he had taken advantage of me? That could only mean that he had no intention of our little incident becoming more than that, an incident.
I kept on looking at his face, trying to read what I saw there, of course he felt bad, I thought. This was ‘Jambite rush’, a year too late perhaps but still the same thing. And he was feeling guilty because it was me, me who was innocent, me who had never been anything but nice to him.
Suddenly, I was angry, I got up and started to dress as fast as I could. “Look.” I said, doing my best to sound confident, as though I didn’t care, even though inside, I was shaking with disappointment, hurt and anger. “Let’s just forget this happened okay, obviously we both made a mistake.”
“I didn’t, Sophie.” He said, looking earnest and dejected at the same time. “I’ve wanted to do that for a very long time.”
“Really?” I raged. “Exactly how long have you been planning my seduction, and is it coincidence or just some kind of poetic injustice that it took place on your last day?”
“I didn’t plan anything.” He denied. “Sophie, I know how you feel, and I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.
How could he know how I felt, when I couldn’t even understand it myself? I stopped listening, I was trying too hard not to cry. I was done putting my clothes back on. Without a word I picked up my bag and left. I started to cry as soon as I had closed the door behind me.