“Hey Michelle, aren’t you waiting for your driver to pick you up? ” Amy asked when she saw me about to go home on foot. “And lest I forget, what happened the other day between you and the driver?”
My head quickly worked out an answer. “Oh that stupid man, forget about him,” I said with a wave of my hand. “Dad fired him instantly. The fool slept off and forgot he was supposed to come and pick us.”
“Really? He’s really stupid and he deserves what he got. Anyway who’s picking us today”
“Um…” I twirled my hair with my finger as I formulated my next lie. “Dad hasn’t employed anyone yet, so I’ll have to trek home.”
Amy looked at me in quizzically. “Trek? And that’s fine with you?”
“Not at all. I complained to dad, but he said there’s nothing he can do about it. He even begged me to bear with it for some days. I had no choice but to agree,” I said with a shrug.
“Alright. I just hope no one sees us.”
“Yeah, me too.”
We turned right—towards the direction of our house, then I remembered that our stupid new home was towards the left of the school.
Oh em gee! How’d I explain this to Amy?
I stopped walking. “What’s wrong?” Amy asked.
“Um…I just remembered that we are no longer living over there because dad wants to renovate the house.”
“Really? That’s cool. So where are you guys living now? I bet it’s somewhere cool.”
Cool? I wish. “Yeah it sure is.”
“Can I come over? Please.”
What? Come over? That’s so impossible. “I don’t think you can Amy.”
Amy frowned “Why? Am I not I your bestie?”
“Of course you are. It’s just that the place is still in a mess and my parents insisted on my not bringing friends over until it’s well arranged,” I lied. I just hope she buys the lie..
“Alright.” Yeah she did.
“So you’re going the other way right?”
“OK bye,” she said as she hugged me. Then after disengaging from the hug, she turned to go then an idea struck me.
“Yes?” she said as she turned.
“Can I ask you for a favour?”
“Can you please lend me five dollars? Dad found out about what I did to that rag and he wasn’t pleased with me. As a punishment, he withdrew my weekly allowance, and there’s this beautiful handbag I saw at the mall which I’m dying to have.”
“That’s unfair. All because of that piece of trash. Anyway I’ll lend it to you.”
She dipped her hand into her purse, brought some money out, counted out the five dollars I’d asked for and handed it to me.
I collected it with a fake smile on my face. I was jealous of her because once upon a time, I carried such amount of money in my purse too. Now I had no money. I was never a fan of saving.
Why keep money in bondage when it can be spent?
If I’d known, I would’ve saved in the past. By now, I won’t have to borrow money from Amy and lie about it.
“Thanks a lot,” I said as I hugged her.
“Don’t mention. What are besties for?” she replied with a smile.
The word ‘besties’ got me and I started feeling like a betrayer. Besties are supposed to tell each other every single thing. But I was keeping our current financial situation a secret from Amy.
I decided to tell her, but a voice spoke to me in my head. Fool. Tell her and face the greatest humiliation.
That changed my mind and I decided to keep it to myself.
“Bye Michelle,” Amy said.
“Bye.” I walked in the opposite direction. I might be a rotten friend, but that didn’t matter to me as I’d gotten what I wanted.
Excursion, here I come!
I walked dejectedly home from school. I still wasn’t used to treking home from school. The limo was said to have been sold in order to put food on the table. I was already the talk of the school because of my trekking, though no one knows I’m now living in that disgusting house as I always made sure I prevented anyone from seeing me enter the house.
I looked around to make sure no one was watching, then I stepped into the house.
The sitting room was painted brown. Its paints were already peeling off. Most of our furniture at the other house have been sold leaving us with only a couch, center table and a few plastic chairs. The floor was also bare, unlike our former house which was marbled and tiled.
To make matters worse, the plasma and DSTV were sold. Meaning no more watching of Henry Danger and the Thundermans for me. I became angst-ridden.
“A penny for your thoughts,” Mum greeted me as she stepped into the sitting room. I was jolted out of my thoughts. “Welcome darling. How was school?”
“It was fine mum. But mum why are you home at this time?” I asked curiously.
“Um…that’s because since the business is dwindling, there’s nothing for me to do over there,” Mum answered sadly.
I sighed in sadness. “Mum, what’s for lunch? I’m famished. Oh and mum, I’ve been meaning to ask the reason why Mrs. Jones didn’t come with us.” Mum looked at me like something was wrong with my face. I unconsciously touched my face and found nothing wrong. “What’s it mum? Is there something on my face?”
“No. I’m just wondering if you’re really the one we told that we’ve gone bankrupt or your doppelganger. How do you expect us to be bankrupt and still have maids?”
“Oh,” was all I could say. “But who’ll cook, do the dishes and laundry?”
“You, of course. Who else?”
“What!” I exclaimed. “That’s impossible, mum. You know I can’t dirty my hands by doing the dishes. I can’t even wash clothes, not to talk of cooking.”
“You’ll have to learn Michelle.”
“Learn? You’ve gotta be kidding me!” I shouted in exasperation, then stormed out of the living room with my backpack bumping against my behind.
Thirty minutes later, after having a shower and getting into a blue sweatshirt and black shorts, I came to the kitchen to have my lunch and was met with the shock of my life.
“Mum what’s this?” I asked as I came into the kitchen, expecting to see chicken nuggets and fries or lasagna or fried rice and salad or even pasta. Only for me to see beans and yam of all things. Beans and yam, which I always referred to as poor man’s food. I can’t eat this disgusting food. “Mum, you know I can’t eat this,” I protested.
“Why can’t you. Afterall it gives protein and carbohydrates.”
“Protein and carbohydrates my foot. Mum I need another meal. I can’t eat this poor man’s food.”
“Oh and you’re a rich man right?” Mum said sarcastically. “You better eat it because there’s no other food in this house.”
“Are you trying to say that this is also our dinner?”
“Yes of course. And tommorow’s breakfast.” Mum said with a smirk.
Does she think this is funny?
“Then I’ll rather go on an empty stomach tonight,” I said as I went back to that closet called my room.
“Suit yourself. When your stomach starts singing Adele’s Hello, you’ll come and eat,” Mum said to my retreating back.
Mum wasn’t mistaken. My stomach did sing it, but pride didn’t allow me to succumb to the hunger biting me.
- Etoniru Favour is a Nigerian and a student of the prestigious University of Benin. She's a talented writer.