Episode 1 - Crush Maniac
It was a week to the commencement of examinations, John was returning from the library with his best friend Benjamin as they met Cindy, a classmate of theirs, on her way to the library. While she was still afar off, John had sighted her. She was always easy to notice because of her likeness for the colours red and pink. She was always wearing either red or pink shoes and tops, with her brightly colored red or pink lips. In days when she decided not to use her usual red or pink lipstick, her deeply coloured red lips did the job for her. This time, her lips were pink-coloured and her shoes were pink, so also was her hand bag carrying her books. Some considered her cliche dressing style as awkward but to John it was not. It had not been awkward since John had developed a crush for Cindy since the beginning of the academic session. His heart was racing as she came closer, with every step, his heart paced faster and his head pounded at the sound of the heels of her shoes hitting the floor.
"Good afternoon", Ben said to Cindy. "Good afternoon", Cindy replied. "Hhhha...hiii...iiii" John said. "Thank goodness I met you, I will be needing your Financial Accounting textbook tonight." In a heartbeat, John brought his back bag forward, supported it with his laps and zipped open his back bag and gave it to her. Without saying a thank you, she walked off even before John could completely zip up his bag or so he thought. By the time John's head was up, she was no longer in front of him. John turned around towards the library and found her walking in her high heels and tight black trousers. Ben had to tap John before he gained consciousness and realized he had been staring too long and it was not so appropriate. He lifted up his bag in an attempt to strap his bag to his back again and all his books fell off. It was then he realized he had not really zipped his bag.
"If you like her so much, why don't you go tell her?" Ben challenged John. John shrudded and shook his head in a negative response with a sad face he wore over his square-shaped head. "You are the only person I know to be intelligent and yet timid. You can speak before professors and doctors in class presentations, but, when you are in front of a girl, you melt like ice before fire", Ben added, "Just to say 'hi', you stutter like a stammerer ... Hmmm, I pity you." John was the best in his class. He always aced the hardest courses and broke the records. Even at his second year in college, most of his classmates and even some lecturers considered it a high possibility of he beating the highest grade point ever in the Department of Management and Accounting.
John was so depressed at Ben's talk that he picked each book slowly and put them in his bag. Ben felt bad at his words because they might have been too harsh on John, yet, he felt maybe, just maybe, it was the push John needed to actively speak to a girl for once in his life. After Ben helped John in picking a few books that had fallen, he then put his arms around John and gradually pulled him towards the library in an attempt to make him talk to Cindy. John knew Ben's intention, so, he bent and turned to escape his head and shoulders out of Ben's grasp. "Don't say I never encouraged you. I did my best to help you", Ben said. John replied, "That is easy for you to say when you have got Rachael since ... like forever ... as long as I can remember."
Rachael was the reason they had to leave the library early. Ben and Rachael had been dating since High School. They grew up in the same neighbourhood, attended the same schools and were in the same college. It was like friendship grew into relationship. Everyone who knew Ben knew Rachael because they were always together. This time, she had a slight fever, and so, she did not leave her hostel to read with Ben. She had told Ben to help get some medicine for her fever while returning from the library. So, Ben had to leave the library early because Rachael needed the medicine earlier than he thought. Ben convinced John to walk with him, if not, John would still have been reading. "At least, I do not stammer before Rachael", Ben defended himself with a smile.
"One day, I am going to talk to Cindy. I will tell her how I feel", John said as he nodded his head with some form of assurance and used his left thumb and index fingers to wipe his mustache and pulled them down to his touch his goatee. Ben countered him immediately, "That was the same thing you said about Priscilla from fellowship, Stella from Department of Economics, Helen from also from fellowship, Esther our classmate ... should I continue? The list goes on. Seems you have got crush on about one or two ladies every semester." John paused for a while. It seemed he had a quick flash of all those he had affection for in the past. He wondered about what he had liked about each of the girls in the past. John responded by saying, "Priscilla started dating the fellowship president; Stella was too short for me; Helen was already in a relationship with the fellowship secretary; Esther was too fat for me. Ben, you see, it isn't my fault at all." "Keep giving yourself excuses," Ben replied as he stepped into the pharmacy to buy Rachael some medications.
On getting to Rachael's room, Ben was surprised to see that Rachael was much better than she sounded over the phone. She said she would not be needed the medications anymore because she felt much better. Ben was glad to see her healthy. Ben and Rachael were sitting on the bed, facing each other and holding each other's hands, they conversed softly with each other that Ben could barely hear them both. John was accustomed to their mannerism of conversing, so he immediately picked a motivational book from Rachael's shelf to peruse. He had read all the books in her shelf, so, he just flipped through the pages. Soon he was bored and he drifted off in his thoughts. John's sitting position was such that he was backing John. So, only Rachael could see John, but she was deeply into her usual love conversations with Ben. Occasionally, John would turn to look at them when they chuckled or giggled so loud. They were both carried away and did not know how time flew by till it was evening.
John, on the other hand, was stuck on Cindy in his mind. He felt a deep need to give her a call just to ask how the she was enjoying the textbook. As much as he wanted to call, he thought to himself the possibility of embarrassing himself by stammering over the phone. It became very obvious he was lost in his thoughts as Rachael noticed him staring at the empty yellow wall of her room. Rachael was quick to ask, in her thin sonorous voice, "What are you thinking about?" Ben took a sharp turn to look at John. It took few seconds for John to find a reply. The few seconds felt like hours as John was bent on concealing his real thoughts. He knew if he said that Cindy was on his mind, he would receive another round of lecture from Ben about being bold enough to ask a lady out, and, another lecture from Rachael about dating serious christians alone. John was not ready for all of that this time, so within the few seconds of silence, he was still searching for an explanation to give Rachael.
John noticed the tiny sheet of paper plastered on the yellow wall beside the small elevated wooden bookshelf, it contained Rachel's lectures timetable. "Yes!" John shouted in his mind. He knew he had located his escape plan. He quickly replied, "I was just wondering at how busy your schedule for classes are?" "You've got so much to do everyday. Two to three hours per class! Who does that?" John added. He knew his reply was not convincing enough. Ben thought within himself, "Was this the first time of John seeing her lectures timetable? He obviously was thinking of something else." Rachael's thoughts were closely the same as Ben's, "The position of John's heads and eyes were markedly different from the sheet of paper containing the lectures timetable. What on earth was he thinking?" The questioning looks on Ben's and Rachael's faces further verified his thoughts. In order to avoid further questions, just before Rachael's quick already opened mouth could send another bullet of question, he picked up his phone as if he just got a text and stood up briskly walking outside as if he wants to make an urgent call. Ben and Rachael continued their closeup conversations as if nothing had happened.
Few minutes later, John came in and announced he was leaving. "Where to?" Ben asked. "To the library," he replied. "I want to finish up a few notes", John added. "But, we spent five hours this morning!" Ben said. "Anyway, that is why you lead the class." Rachael added. In no time, he picked his bag and was at the door. He waved his hands to signal goodbye as Ben said, "Do not forget fellowship tonight by 8pm." He knew how John gets easily carried away by books so he had to give him a reminder. John just nodded a positive response as he closed the door and went off. He knew he had not told them the main reason for returning to the library. The call he deguised to make was eventually made and that was the reason for going back to the library; Ben and Rachael were not aware of this also.
At the fellowship, Ben was surprised not to have seen John around. He should not have been too surprised because it was habitual of John not to attend fellowships meetings during examination periods. Nonetheless, Ben expected John to have been around because he had particularly reminded him to come before he left for the library. Ben put a phone call to John but he was not picking up. Ben concluded he was probably asleep but was even more surprised to have returned to the room and found that John was not in. He made another set of calls to John, but, no answer. That night, John returned quite late to the room and all he said to Ben was, "I was reading."
(To be continued...)
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