He quickened his steps like a common thief, briskly jumping over some potholes on his way. For the first time he went to school late, knowing that he had a meeting with his colleagues, the qualified candidates for the competition. He entered through the school gate to see no student outside which became a catalyst to the number of footsteps par minute. Just as he hurried down to his classroom, a female voice called on him, “Dennis Wisdom!” He slowed down, the sound of his own breath caught his ear drum at that moment. He turned to the direction of the voice to see Mrs Chinyere, the principal of Kings Collage Academy, a plumpy, harsh but extravagant woman. Her physical fitness would tell anyone that she was once a wrestler.
“Good morning, ma’am” Wisdom greeted her.
“I would have wrestled with you now if you aren’t a green horn here. For crying out loud, you are a qualified candidate for this upcoming state competition, and you have a meeting with your colleagues this morning. C’mon, let your heels touch your heard to the hall” she fired harshly.
Wisdom began to run towards the school hall. On his way, he regretted ever accepting the e-mail through his father. Nevertheless, he endured the pains just to make his father proud. So the father’s statement flashed into his head; “don’t fail me, son.” With a force he pushed the door of the hall open to see three more students: two girls and a boy. There was a table before them with the map of land of zero on it.
“Look at him” Paul said, pointing at Wisdom aggressively, while the other two girls watched to see what would happen because they knew that Paul never liked Wisdom or not in support of why a new commer like him would participate on the competition instead of one of his old friends. “Look at the time you’re coming to school. I said it that you are an incompetent fool!” he fired.
Wisdom disdained him and passed.
Paul pulled him back. “Don’t claim staunch here, dude. This isn’t Heartland, this is Kings Collage!”
“Listen, whatever you’re called” Wisdom began. “I can’t leave my former school because of trouble then come here to meet another trouble. So hold your peace”
“Are you insane?”
“Hey..” Gina, one of the girls interfered. Her pitch voice echoed in the empty hall. “We need unity in order to win this competition, please” she added rubbing her two palms in a humble plead, while Sandra, the next girl monitored Wisdom to know about his personal life. However, Wisdom finally met them at the table then looked at the map.
“We are trying to figure out the biomass of the land” Sandra pointed on the map then a glance at Wisdom.
“We should be concentrating on the least things”
“Like what?” Gina asked.
“The abiotic factors” Wisdom replied. He traced a few rough lines on the map and continued, “This is our territory, while this other part the territory of the Heartlands. Both parts consist of the same features. Can you see it?”
They responded except Paul. From then, Sandra began to admire him.
Heartland comprehensive collage was experiencing her thirty minutes break, therefore no student owe nobody any explanation of his or her activities. Mercy seated alone under a young palm tree with a jotter in her hands, occasionally sliding away series of weaved hair that covered part of her face. Colourful ribbons could be found on each end of the long hair which, perhaps, always set a butterfly flying in Ken’s stomach whenever he sees her. The black and white uniform on her body prostrated a clear appearance of olden days beautiful maiden, a princess, if not entirely an African Queen. Suddenly, a gentle breeze came, rattling the palmfront and circulating the area in a way a loosed page of the jotter flung on the ground. Before she bent down to pick it, a hand had already gotten hold of it. So she looked up, slid her hair once again to have a clear view of who the good Samaritan could be. Lo and behold, Ken standing before her.
“Uhmm..” she swallowed hard, of course she was cut up in surprise because she couldn’t recall vividly the last time Ken spoke to her, talk more of meeting her at such a close range. “Thanks, Ken” she stretched her hand for him to hand over the page to her.
Ken hesitated. He began to glance through the writings on the page. It was actually a poem.
Mercy hastily stood up. “Let me have it, it’s private” she finally took the page from him, almost with a force then sat back in her stool, while Ken smiled. “I never knew you can put a smile on your face. What’s amusing you?” a trace of happiness pave around her face too.
To her greatest dismay, Ken began to read out the poem off head;
“My heart desire Pierce me so deep,
Driving me in a lonely pit.
Oh, sorrowfully I weep,
Who shall I give my heart to keep?
For the pain runneth so deep.
Though I know, God of Isaiah,
Restoreth my heart desire:
A diamond Prince.”
Both became silent, staring at each other. Mercy wondered within herself if he had once seen the poem before or heard it somewhere, for she coulding believe he grapped all the content of the page with the slightest opportunity he got hold of it. She became shy and bent down her face.
“Are you alright?” Ken broke the silence, making sure his voice doesn’t quiver out of nervousness because he wasn’t good at talking to people especially girls. So he composed himself.
“I’m fine. Thank you” she replied without looking up at him thereby generating another silence. Mercy suddenly began to feel uncomfortable, so she stood up to leave.
“Mercy..” Ken’s swallowed hard.
She turned, looking at him to state his purpose.
“Uhmm.. I’m.. I’m.. sorry” he stammered and regretted immediately why he did. Yet, Mercy said nothing rather began to walk away again.
His voice came again dryly, almost like a soliloquy. “Can I be your heart desire?”
Mercy turned for the second time after hearing that. Her eyes met with his. Ken didn’t believe she would hear him. But now that she did, what would he say again? He trembled unnoticed, gathered the last guts in him and shouted, “Can I be your diamond Prince!” Nearby students heard him loud and clear. Before they could comprehend the senerio, Mercy turned immediately, smiling on her way to the classroom. Ken found his usual body again with a deep exhalation. Already, a droplet of sweat had formed on his face. Obviously, that was his first move to toast a girl as a teenager. He fell on the stool before him then began to make jest of himself using Mercy’s poem:
“My sweat runs so speedily,
Driving me on a nervous pit.
Oh, poor Ken,
Who shall I give my sweat to keep?
For it runneth so speedily.
Oh, help me God.
Before they called it a day, Mr Henry called upon all the student of Heartland to assemble on the assembly ground. No student failed to be present both junior and senior because whenever they are called at such our of the day, there must be an important information to be passed out. Truly, Mr Henry stood before more than a thousand students, professionally and happily broadcasted about the upcoming state competition. He never hesitated to call out the qualified candidates which Ken was among and wished Mercy saw him wherever she could be, if not for anything, to make up the disgraceful attitude that cost his sweat.
After the information, students began to go home from there. Meanwhile, Mercy had been thinking about what Ken said to her. She couldn’t believe it. Her eyes roamed around the trooping crowd to have another look at him, but the father drove in that moment. Therefore she hurried to the car, yet still looking around. Immediately she entered, she saw him staring at her from the crowd, her heart skipped, and she didn’t know when she waved at him.
Ken returned the wave with a joy flowing like a river even though he couldn’t comprehend the reason why. He hurried up home as usual just to see the same car that carried Mercy home parked in front of their compound. He reduced his pace and adjusted his school bag. Suddenly, a man came out from their house with his mother. Lo and behold, it was Mercy’s father, the father of the girl whom always set his butterfly in motion. “No, this can’t be” he murmured….
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