You Opened My eyes…
(A Short Story)
(A sequel to Love dawned on Me…)
It was around 8:15pm on a Thursday, two days after my final papers for that semester. I had decided to go on a pleasure hike from my hall to the Heritage Park, in front of Queen Elizabeth Hall. I had been sleeping and watching movies since I finished my examinations and I decided that I needed some fresh air.
I was already at the park, trying to find a place to sit on when my phone rang. I looked at its screen, it was a new number. I picked it and paused for the person at the other end to speak.
“Hello” The person spoke in a kind of feminine British accent.
“Hiiii…” I said uncertainly, trying to recollect which of my friends had that kind of accent.
“Mac, this is Grace, a 100 level student from your department”, The Voice said, “Pleas3e, I need to see you.”
“Grace…Grace…” I repeated, trying to recollect which of my junior colleagues in 100 level bore that name, but no one came to my mind. “Err…please; I can’t remember anyone by that name…” I said to the person.
“You know me”, The Voice insisted, “It’s just that you don’t know me by that name. Please, can we meet now?” The Voice asked in a pleading tone.
“Now? You mean tonight?” I asked, screwing up my face. I thought I was through with academics and departmental problems for that semester.
“Yes please.” The Voice answered.
I was silent for some seconds, deliberating on whether to agree or not.
“Please…please…please…please…” The Voice started to whine.
“Okay…okay…yes we can meet. But I’m at the Heritage Park now…” I consented to her pleas.
“Perfect!” The Voice exclaimed, “Wait there, I’ll meet you there in ten minutes.”
“Alright” I said and I ended the call.
I sat down on a large stone and waited, looking around. The moon was out and it was full, but the thick cluster of trees in the Park prevented it rays from penetrating to illuminate the soft earth. The breeze walked gently among the trees, caressing my face and whispering in a still voice that only the trees could understand. Scattered about in pairs, all over the park, were love-birds who had come to hang out together. Their sight created a deep longing in my heart that I knew only one person could satisfy. Faintly, in the background, the horns and sounds of automobiles plying the dual tarred road between the park and the female hostel drifted towards me and I sat on, waiting, feeling as if I was a lone audience in that wonderful drama that Nature was directing, right in front of me.
I had not waited for ten minutes when I saw someone walking towards me. The shape was definitely that of a lady but I could not detect who it was in the mild darkness under the trees. The person was some feet in front of me when I suddenly realized who it was – Aramide!
This sudden realization plowed into me like a furiously charging bull. I started to wonder how she knew I was in the park. I knew there was no way she would have known where to find me, unless she was…the “Grace” that called me. “But how come?” I continued to wonder. I was sure the bright colour of my shirt, yellow, must have been what had made finding me easy for her in the dark, because I knew I would have bolted if I had saw her coming.
“Mac” She said in a quiet voice, “Come!” She ordered mildly, walking towards the fountain in the park.
I was speechless and I followed her as if I was in a trance. We both stood in front of the fountain, which was not working and I instantly realized why she had invited me out from the trees – she wanted to be able to see my face. The powerful rays of the full moon made the night seem as if it was dawn.
She moved closer to me and before I knew it, she gave me a hot slap on my right cheek. I was stunned and speechless. I never expected it. I reflexively placed my right palm on the stinging cheek to caress it.
“That’s for avoiding me all this while!” She said and before I could say any word, she gave me another resounding slap on my left cheek. The force of the second slap lifted me off my feet and I staggered backward, caressing the cheek too, with my left palm. “And that’s for making me plead so much on phone!” She said, moving closer to me.
I stood transfixed to the spot, without any clue of what to do and still nursing my stinging cheeks.
“Phew!” She sighed noisily, stretching her fingers, “That played off well…didn’t it?” She asked me. I could not answer.
“Big thanks to Kunle, your roommate, who we both met the other time at Klazz restaurant and you introduced to me. Fortunately, I met him at the “U.I. Prays” vigil that held on Tuesday and he gave me your second phone number.” She said, smiling mischievously.
I made a mental note to give Kunle the beating of his life, when I return to my room.
“I am sure”, She continued, “that in your supposedly wise mind, you never knew that I was the one that called you on phone”, She said and paused before she proceeded, raw sarcasm evident in her voice. “My full name is Aramide Wrights G. The “G” stands for Grace, my third name. You know…with the sudden change of name and the fake British accent, there was no way that you would have known that it was me…not one imagined junior colleague.” She paused, laughing softly.
“Thank you CLA207”, She continued, “That course really helped my oral communication.” She paused again, looking into eyes, “That’s girl-power for you Mac. No one has ever played out of it and we run the world with it.”
She reached out to me and gently pulled my hands away from my cheeks, holding them. I tried to avoid her gaze…