By Akpan-Nya, Alexandra Emem
Susan drove quickly but carefully through the streets of Uyo, dodging the numerous yellow tricycles that dotted the wide roads. She was too distracted to appreciate the smooth journey to Cherish’s school, her mind taken over by worry.
Since Cherish had been enrolled in the new school, there had been no incidents that required her attention beyond the usual P.T.A meetings and short school visits. A call from the school proprietress herself was unusual and the woman’s refusal to tell her what was wrong over the phone was troubling. Susan knew her daughter was wilful and could be a bit stubborn, but she had never been in trouble. As she drove in through the school gate, flashing her parent pass card at the security guard before she passed, she sent a silent prayer to heaven that whatever it was that had happened, it wasn’t too bad.
Her hopes were dashed as she settled down behind the office desk of the portly proprietress. The woman had been nothing but nice and friendly since the moment Susan had met her, so her grim visage rattled Susan. The matter had to be serious.
“Good afternoon, Miss Ekerette. I’m afraid one of the issues that have made me call you here today is a bit serious.” The woman echoed Susan’s thoughts. “It’s a matter we frown upon seriously here. Stealing.”
Susan’s jaw dropped. Her daughter could be stubborn and prone to playing pranks on people, but she was definitely not a thief. “Are you saying my daughter stole something?” she asked incredulously.
The proprietress raised a placating palm. “Not at all, Madam. We just think she knows someone who did take and hide a phone that belonged to their teacher. We found the phone ringing in a trash bin in the class and of all the children, your daughter was the only one who didn’t deny she knew who took it. But she is refusing to tell us who it was. The teacher is really upset.”
Susan sat back, taking in the news. She was relieved that her daughter had not been directly accused of stealing, but she was not surprised to hear the girl could be refusing to tattle on another child. Cherish had always been fiercely loyal to her friends. Susan felt a surge of irritation run through her, as she struggled to remember the face of the teacher in question. She only vaguely remembered that the teacher was male. What kind of man even took a phone into a children’s classroom? Wouldn’t it ring and disrupt the learning activities of the schoolchildren?
“Maybe I can convince her to talk.” She sighed, standing up. “May i..?”
The proprietress waved her on and she left the office, biting her lower lip worriedly as she made her way to her daughter’s classroom. Halfway there, she remembered the proprietress had not mentioned the second matter she wanted to talk about, but she continued walking forward, deciding they would discuss it when she returned. The closing bell rang, and she cursed under her breath as the hallways filled up with hurrying children, eager to vacate the premises.
She wove her way through the sea of shrieking children and knocked on the door to Cherish’s class before she entered, a frown on her face. She saw her daughter, glumly slumped in her seat at the same time she noticed a male figure scribbling over a whiteboard. She couldn’t wait to see this thoughtless teacher.
Susan stopped in her tracks as the man turned to her with an enquiring look on his face. Her heart stopped beating, and then tripled its pounding as she forgot to breath. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen. He was dressed in simple black trousers, and average-looking white shirt tucked into the dark pants. Yet the shirt stretched across wide shoulders and a washboard flat stomach. As he turned, Susan could see the muscles flex beneath the shirt. Her eyes travelled up to his face. His face was almost beautiful, an aquiline nose bisecting his face and throwing a shadow on the most luscious Cupid’s bow lips she had ever seen on a man. His lips look like they were made for kissing, Susan thought breathlessly as he turned beautiful, long-lashed eyes on her, one thick brow arching in enquiry.
“May I help you madam?” a gravelly baritone issued from between the beautiful lips that held Susan spellbound. His voice reminded her to take in air and she drew in a shaky breath. A sense of chagrin filed her as she realized she had been staring.
Flustered, she tore her eyes away from the handsome man and threw another glance at Cherish. The little girl shook her head in silent warning and Susan frowned. She tried to regain her composure and latched on to the former emotion she had been feeling before she worked into the class.
“Yes, you may, sir.” she said boldly, keeping her eyes trained on his forehead. She knew if she looked into his eyes, she would forget what she wanted to say. “I’m Cherish’s mother and I just left the office of the proprietress. Before we address the matter at hand, I want to know why you even had a phone in the class anyway.”
The man raised both brows fully and stared at her, his expression hard to read. Susan barged on, despite the look of horror filling her daughter’s face. “That kind of noise would distract the children from learning, don’t you think?”
The man’s lips twitched with what looked like amusement and Susan’s scowl deepened. How could she have thought this man was attractive? His smirk was annoying.
“So, you agree the genesis of this problem is your fault?”
“I’m afraid I can’t agree.” Came the amused reply. This time, the man smiled fully.
Susan felt her anger spike. Cherish sat up, gesticulating at her mother urgently. “But mum…”
“Shush, Cherish.” Susan said tightly before turning back to the man. “Mister, I’m not sure i appreciate your tone…”
“Excuse me madam.” A voice from the classroom door interrupted Susan. She turned around to see a short, familiar woman.
She realized why the lady’s face tugged at her memory, and horror filled her as she saw her mistake. She threw a quick look at her daughter and the little girl spread her arms in dramatic resignation. I tried to warn you, the girl’s expression said. Susan cringed. The woman at the door was Cherish’s class teacher. How could she have thought it was supposed to be a man? This was the person who deserved her rant.
She closed her eyes briefly, and gritted her teeth, embarrassment filling her. Great, she thought wryly, I just insulted the only man who has stirred desire in me for years.
The next few minutes definitely promised to be interesting.
To Be Continue Tomorrow