short stories

Neighbor

It was my second year in the University when I first met Chike.

I just got back from the long session break.The town was quiet. Most of the students had not resumed yet. It was usually the best time for my sister and I. We loved the quietness in the school and since we just got back from home, we still had our stock of variety of food all the way from Northern Nigeria where we grew up.

The University was in the southern part of Nigeria and the Northern bred girl that I was, I was adjusting to the life in the south as well as the people.

Life in the south was different, you had to be wise and sharp. There was no room for being slow in thinking and I quickly learnt that nobody does anything for free.

This semester I was particularly happy because my sister and I had just moved into a new apartment and the campus where I used to receive my lectures had also changed. I was in my second year and second year medical students had a separate campus for lectures. Finally I was going to be free from Chike.

I met Chike one evening close to the house where we used to live. I was still a freshman in the university and a tad shy.

That evening I saw my friend off down the street to the main road where she boarded a bike to her house, sandwiched between other students she did not know. I was walking back home my eyes on the
ground like I normally walk. I was too tall and overly conscious of the stares I got from people anytime I walked by.

It was getting dark and I quickened my steps, all too aware of the fact that it wasn’t safe to be out late in the neighborhood when I heard someone say “Excuse me”. I turned and I saw a young man walking up to meet me. “Here we go again” I thought to myself. Another boy trying to bag a freshman.

I braced myself for the usual pick up line. I was disappointed. He just said “Hi, my name is Chike and I want to be your friend.” I took a proper look at him and I saw the scrawny beard and somehow noticed
the conspicuously long nail on his little finger and decided: “No I don’t want to be your friend” but of course I didn’t say that because I was scared. He looked scary. He was the exact picture of what a cultist
would look like in my head.

And I remembered what my sister told me: She said Sarah, this is the South and this is one of the most notorious Universities ever. So please be careful with that sharp tongue of yours. “If you talk anyhow dem go just woz you slap my hand no dey”. (If you are rude you might get slapped and I will not interfere)

(The thing is I had a reputation of turning down guys in the most embarrassing manner)

I nicely said “Hello I’m Sarah, nice to meet you”. He asked me what department I was and before I could think the truth came out. I immediately regretted letting out that information. Quickly dismissing him, I hurried home.

Glad I successfully shook him off without a scene.

The next day there was a knock on my door, when I opened the door.There he was

Shocked I stared at him for what seemed like forever before my mouth could shape the words: “how did you find my house?


“I followed you home yesterday “

Creepy!!! I thought to myself.

He came by my house every day after that.

He would just sit on the only chair in the room saying very little.

I was at loss of how to deal with him.

This was because he hardly ever said anything. (I found out much later that he wasn’t used to being around girls). This made it difficult to shake him off. I mean if he didn’t talk there will be no avenue to
refuse. I was still scared of him though I made sure he didn’t know this. His appearance and the people I saw around him made me certain he was involved with the bad guys. I knew to tread carefully with him and not upset him.

He stalked me at school, coming to my class to sit with me when I had lectures and pulling my hair when I refused to acknowledge him. He went as far as sending his friend to threaten me. His friend subtly inferred that Chike was a cultist and I shouldn’t mess with him. So my personal hell went on for the next 6 months.

When we moved into the new house and I was never going to the main campus for lectures anymore I was glad. Chike would never find me now.

I was free.

Our new apartment was in a compound that had 3 sets of 3 bedroom flats joined together. My sister and I were in the first flat closest to the gate. The tenants in the flat behind us had moved in earlier. Our neighbors were big on music and loud with it too. That was no problem since we didn’t need to put on our small CD player. The music from the next flat was loud enough.

That morning I was sweeping the room. When there was a knock on the door. My sister just left for school twenty minutes earlier and I wasn’t expecting anyone.


“Who is it?” I asked. Then I heard the deepest baritone ever say,” It’s your new neighbor.”

I opened the door and my heart skipped not one but fifty beats.

He was as handsome as his voice was and I was speechless for one minute. I got myself together just in time to hear him say “Hi, my name is Jerry; I’m your new neighbor and would like to borrow your
ring boiler if you have one.”

I couldn’t find my voice the whole time but thankfully my limbs moved and I found the ring boiler and handed it to him.

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He smiled revealing nice dentition. Jerry looked in my eyes and I quickly looked away afraid he would see through them to my heart. He thanked me and left me standing at the door and staring into the space he had been standing. When I recovered I almost slapped myself in the face for acting like I was mute. He must certainly be thinking that or maybe he was used to getting that sort of attention. I closed the door and rushed to the mirror to check out how I must have looked to him. It was bad, seeing that I j had just woken up and hadn’t had my bath.

I wished cupid could have given me a hint, I would have prepared for this better. My day dream began. Every day I watched out for him outside my window as he passed on his way to school. I didn’t need to talk to him at least not just yet. Seeing him every day was just enough for me.

One day I stepped out of my flat on my way to my new campus which was only a few blocks away when I saw Chike walking through the gate. I froze and stopped in my tracks about to turn and run back into
the house but it was too late. He had seen me already.

I braced up and sharpened my newly acquired southern girl skills and I faced my greatest fear.

“Hello!” I said,” it’s good to see you!” He smiled and rubbed his over grown beard and said. “What are you doing here? Do you live here?” I quickly said; “No.! I don’t live here. My friend does. I just spent the night at her place. She just moved in.”

I am sure he must have sensed something about me had changed. He couldn’t smell the fear anymore and like many predators, he backed off, not saying more than “Okay.”

I heaved a sigh of relief and walked briskly to school without looking back. What I forgot to do was ask him what he was doing in here.

Three days later I found out.

It was 8 o’clock and I was sitting on the chair by the window as usual waiting for Jerry to pass by on his way to school when I saw Chike and Jerry walking out of their flat together. Chike was laughing at
something Jerry said. Chike obviously spent the night in the house because he was only wearing a white vest and a boxer short with a plastic bucket swinging from his hands on his way to fetch water from
the tap.

That is how I watched Chike as well as Jerry pass by my window everyday on their way to school. My worst nightmare accompanied by my beautiful day dream. They happened to be best friends and
shared the flat behind mine.


My new Neighbors.

Story by Spice Girl

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Enchanted

“Happy birthday, my man!”

Femi said as he clinked his glass with mine. “Smile for the camera!” He
said as he grinned into the camera. I smiled faintly and the flash from the camera came into our eyes.
Femi dropped his glass. “It’s time to party. The guys are waiting for us downstairs.”

He said pulling me up.
“I…I just want to work.” I replied as I stared at my laptop. “You guys can go ahead.”

Femi stared at me as though I had just revealed some horrible secret about myself.

“Don’t give me that look, Femi.” I said, cutting off the awkwardness of his stare.

Femi hissed. “George, I don’t get it. It is your birthday.”

“Not an off day.” I replied as I adjusted in my seat. “Besides, if I don’t have these drafts ready before Monday, we won’t have a good case in court.” I added with a smile.


Femi was not having any of that. He turned away and started to type on his phone. He then turned in my direction. “I have taken care of it.” He said.


“What do you mean?” I asked.


Femi shrugged. “The litigation officer would be here to handle the necessary drafting for you.” He said. “The ladies are waiting.”


Ladies! The perfectly crafted species by the Almighty, enough to make the heart of a man stop momentarily. Every woman, beautiful and appealing in her own way to all men…but not to me.

Femi sighed. “I know you are not a big fan of women and booze, but, it is your birthday and it is a Friday night, so we are going to spend it in the club. You are free to hook up or not, but you won’t spend it here.”He said, and picked my phone from the table. “I know you can’t do without this guy here.” He said staring at my phone.


He was right. My phone was my mobile office. Femi might have his way by dragging me with him to the club, but he won’t be able to stop me working with my phone in my hand.


“Follow me.” He said, stretching the phone out at me.
With that, I followed him.


The club pulsed with excitement. I knew it was not my environment. Dark lights, clinging bodies, and noise. Not music. Noise. I covered my ears as I walked in with Femi.


“George!!! The man!!!” Jude, a colleague of ours shouted from the corner. Femi led me through the crowd over to their seat. “The man is here!”He announced.


“Happy Birthday!!!” They shouted.

I smiled and lifted my hand to wave. The others burst into what I could guess was a mocking laugh. I dropped the hand slowly.


Femi nudged me with a smile. “Dude, what is that? A wave? Hug your buddies, man.”


I shrugged as the guys came over to ‘hug’ me. It was more of a shoulder hug…then, the ladies followed. They hugged.
“We want you to set the floor open.” Femi said, shouting at the top of his voice because of the noise.


I stared at him. “The club is already grooving.” I said. Femi made a gesture to his ear and I had to shout.


Femi smiled at this and handed me a bottle of champagne. “Pop it!”
I shook the bottle and flicked the cork.

“Party starts now!” Femi cheered as he went to the dance floor with a lady. The other guys followed suit and I was left standing alone. That, to a reasonable extent made me happy as I settled into a chair and
pulled out my phone.

I looked around and watched. Girls sitting together drinking. Couples dancing. Everyone with their own activity stood out. I was sitting and watching too. That should pass for something, right? But just
when I thought I was distinct in my activity, my eyes caught the most beautiful sight. It was pure, it was a smile. It was beautiful. It was a woman. I swallowed as I watched her approach me. Did I know her?
Why was she smiling in my direction? I didn’t smile back.

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She stopped at the table before mine and joined the girls who were in a group. I watched her from my seat as she conversed with the other girls. She laughed the loudest. She laughed so freely. No holds. No
boundaries. I couldn’t take my eyes away for a second, I was not ready to miss a thing about her…at least, what I could observe.

She then turned in my direction with a smile. And then, she rose to her feet, and she came to me. My heart did stop for a second. “I am hitting on you.” She said.

I stared at her and then the smile came effortlessly from me. “Seriously?”

“My friends are going to pay me twenty thousand Naira if I get your name.” she said.

I smiled and cast a glance at her group of friends who didn’t seem to be looking at us. “Are you sure?” I asked.

She nodded. “What is your name?”

“George.” I replied. She raised an eyebrow as though she was expecting me to complete the statement. So, I obliged. “George Ade.”

She then took a seat. “So, who dragged you down here, George?”
“Is it that obvious?” I asked.
She nodded. “It is.”
“It is my birthday, my friends thought I could have a little fun.” I
replied.

She gaped and then laughed. “This is really fun, George! You sitting all by yourself seems like fun to me.” She mocked.
“What is your name?” I asked.
She smiled. “Do you really need it? Or do you want it because I asked for yours?”
I paused to think about her question. I wanted her name and I really didn’t know why. “I don’t know why.” I replied, honestly.
“I know why. You like me.” She replied. “Thanks for the conversation.
There is no twenty thousand. Smile some more, it looks good on you.”
She said and rose to her feet.
I reached for her hand. “Are you going to leave me this way?”
She nodded with a smile. “I just did.” She said and walked away.
I smiled as I watched her leave. Something in me lit up. I lit up.

Story by Tomi Adesina . She is a screenwriter and fiction series blogger.

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