Posts tagged “The Novice

Chapter 4: Seun

Posted on 31/10/2017

Girls enjoy talking about their crushes any day of the week, any hour of the day. Us seventeen-year-olds were no different. Even I couldn’t resist gushing about my newest crush. Seun.

“He’s just so tall,” I sighed deeply, looking at my best friend’s reflection in the mirror of the church bathroom. I combed fingers through my permed hair and smiled, imagining my crush. “He’s got such broad shoulders and his back…”

Bestie laughed. “Your fascination for backs is so weird.”

“You can tell by a man’s back whether he’s strong and dependable…” Even I burst out laughing as I said that, and the two of us giggled at our foolishness.

“You should just tell him.”

“Are you crazy?” I frowned. “In case you forgot, I’m not allowed to even look at guys much less tell them how I feel.”

She eyed me dubiously. “Did your dad really say that?”

“Well, not in those words but yes… I can’t have a boyfriend, so why tell him how I feel?” I exhaled a harsh breath. “Let’s just leave it alone.”

Bestie shrugged and shook her hands free of moisture. “What else do you like about Seun anyway, besides his back and shoulders…?”

I flicked water at her and she laughed, ducking away.

The sound of flushing halted our laughter. Wide eyed, we glanced at each other in surprise. The whole time we thought we were alone in the bathroom.

As a door squeaked open, we stopped ourselves from peeking around the corner. The woman stepped out from behind the wall and approached the sink. Bestie (or maybe it was I) gasped aloud, recognizing her instantly. Seun’s mother.

Mortified, I grappled for what to say while Bestie politely greeted her.

She merely grunted a reply and her eyes met mine in the mirror. I read judgment in her stern face and felt instant shame for carrying on about her son.

Grabbing my bag, I mumbled my greeting and dashed out the bathroom.

To my eternal gratitude, Seun’s mother never once mentioned my embarrassing behavior and Seun was none the wiser. My crush on him started and ended without further incidents… thankfully.

<<Chapter 3 || Chapter 5>>


Chapter 2: Carlos

Posted on 20/10/2017

Year 1998 & 2000

Carlos Hernandez was a chubby boy I met in middle school, back when I didn’t care about boys. He was in my science class in seventh grade, and he asked to sit next to me in lab. I didn’t care and merely shrugged. That was the beginning of our friendship.

He didn’t smell musty and was friendly. He seemed interested in my life as a foreigner; always asking about life overseas, always laughing over stories about my time in Nigeria and the UK.

While other guys farted in girls’ faces and stuck their fingers in their ears to be funny, Carlos just listened; his brown eyes dancing with delight as I recounted on my adventures as a child. Perhaps because he had never traveled overseas, or thought I told the best stories… either way, Carlos was a comfortable friend. I enjoyed sitting with him, and always looked forward to talking with him. I even got mad on his behalf when he expressed concern over being teased on his weight.

Then he disappeared after the end of seventh grade and I never heard about him again… until ninth grade.

In science class, I sulked over the fact that IB didn’t share the same schedule and glanced at the empty seat beside me. Choosing lab partners was anxiety-inducing; a lazy partner would make things difficult, and an overachiever would cause more stress.

“Can I sit here?”

I lifted my head slowly, up long legs, a narrow waist, broad shoulders to a kind face and brown eyes. I blinked, not recognizing the face.

He smiled warmly. I arched a brow, confused by it.

“Can I?”

I frowned but shrugged my approval.

He sat down and I turned my attention to the board. The teacher walked to the front of the room to take the roll.

“…Carlos Hernandez.”


I started at the name and the voice that answered beside me. My eyes shifted to his face and his wide grin. I stared, speechless. This couldn’t be the Carlos Hernandez I knew from middle school. That one was shy and chubby. This one was fit and not… shy.

And when the teacher finally called my name, I numbly answered, still staring at the boy sitting beside me; not sure it was really who I thought it was.

After the roll call and a quick instruction on our first assignment, I managed to speak. “Are you who I think you are?”

He laughed and nodded. “It’s me, Carlos from O’Donnell.”

I shook my head. “But you’re so…”

“Thin?” he supplied for me and laughed. “Soccer camp.”

I shook my head this time in awe. “Wow.”

He laughed again and slung an arm around my shoulders. “Good to see you too.”

And just like that, we picked up where we left off.

“Where’ve you been?!” I demanded, pounding his muscular arm with a fist and earned a boisterous laugh from him.

When he discovered my crush on Aric, my friend Carlos started acting funny. Annoyingly popping up from around the corner, or teasing me about Aric… He would act grouchy one minute and nosy the next.

“He likes you, y’know,” IB said when Carlos poked my back on his way to P.E. class.

I paused from scowling at him to scowling at her. “Don’t be ridiculous. That’s dumb.”

“Why is it dumb? He’s a guy.”

“He’s my friend from way back.”

IB arched a brow. “And…?”

I rolled my eyes. “He doesn’t like me. Let’s go to class!” I hurried off before she could say another word, blocking out every possible thought that my closest guy friend would develop feelings for me.

Perhaps I didn’t want to lose the camaraderie we shared, the innocent bond we had as long-time classmates and friends. Or maybe my novice heart could only handle one romantic feeling at a time… currently, it was filled with all things Aric.

Unfortunately, IB’s words etched in my heart and I started ignoring Carlos, avoiding him as much as I could. Even science class became a burden.

“You’re acting weird,” he pointed out as I snapped at him unnecessarily one day.

“Like you’re any different,” I countered sassily and he rolled his eyes, causing both of us to work in silence.

And when it was time to move schools, I didn’t get a chance to reconcile with Carlos… on my last day, Carlos was nowhere to be found. With a pit in my stomach, I said my goodbyes and left.

I don’t know if Carlos came to school the next day, wondering where I was like I had two years ago. I don’t know if Carlos continued soccer camp and is now a football star. I don’t know if IB was right and Carlos was “acting weird” because he liked me or not.

Seventeen years later, I still wonder about him and regret being so weird in the last few months before I moved away. I pray he’s alive and well, and living his best life. He was my first guy friend, and his influence on my life won’t be forgotten.

Carlos, be well and prosper.

<<Chapter 1 || Chapter 3>>

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