It is crazy how one can suddenly become famous by appearing just once on a newspaper, John soon realized. Wherever he went on campus, he noticed the long stare and admirative look at him by those around. A lot of times, some people in groups whisper and point at him. In buses, people have occasionally asked, "Are you the one that won the national competition sponsored by the World Bank?"
One afternoon, John got a call from a number he could not identify because it was not on his phone's contact list. Upon picking the call, he could identify that it was Cindy's voice. He had not spoken with her since like forever, John thought. Actually, they had met in class a number of times but they never had any reason to talk. John was amazed when Cindy was speaking on the phone as if they were very good friends. John was not bitter and angry at her anymore. Since he started attending fellowship consistently and studying the Bible, he had no bitterness left in him. So, he found no fault when Cindy said she would like to see him the following day at the department.
The next day, John met Cindy after class. They stood around the lecture theatre's door and discussed. Cindy asked that they go to the cafeteria to have lunch as they continue their conversation, but, John refused. He knew having lunch with Cindy could be awkward in that he's already in a relationship with someone else. He also wondered what on earth could they discuss for so long that they could not finish at the lecture theatre's door. So, he gave an excuse, "I'm sorry I want to work on my final year thesis. There's quite a lot I've got to do today." Cindy offered that they meet another time. John replied that he's not sure if that would be possible. As John was about leaving, Cindy came close to give him a hug. She was already too close that John had to receive the hug, but, he quickly dismissed himself and left. As he walked back to his dormitory, he pondered on all that happened, thinking of Cindy's sudden interest in him.
The same evening, he got a text from Cindy saying she just wanted to check up on him and wishing him a pleasant night. "This is getting really awkward," he told himself. Cindy made several calls trying to arrange a meeting with John. But, he kept giving excuses. On a rainy weekend, John was lying on the bed, thinking about Esther. He had tried to complete a chapter in one of his textbooks, but, could not do so because random thoughts of Esther flew in his heart like Brownian motion. His phone rang. It was Cindy calling. She did not even exchange greetings as she suddenly rushed her words like a machine gun pouring out bullets. John could barely pick her words. All he knew was that she said she could not stop thinking about him. And she ended her speech with "I love you." Somewhere in between, she said she had broken up with her boyfriend months ago because he was cheating on her.
At first, John cut the line instantly. Then, he called her back and all he said was, "I'm sorry. I am in love with someone else...very much in love with her." Before Cindy could complete her statement, "I know you've been avoiding me. Please, let's meet at ..." John cut the line. When she called, he did not bother picking up at all. She called a few more times and stopped calling. Later, when Ben returned, John told Ben about all that had happened, Ben laughed and said, "Now that you're famous and you're like the school's superstar, she loves you." They both had a really big laugh about it.
The semester continued as usual until it was the end of the session and they all graduated from the university. John was to resume his internship program immediately with the World Bank. He had to travel to the nearest headquarters in the country at the capital city. He was lodged at a five-star hotel in the city. All expenses were covered by the internship program. John was excited at the program. He was ready and prepared to put in his best. He resumed work by morning and returned late at night at the hotel.
One night as he returned from work, his head was pounding due to the intense work he had to do at the office. He staggered a little because he was both really tired and very sleepy. He was about bringing out his phone from his pocket to give Esther a call so they could talk till he ate dinner and slept off. His hands was still stuck as it tried to find his way out of his left pocket with the phone, when his sleepy eyes caught an interesting sight. It was a light-complexioned skinny lady in a short blue dress. The heels of her shoes made a sharp sound that pierced his ears and awoke his sleepy mind. The dress was too short and revealing her legs and thighs.
John was still fixed on her lower body when he realized the figure he had seen was walking towards him. As he lifted up his gaze, he saw her face. She was smiling as she flipped her long hair backwards. After a second, which felt like minutes to John, he identified it was his high school mate, Linda. He smiled back and also walked towards her. He was about stretching his hands for a handshake when she open her arms wide open for a hug. She said she was about taking the elevator to her room when she saw him at the entrance and decided to say hello. They took the elevator together catching up on some gists from high school. After they departed for their rooms, John eventually put a call to Esther. He told her about his high school mate whom he met at the hotel.
As John slept that night, he remembered how he and Linda sat next to each other in the same class for four consecutive years in high school. He remembered he had a crush on her, but, he could not tell her. In Linda's case, it was not his timid nature before girls that made him not to tell Linda about his feelings. But, it was because he feared she did not like him that way, and, he does not want to ruin their good friendship. At the hotel, Linda told him she would be staying for a month because of a conference she wanted to attend in the capital city. Everyday for the rest of the week, they met at the evening, ordered meals, and ate together in Linda's room, before John returned to his room, gave Esther a call and retired to bed. They both enjoyed their conversations, especially the gossips on other high school mates.
One weekend, Linda came to John's room. John was barely awake. He had hoped to utilize the weekend to have a satisfactory rest from the demanding internship work during the past weekdays. But, he could not refuse Linda from coming in. They discussed as usual. Until suddenly Linda leaned forward to give John a kiss on his cheeks. John could not explain the rush he felt within him. It was as though, an electric current was flowing in his veins, but it did not hurt; it was rather a pleasant electric rush. In a split second of lost reasoning, before Linda could lean back from her kiss gesture, John turned his lips to catch hers and kissed her. Linda placed her hands across John and the kiss continued for a few seconds. It got so intense and it was almost leading to something else before John recovered his senses and pulled away.
He hurriedly stood up and rushed to the wall. He kept saying he was sorry and Linda kept replying that he should not be sorry. She stood up to meet him where he stood. John could not almost resist her welcoming walk, before he shouted, "I'm already dating someone." She placed her body on his as she said, "It does not matter." Her last statement rang in his brain like a huge loud bell. The echoes from the loud ringing bell woke him up from the slumbering temptation. He was shocked that she would not mind having sex with him despite the fact that he was in a serious relationship with someone. Linda noticed the shock in his facial expression and he pushed her slightly away. Linda replied, "I'm also seeing someone and it doesn't matter if two old friends catch up. I know you liked me in high school. It was very evident in your eyes and the way you looked at me. Well, I liked you too. And, it is no crime if we enjoy each other here, even if it is just for one night."
John could not believe his ears. He picked up his shirt, wore it and asked her to leave his room immediately. At first Linda thought it was a joke as she could not believe anyone could resist her charms. As John shouted her to leave the second time, she dashed out angrily, slamming the door behind her as she left.
John was ridden with guilt because of what happened. He could not believe he had carelessly allowed things to go that far with Linda. Tears rolled down his eyes as he thought about how he had betrayed Esther. He fell to his knees as he thought about God. He stretched his hand to his bed and took out his Bible. All he could say was asking for forgiveness and the strength to tell Esther what had happened. Even though he did not have sexual relations with Linda, he felt the guilt as though he had done it. Before it was noon, he packed his bags and told Esther he was coming over to her city for a short visit. He did not explain why. He just said he had something important to tell her.
He arrived at Esther's apartment quite late. He held her hands and fell to his knees as he explained all that happened. Esther pulled her hands off his grasp. She held her hands to her face. She felt a hurt rising in her chest region, to her throat. She took some steps backwards till she sat down. Her eyes was all wet as she said, "Why? John, why?" John could not answer. He held his face down in disappointment. He remained on his knees while Esther remained on her sit with her hands on her chest as though she was trying to stop the hurt from radiating from her heart.
The silence for the next two hours was like eternity of judgement and suffering for John. Esther prayed in her heart as she looked at John. As much as she hurt, the love in her heart for John started curing the hurt gradually. It was a though a ray, then, a beam of light was penetrating and lighting up a thick darkness in her mind. She moved towards John and raised his heads up. John closed his eyes and could not open it as he said sorry, again and again. He probably expected a slap on his cheeks. But, Esther kissed his forehead and used her fingers to open his eyes. John could not believe what was happening. He closed his eyes and opened them again to be sure he was not dreaming. Then, Esther said, "I forgive you. To be fair, you did not fall totally for the temptation. Even according to the Bible, a righteous man falls seven times and rises again. But, you only staggered, and then, you got back to your feet." They both stood up and John put his arms around her. Esther did the same too. John felt a relief from his guilt and Esther was relieved from her hurt.
N.B.: All posts by users and external links, though might contain Bible verses, are in the view of the users and not necessarily the view of TOTW