Walking On Red Lines [Valentine Series: Finale]

A decade and a half ago…

If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were trying to get my attention in chemistry class,” Rose Briggs said. “And if I was, would that be a good or a bad thing?” Marcel

responded as he shifted his weight to his other foot, revealing the other side of his face.

“Marcel Peters, you are trouble. Your name precedes you,” Rose said with a stern look.

“I didn’t take you for a judging-a-book-by-its-cover kind of person.”

“You think I am judging you?”

“What do you call this distance you are creating with your textbooks?”

“Common sense. Being a lady. Decency,” Rose replied, the venom in her voice unmistakable.

“You can’t be this beautiful, and have common sense…”

“…So much for judging a book by its cover!” Rose Briggs said

as she picked her remaining books and widened the distance between her and Marcel. Marcel stood looking at her surprised by how quickly she bolted past him. Rose thought she has never been that humiliated in her life. This silly thing would definitely bite his words someday, but today, she knew better than to continue conversing with CMS’s star football and off- field player. She was trying hard to redeem her reputation, and being around him was not going to help with that.

She had to admit, after she resumed at CMS, and saw him in class, she felt really drawn to him. One time, someone had tapped her and handed her a note from him. Thinking it was for her, she looked back only for him to signal for her to give it to the girl beside her. Remembering this, she realized she has been more embarrassed than today, and all by the same person.

Her best friend or former best friend, Sarah, told her once that Marcel had taken her out on a date and afterward, told her he forgot his wallet at home. Where she started to consider the validity of this story’s truth was when she heard a similar story from another classmate. However, it was not the fact that the girls had to pay for the meals that bothered her, but that many others were still lining up for a chance to buy their own lunch with Marcel.

Comprehensive Model School was one of the elite schools in Lagos Island, and Rose had only just been transferred there in SS1 after she had successfully convinced her parents that Sarah and herself should attend the same school. Sarah and Rose had known each other from primary school, and after that was over, Sarah was taken to a girls-only boarding school in Ogun state. She had not enjoyed this school one bit, and every time she went home on holiday, Sarah came around to give her ‘sweet gist’ about her school which was closer to where they lived in Lagos. Rose had no gist to trade in turn, and so she came up with a plan to fall sick consistently in the second term of her third year. Her

parents were concerned but still kept her in school. Her mother believed being away would help her toughen out since she was the only child and was quite soft.

After their third term exams, Rose fell sick. Unlike previous times, she did not fake this sickness, but while she lay in bed tired from her constant vomiting, she wondered if she had jinxed it. She was so sick she feared she was going to lose her life. She could see the fear in her parent’s eyes as well.

Gradually, she recovered and when after one month, her frail and thin self was discharged from the hospital, her mum asked her if she still wanted to go to Sarah’s school. This was the first real smile she has shared in a long time and once her mum saw it, she knew her daughter would be fine.

She resumed at CMS, and afterward, became friends with Sarah’s two other school friends. They became a clique. The more Rose got to know these girls the more she realized she did not know Sarah again. However, even though this thought kept tugging at her heart, she has made a life-altering decision because of her friendship with Sarah, and she wanted to do everything to keep their friendship.

Two plus years down the line, Rose found herself making another tough decision, the result of which was her becoming the most hated face in school. When Marcel approached her and started speaking with her, she knew she was likely to attract more enemies from the attention; so, she chose to journey on the path of rebuilding her reputation and not smearing it some more. It was only a few weeks before that she and her clique were the popular ones in school. As a result of their friendship, Rose’s mum became friends with Sarah’s mum. After she and Sarah’s fall out, Rose’s mum spoke to Mrs. Yaro about reconciling both

girls but she mentioned that Sarah was not yet ready to speak with Rose. Not only was Sarah not ready to speak with her, apparently it seemed like the entire school had ganged up to give her the silent treatment.

All these forced Rose to find comfort in her school work. She did not realize how interesting this could be until she was left all by herself. She also picked up a cooking hobby and started exploring different meals in the Reader’s Digest magazine she had at home.

Mrs. Briggs was worried about her daughter but as soon as she saw how dedicated she was to her studies, she decided to stop pushing for the reconciliation between her and Sarah. In three weeks Sarah had lost her friends and popularity but in that time she had accelerated her love for cooking and was scoring highly in her tests.

No one has spoken two sentences to her ever since, so having Marcel walk up to her made her more excited than she would have been on a normal day. She was convinced that the only reason her ears stayed put to be filled with those insults was that no one else was willing to be friends with her again.

It had been difficult waking up every morning to make her way down to school, knowing everyone was talking about her as a betrayer. Today was the day, they all resumed, and she knew better than to give the impression to Sarah that she was now friends with the guy she liked after being the cause of her three- week suspension. So, she was happy to have quickly found her common sense soon after Marcel started speaking to her.

By Ibukun Tunbi

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