"Looks like I've found the thief." Ayo said as he took his wristwatch out of my bag. A rumbling sound ensued in the class as people started to whisper to their seat partners. Believe me, I was just dumbfounded. I didn't know how his wristwatch got in my bag.
"Daniella get up now!" Mr Nnamdi ordered sternly. He had a frown on his face.
I got up immediately, putting on an innocent face and my mouth was left in agape. I was so scared that I could hear my heart drumming in my ear.
"You might want to explain how Ayo's wristwatch got in your bag." Mr Nnamdi folded his arm around his chest.
"I... I..." I stuttered, words failing me completely. The class was dead silent, everyone waiting for me to say something. "Mr Nnamdi, I swear I don't know how the wristwatch got in my bag. I didn't put it there." I managed to say. Tears were beginning to well up in my eyes.
"Stop this Daniella." He shut his eyes and put his hands in front of his face. "Just stop this! You're only going to provoke me the more if you try to lie."
I blinked tightly and the tears in my eyes dropped down to my cheeks. How was I going to prove my innocence to them when all evidence clearly pointed at me? God please vindicate me! I prayed inwardly. But how did Ayo's wristwatch get in my bag?
"Sir, I'm not lying. Someone must have dropped the wristwatch in my bag when I wasn't in class. I swear, I didn't put it there. Believe me." My voice quivered as I spoke.
"Who then put it in your bag?" Mr Nnamdi asked.
"I don't know. I wasn't in class." I shook my head as I shrugged.
"Sir!" Gbemi raised her hands. "I don't think Daniella was the one who put Ayo's wristwatch in her bag." She stood up to defend me. I could only hope she was able to prove my innocence.
"And what is your evidence to back that up madam?" Mr Nnamdi asked.
"Sir I don't have any evidence. But Daniella, Adam and I were not in the class during the break hours and according to Ayo, the wristwatch was kept in his locker during that hour, so I don't see how Daniella would have stolen his wristwatch when we didn't even come to the class till break was over." Gbemi said with her bold voice. "Someone must have kept it there to frame her— someone in this class."
"If you can point out the person, with proof, Daniella would be vindicated but if you can't, then I would have to punish you Daniella, because it's in your bag we found the wristwatch."
Gbemi had her seat and my eyes scanned the whole class looking for the possible person that could have done this. Then my eyes locked with Prudence's. She was twirling her front plait with her index finger and when we met eyeball to eyeball, she rolled her eyes and looked away. Prudence! That was my number one suspect. She was the only one I knew that hated my gut in the class. She must have been the one who kept the wristwatch in my bag when I wasn't in class. But I had no proof, so I couldn't possibly accuse her.
"Sir I don't know who did it." I said in a low voice, shaking my head.
Just then, Mr Afolabi, the math teacher walked in. It was actually math period. He and Mr Nnamdi shook hands with each other and exchanged greetings.
"Daniella, follow me to my staffroom now!" Mr Nnamdi ordered as he walked out of the class.
"Where are you taking my student to?" Mr Afolabi asked and Mr Nnamdi stopped to answer.
"Your student and I have a serious case to settle."
"Can't it wait till after my class?"
Mr Nnamdi turned to look at me. "After this class, meet me in my staffroom. Don't let me call for you, is that clear?"
I nodded my head in affirmation and then he walked out of the class. Wiping the tears off my cheeks, I had my seat and Adam patted my lap and said, "It's okay."
Mr Afolabi set down his instructional material on the bench in front of the class and wrote the subject and topic on the board. Afterwards, he faced the class and said, "Today we'd be learning how to solve simultaneous equation."
Immediately the math class was over, I walked out of the class to Mr Nnamdi's staffroom. As I walked into the staffroom, it was very quiet. It was a big and wide office where all the teachers of each class stayed, each teacher in their own cubicle and each of them appeared to be so busy with one thing or the other.
Tentatively, I walked up to Mr Nnamdi's seat. "Sir, I'm here." I said nervously.
He raised his head from the big text book he was reading and looked up at me. "Oh Daniella! Right now, I'm busy. Come back later during closing hours." His voice was low. It seemed like he didn't want to disturb the other teachers.
Closing hours! I rolled my eyes and sighed exasperatedly. Why would he want to punish me during closing hours? It was better now. But I didn't protest. I quietly just turned around and walked out of the staffroom, heading to my class. The literature teacher was already in class, when I got to the class. The teacher was a very strict woman and she didn't tolerate indiscipline of any sort, so I was scared to enter.
After several hours of parading back and forth outside, I eventually took a bold step to enter the class through the front door. The class was dead silent as she taught and my greeting interrupted her.
"You know I don't tolerate distractions and late coming to my class, so just get out!"
"No ma, I—"
"Ma our class teacher called her to his staffroom." Peter said in my defense.
"I don't care." The teacher said sharply. "Leave my class! When I'm done, you can come back in."
I said nothing and walked out of her class obediently.
Closing time, I immediately wore my bag and set to leave for Mr Nnamdi's staffroom.
"You're going to meet him now right?" Adam asked as he wore his bag.
"Bye bye. Take care. See you tomorrow." Adam said and I waved him off.
"You're going Adam?" Gbemi asked, when she walked to meet us.
"Yeah, I'm famished. Bye." Said Adam tiredly, walking off.
"Are you the only one that is famished? Wait for us joor!" Gbemi said and Adam halted. "Daniella, aren't you going home?"
"Have you forgotten that Mr Nnamdi said I should—"
"Oh, oh, I forgot." She cut me off. "So now you're going to his staffroom, right?"
"Yes, I have to." I shrugged.
"I'm going o." Adam hollered, walking off.
"Okay bye." Gbemi and I both hollered, waving him off and he waved back at us.
"I think I know who kept Ayo's wristwatch in your bag." Gbemi immediately said in a gossip gesture like she didn't want any surrounding student to hear her.
"I have a feeling it's Prudence." I said.
"Yeah, she's my number one suspect. You slapping her yesterday might have propelled her to do it as a payback."
"I was thinking the same thing too."
"But don't worry, since you're innocent, God would vindicate you." Gbemi said, placing one of her hand on my left shoulder.
"I hope so too. I have to go now. Bye." I said, turning around to leave.
"Should I come with you?" Gbemi said and I stopped to face her.
"No, no, don't worry. Just go home and rest. Thanks anyways. Bye." I said quickly and turned to leave.
"Bye." She said after me.
I hurriedly made my way to Mr Nnamdi staffroom. Many students were scattered around probably talking to their friends before they leave for their various homes. As I got to Mr Nnamdi staffroom, I saw Peter standing outside in such a way that his arms were around his chest and one of his legs was resting against the wall.
Immediately he caught sight of me, he smiled and walked up towards me. "Hey!"
"What are you doing here?" I asked, my brows marred in a frown.
"I've been waiting for you." He said now walking by my side.
"Why?" I tilted one of my eyebrows skyward as I asked.
"Like why I waited for you? Because I want the both of us to go home together." He said it like it was an obvious answer to my question.
"I'm not going home now Peter." I said the instant I reached the front of Mr Nnamdi's staffroom. "See I have punishment to serve."
"I'd wait." He shrugged his shoulders, holding both of his bag straps. There was no point arguing with him because I knew he wouldn't budge. I just smiled and shook my head as I entered into the staffroom.
Mr Nnamdi was packing some of his text books into his briefcase. He and two other teachers were the only ones in the staffroom. "How long has the school close that you're just coming?" He asked.
I didn't respond. All I did was fiddle with my fingers.
"Tell me the truth, did you or did you not put the wristwatch in your bag?" He asked, half-whispering and narrowing his eyes.
"Sir, I'm telling the truth. I didn't." I said in the same tone he used.
"But the wristwatch was found in your bag. How did it get there?" His voice was a bit louder.
"I really don't know."
"In that case, take this broom." He gestured at a broom that was lying on the floor. "Use it to sweep all the corridors on the ground floor..."
Wow! And to think he was even going to release me! I fought the urge to roll my eyes.
"... I would have told you to sweep the whole corridors in the school, but I don't want you to leave school very late. That's just why I decided to make the punishment milder for you." He said, zipping his bag closed. "So what are you waiting for? Get to work!"
That said, I picked up the broom and walked out of the staffroom. Thank goodness he didn't flog me or worse, embarrass me in front of the teachers in the staffroom by telling them I stole. That would have been demeaning.
"You're still waiting here?" I said as I got outside and saw Peter leaning against a pillar, legs crossed and arms folded around his chest. "Peter, go home. You don't have to wait for me."
"The punishment is to sweep?" He asked, gesturing at the broom in my hand and then he burst into a fit of loud laughter.
I furrowed my brows as I looked at him weirdly. "What's so funny?"
"I was actually thinking he was going to give you a harsher punishment. Sweeping is not a punishment." He quirked his lips as he said that.
"I'm going to sweep the whole ground floor corridors. Is that not punishment enough?" I said, hitting the bottom of the broom and making my way to the end of the corridor to start sweeping. I noticed the noise in the school had reduced to a minimum level. Most of the students had gone home, though I could still see some lingering around.
"You didn't put the wristwatch in your bag, did you?" Peter said seriously, walking beside me.
I stopped to look at him with surprise. "So you actually think I'd do that. I'm disappointed." I shook my head and continued walking. "I can't believe you think that way of me."
"No, no, I know you actually would never do something like that."
"Then why did you ask?" I rolled my eyes.
"I just wanted you to tell me by yourself that you didn't." He said and I let out a small and faint chuckle. "But wait, who could have done that to frame you? Do you have any enemies in this school?"
"Yeah, Prudence. She literally hates me."
"I don't know." I shrugged. "I think she likes you and she thinks I'm stealing you away from her."
"Are you?" He asked, smiling.
I looked at him and he took his face away quickly. "Is that the best question you can come up with Peter?" I smirked.
"Hey Daniella! Are you doing what I asked you to do or you're talking to your boyfriend?" Mr Nnamdi voice boomed and Peter and I turned back. Mr Nnamdi and the other two teachers were set to go home. "That's even you Peter. So Peter this is your opportunity to toast her right?
"No sir o!" Peter and I both responded simultaneously and we exchanged looks.
"Eh that's what they'd say! Daniella don't listen to him o. He just wants to deceive you. Face your books and... Be quick with the punishment so that you don't go home late." Mr Nnamdi said and walked off with the other teachers.
Smiling, I looked at Peter and he also had a smile etched on his face. "Okay now leave me alone, let me get to work." I said, bending down to start sweeping. "Excuse! I would sweep your legs o."
He took his legs away and gave me chance to sweep. As I swept, I felt so uncomfortable with Peter watching me from behind. Who knows, he was probably ogling at my butt.
"Can I help you to sweep?" Peter offered and I stood up to look at him with amazement.
"Are you for real?"
"Yeah, of course. You can't sweep the four corridors all by yourself, can you?"
"No, I could use some help." I handed him the broom. He collected it and dropped his bag gently in one corner. He bent down to start sweeping and I fought the urge to laugh. It was so funny seeing Peter sweep especially being that he was tall. I couldn't help it, I giggled.
"I know you wanted to laugh since. Just let it out." He said, still sweeping.
"So you can sweep?" I said in between laughter. "Bend down well o."
"I'm just helping out." He said and then stood up. "I'm tired. Take your broom back." He handed the broom back to me.
"Aha, lazy boy! You hardly swept anything and you're already tired. Don't you sweep at home?" I snatched the broom from his hand, moved behind him and used the broom to hit his butt.
"Ow!" He held his butt. "Not cool!" He sounded whiny. "Well to be honest, I don't sweep at home. That's girls work. Boys shouldn't be sweeping when there are girls available to do that."
"Really? See your mouth. Boys are just lazy species. That's why they leave the chores for girls to do and all they do is sleep and eat the whole food in the house."
"Yeah, yeah, we're the head. Ours is to go out, work and provide for the family, while females are to stay at home and take care of the house chores."
"Wow! So you're one of those guys that believe a woman place is at home. I'm disappointed. Who says a woman can't also work and help in the provision for the family? Look, men are just restricting women to the kitchen and house chores. Everyone should be a feminist. Men should give women the opportunity to work too. What a man can do, a woman can even do it better." I said and bent down to continue sweeping.
"Hmm, I never knew I had a feminist as a friend. It's not like I'm against feminism or anything. All I'm just saying is that, it's weird for a guy to do the house chores when he should be out working. It's so unmanly."
I stopped sweeping and stood up to look at him. "This one you're saying working, I don't understand. We're still teenagers. It's not like it's that necessary for us to work, especially when we have parents that provide for our needs. For someone like you, there's absolutely nothing wrong with staying at home and doing the house chores, except you're just being lazy."
"I'm not being lazy. I'm being manly." He smirked and raised his shoulders as he said that.
"Shut up! Manly my foot! You're just giving excuses for your laziness." I scrunched my nose. "Abeg, Peter let me sweep. Time is going." I said and continued sweeping.
"Let me go look for a broom to help you with the other corridors."
"Thanks hubby." I said in a soft and sexy voice.
"I really like it when you call me that." He smiled toothily.
"I know. You said that yesterday."
He jogged off to look for a broom, while a smile danced on my face as I swept. Peter was really pulling at my heartstrings and my feelings for him were growing faster as each day goes by.
Few minutes later, I had swept the first corridor and I was sweeping the second one. Peter had still not come back. Every one that was lingering in the school premises had left, so the school was silent. It was the sound of the broom in contact with the floor that made the noise.
"Hey!" Peter's deep voice hollered from afar and I raised my head to see him at the ground floor corridor opposite where I was. He grinned, waving a broom at me and I nodded my head and continued sweeping.
With Peter help, we were able to complete the task quicker than I expected. We took our bags and legged out of the school premises.
"What's the time?" I finally broke the silence between both of us. It wasn't an awkward silence. We probably just wanted to take a break from talking since we had been chatting while sweeping.
Peter looked at his wristwatch and said, "Five forty-six."
"Wow! I'm late!"
"Are your guardians going to beat you?"
"I just hope they don't."
There was another silence. We both looked at the passersby and vehicles that moved along the road.
"Uh... Daniella." Peter was the first to speak up this time.
"Huh?" My voice sounded soft and breathy.
"There's this girl I like— like really like, that I can't just seem to get her out of my mind. But I don't know how to tell her that I like her." He said and I felt a pang of jealousy hit me.
I looked away and rolled my eyes.
"Don't be silent Daniella. I need you to tell me what to do? Should I tell her?"
I shrugged. "You're the guy, you should know."
"I want to hear from you."
"Yes, tell her." My voice was low. I couldn't even hide the fact that I was jealous.
"Like I should just walk up straight to her and tell her that I like her?"
"Of course." I gave him a duh look.
"I like you... Like that?" He asked.
"Yeah. How else?"
"Well, I just told her."