The Past’s Firm Grip

I woke up to the sound of my alarm blasting through my phone’s speakers. I really have to find a different tone. Jim won’t be up for another 2 hours. I can’t blame him; school doesn’t start till 8 and it’s just 4:30 AM. I know, I know but hey! I need my 2 hours to freshen up and look ‘me’ for the day. And since we have just one bathroom to share this is the only way I can have my ‘me time’. Well there’s another way – God, take these naughty thoughts out of my head! – but it’s not up for discussion. The second alarm blew.

“Won’t you get that?” the sweet voice of my best friend asked when my ‘in bed stretches’ didn’t look like they were ending anytime soon. My eye lids lost the battle and swung open. I’m glad they did and at that time too. Just in time to see my roommate in front of the dressing mirror tying her braids in a bun. “Hey,” I called out. She looked at my reflection in the mirror as she continued to tie her hair. Once I was sure she could see me, I goofily smiled and perked my lips to blow her a kiss. She looked away from the mirror and turned around to face me with no readable expression on. She walked in my direction, looking at me the whole time. “A Good morning kiss?” I asked myself. Reflex closed my eyes and perked my lips as she drew closer. “This is it.” And then my alarm stopped ringing. I opened my right eye first to peak and then the left followed after I understood the situation. She shook her head at me as she handed my silenced phone to me and went on to assume position back in front of the mirror. She looked at me through the mirror again and blew me a kiss also. We both burst out laughing.

“Did you really think I was about to kiss you good morning?” she asked sipping on the freshly brewed coffee. It was awesome having a breakfast joint on the ground floor of our building. I giggled and then bit my lip. “I honestly hoped so,” I answered. The truth was I stared so hard back in the apartment I managed to zone out every other thing. Including the alarm that kept on ringing as I waited for the kiss that wasn’t building up even. We continued to laugh and talk until she was done with her breakfast. She’s always the last.
She looked good today. Then again she always does. And I know this because of how much people stare whenever we walk to campus. “Those two hours of getting ready is paying off beautifully,” I teased.

Urghh, class is so boring! It probably wasn’t a good idea to sit at the back of the class. Jim’s ideas almost always sucked and so I wasn’t surprised. I looked at him as he penned down a point our lecturer just made. I smiled when I realised that was the same thing that happened to him this morning with his phone’s alarm. After staring at Jim for a while, he was all I saw. His silence was all I heard and it felt so good. I came to and looked at what notes he had made so I could jot down the same in my writing pad. My face turned red. It was my name. All along he was scribbling designs of my name over and over again. And I was here thinking he had those dreamy eyes on because of the female lecturer. My thoughts laid my head on his shoulder for the rest of the lesson.

Ever since she got raped, she has never been to school on her own. I am always with her. Not necessarily because I wanted to at first, but because that was the only way she could bring herself to walk down those halls again- holding the hand of somebody she trusted. At first, we thought graduating from the school and starting fresh in the university would make things different. We thought wrong. She literally shakes and feels a panic attack creep up whenever, for some reason, we have to be apart. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes. She makes sure she doesn’t drink water at school so that she’ll never have to go to the ladies’. The mere thought of that place is always accompanied with tears. Most girls get moody whenever it is that time of the month. For her, school is her period. The time when her headaches could last all day just because of memories. These same memories are behind her throwing up and feeling sick. And sometimes, like today I can’t think of anything to cheer her up with.

The walk back home was quiet and I liked it. Most people are scared of silence whenever they are together but for us silence heals. We allowed the thoughts we hold dear of each other gently drown out the honk of the cars and chatter of the daytime and continued to walk arm-in-arm. As we neared the door to our place I noticed Jim check his pockets for the keys. After a couple of pats he let out an “Oh [insert word to show frustration here]” My eye brows fell and a frown began to grow. “What’s wrong Jim?” I asked hoping it wasn’t what I was thinking.
The look he gave me was enough to confirm my suspicions and I just freaked out. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, Jim. We aren’t going back there. It’s already dark. W-W-We’re not going back to the sch-school. We aren’t Jim.” My rant had just began.

I heard her breathing get deeper. Tears began to race down her cheeks and her hands shook uncontrollably. “What have I done?” Earlier that day, I took out the key and waved it in front of her face and narrated that it is the key to my heart. And that it is because home is where the heart is. Now look where my silly jokes have landed us. “Jim, noooo, no, no” she continued. I shook myself out of my head and took off my shirt and wrapped it around her quickly. I said a lot of “it’s okays” and struggled to make her stop thinking whatever it was she was. We ended up on the floor, with my arms around her and our backs against the locked door. I whispered an ‘I love you’ just before I slept off too.
Her alarm woke us up at 4 : 30 AM. I opened my eyes to hers looking at me. She began to kiss me.


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