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“Your sweetheart is coming.” Edward Chianumba announced to his friend, Eric Conrad.
Eric looked up from his markings on the sand and smiled. Indeed, his sweetheart was coming. His sunshine, his best friend.
He didn’t quite know when or how but he knew he had fallen irresistibly in love with her. He threw the stick away, sat back on the wooden bench and watched his approaching childhood sweetheart. The sun beating down hard on the earth didn’t even make him squint his eyes. It was as if he was in a trance. Memories flooded his brain.
He continued watching her intently as she approached them along with her friend, Ezinne Uzoma. She looked good as usual in their unique uniform of burberry pencil skirt, white shirt and black tie. It was completed with white socks and black sandals. He felt his heart beat faster than normal as it usually did whenever she was around him.
“As I was saying, Kemi is my latest target. Men! If I don’t get that girl, I might die….Eric…Eric…here we go again!” Edward complained when he realized his friend was no longer listening to him but looking steadily at his childhood sweetheart with a stupid smile on his face.
He wondered at the kind of love between these two and also wondered if he would ever find such love. As he stared at his friend, lost in thought, he was surprised to see Eric suddenly frowning. He followed the direction of his gaze and smiled mischievously. Uche, their classmate had stopped Oleng for a chat.
Eric tried to control himself because he felt like going over there to warn Uche to stay away from his girl. He shook his head. Oleng wasn’t his girl. He had not made his feelings known to her nor asked her to be his girlfriend. Everyone knew they were the best of friends and have been friends since he was six and she, five and now they were sixteen and fifteen years old respectively. They had come a long way together.
He couldn’t pinpoint exactly when he had started developing feelings of love towards her. At his study time, when he was supposed to be reading, thoughts of her always infiltrated his mind. He would stare at her photograph over and over again. He couldn’t t tell her of his feelings lest he ruin their friendship. He didn’t know if she felt the same way towards him. Looking at the way she was smiling at Uche made him think his love wasn’t reciprocated. It made him sad.
Ezinne who had been glaring at Uche with her upper lip curled in disdain left them and walked towards where he and Edward were seated on the bench. Ezinne, Oleng’s closest female friend, a very slim, black beauty with a sharp wit usually didn’t mince words when it came to saying her mind even though she was a very loyal person.
“Hi Eric, hi Eddy.” she hailed when she got to them.
“Hi, Zinny.” Eddy hailed also.
“Hi to you too, Zinny.” Eric greeted as she sat down beside him on the bench to glare at Oleng and Uche still chatting.
“Eric, you should tell Oleng to stop pretending and start showing her true feelings.” Ezinne said angrily.
Eric’s face showed surprise. “What do you mean?”
“She isn’t enjoying that conversation. She’s just too polite to tell him she’s tired of it. She’s like that with every guy who approaches her. Sometimes, she is so nice, I feel like killing her.” Ezinne put her hands together as if she was wringing the neck of a chicken.
“Come on, Ezinne. Oleng is a very beautiful girl. She should enjoy the advances made towards her.” Eric countered.
“Not when she’s got you. You’re the guy in her life so others should just get the message.” Zinny put her right leg over her left leg and hissed in anger.
“Zinny, are you saying this out of jealousy, since they all approach her and none spare you even a glance?” Edward quipped with a smile.
Ezinne glared at him. “Eddy, if you weren’t my senior in class, I would have bitten you right now for that nonsense you just sprouted.”
Edward smiled in a charming manner. “You can bite me anytime, Ezi mummy,” he chuckled. “But you know where.”
“God! You’re incorrigible!” she exclaimed in disgust. The boys laughed.
Edward was a notable flirt. His tall, dark and handsome features made him a ladies man coupled with his charming personality. Just sixteen, he used his good looks and honey-coated tongue to win girls over and sleep with them. He saw himself as God’s gift to girls.
Just then, Oleng came to meet them. She stood before Eric.
“Hi Ricky. Hi Eddy.” she hailed, smiling shyly as she did lately whenever she was close to Eric.
Eric smiled. She was the only one who called him ‘Ricky’ and he loved it.
“Hi Oleng.” Eddy hailed also, gazing intently at her beautiful face.
“Hi sunshine.” Eric smiled. “I can see your admirers are increasing by the day. Tell them they have to pay homage to me first before they attempt speaking to you.”
Oleng laughed. Eric and Edward were captivated by her musical laugh and beautiful face for the umpteenth time.
“Don’t tell me it’s the green eye monster talking in you. Uche is just a friend.” She sat down beside Zinny.
“And pigs fly,” retorted Ezinne.
Oleng turned to fix her gaze on her irate friend. “Zinny, you know it’s not like that. He just wants us to be friends. Nothing special.”
“Akwuko.” Ezinne chipped in Igbo language.
Oleng hit her playfully. “You know vernacular isn’t allowed in school.”
Eric shrugged. “Whatever you say. Just
know I’ll kill anyone who tries to toy with your heart.” he solemnly declared. She turned to look at him intently. Their eyes met and held.