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Lost in a Shadow - Episode 9


Lost in a Shadow - Episode 9

Written by Chidiogor D-f Nwafor

Dave was sitting alone on a bench, watching people troop in and out of a shopping complex. A young lady walked up to him and wrapped her hands on his shoulder. Dave looked up to the smiling face of Stella and a huge grin broke on his face.
"Hello darling! What are you doing here all alone?" She asked as she sat down on the bench. Dave smiled and drew her closer to him.
"Nothing. Whirling away time?"

Stella laughed knowing fully well that was what he would say.
"Do you want to whirl away time with me? I've got a place we could go." She offered.
"I'll go anywhere as long as you're with me." Dave replied as they both stood up.

Five years had passed away just as Mrs Okafor did. Dave had fulfilled his promise and was spending the last few months of his final year in the prestigious University of Port Harcourt  where he studied accountancy.

Over those years, Dave had tried to persuade his father on the issue of marriage. He worried that his father would be too lonely since he would be living in school. Paul had asked him not to worry. 'I'm fine' he always claimed but Dave knew he wasn't. He couldn't imagine his father sitting alone after a hectic day without having anyone to talk to; just him alone in the huge house. Dave had tried desperately to win his father over but Paul being the stubborn man that he was refused to hear the matter.
'Dave! I don't trust any woman. If I get married, I'll just break the poor woman's heart because I won't pay any attention to her.' He had always retorted.

To Dave, his father was still sulking. Paul still cared about his mother even though he refused to admit it. Dave had once asked his father if he'd accept his mother back if she eventually came back. Paul had scowled and threatened fire and brimstone. 'I'll kill her. She should never think of coming back. Let her enjoy her mundane desires."

Coming to think of his mother, Dave couldn't figure out what kind of emotion he held towards her. He had tried desperately to forget about her; to hate her even for abandoning him but he just couldn't. He longed to see her even though it was from a distance. He wanted to know how she looked like. He had once searched the house for a picture or anything that could trace him to his mother but he had found none; absolutely nothing and so he had given up.
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Dave walked hand in hands with Stella as they made their way to a football pitch. Stella was the first girl Dave got truly attracted to. She was a beautiful girl studying Adult Education at the same university. She was tall, fair and slender with an oval face. She had a thick long lashes which Dave loved and admired.

After the game, Dave decided to head back to his hostel so he could rest. On his way back, there was a guy holding a girl at the collar. He was tugging at her roughly. He seemed to be asking her to return something to him. He kept pushing her to and fro. Dave wanted to ignore the situation and find his way but the helpless look on the girl's face drew him back. Dave walked up to them and tried to calm the guy down.
"This girl is a thief!" He spat. "She stole from me."
"I didn't steal from you. You were just so foolish." The girl blurted out.
"Foolish?" The guy exclaimed. "You swindler! By the time I finish with you, you would never dupe anyone again."

Dave looked from both guy to lady. He sighed and asked how much she owed him. The guy called the amount and Dave quickly paid.
"You're lucky." The guy blurted out as he hurried away.

"Thank you." The girl appreciated and Dave nodded
"It's nothing. Just be careful next time." He advised then turned to leave but the girl stopped him by holding his arm.
"I didn't owe him anything. He was just too foolish and so he lost. His accusations are false. You shouldn't have paid him."

Dave looked at her obviously surprised. "Imagine what would have happened if I didn't pay. Just be careful." He turned slowly to walk away.
"Thanks Dave!" She called out.

Surprised, he turned back. "How did you know...?"
"I'm in business administration. We take some lectures together."
"Ohh!" Dave muttered.
"Ohh!" She mimicked and Dave smiled.
★ ★ ★

Dave sat at the lecture room waiting for the lecturer to arrive. He kept drumming quietly with his pen as he waited. It was a cold morning and cool breeze blew from various directions making him feel dizzy. Suddenly, he felt something cold on his cheek. Startled, he looked at the direction it came from just to see the girl from the other day. She laughed as he shivered, then she offered him the chilled soft drink.
"This is to say thank you once again for helping me out."
"It's no big deal. There's no need for this." Dave declined politely.
"I can't pay you back the money so please accept this drink. I'll feel better if you do." Shoving it at him, she said playfully, "it's still cold. See! Just for you.".

Dave tried to refuse again but she began to pout and this made her look cute like a swollen teddy bear. Smiling, he drew her cheeks and accepted the drink.
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Tobiah kept grinning broadly. She sat on the bed, her legs crossed and a pillow drawn close to her chest. Her roommate kept staring at her, wondering if she was crazy. The cozy small hostel room was decorated with female celebrities posters.
"Aunty!" Her roommate called out. "Did you win a lottery or what?"
"Why did you ask?" Tobiah grinned.
"Because you have been smiling since you walked into this room."
"Is that so?" She giggled.
"Tell me the good news or do you want to keep it all to yourself?"
"Well lola, I think I'm falling in love." Tobiah giggled bringing her hands to her cheeks.
"Tell me something! Who's the lucky guy?" Lola asked suddenly so interested. Her face brightening up.
"His name is Dave. I don't know if you know him but he's in accounting. We take some classes together. He helped me out when that useless Collins guy was harassing me."

Lola hesitated a little before asking, "Dave? Let it not be the one I know o or are there two Daves in Accounting department?" The bright look on her face had suddenly disappeared.
"Which one do you know?" Tobiah asked mockingly. "I'm talking about Dave Okafor. The one who had stolen my heart." She said dreamily.

Lola stared at her strangely. "I'm disappointed in you." She spat. "Didn't you know Dave is dating Stella?"
"Who is Stella?" Tobiah asked totally confused.
"You amaze me a lot. You think you are being focused by minding your business when in reality you're being foolish. I'm sure if they are killing everyone on campus tomorrow, you'll be the first to die because you're insensitive to what is happening around you." Lola snapped.
"I didn't ask you to start insulting me o. All I asked was who is Stella?" Tobiah replied feigning anger.
"Don't you know Stella in my department? The one I told you about that stood up to me when I refused to join the queue. The Stella that you told me you both attended the same secondary school. Your secondary school friend Stella. Hope you remember her now."
"You mean that same Stella?"
"Yes. I guess your fragile little love story had broken into pieces."

Tobiah's face reddened as she struck her hands on the locker beside her. "Why had that girl always gotten ahead of me? There's nothing I want in this life that she doesn't want and whatever she wanted, she always got. She had always taken away everything from me. Was she born to be ahead of me? Why must she take everything and everyone I had ever wanted?"

Tobiah and Stella had been very good friends before. Stella had always been the apple of guy's eyes and this had made Tobiah so jealous. Tobiah was a moderate and chubby girl. She was neither short or tall, neither was she beautiful. She had long tribal marks running from her ears to the side of her mouths. She had plump cheeks which made her look like a big Teddy bear. Stella unlike her, was a slender and pretty fellow.

This difference in them had triggered nicknames such as 'word and opposite, beauty and the beast' while in school. Since their secondary school days, guys had been chasing Stella around. One particular day, a guy named Johnson transferred newly to their school. He was a handsome boy and Tobiah had a crush on him. Tobiah tried her possible best to win Johnson's heart but Johnson only had eyes for Stella.  Then one hot afternoon, while they were studying under a mango tree at Stella's compound, Tobiah brought up the topic.
"Stella, you know that you're very pretty and can have any guy you want but..."
"Why that strange statement?"
"Just listen! As I was saying, you know that it is different for me. Stella, I'm very sure you know that I like Johnson and I'm your friend. Don't you feel sorry for me? Can't you give Johnson up? It's no big deal for you. You can always get another. There are millions of guys out there waiting for you but you know it's not like that for me. So please, I'm asking you as your best friend, can't you give Johnson up?"

Stella who had been engrossed in a book looked up quickly and sighed. "I'm sorry Tobiah. I can't , I wish I could but it's too late. I like Johnson too. I can't give him up."

That was the last time Tobiah spoke with Stella...

"I can't lose Dave to her. Not again. I'll do anything to achieve this. You need to help me Lola." Lola looked at her and sighed. Standing up to get a glass of water, she asked: "What do you want me to do? I'm not a fan of Stella."
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