Mid- July in Lagos comes with hot weather. The sun-kissed the sky with its rays, a golden glow spreading across the sky as the remnant of last night curled into itself. The heatwave from the sun was quick to accumulate into Ivy's room, heating it. Ivy woke up to the chirping of the morning birds from a nearby garden. She rubbed her face, forgetful of last night's incident. The unconscious feeling of dread still drapes over her mind like a dense fog. She got out of her bed and went into the bathroom to freshen up for her first day at school which she knew would not be delayed to tomorrow or any other day.
She got out of the shower ten minutes later. She dried herself and put on a white T-shirt, blue light washed pants and white sneakers. She blow-dried her hair and brushed it out. The new books she brought along was packed in her backpack. She stood in front of the floor-length mirror beside the bed, staring at her reflection.
A new day at school all over again.
She thought with a sigh as she pulled her hair up in a messy bun.
She left the room and went downstairs. Her parents were already at the dining table eating and waiting for her to come downstairs.
"Good morning", she greeted as she took a seat beside her father.
"Good morning", her parents replied.
"How was your night?", her father asked.
"Good", she didn't know why she felt as though she was forgetting something about last night. She shrugged it off and took a bite from the bacon.
"We would leave after breakfast", her father said.
Minutes later Ivy and her father were in the driveway, her mother was at the doorway waving bye at them.
She entered the car and sat on the passenger seat beside the driver's side. Her father got inside and they drove out of the neighborhood unto the highway.
The gate of the school was painted a brilliant blue. A four-story building behind loomed above the gate with the name of the school painted boldly on the wall of the second floor.
THE ELITE HIGH SCHOOL
Her father drove into the parking space in front of the administration building. Ivy unfastened her seatbelt and got out of the car alongside her father. Both of them walked towards the building and into the principal's office.
"Good morning sir", her father said when they entered the office.
"Good morning", the chocolate-skinned man behind the desk replied with a professional smile. He wore a dark blue suit with a pair of black loafers. His reading glasses drooped over his slightly large nose.
"Good morning sir", Ivy greeted.
"Good morning dear, take a seat", he beckoned them to the two chairs in front of his desk.
"I'd like my daughter, Ivy to continue her education here. She had to stop abruptly due to our moving here", her father began.
"I see, what grade did she stop abroad?", the principal asked, fixing his glasses properly over his nose.
"Grade 11", her father answered.
"That's equivalent to Senior Secondary, SS 2 here. They are in the 2nd term of the session so it would be easier for her to get settled in if she doesn't mind about reading late to cover last term's academic work".
"I don't mind sir", Ivy assured.
"That's good then", the principal smiled. "I'll call her class teacher here to take her to class".
"Okay then", her father stood up. "I'll go make the necessary payments to the bursar".
"Okay. Nice meeting you Mr_".
"Nice meeting you Mr. Riddell", the principal smiled.
"The pleasure is mine", her father clasped the principal's hand in a firm handshake.
Her father turned back to her. "I'll be going now pumpkin".
"Just be yourself, don't try too hard".
"Okay dad, love you".
"Love you too pumpkin".
He kissed her forehead and whispered a bye. He nodded his head to the principal before walking out of the office.
"Mr. Stanley, come to my office. There's a new student to take under your wing".
Seconds later, an average height young man came into the office. He was dressed in formal clothing. The principal introduced Ivy to him and instructed him to make her sit beside an academically bright student to help her through.
They walked out of the principal's office passing a garden and a football field before getting to the block of classrooms. He led her up a flight of stairs to the third floor of the building she saw earlier into a classroom full of chattering loud students.
"Shut your holes!", the teacher bellowed to the zoo of a class.
The students immediately shut their mouths upon hearing the voice of their class teacher.
"This is Ivy and she would be joining our class", the teacher introduced.
Ivy rubbed her feet against the floor as a sea of eyes stared intently at her as though judging her. She has forgotten how challenging the first day always was to her.
"Nelson, she will sit with you. Make sure to enlighten her about past topics".
Her lips curled up in a small smile on recognition of the name upon seeing the boy.
"Sure", Nelson said.
She walked towards where he was seated and sat beside him on the two-seater chair.
"Looks like we got to meet again sooner than I thought", he smiled.
"Yeah", she agreed.
The teacher hit the board with a ruler when he noticed the mouths of the students starting to move again.
"Introductions would be after class!. I don't get paid to teach you while you ramble incoherently".
The class fell silent again as they focused their attention fully on the teacher.
"Now, what was our last topic?", Mr. Stanley asked satisfied with the decorum.
There were a few murmurs from students at the back rows until Nelson raised his hand.
"Organic chemistry", he answered.
"Thank you, Nelson".
"Okay. Like we said in the last class, Alkanes are aliphatic hydrocarbons. They form a homologous series of saturated hydrocarbons with the general molecular formula CnH2n+2".
Forty- five minutes later, the bell rang for the lunch period. The teacher stopped the chemical equation he was writing on the board and closed the marker cap. Before he could get to the desk where he placed his notepad, a backbencher shouted.
"It's lunch period!. We need to eat to get re-energized".
The teacher looked at him and with a smile, he said,
"I know that. You didn't need to pollute my class with that trash you call a mouth".
The class roared into laughter and the student who shouted smiled awkwardly as he sat back on his chair.
"Complete your notes and bring them to my desk", the teacher reminded them before walking out.
Some of the students piled out of the class to go to the cafeteria while some stayed behind in the class.
A boy sitting in front of Ivy turned back and extended his hand towards her.
"Hi, we've met before. My name is David", he introduced.
Ivy shook his hand, recognizing him as the dark-skinned boy that shouted for Nelson to come back to the field yesterday.
"I can't believe I'm seeing an Oyibo pepe", a boy with a dazed expression said.
"He had always thought he can never see a foreigner except in movies", Nelson explained to Ivy.
"Oh, okay. What did he mean by that phrase?", she asked?
"It's just a slang locals use to refer to white people", David answered.
"My name is Kelechi, nice to meet you", the boy with the dazed expression earlier hastily said.
"Nice to meet you too", Ivy smiled.
"You're pretty", the boy grinned.
"Thank you", Ivy said with a light blush.
Nelson glared at the boy. He didn't like the idea of him getting close to Ivy. Even though the boy is his friend, they were poles apart in personality. The boy was a playboy and Nelson couldn't help but feel protective over Ivy.
"That's enough of an introduction. I am going to show her around", he quickly said taking Ivy's hand in his.
The other boys stood up as well but Nelson was quick to tell them, "You two don't need to come along".
He turned to Ivy, " Let's go".
He showed her the Junior Secondary block first which was contiguous to the building they left then took her to the laboratory and library.
"You can come here whenever you feel sick", he said while showing her the sickbay.
He took her to the cafeteria next which was crowded with students.
"Grab something to eat. I still want to show you the sports area".
Ivy looked at the different stands of food, Continental foods displayed on it. She walked towards one which has something she could eat. She paid for a hamburger and a Pepsi drink before walking back towards Nelson. He also has a hamburger in his hands which he bought from a different stand.
"Good choice", he smiled.
The football field was the biggest in the sports area. The basketball and table tennis court were in one field. The swimming pool was enclosed in a different building. The pool was almost as big as the football field with enough space left in the building for students to walk through and sit. The bell went off again for the second time signaling the end of the lunch period.
"Let's go back", Nelson said.
All through the walk back to class, Ivy could feel the stares of students at the sight of Nelson holding her hand. She had removed her hand from his before but the boy just took back her hand in his saying he doesn't want her to get lost in the sea of students.
The classes after the lunch period went on for what seemed like ages. Teachers came into their classroom, teaching them different subjects. Finally, the bell for the end of the school went off at exactly two-thirty.
"You could walk home with us", the dark-skinned boy, David offered.
"Yeah, your house shouldn't be far from mine", Kelechi piped in.
"Your house is miles apart from hers", Nelson frowned.
"My house is the third one to your house on the left".
"How do you know that?", Ivy enquired, certain she didn't tell him where she lived.
"I saw a white lady in front of a house earlier this morning when I was coming to school, so I figured it was yours".
"We have another friend also. She is in another department so we don't get to see her unless when we're heading home", David told Ivy.
"You'll like her", Nelson added.
They walked to the school gate where a light-skinned tall girl was staying for them. She wasn't as tall as Ivy but Ivy still looked small when compared to Nelson.
"What took you so long?", she asked immediately she saw them not noticing Ivy.
"We were talking to our new friend, Ivy", Kelechi said.
She turned sideways to see Ivy beside Nelson.
Oh, a foreigner.
"Hi, my name's Aduke but you can call me AD like almost everyone".
"Since we're the only girls in this group, I'm sure we will get along well", she smiled.
"Okay", Ivy chuckled lightly.
"Come", AD said, quickly hooking her arm through Ivy's.
"Let me enlighten you about our boy's attitude before they start spewing sweet trash like Kelechi". Kelechi rolled his eyes at her while Nelson and David chuckled.
"David here is a good and honest boy. He is as open as a book and cares about almost everything. He is the kind of friend you'd like to have to make you feel encouraged when you're feeling bleak".
"Nelson is as closed off as a treasure box", she continued without a pause. Ivy quickly noted that she is a chatty person.
"He is the brain of SS 2. His grades always leave me in awe", she continued.
"Not that often", Kelechi said.
"Of course you'd say that cause your brain is as dried up like a bamboo stick", AD said not even sparing him a glance.
Nelson and David burst out laughing while Ivy stifled back a laugh.
"As I was saying, Nelson is a very honest person. Even though he doesn't show his emotions that often, he is a real softie. Just don't get on his bad side".
"He got a lot smiley after seeing you yesterday", David quickly added.
"No one asked you", Nelson glared.
Ivy didn't say anything but continued listening to the chatty girl who clung to her arm like a handbag.
"He is a bit sassy but mostly polite. He would be one hell of a romantic boyfriend if hopefully, he gets a girlfriend", AD concluded.
"Ahem", she cleared her throat while scrunching her nose a bit.
"As to our boy here, Kelechi, just make sure you never fall for his sugar-coated tongue".
"The hell you mean by that?", Kelechi said, looking a bit offended.
"She's right", Nelson said and David nodded his head in agreement.
"I feel like you're all ganging up against me", Kelechi said.
"He is stupid and likes everything in a skirt. He could date a teacher if he gets the chance", AD said.
"If she is hot, then why not", he smirked.
Aduke looked at him briefly with a disgusted look before continuing. "Given all his bad habits, one would think he is a bad person but he is truly an affectionate person. He is extremely loyal and caring to his friends".
"I think some screws are unloosened in his head that is why he has two different characters", David joked.
"Say all you want, I know you guys still love me".
"In your dreams", AD scoff.
"Remember the football field you came across yesterday, where you met David and me?", Nelson asked Ivy.
"Yeah, I remember", she replied.
"You can come there by four so I could explain some topics to you. There are benches there".
"If you're free", he added.
"Sure, I'll be there".
"Where do you live Ivy?", AD asked, tugging at her arm.
"I live in Nelson's neighborhood".
"Yeah, her house is the three-story building you'll see two houses before Nelson's", David responded.
"That oak-colored one?", she asked.
Her face turned a bit pale after David confirmed her answer. Ivy noticed this and asked her, " What's wrong?".
"Well, it's just...nothing".
"What?", she pressed.
"Well, people say that the house is haunted", she answered.
"That's incredulous", Kelechi said while using the edge of a ruler to remove dirt from underneath his nails.
"It could be true, why do you think no one bought the house for almost 5 years", she argued.
"It isn't true. People just like making their imaginations run wild", Nelson said.
"Also, there is no such thing as ghosts or spirits", David added.
Ivy didn't listen to them again. It was as though a smoke screen has been cleared off her hippocampus, making her suddenly remember the voice she thought she heard last night.
"Are you okay?", Nelson asked noticing her bleak face.
"Yeah, I'm okay", she mumbled.
"Don't tell me you believe the nonsense she said?", Kelechi asked with a frown.
The voice from last night must have been a trick of her mind. She was temporarily consumed with fear of what she read that her mind had so much anticipated something to happen or a sound to be heard that tallies with what was written in the journal that it had tricked her brain's auditory cortex into hearing a sound that didn't exist.
That's probably it, she thought.
The voice wasn't real.
She turned around to look at Kelechi and answered his question, "No, I don't".
"Good then", he nodded in approval.
"Well, it could be or not, I just said what I heard", AD reiterated.
"That's okay. Nothing of such exist, end of discussion", David finalized.
The five of them nodded their heads in agreement and walked the rest of the distance home in comfortable silence.