After sitting on the floor for a whole hour and a half both fully wide awake, I finally decided to break the silence. “You would have still been bathing by now,” I said softly. She smiled and shook her head to say I was wrong without looking at my face. I thought long about a way to make going to class less awkward than it looked like it will be and it wasn’t long till what seemed to be our best bet joined the table of great ideas. “We can go shower at Bob’s Café. It doesn’t open till 6:30 and the time is just 6:05. If we hurry, and I mean you hurry…” she giggled and rolled her eyes “…we could freshen up at the Employees Only section.” She didn’t look too convinced so I went on, “Come on, Old Man Bob loves us. He’d understand.” I didn’t wait for her consent this time. I jumped up and stretched my hand down gesturing that she tags along. I smiled when she took my hand and led the way to Bob’s. As predicted Old Man Bob welcomed the idea, but only after scolding us for sleeping in the hallway. “Why didn’t you kids come over to my place; It’s just downstairs?” he asked. After a number of failed attempts at trying to find an excuse, we did what we should have at the beginning of the whole back and forth with him – bow our heads down and apologise. The grown ups are defenceless against youth who acknowledge their faults. It worked and we were spared a whole speech.
Jim allowed me to shower first. We didn’t have our towels and there was no way I was going to use the one that hanged there as a spare although it looked pretty clean. “They all do,” I spat out staring at the hanged piece of white with narrow eyes. I giggled when I realised that accusing a towel of not being new would be added to the list of events that have the potential of increasing my shower time. Not today though. We were in a hurry. Our class has the funny if you’re early but totally ‘argh’ when you’re late habit of filling out the seats and leaving those in the front of the class for the late comers. Walking down that aisle and noticing the heads turn as you near them isn’t at all as embarrassing as the look of the lecturer as he/she eyes you like a judgmental priest on your wedding day would. It’s an absolute show stopper. I can’t take that much heat. And it’s for this reason and this reason alone I have to bath quick. This good intention of mine was short lived after the first batch of fetched water iced the skin at my back. It was freezing cold!! This isn’t good.
I came out of the bathroom with traces of soap sticking out of my hair and in places I didn’t even think were accessible. And you can guess who laughed her head off when she saw me walk out. It was all her fault though. Just this once, this one time I begged her to use less time in the bathroom, she used up all the time. And it wasn’t because of a spider, or a roach or anything that can make a lady suddenly stop and divert. No, it was because of the water. I’m sure she’ll tell anyone she narrates today’s adventure to that the water was freezing cold and what not. It’s true, it was. But we had planned for 30 minutes of bath time, 15 each. She ate into my 15 minutes and so I had to do in less than five minutes what I could have in fifteen. “I’d bite you if you continue laughing, you. Please help me get the soap out of my hair”
By the time we walked out of the Café it was already crowded with people. These business people don’t joke with their coffee. It was a good day to be a boy. Watching my best friend take each step feeling like the whole world was gossiping about her sparked my appreciation for all things male. “Hun, they don’t know you spent just 30 minutes to bath today,” I teased. She didn’t have the time to reply my apparent ‘get her upset’ tactics. All her time and energy went into spearheading her mission to get in and out of school before anyone could notice anything ‘different’. Haha, in our case, ‘similar’. We had on the same clothes we wore yesterday and it drove her nuts.
As predicted every single seat at the back was taken. “Uh oh. We’re so late Jim,” I whispered. We stood there for about 30 seconds peaking in through the glass doors of the lecture hall. When we got bored of exchanging terror glances, we took deep breaths and pushed the doors open. I could hear my heart beat. I swallowed and began to count my steps as we walked further down the aisle. I knew I was slowing Jim down and I bet he wished he was in front of me instead. Heads continued to turn to our direction and locked in on us as we continued. By the time we got halfway through our rather silly journey to the front row, the whole class had turned to look at us. I never realised how far down it was from the last row to the first. “We might actually make it alive!” I thought to myself. Cue ‘lecturer joining the students to stare and completely stops talking now!’ That just made me lose it. Before I could stop myself I had already turned around and began walking back to the exit. Jim looked the most confused he had ever looked in school as I took his hand and dragged him out with me. “What just happened?” Jim asked as he closed the door behind us. I was panting like crazy and I had bent just enough to rest my hands on my knees. My braids obeyed whichever law of physics was at play and fell with their tips pointing towards the floor. Looking back up at Jim all I could do was laugh. I didn’t have to wonder why Jim didn’t join in for long. “The Key! We forgot the key!” I couldn’t believe it.
Back to square one. We sat outside the lecture hall with our backs against the wall. There’s no way we were going back there after the stunt my ever so daring best friend just pulled. What we could do though was wait outside till the class ends and is emptied before going back in to look for the key. Challenge Accepted.