Chapter 9- Walk with Me
The night was long and dark. Nights were made for sleeping, but not for me. My soul was not at rest.
I hardly slept a wink. I can’t recall eating either. It was as if my body and brain were out of whack.
I felt like a sleep-deprived zombies, walking around in circles because my brain was too tired to communicate with the rest of my organs.
I made my way downstairs, sitting at the table, completely forgetting that I hadn’t taken a shower.
Besides who would care whether I took a bath or not? They’d probably think that I smelled anyway.
With absolutely no energy, I strolled back to my bedroom and hit the shower. Although it was getting closer to 8 am, and I had my first class at 8:15, I moved with no urgency.
After showering, I dressed and got ready for school. School. School. Darn it. This school. Why couldn’t I just call in sick?
Yes. I could do that.
I quickly made my way downstairs looking for daddy. I was right in time to catch him drinking coffee on the veranda. He was waiting to drop me off.
“Daddy. I’m unwell.”
My father knows when I’m lying. Something about him. I mean after all, I am his sperm. Yuk. But somehow, he knows when I’m just avoiding having to go to school.
“Jasmine. Chop, chop. I have a meeting.”
Dad totally and completely ignored the fact that his daughter was sick and dying.
I needed to step up my game. So, I crashed to the floor, screaming like a woman in hard labour.
“Child, you will ruin your clean clothes. Let’s go.”
My father walked over my body and jumped in the car, tooting his horn.
I struggled to lift my weight off the floor and do as I was told. Now I am on my way to the pit of hell. From all accounts, it is hot down there.
I was about 4 minutes late for school. All this faking being dead crap held me back. Luckily, when I entered the classroom, all the students were already settled.
Mr. Enrique smiled when he saw me. It seemed that he was pleased he didn’t have to hear my death announcement over the PA system.
I winked at him. That was a bit forward, but I might as well enjoy what’s left of my life.
Once class was over, I packed my bag slowly just to avoid having to leave with the crowd.
“Come over here, Jasmine” Mr. Enrique said.
“Jasmine, are you on your period? There’s a stain behind your skirt.”
I quickly pulled my skirt around. Sigh.
“No, no sir. I pretended to be dead so I won’t have to come to school.”
“Huh?” He looked at me puzzled.
“I faked that I’d fainted.”
He busted out in laughter. He couldn’t control it. My expression suddenly caused him to place his hands over his mouth, apologizing for his outburst.
“And this is funny? Why?” I asked, rolling my eyes.
“Jasmine, let’s take you to brush off that skirt and to your next class.”
“Ammmm, sir, about that...I don’t want you walking me to class anymore. I’m good. I got this. Thank you.”
Mr. Enrique gave me a disappointed look, but agreed.
I dusted off my skirt as best as I could and walked out of the classroom.
The hallways were crowded. Students were switching books to their next class. I went into my locker. The graffiti was still there.
I could feel eyes piercing through my back.
Vaughn was in his usual spot with his main boys. I couldn’t avoid having to pass their way since it was my direct route to my class.
I gulped down saliva, and in my weakness from hunger, I passed next to them.
Did Vaughn call my name or was that my dying brain playing tricks on me.
“Porky Pig, you deaf or something? You were called,” J’son said.
I stopped to look at them.
Vaughn had shame all over his face. I stood there waiting for Vaughn to speak. He said nothing.
I gathered some strength and asked “Vaughn what is it that you wanted to say?”
But before he could respond, J’son the bully replied.
“Vaughn just wanted to know if you wanted to come over and hang out with us like last time. Right man? Come on tell her?”
But Vaughn couldn’t open his mouth.
I shook my head, walking away with tears rolling down my face.
I bumped into Mr. Enrique on my way to my class. He could see that I was crying. He had anger and sadness on his face.
He never said a word to me. Neither did I. I walked into my class feeling as if there was a heavy weight on my shoulder - like I was toting bags of bricks.
The teachers had to attend the funeral of another teacher’s husband so we were dismissed early. God must have heard my prayers.
The thought of going home made me feel so much lighter.
I reached in my bag to call my mom but realized that I’d left my cellphone at home. Crap!!!
I hurried to the office to use the school’s phone. I called mom, but she was at a meeting, and could not leave for another 3 hours.
Well...since I’d been walking these marathons I might as well start.
As I was heading out the school gate, I saw Mr. Enrique. He drove passed me. Then stopped.
“Who is supposed to take you home?”
He turned down his window, popping his head outside.
“Mom, but she will be late. I didn’t remember to tell her about early dismissal.”
He looked annoyed. “Jump in,” he said.
His car smelled nice. Clean. I sat next to him on the passenger side. The way he held the steering wheel. The way he turned the corners. This man is so sexy.
I played with the ends of my hair, daydreaming about Mr. Enrique. That was surely better than thinking about reality.
“Sir, do you know where I live?”
“Yes, I do.”
How did he know where I lived?
“Sir, how do you know?”
“Jasmine, I live in the lane below you. I pass your house regularly while walking in the mornings. That’s usually around 5 am when you are still asleep.”
“Wow, you walk? Can I join you?”
There was silence in the moving car. I hung my head in shame, thinking that I’d moved in on him in a silly way.
My teacher was in deep thought. He never uttered a word after that.
As he pulled into the driveway, I thanked him.
I stood up giving him the royal wave as he drove off.
I turned around to open my front door when I heard the screeching sound of a car.
“Five am sharp! Be ready, or I leave!”
He drove off before I could agree.
For the first time in days, I smiled.