THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

Have you ever met someone and instantly liked them, even without so much as exchanging a word with them?

You have no idea who they are, so you create your own version of who they could be in your head and that makes you like them even more.

She was in JSS3 or so, a new student or an old one that I hadn’t noticed before. I wasn’t sure. And I was in SS2. The instant I saw her, I knew I wanted her to be in my life. She was too mature for her age and I liked that. Even though I was her senior, I couldn’t get her full attention, just a few quick glances whenever she walked past wherever I was. Hell, I didn’t even know what I wanted from her.

I waited till after midterm break to talk to her, but she didn’t come back to school, and I have no idea where she is today, nor can I remember her name.

*

The girl at the church, her eyes drew me to her. There was just something about her. She had this air of mysteriousness around her that made me curious. I really wanted to be her friend – and maybe more than a friend. Whenever the usher directed me to sit, I’d always do a quick scan, looking for her just so I could sit close enough to her to sneak looks at her.

One time, I saw her at the bus stop with this dude. Was he her boyfriend? Brother? I hadn’t said any word to her, but I really liked her. There was this connection. Maybe I was delusional and it was all in my head. However, I never got the courage to talk to her till I moved cities. In fact, I do not even know her name.

Sometimes, I close my eyes and I see her face. As I write this, I can clearly picture her face, her smile. I see her eyes staring back at me and I wonder what would have happened if I was brave enough to make a move.

*

This time around, I knew her name: Florence.

She had sleepy beady eyes and I loved those features on her.

She was my coursemate, tall, dark, classy, and had this very calm demeanor. She always had this group of girly friends around her which caused me to mentally assume that I stood no chance with her; there was never a right moment to talk with her. Or perhaps that was the excuse I gave myself. I was scared of rejection and didn’t want to deal with the repercussions of trying to insert myself in her life, however briefly.

Instead, I wrote little poems about her eyes on our class desks. Did she ever read them? I have no clue.

*

Aso – as I like to call her – was one who I did talk to. I consider her my first love even though the love was entirely one-sided. She was Miss Popular in my secondary school; I mean, all the boys wanted her. In our junior year, there was a scandal over boys writing love letters to her. She was, in my opinion, the hottest girl in my set. I always admired her from afar but was never close to her.

I had chicken pox in SS2 and she was kind to me. I was actually surprised because we were not close and I’d formed this opinion that she was snobbish. We had some mutual friends but nothing made us really talk to each other. I don’t remember how exactly our friendship started but I know it grew stronger in SS3. I knew I really liked her.

No, not “like”.

I loved her.

I loved the way she made me feel. I loved our late night talks. I loved the way we subtly held hands. I loved the way she called my name, “My Neta”, like I was hers. I wanted to be hers.

Every evening, I would go to her dorm just to be with her. We would talk about everything, especially books. She liked novels as much as I did. I remember when we talked about a book and the main character was a drifter, and I said I would never drift from her.

I knew I liked girls back then, even had something going on with my school daughter. I however wasn’t sure about this and had no idea what to do with these feelings I had for Aso. One time, I told her I wished I could leave a mark on her body so she would remember me forever, and she responded that I had already left a mark in her heart.

I never wanted to leave her side. I wanted to be with her so badly, but did not know how to express myself. I had this ache in my heart, the type you have when you want something you can’t have, especially knowing that after school, I would probably never see her again. (And I haven’t seen her.)

She obviously just thought we were best friends, but to me, she was more than that. Was she blind? Couldn’t she see how I felt about her? Couldn’t she relieve me of this stress and realize that I was in love with her? Couldn’t she save me from the heartache of wanting her and not being wanted back? Didn’t she see the way I looked at her? The way I longed for her?

Maybe she was aware and simply didn’t love me that same way or pretended not to notice, because Aso simply couldn’t have been that naive.

After graduation, she drifted. I wrote her messages on Facebook and got cold replies from her. I tried to keep in touch, even though it hurt me. But out of sight was clearly out of mind. At some point, I had to let her go. We eventually drifted apart.

Years and years later, I came out to her. I told her I used to have a massive “crush” on her. She laughed. I laughed. And we laughed it off.

She’s still in my life, married with three kids. We aren’t that close anymore, but at least we view each other’s WhatsApp statuses, and I’m going to send this story to her.

Written by Net

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5 Comments

  1. Mandy
    June 30, 07:40 Reply

    Ohmaigod I can so relate to some of this. There’s this absolutely gorgeous senior (well, he was a year my senior) that I had a big crush on. He graduated before me, and I’ve been low-key pining for him ever since, hoping to one day meet him and finally get into his pants. Because, mehn, I thirsted for that guy back in secondary school.
    But I’ve forgotten his name and the only information I have of him is that he lives in Onitsha. Or at least, he lived there as at the time he graduated from secondary school.
    I still can’t get his roguish smile out of my head.
    Maybe one day, the universe will grant me my wish and I’ll just bump into him on these streets of Lagos.

  2. Pezaro
    June 30, 10:19 Reply

    Awww, isn’t this the story of our lives? 😩

  3. Culture
    June 30, 12:49 Reply

    So many nostalgia. Life indeed is s beautiful place 🌼

  4. SideEye
    July 02, 11:47 Reply

    Super sweet story… made me awwn 🙂
    Curious to know what Aso thinks of this entry, assuming you sent it to her 🙂

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