October 13, 2021
By SallyAudrey SILVER, Akim Oda, Other
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SallyAudrey SILVER, Akim Oda, Other
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"Oh my gosh guys, you won't believe what I found about Maria", the hottest girl at school said. "What is it this time, queen of gossip and flattery", said Leslie. "Don't you call me that Leslie, because I'm not," growled Emma. Maria and her family live in an old cottage and has three siblings. Her mother is a chairwoman and her dad a chandler. "Are you serious?" Valeria jumped in. "Of course I am", said Emma with a smirk. "You mean all six of them live in that cottage?" asked Fernanda. "Absolutely", said Emma without a hint of pity. "This is unbelievable", added Carmem who had been quiet all along. "I cannot wait to tell everyone about this, said Emma. Enough of all this Emma, what exactly has Maria done to deserve this hatred and mockery, have you not mocked and bullied her enough already? And for how long will you keep this shameful act of yours a custom? Put yourself in her shoes just for once and you'll know how it feels like to be bullied and called names. "Just shut it Leslie, you're no better than a brat to speak nice words of that wretched girl" retorted Emma. It's not surprising you are fighting for her anyway. Of late, you've been trying to ignore and change the topic whenever it's about her. I have also seen you on several occasions helping her in one way or the other. "By the way Leslie, is it that old cottage she lives in or her poor and tattered uniform that makes you speak so nice of her?" asked Emma. "I'm afraid it is none of these that make me speak nice of her," said Leslie. The thing is, she is friendly to all and sundry even though everyone is almost always hostile towards her, owing to you. Now that's why I speak nice of her. I like her generous and humble way of living. Besides, there are also some other good traits of her which could help one live life in a comfortable way if only one is ready to learn or be her friend. But unfortunately, none of these traits is possessed by you and here you are planting venom for her within you. Come on girls, don't start a fight, said Valeria. Let's get going guys, Miss Lisa will be in soon. You know she is not going to spare us if we are a minute late. Everyone is present but Maria, said Leslie with a concerned look on her face. Where could she be? It's almost time for lessons to begin. Probably on her way, said Fernanda. Talk of the devil and he appears, there she comes, said Valeria.  Leslie heaved a sigh of relief as she had started to like her. Hi Maria, what kept you so long, asked Leslie. Please Leslie, I'm exhausted at the moment, can't we make it after class? That will be okay by me, said Leslie. What's going on there? Nothing Miss Lisa, said Leslie. Pay attention or I'll send you two out. "Yes Miss Lisa", chorused Maria and Leslie. Maria couldn't focus on her lessons that day. She wished the lesson would come to an end quickly but it seemed to be non-ending. She kept wondering about something she couldn't figure out herself. Could it be that she was thinking of why Leslie had suddenly become nice and warm towards her? Good bye miss Lisa, she heard the class say in unison. Ha! She sighed; at last, the lesson has ended. This was strange of Maria as she never wished or waited for a subject or a class to come to an end. "I'm so exhausted I barely heard a thing today," she said. Maria was lost in her thoughts again when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She looked up quickly only to find Emma staring down at her wickedly. What is it this time, Emma? Take it easy Maria. Just wanted to know how your wretched family was and also the condition of your cottage. Maria couldn't believe her ears. How on earth had Maria found out about where she lived? She just looked up at her without a word as if wishing for the earth to open up and swallow her. Stop it Emma, stop it now, Leslie said. Oh I can see you've gotten a new friend, said Emma. What do you gain from bullying Maria? Leave her family and her cottage alone. She might be calm and poor, but that doesn't give you the carte blanche to manipulate her alright, you spoilt thing. Not again guys, said Valeria who hated to watch any arguments and fights.  “Carmem, why don't you talk to her, she's your best chum right?” said Leslie. Emma I think it would be best if you stop bullying Maria, said Valeria. Isn't she a darling, she helps anyone who ask her for a helping hand and even when she can't help it yet you're so hostile towards her. It's wrong for you to continue this behavior towards her. Are you now teaching me what's right and wrong, Valeria? No I just… Shut up Valeria. I don't want to hear a thing from you. And you Leslie, I'll get back to you for this. Come on Carmem, let's get outta here. It seems these brats want to be friends with Maria. Someone please open the door for them to go out of here, said Leslie.

 Are you okay, don't mind that spoilt girl, said Leslie. I'm okay, thanks for coming to my rescue all of you. I don't know what I would have done without you. It is okay Maria, said Fernanda and if you don't mind, we would like to be your friends.  You got to be kidding me, said Maria with a surprised look in her eyes. Well then, we're friends now Maria, we'll stand by you okay. Tell me you're kidding, said Maria. No we are not, said Leslie. But, but what about Emma? If she finds out you've befriended me, she might… Forget about her. If she can't be friends with you, she can't be friends with us either. Now all four of us, you, me, Fernanda and Valeria are buddies, said Leslie. So now tell me, I mean tell us, what kept you so long today? "Ohm, actually guys, I, I" Come on Maria, said Fernanda. We are pals now remember, be open to us we are not bullies like Emma. "Actually, I'm from a family of six: my mom, dad and three siblings. Unfortunately, my parents have no lucrative jobs even though they are hard-working and so couldn't pay our rent since their income weren't enough. The owner gave us up to this weekend to clear our debt, but since we couldn't do so in time, he sent us packing out and since we had nowhere to seek shelter, we just walked on until we came across an old cottage. Luckily, the owner was around at the moment. My dad approached him and he asked few questions after which my dad had answered them to his pleasure. He said that he was just about to sell it but we could live in. My dad thanked him and further asked how much we needed to pay for our rent. The man smiled at us in turns and none of us understood what that meant.  He spoke at last that he was giving us the cottage to live in free of charge. We all couldn't believe our ears but he assured us that we could stay in without paying a penny and that all he would do, is pay us surprise visits once in a blue moon. "You're a life saver" said my dad to the man. The man took his leave after introducing himself as Dr. Campbell Norway. Right after that, we unpacked our staffs into our new home. I woke up this morning to come to school when I realized that there was very little water available in the house. I had to go get enough for all of us to use for the morning. The source was a little bit away from my home so it took me sometime before I could finish. That's what kept me long guys. "Oh Maria, you're such an incredible friend," said Fernanda. You live in a poor home yet you are superb in all the subjects. Had we known better earlier, we would have befriended you long ago. Guys look, isn't that our favorite ice-cream? Yeah, it is, said Leslie. Your sharp eyes never miss the sight of our ice-cream Valeria. Come on then. What are we waiting for? Let's go and do justice to the ones our mouths can take in at the moment. Actually guys, I'll wait for you right here. I think I have a headache. No you won't, said Leslie.

You just don't have any penny, isn't it? I'll get you a stick. Now let's be on our way before we're too late. I can see the other girls running towards it already.

So tell us Maria, what does your dad bring home after work? He brings home the little he gets from selling. Sometimes he earns nothing so he comes home with no money. If mother also comes with nothing then that means there'll be no meal before bed. The little available will be fed to my two younger sisters: Brenda and Adelene, since they're too young to sleep on empty bellies. That's a pity, said Valeria. "There is no way I would agree to sleep without food for a night and you seem to go through that as a daily routine," added Fernanda looking awfully at Maria. I can't believe there are such situations in this era. Well then I suppose it is about time you started believing there were such situations in this era, said Leslie. It is okay now Maria. You have us to turn to when you need any help. Besides, what are friends meant for anyway if not to be there for each other? "I don't know what I would have done without you," said Maria gently licking her ice-cream. Guys, we better get going, added Fernanda worriedly. Wait a minute guys, I was hoping that you'd allow me to help you with your weak sides after school tomorrow until you all start scoring A's on your papers. That'll be awesome, exclaimed Valeria, who longed to prove his brother wrong that she wasn't blockheaded. That's fantastic, said Fernanda who had never scored an A in any of her papers and longed for one. Emma on the other hand, stood a distance away and stared at the new friends circle with wicked thoughts in mind. Hey sweetie,  Mrs. Victoria, Leslie's mum showed up suddenly. Oh mummy, you're in already. How are you doing girls, asked she? We're great. Valeria and Fernanda said in unison. Bye guys, I have to go now. See you later.

"Mum today was pretty fun!" Leslie who couldn't help keeping how her day went to herself anymore exclaimed enthusiastically. "Really, what made it fun?" asked her mum who was also eager to know what it was. I made friends with a lovely girl in my class. Is that it? Yeah. All three of us did. I really was fascinated by what she shared with us today though I felt sorry for her. Her family isn't like ours you know, and she has to go to sleep without food sometimes. Are you serious? Her mother exclaimed with a you got to be kidding me look on her face. I am honestly. I'm really… Oh my, Leslie, you got no seat belt on screamed her mother in alarm. Sorry mum. Watch out before you put yourself into a critical situation. I will mum. "Leslie, mum, you're home," Ellie shouted to hug them. She was only five and waiting for her mum and big sister to arrive for her to run to them was like a routine to her. Where's Ricardo? He's upstairs. Alright then Ellie, I'm heading to my room. Call me when you need me to come downstairs. No sooner had Leslie gone upstairs than her father who was cuddling Ellie heard noises coming from her room. He remained undisturbed but the continuous shuffling of feet and slamming of door from Leslie's room drew his attention to that direction. What's wrong with your daughter? I have no idea honey. She left for Leslie's room with a bowl of snacks to cheer her up but as she tried to turn the knob of the door, she realized it was locked. Open the door, Leslie. I brought you some snacks. I don't think so mummy. I'm not hungry. After standing for about a minute, she left her alone and returned to her husband. She's not opening the door honey and she's not hungry. Leave her for some time now. I'm sure she'll find her way here when her stomach starts rumbling. If you say so. Honey, your daughter talked of making friends with a nice girl in her class today. Oh is it? Is she also like Emma? I'm afraid not, she said her family is so poor that she sometimes sleep without food. Did she tell you her name? She didn't, but I'll ask her that. I'm heading upstairs. Ellie is asleep already. I'm not her bed so I'm sending her to where she should be sleeping. Mrs. Victoria stared after her husband had left and wondered what a lucky woman she was to have Lancelot for her husband and the father of her kids. No man can be as caring and devoted as Lancelot was she thought. I love you Lancelot and I will till the last breath of me. She smiled to herself as she said this.

Where is your sister, Nicole? Still sleeping I guess. I went to wake her up but she sent me running out of her room with threats of putting worms in my backpack if I dare come back to disturb her sleep again. Get out of my way Nicole, Emma shouted at her 10 year old sister. She nearly pushed her away as she dashed for the washroom. No sooner had she entered than she came out wiping water from her hair. Nicole as well as Mrs. Nina stared at her in bewilderment. "What did you do in there Emma?" asked Nicole. "What would I do in the washroom if not shower?" quipped Emma. But you spent less than a minute there. "Enough of your silly questions, Nicole" barked Emma.

Meanwhile, in the streets of Ashvin, Maria was having a hard time thinking of what would become of her if Emma decided to penalize her for being the reason behind her losing her friends. As soon as she got ready to leave, she heard her brother call her name. Take care of yourself Maria, he said as Maria turned to face him. As if by chance, all four newly made friends, met right at the entrance of the school. "Wow, this has got to be a coincidence," said Fernanda. How was your day guys?  Cool, said Valeria. Awesome, said Leslie. Mine was incredible, said Maria. And mine was super incredibly unexplainable, said Fernanda. All four girls burst into laughter. "You seem to be having a pretty fun time together already," said a voice which all four girls turned to confirm its owner. Carmem! They all exclaimed. Hi guys. You really surprised us, said Leslie. Guys, we've got a Math test after English class, let's get going. Yeah, let's get going. Surprisingly, Emma was pretty late for school that day. She came in the middle of English class so Miss Lisa had her skip class and promised she would be in for detention the next time she came in that late. Right after the bell rang, Carmem dashed out to where Emma was. Emma, Carmem called out. What? Emma retorted. What kept you so long? Why don't you mind your own business and get the hell out of here? This is my business, Emma. Absolutely not. This can't be your business when you walk with my enemy. Who is your enemy, Emma. Maria of course. Wait, Emma. Is Maria your enemy because she is good looking, when as the hottest girl in school, you should have had her looks? Nonsense! Did  I just hear you call her good looking, or were my ears betraying me? I'm afraid not because you heard me right. You call this bonnie monster good looking? Have you lost your sense of attraction, Carmem or are you blind now? I just don't get it why you all are calling her good looking. I wonder if she has you under some spell that makes you not see what she appears like. Enough of this drama, Emma. I'm out of here. Let's go guys. Maria, you've not touched your food. Well guys, I think you haven't been fair with Emma. Forget it Maria. If she can't be friends with you, she can't be friends with us either. Oh no! What's wrong? It's five minutes left to math class. Alright then, let's be on our way. I must say that none of us wants to be in Mr. Daniel's bad books.

As soon as they had had their seats, Mr. Daniel appeared before the class. You have twenty minutes to end your test he declared as he went round giving them each their papers. No cheating and no talking. Your time starts now. No sooner had some of them started than they heard Mr. Daniel shout time up. Half of the class put their pens and papers down immediately after that while others still had their writing tools working on their papers. Those ones received a knock each before their paper was taken including Emma. Mr. Daniel then left the room after taking his papers. "I can't wait for the results" exclaimed Leslie, right after he had left. It was as if a spell had been casted on the whole class because they all turned to stare at Leslie with their mouths agape making her wonder if there was something wrong with her uniform and her face. At last, Valeria broke the silence. Did I just hear you say that, Leslie? Yep, you did. Like seriously, chorused the class. Come on guys, I'm serious. I really want the results to be out soon. No sooner had Leslie finished her statement than she heard one of the girls scream. Are you okay Zoey?" asked Leslie. No I'm not. Emma just pinched me right here, pointing to the spot she had been pinched. What was that for, Emma? For not assisting me in the math, she replied shamelessly. You're insane Emma; need you pinch her for that? Have you no brains of your own to learn? "I'm sorry, I'm I the one you're speaking with?" said Emma. Of course not, it's the brainless, boorish Emma I'm speaking with, answered Leslie. All the other girls started giggling at this. Sensing she was been laughed at, she glared at Leslie. What's wrong, stop giving me that look Emma. Shut it Leslie, you are well aware the only one by that name is me. Oh is it, said Leslie innocently, I thought there was another. Keep quiet, retorted Emma. You keep quiet Emma. When you were well aware that you were the only person by that name, why did you ask then? Tit for tat is fair play so be quiet. I should be out of here at this moment, besides, my head always aches whenever I listen to oafs like you, said Emma. You should be talking to people like Maria and not me since she's the type of girl who is of no value in any way. "No doubt, guys let's go out of here, arguing with a fool only proves that there are two," said Leslie.

I raced home right after school. My friends insisted I stayed for a while but I wouldn't since I wasn't ready for any more hot arguments between my friends and Emma when I am the object and reason. On my way home, I was crying softly as I didn't know what I had done wrong to deserve so much hatred and ill-remarks from Emma. I was so lost that I didn't notice there was a guy heading my way and before I could come to a halt, I had already bumped into him. I realized he was holding me tight as I would be on the ground if he had let go. I stood firm so he could let go of me but it took him some time before he seemed to have realized l was in his arms. I'm sorry, I managed to say after he let go of me. I should have been watching where I was going. "It's okay, I hope you're not hurt?" he asked. No I'm not, I'm alright, I said. Uhm I have to be on my way, I hesitantly said. "Yeah, sure," he said. I pinched myself for having said that since I wanted to keep staring right into his ocean blue eyes and not take my eyes off. I wonder what made me look behind me because what met my eyes was the least thing I expected to see but anyway, I loved what I saw. I quickly looked forward and dared not turn again till I got home. All the way home, I had just one thought in mind and that was this stranger I met. I kept having silly ideas and imaginations about this new guy. Oh what has happened to me? I asked myself. This isn’t me of course. I barely think of any guy let alone imagine anything about them. I soon found myself at my home. I found Nelson seated outside our cottage. Maria, you're back. Yeah brother, I'm back. What's up with that face Maria, is it that girl Emma? Yeah. Her hatred for me has deteriorated now that four of her friends have befriended me and left her side. Oh wow, I didn't know that. Well sorry I didn't tell you but I've four friends now and they always insist we be together for some time before I leave for home. "Oh I see and I guess that's why you always kept a bit long before coming home right?" asked Nelson. But what happened you're home early today. Emma kept arguing with my friends and I was the object as usual and so I thought I would leave as soon as the bell goes. They didn't like the idea but I had to unless I wanted more arguments. You know what brother, I bumped into a certain guy on my way home because I was wondering in my mind and didn't see him. Brother, he had such handsome features that words can’t explain and his eyes were as blue as the ocean, with a deep dark mole on his neck and a dimple too. You know every part of him looked exquisite. Oh and he had such white teeth that I would not have hesitated to disagree if he had said that he ate reddish food. I would have stood there staring at him if I had not excused myself. In fact I want to go back there and continue staring at him unending. "Maria, Maria," teased Nelson. Come on brother, I'm not. "How do I believe that when you're already into his looks, said Nelson. I just hope that you don't bump into him a second time, who knows maybe… Finish your statement brother, begged Maria. Never mind. Did you bring home any assignments? "No, I didn't" said Maria. "I knew you'd say no," said Nelson. Now that your mind is occupied with his looks and thoughts, there's zero space for any other thing. Am I right, Maria? No you're not. Besides I'm not thinking of him. I was just trying to describe him to you and you are already making things up. I'm leaving now; I have to mend my uniform before tomorrow. There are just enough holes to give Emma something to gossip about and tease me for throughout the day.

Nicole knocked on her sister’s door twice but had no answer. She was just about to turn away when she heard sniffs coming from within. She turned the knob and entered the room only to find her sister lying in bed and looking at the ceiling. Emma turned to look at her sister with a frown and then turned away.  “What’s wrong with you Emma?” You look miserable and dejected, asked a concerned Nicole. I’m okay, there’s nothing for you to worry about. But you don’t look okay. I said I’m okay Nicole now get out of my room. With whose order did you come in? I said get out of my room now. You are nothing but a nuisance why don’t you just get that. Go and talk to your sister and leave me alone. But you are my only sibling and I don’t have any other sister, said Nicole almost in tears. Well then go talk to yourself and leave me in peace. I don’t want you in my room, now get out. Nicole run out of her sister’s room with teary eyes. She had only wanted to know what was bothering her sister and to see if she could be of any help to her but she in turn only got yelled at and dismissed. Right after she got to her room, she reached for her diary and her pen. She opened it and got the ball rolling. Dear Fiona, it is I Nicole. From now onwards I’ll call you Nicole Junior because you are not just my diary and best friend but my sister too. I used to think that sisters were the best of friends ever but now I know it’s not the way I thought it to be. I read in different books and from different sources that sisters were each other’s rock and companion. They share their problems with each other and care about each other’s sentiments but I’m sure they had it all wrong otherwise I am not destined to have a sister like that. You know what I mean right, Nicole. Emma doesn’t take me for her sister and thinks that I’m of no use and therefore wants me out of her room anytime I go to her. Nicole she just asked me to go out of her room when I went to see if she was okay. Nicole Junior, I know that you’re listening to me and you understand me but I wish you were real and could talk to me the way I talk to you. I wish that you be my sister and companion. My friends at school say that a true friend is one who helps you to be yourself and I know you would have done that to me if you were real. Nicole I wish I hadn’t been born in the first place. If I knew that Emma was going to be my sister then I would have waited for a thousand years to be in another woman’s womb and family. It hurts to cry myself to sleep everyday with no one to turn to and no one to console me. I have a sister but I don’t. I am my own sister and I know I have nobody though I have mom and dad. I want a real sister or a brother who will be glad to have me for a sister and loves me. You know Nicole, I feel bad whenever I see my friends at school laughing heartily with their siblings. I wish I were one of them even if I didn’t belong to a wealthy family. Seeing the picture of a happy sister singing to her newly born sister on my phone makes me want to be her and not me. Nicole I don’t want to talk anymore because I’m afraid the pain will increase more and more but I hope my wish would come true one day.

Emma! Emma! "Speak up Jessie and stop shouting my name" said Emma. "You won't believe what I have to say" said Jessie. What then are you waiting for, go on and tell me. Well I was on my way to class when I heard a new student was joining us in the third year. All along I hadn't seen him yet but then something strange happened.  I chanced to see his face before he disappeared and oh, what a sight I met. I would have stood staring at his blue eyes and handsome features all day. "Oh is it?" said Emma. It's been quite a long time since I flirted with a hot guy and I guess he's the right one for me. We're going to make such a nice couple. Wherever we roam, all eyes will be on us. Emma sat there building castles in the air while smiling to herself. Her thoughts were interrupted by a beaming Miss Lisa. Attention class. A new student will be joining us in a moment. Put on your best behavior and don't bombard him with questions and also none of you should signal him to his seat, I'll give him the chance to do that himself. And you Emma, don't try to showcase your wealth to have his attention. You are just excellent at such traits. All eyes turned to her, making her cheeks burn but that seemed to have made staring at her more interesting to the class. Alright everyone, Miss Lisa's calm voice interrupted them. This is Cirilo Fox, she said as she pointed to the new student. All eyes turned to the direction of her finger. Maria couldn't believe her what she saw and pinched herself to see if it were real. Now Cirilo, you may join the other students. He walked from the front of the class and looked around. Finally, he headed to the third column of the fourth row. "Please pass by, don't stop, don't stop," whispered Maria to herself. As if Cirilo had heard her. He stopped right at her seat and asked politely, may I join you please? "You may," said Maria. "That's a pretty nice choice Cirilo," said Miss Lisa. Cirilo turned to look at her and then to Maria whose head had been on the table all along. She raised it slowly after he had sat down. Hi, said Cirilo gently, stretching his hands towards her. "Hi, said Maria, shaking the hand that was awaiting her. Cirilo's eyes dilated after seeing the face of who he was sitting with. Maria noticed it and smiled shyly. "This was the last place I ever thought to see you,"

said Cirilo. Well, even I didn't dream of seeing you here, that too in my class. Maria raised her head and realized the other students all had their eyes on them, as if to ask if they're acquainted with each other. Any way Maria, I'm glad we're now in the same school and the same level and most of all, seatmates. Really, exclaimed a surprised Maria. "Yeah, really," said Cirilo. Have you any friends by the way, asked Cirilo. Yeah, there are four of them. You don't seem to want a lot of friends do you? Well not really, said Maria. "Well then I suppose you wouldn't like it if I asked to be your friend", said Cirilo. "Oh no, I don't mean that, said Maria. If you say so then Maria, if you don't mind, I would like to be your friend. Who knows, we might even grow closer and become best buddies someday. Alright, your friend request has been accepted. Well then thank you, said Cirilo. It's a pleasure, replied Maria. Cirilo, just a minute. I'll be right back. Wow, Maria. Do you two know each other, asked Leslie. Well just a little bit. I bumped into him some time ago and I recognized him when he came to class today. "Wait Maria; tell me that's not why your head was on the table all along, said Valeria. Actually, it was because I realized he was looking our direction.

Just a few months passed and Maria and Cirilo were like childhood friends. Wherever you see Maria, you'll find Cirilo and wherever you see Cirilo, you’ll meet Maria there with him. It was break time and so lessons were not going on. Maria’s on the look for Cirilo when suddenly her friends approached her.

Maria, where is your boyfriend? Oh please, he's just my friend Valeria. Come on Maria, you're more than friends I can see. Alright so what is it that you can see Valeria? Those days you were either with us or with your books in the classroom but not anymore. Now you are either with us or with him in the library, just the two of you. Isn't it guys? Absolutely so, they all chorused. Well the thing is, we've been helping each other. Oh really? Alright let me help you since you're helpless, the thing is you two are in love or better still, crushing on each other and therefore keep stealing glances at each other in the class and everywhere. Valeria you've had it all wrong. Just stop doubting and tell us if you're in a relationship already, teased Fernanda. By the way Maria, he's good looking and gentle. I bet some girls would kill to have him. There you are Maria, said Cirilo coming towards her with a sweet smile forming on his face. I've been looking for you for ages. Where have you been? Even I was looking for you. Oh hello girls, realizing her friends were with her. Hey Cirilo, they all said. All this while he stood staring into her eyes as she tried to hide her face and the smile forming in it. He had noticed it and loved it more than ever. He moved closer to her and pretended to take something off her dress as he put his arm around her and shortly removed it. So Maria, when are we going to the library to do our assignments? Well anytime we’ll be free. “Can we join you the next time please,” asked Valeria knowing well that their answer was going to be negative. Cirilo and Maria both looked at each other without a word. The girls were enjoying this as it was clear the two were having feelings for each other and wanted to be alone for all the time they could get. "Oh my goodness, what have you done to my beautiful shoes? Are you blind? Don't you see? I'm sorry sister Emma. Just shut that stinking mouth of yours. Have you any idea the cost of this shoe you've just stepped on? I bet the price is twice the salary of your parents. Get out of my sight you son of a b*tch, barked Emma. Maria looked at the poor little girl and almost run off but Cirilo got hold of her and pulled her back so tight that their bodies touched. Maria out of the blue laid her head on Cirilo’s chest as he gently cuddled her. Who's that girl, asked Cirilo? She's Emma Head, our classmate. And that poor girl, asked Cirilo. That's Carolina Bells, a first year student. Has Emma no sentiments. She just made that poor little girl cry and she doesn't even care. That's the way she is, Cirilo. Leslie turned to look at him and was surprised that the two were clinging to each other already. Maria here has gone through such experience before when she accidentally bumped into her. Cirilo held Maria even tighter as Leslie said this while looking into her eyes as if to say that he wished he had been there earlier to protect her. Besides, she dislikes her badly and would not hesitate to put her into trouble. Her venom towards her was what caused us to unfriend her and befriend Maria instead. She was our friend. Maria had no friend 'cause if you try to be nice to her, she'll scold you as if she were your mother. Wow! Exclaimed Cirilo. It's okay now Maria. You have me now, and I'll be there for you whenever you need me. This is my promise to you. If she ever comes close to you again, I won’t spare her even for a second. She has tortured you enough and it is about time she left you alone. I’ll be with you wherever you go and make sure you are safe and sound. I suppose I heard the bell guys, said Carmem. Let's get going before we're late. Oh no guys, I guess I better use the washroom at the moment. See you in class. Don't keep long, said Maria. "It's your chance now Emma, those girls are no longer with him," said Jessie, one of Emma's wealthy friends. "Wait guys, what if he rejects me or reports me to Miss Lisa?" asked Emma. He’s always around that nonsensical girl. You're beautiful right and moreover rich, so what makes you think he'll reject you? Go on before he comes out. Let's go girls; I'll do it another time when I have rehearsed what to say and how to react. Did you see how he hugged her a few minutes ago? I don’t want to sound or look foolish in front of him. "If you say so, then so be it," said Clarice, Emma's other friend. Hey guys, don't you think we should go and comfort Carolina after here. I really feel sorry for her, said Valeria. Yeah, I was thinking the same here, said Fernanda. I'm back guys, said Cirilo. Oh no! Maria exclaimed. What is it beloved? Cirilo asked in a concerned and innocent state. I forgot all about my writing tool case out there. I have to go and get it back before Mr. Tristin comes. No let’s get going, no one will have it. But Cirilo what if Mr. Tristin gives us assignment to do? Alright then I'm coming with you. Oh no Cirilo, I'll be fine. Besides I'm just going to get it I'll be back in a jiffy. Even if it’s for a second, I’m still coming with you. Oh please, you guys are going to be late for class, just go on without me I’ll be there soon. Cirilo reluctantly accepted her request to go alone. Just watch out for me, said Maria. Take care of yourself Maria; Cirilo said hesitantly leaving her behind. "Come on, come on, and show yourself. I have to hurry back to class," said Maria busily searching for her too case without noticing her worst enemy coming towards her. There you are you naughty little writing tool case. I found you at last.

"Who do we have here?" Maria Costa isn't it, said Emma with a cunning smile on her face. "Please Emma, I came to get my writing tool case and not to argue with you, please let me go," said Maria. "Where are your rescuers, Maria? Let them come to your aid 'cause I'm going to tear you to pieces right now and right here, said Emma. Trying to be close to Cirilo ha? Are you not ashamed of yourself to even think that a handsome, wealthy and brilliant guy like Cirilo will ever consider such a poor, ugly and unpleasant girl like you a friend let alone make you his girlfriend? Did you think you could make him yours? Have you been looking at yourself in the mirror anyway? Oops, I almost forgot you haven't got one at home. But you could borrow one from a neighbor right or get yourself one from the refuse dump. It seems no one has been sensible enough to tell you how you look, isn't it? You probably have been believing those lies those friends of yours tell you about your looks right? Well let me tell you the truth. Your eye balls are bigger than any normal human being's and even your smile is quite odd. Your face resembles a baboon and your slender body is what makes you more than ugly. "Please Emma; I have had enough of your harsh words now allow me to go to class," said Maria. Besides, I'm not trying to steal anyone. "Will you shut up," said Emma. How dare you to interfere, you are not going anywhere. Since when did you become this bold? You are staying right here till those rescuers of yours get you out. Just pray you can hold your breath till they get you out. Girls, lock this b*tch in there.  "No please, Jessie, Clarice please do not do this" said Maria. Sorry Maria, said the two girls. Maria’s heart began beating as fast as a whirlwind. She had refused to let Cirilo come with her and now here she was in danger. If only she had known better then she would not have stopped him from coming with her. She cried softly as she thought of what would become of her if she stayed in there for long. Let's go, said Emma. I don't like this Emma, it isn't right in any way for you to lock her up because you hate her besides she could get unconscious if she stays in there for long. You know that room isn’t supposed to be locked since there isn’t enough fresh air. "Not another word from you Jessie, unless you want to join her,” threatened Emma. "Leslie, don't do you think Maria has kept quite long out there, asked a concerned Cirilo. He had begun having a feeling that Maria’s long keeping is due to something else and not her tool case. "Yeah I do," answered Leslie. Someone is coming, I think it is her. "Nope, it's Emma and her friends," whispered Fernanda. Come back here you three, shouted Mr. Tristin, as Emma and the other girls tried to take their seats without him noticing. Mr. Tristin, their French teacher, was a vigilant and strict teacher who rarely let any student who skipped his class or come late go scot-free. Over the years, no student has ever entered his class without him noticing him and it was difficult for anyone to make up an excuse to leave his class unless he trusts you enough to not be a rascal, then he would easily permit you to. Where were you when lessons began? Mr. Tristin asked them. Mr. Tristin, began Jessie. Actually, we didn't hear the bell, continued Emma sensing that Jessie was about to let the cat out of the bag unless she came in. All three of you? Mr. Tristin asked. Yes, all three of us, replied Emma. That's no tangible reason for you to be late for class. You are staying behind after school's over, all three of you. Hope I'm clear? Yes, Mr. Tristin, chorused the girls. You may take your seats now. Thank you, said Clarice and Jessie looking tensed. "I suspect Maria's long keeping has something to do with Emma," said Leslie. Cirilo could somehow hear Maria’s voice calling and crying out to him for help. That's it. I'm going out there to look for her. I won’t be able to restrain myself if anything bad happens to her. Something bad for sure is happening or has happened to her and I must find out what and who is behind it all.

"Did you hear that?" Annie asked. Hear what, I don't think I can hear a thing, said Felicity. I think I heard someone scream for help, Felicity. Well then Annie, I'm sorry but you must have been imagining things. Besides, you are good at that kind of thing. I'm not kidding Felicity, I heard that clearly and I know I wasn't imagining things. Wait a minute Annie; I think I heard something too. Come on, let us be quick, it is coming from that way and it might be something critical. Who could it be anyway? There, here we go. What happened, can't you open the door? Felicity asked her friend. I think this door was locked intentionally by someone. Whoever is in there has to be brought out

immediately, I can't hear anything nor any sound from there. It's clear the person can no longer shout for help. Something must have happened to that person.

What's going on here? Both girls turned in alarm to find a good looking third year student staring back at them with suspicion. We heard someone scream and we followed to see who it was but we couldn't open the door so we were just thinking of what to do to get this door opened when you came, said Annie who was already freaking out. Oh no, get out of the way girls, said Cirilo as he made his way for the door. How on earth was this door locked? Have you any idea where the key to this door is? I'm afraid we don't. All the doors have their keys on them, it's strange this door doesn't, that too when someone is in. Where are you going? Annie asked. I'm on my way to the principal's office, answered Cirilo. I think you should rather press on the alarm bell on that wall, suggested Annie. Thank you girls. By the way, did you not see anyone around here when you came? Cirilo asked. No we didn't, said the girls in unison. As it was in the school, whenever the alarm bell goes, all staff come out of their classes and this one was no exception. I suppose something terrible has happened out there, said Leslie. Yeah, but the question is to who, said Valeria. I hope it's not Maria, said Carmem. Oh no, Cirilo is also out there. Only god knows what's happening now, said Fernanda. I'm going out to see for myself guys, said Leslie. Don't even think of it Leslie, you know the rules concerning this, said Valeria.  Of course I do, said Leslie. Would you rather we stand here and do nothing when our two chums are out there that too after the alarm bell has been blown? Leslie questioned a confused Valeria. Alright then, what do you say guys, said Valeria. I say we go out there to find out what has happened to Maria and Cirilo, said Fernanda.


Hurry, hurry! Move, move. "Somebody call the ambulance," shouted the principal. "It's Maria, oh no, exclaimed Leslie. "Be quick and open the door'' shouted a staff member. One guy from the ambulance helped them to take the patient in. " Please sir let me come along, " pleaded Cirilo. Oh no you can't come along with us, you have to stay right here to avoid further problems. "Please sir, let me go with you," pleaded Cirilo once more. She's my closest friend and I can't stand here and watch her in her helpless state. Cirilo smiled, showing his white teeth to the principal as he signaled to him to shush and come along. "Please get inside all of you. The vehicle is ready to take off, said the driver. "What happened to Maria? Leslie asked. She was all good before we left her so now how come she's unconscious? Poor Maria, said Valeria. I wonder what Cirilo will do without her. You should have seen his face before the ambulance took off. His eyes were teary more than that of a kid whose teddy bear has fallen into the river and taken away. Where are you going to in such a rage? Valeria asked. "To find that b*tch,'' answered Leslie. I'm sure she has something to do with this and is solely responsible for Maria's condition now.

Emma! Emma! What on earth have you done to Maria? Why do you ask me? "Was I there before the incidence took place or did you see me with Maria? Emma barked at Leslie. Do let me be at peace before you join her. "Look at you, are you not ashamed of yourself? Never for once did I even think you could be this malicious and spiteful. Really Emma you are inhuman, said Fernanda. How could you be this heartless? Put yourself in her mother's shoes and tell me what you would have done and felt if something bad happens to your daughter while at school? "Forget it Fernanda, how do you want one without a heart to feel pain herself let alone someone else's pain. Can someone please tell me my fault here? Emma screamed. Is it because I said you'll join her that makes you think I put her in her present

condition or is it because I dislike her strongly and wouldn't hesitate to put her into trouble. See here little rascals, find yourselves something to do rather than standing here like idiots  who have lost their food and don't know who to blame for it or ask of. "Let's get out of here Leslie,'' said Valeria. This isn't helping in any way. Leave Emma to her fate. If she is the one behind this, then she shall definitely pay for it after the truth is revealed.

"Move, move, shouted the doctor pushing Maria's wheel. Quick, open the door to the emergency ward the patient needs urgent treatment." "I'm sorry kid but you can't come in until the patient has been attended to" one of the doctor's informed Cirilo before he could push himself inside. "Do take a seat, she'll soon be fine in no time" said the principal. What's your name kid? I'm Cirilo Fox, sir, replied he. I can see that you really care about your friend Cirilo, said the principal. "I really do sir. I hope she comes out safely. I honestly don't want anything bad to happen to her and that she comes out safe and sound" said Cirilo with teary eyes. Meanwhile, Leslie was crying her heart out at school and won't be comforted.

"Dry your eyes Leslie, Maria will be just fine," said Valeria. "When, when will she be just fine?" questioned Leslie. This is our entire fault. We shouldn't have left her alone. That wicked b*tch must have done something evil to her since we were not with her to help her this time. Poor Maria, I just hope they are on their way back here. A couple of hours passed and the door to Maria's ward was opened. Cirilo sprang to his feet but fell back in his chair when the doctor spoke. "I'm sorry sir; she's not out of danger yet. We are the doing the best abilities to save her. She must have been in that room for a pretty long time and has therefore inhaled in too much of the gas. I'm afraid her kidneys have become weak due to the poisonous gas and might stop breathing very soon if all our efforts fail. "I am sorry sir but that can't happen to her," said Cirilo. She was all good and healthy not long ago. "Well she must have been but no more kid," said the doctor. We are still making all efforts to bring her out of her current situation. "Please do sir," said Cirilo. It looked as if the day would not come to an end that day as Cirilo waited anxiously for Maria to regain consciousness and run into his arms. But unfortunately for him, Maria's condition seemed to get worse every second that went by. Seeing the doctors and nurses go in and out of her ward every now and then made his heart beat faster and faster.

Meanwhile, Jessie and Clarice had gone to their house mistress to confess what had happened to her. On reaching the door to her office, they took turns to knock. "Come in, said a voice." They both walked in with mixed feelings. As they entered, Miss Jolie looked up at them and showed them

to a seat. They sat down and seemed to have regretted coming there in the first place as their faces were like those children who normally forget what they've been sent to buy. They stared at each other without taking their eyes off just the way two lovers would. Miss Jolie had to clear her throat to bring them back to reality. They soon realized what she meant by that and realized they had not said a word since they entered. Clarice went down on her knees and began pleading for forgiveness. Jessie followed suit, leaving Miss Jolie to wonder what it was that they were pleading for. Please Miss Jolie, forgive us. We had never wanted any of this to happen to. We never knew our actions would lead to this. Had we known better, we wouldn't have followed the instructions we were given. As they went on confessing and pleading, Miss Jolie could take it no more. What is it with you two? She asked them both. What is it that you are pleading for? Do get to the point and stop beating around the bush, since you are getting me anxious and frightened already. Having had the go ahead from Miss Jolie, Jessie looked at Clarice and nodded with a blink as they had planned to do before confessing. Miss Jolie, Emma Head, our friend, has sown venom in her heart and whole being towards Maria Costa. She has never liked her on the grounds that, she had books planted in her head and could easily pass all questions and test. One more reason is that, all the guys that she fancied and would have something to do with, turn to be staring at her almost always and that made her sick. If she ever stood with any hot and handsome guy to flirt with or even to show off to him, all that the guy would do is talk about Maria and how good looking she was and how  her children would also grow to be that good looking and exquisite. All these comments hurt and angered her badly but once one of these guys she fancied, went the extra mile to say that Maria was a picture in his eyes and wished she would be the mother of his children if they were to start a relationship and grow up together, she had wished to grab her and tore her to pieces as her revenge for coming between every guy that he ever liked. Now that Cirilo came, she thought of having him as well but it seemed this time too, Maria was coming between and more surprisingly, she was also showing interest in him by virtue of them being together most of the time and also smiling and staring into each other's eyes. For this very guy, she swore to get Maria out of her way to get to. She has been monitoring her every move to see when she would be all by herself since she couldn't do a thing to her with her friends around. She saw her chance just this morning when her friends headed for the classroom without her and Cirilo as well not with her. Actually we were with her then, so she grabbed her by the wrist and wouldn't let her go until she was done with her. After saying all the hurtful things that she wanted to say to her, she pushed her inside one of the rooms nearby and asked us to lock her inside. But before then, she threw this powdered stuff she has been keeping in her handkerchief wherever she found herself inside and turned to go. We tried to ask her what it was but she would not open up to us. We told her to get her out of there but she threatened we would join her if we said another word so we kept mute. Few minutes later, we heard the alarm bell and there she was being carried into the ambulance. After they had said everything they wished to say, they looked up only to find out that Miss Jolie had her mouth opened to the widest inch and her eyes as if they wanted to come out of their holes. Miss Jolie seemed to have lost her sense of speech for the reason that, she seemed to have been saying something but both girls could neither read her lips nor hear a sound but only see her mouth opening and closing and nothing else.

Please God, please God, he prayed silently within himself, let the unexpected not happen to my beloved. Save my friend and I promise to take extremely good care of her for the rest of our lives. You cannot take her away from me now that you've allowed me to see her as more than my friend and do everything with her as a young partner and have plans for our future together in mind. How can our future together ever be fulfilled if you take her away from me now. Save her for me please. I've never felt this way towards anyone in my entire life and now that I have, it seems fate would not permit me to be with that one person. I can never have feelings for anyone the same way I do with Maria and if that happens, I'll remain single for the rest of my life since I'll have no eyes and heart to see another woman as good enough to replace my beloved Maria. I'll die if anything bad happens to Maria in there. Do give them the required potential needed to save her even if they don't deserve those potentials. You can take them back once they've saved my chum. You help the helpless right God, I am helpless please help me out.


The doctors were also doing their best to bring life to the young girl whose boyfriend was desperate to come in to see how she was doing. at last, none of them wanted to go out of the ward as the beautiful soul had been written out of the script. Once they were out, the look on their faces might give them away even if they were to tell them something reassuring, and they boy, he might even run into the ward and who knows what will happen to him on seeing her body. He might even pass out due to shock.

Valeria, Leslie, Carmem and Fernanda all had ants in their pants since the ambulance left with their friends. Now what would become of them if they were to return without Maria. Somehow, the doctors finally managed to come out of the ward to let the sad news about their patient. Cirilo, on seeing them rose to his feet and longed to hear them ask him to go in and see his friend but it seemed as though that moment was not going to come his way. "I'm sorry sir, but the girl has been taken by the grim reaper," said the doctor to the principal and the desperate boy. No sooner had he finished talking  than Cirilo fell to the ground unconscious. Quickly, they rushed him to the ward and did with him the necessary requirements to bring one from an unconscious state. After a couple of hours, he was conscious again and demanded the whereabouts of Maria. He came out of the ward but with a sorrowful look in his eyes and face. Cirilo and the principal got out of the hospital and headed for the school. Both of them had their own thoughts running down their minds. The principal, was wondering how to inform the parents of Maria what had happened to their daughter and also what to say to the staff and pupils when he got back to school. Having had Maria's incident as the first in history for a student of the school to be in such critical state and eventually give up the soul. But the one most important thing on his mind at the moment was to find out what exactly happened that she, Maria got locked up in that room and who the culprits were and what exactly they put in there that she inhaled and ended up causing harm to her kidneys as there were nothing so harmful in the school let alone in the room where the students would always pass by before entering their various classes. Cirilo on the other hand, was deeply recalling how he would imagine spending his entire lifetime with Maria and living happily ever after. A tear dropped from his eye as he felt the pain intensely and wondered who else could have been behind this if not that evil monster, Maria. He disliked her completely at that instant and would have stabbed her right at that moment if she were to have been there, probably doing nothing other than shedding crocodile tears to have no one suspecting her of having done anything with her since her venom for her was well known to majority of the students. Now a deadly idea popped up in his mind as he thought of what he had earlier on said to himself. He thought of committing suicide so he could catch up with Maria in the other world and live the life he so desired with her in the other world. "What is the purpose of living without that one person to make it right and perfect?" he asked himself without letting a word out of this mouth. I'd rather die young than live to be old a bachelor sine there isn't any other woman who can ever replace her in his heart or even be loved dearly as the heart yearns for Maria alone and no one else. His thoughts were distracted as he heard the driver telling them that they were at their destination. He got out of the car and realized the whole school seemed more like an auditorium than a school as everywhere he looked; pupils were gathered in their numbers. He went straight to his blog without saying a word to anyone not even to those who asked him a question or two. He soon got to his classroom and reached for his backpack. He left afterwards without talking to any of his four friends, even though they bombarded him with questions about Maria. He descended to the principal's office and without saying a word, the principal on seeing him nodded. He left and went home. Right after he got home, he went straight to his room without sharing pleasantries with anyone as he would always do. This new behavior didn't really please his youngest sister but as she was the only one present at the scene, she kept quiet and watched him go without saying a word to him. "What is wrong with brother today?" Briana asked to no one in particular. Cirilo got to his room at last and locked it up as he sat slowly and gently on his soft and luxurious bed. He reached for a pen and a book and jotted something down onto it. He then looked at it as tears run down his face and tore the part of the book which he wrote, folded it and left it right at the door step. Troubled Briana went right to her mother to inform her that her brother was in and that he didn't say a word to her when he entered. Mrs. Sydney was surprised since she least expected to have him home all by himself. She got up quickly and went towards his room. On reaching there, she knocked on the door and realized it was not locked. This was strange as Cirilo seldom leaves his door opened even when he is just taking a shower. She went in and called his name but had no response. She repeated his name and there was still no response. She then looked down and saw a folded sheet placed in another sheet right at the front of the door.  She then decided to read whatever was written in the paper she had in her hands but she needed her glasses on to be able to do that so she went back downstairs with her daughter. Her second daughter, Celine offered to do the reading for her thinking that her brother had written it to his girlfriend and mistakenly left it there. She opened it with glittering eyes but suddenly her face saddened as she was disappointed to know that it was no love letter but a suicide note. She stood still and stared at the paper in her hands for what seemed like ages until she finally found her voice. She began to read the note aloud with a trembling voice and teary eyes. "Dear mother,  dear dad, dear Celine, Dear Bobby and my dearest Briana, she paused after reading the names and stared at her family one after the other and then moved on with her reading, there was this charming girl I bumped into few days after I went to my new school. The night on the day that I saw her, I kept thinking about her and wishing that I could meet her again as I had fallen in love with her at first sight and yearned to see her every day and every hour and every minute and every second. Thanks to God, I found her in my new school.'' She was my classmate and my seat mate as well. I grew close to her and she close to me gradually and we even kissed once in the library after looking into each other's eyes and leaning towards each other. I pictured her as my would be wife in the future and promised myself that since we were both into each other, there was no way I would leave her or even spend my life with any woman but her. Unfortunately, my dream was short lived as someone locked her up in a room for quite a long time and it soon became a life and death situation. The principal and I together with a doctor and some other people in the ambulance, she was sent to the hospital. As fate would have it, she couldn't make it and I had made a promise to myself and Maria that, if ever she passed away, I would also follow her. There's no way I can ever love anyone else but her so what's the point in living without the one person I ever loved. I have therefore followed her so that we could live the life we planned to live with the number of children we thought of having. I'm sorry everyone. I love you all. Celine closed the paper in her hand after she had read all that was written and tried her best to stop the stream of tears from flowing down her cheeks. What he did to himself, no one ever knew as no one found it out. He left his disappearance a mystery which puzzled everyone in the household especially Briana, the youngest of them all who was so fond of her brother that she would plead with him to carry her on his shoulders or cuddle her till she fell asleep and would also refuse to eat anything unless her dear brother was there and had also had something or was about to.  The day of Maria's sudden and unexpected death was the last time that the Fox family ever heard and saw of their beloved Cirilo.

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