He pulled up in front of Fagunwa hall as she sighed and gathered her things.
“Are you ok?” he asked. She replied in the affirmative and tried to control herself so it wouldn’t seem like she was in a hurry to leave him.
“So am I seeing you tonight?” Tope asked. Lola took in a deep breath before she answered. “I have an 8:00am test tomorrow”
“Are you trying to tell me something” he asked, his face gathering into a scowl “you know I can have you in school by 6:00am.”
“…but I need to read….”
“I’ll be here by 7:30 to pick you up. I suggest you pack somethings ready”
She looked at him and didn’t say anything. There was nothing she could say when Tope hads made up his mind. He took her chin, gently lifting her face to meet his. “you know I can’t be without you” he said softly. She looked into his eyes and nodded mutely.
“ I’ll see you later today”
“Ok,”she replied “ have a good day.” she got out of the car and walked to the front of her hall, feeling his eyes on her back as she walked away from him. She knew her roommates would be watching her from the window upstairs so she took her time, feeling like a reluctant actor in a drama cast. She walked to her room and braced her self for the onslaught of questions from her roommates. She wasn’t disappointed.
They rushed to meet her all at once.
“My god, Lola how do you stand the heat, that boy is so hot….”
“How was the night? God, you must be tingling all over…..”
“Jeez babes, does he have a younger brother or a friend? It is a crime for someone to look that fine……”
It was routine that she was used to, tired of but amused by. They all thought she was lucky to be dating Tope Peters, a known big boy in the school and son to wealthy and popular socialite parents.
“Girls girls, I need to rest, I’m tired” she replied all their questions.
“ok o, but you owe us gist” they replied. She climbed onto her bed. Her next lecture was by two and she badly needed to sleep. She drifted off, thinking futilely of ways to get herself out of tonight’s engagement.
* * *
She looked at her gold swatch wristwatch and tried to quell the panic she felt rising within her. It was 7:00pm and knowing Tope, he’ll already be outside waiting for her. Tope was big on appearances, acting in a befitting manner and expecting everyone around him to. Lola never fell short of expectations but he didn’t expect her to. He made sure she didn’t even consider it. What he didn’t know was that he didn’t have anything to be afraid of, she was a gentle spirited person that didn’t need to be brow-beaten into submission. She paced and paced, thankful that she was the only one in the room. Her other roommates had gone to see their boyfriends but would be returning that night. She was the only one who returned the following morning to the constant teasing by her roommates. She looked at her wristwatch and picked up her little bag and stepped of the room.
They drove home in silence. He asked how her day was and she replied that it was ok and also asked about his day. He looked at her and smiled. She frowned. Something wasn’t right.
“what is the problem?” she asked
“Problem, there’s no problem. Why would you think so?”
“Look Tope, I know that look, what is the problem?”
“Did you read for your test?” he asked out of the blue. She felt her chest tighten in dread and felt sweat trickle down her armpit.
“Er….yes, I did” she replied hesitantly
“You know, you’ve always been a terrible liar”he replied and looked at her with Venom in his eyes.
“What is all this about?” she asked feigning ignorance and praying that he would let the matter go. He smiled and just then they drove into the gates of his home. Her fear didn’t let her appreciate the beauty of the surroundings like she used to in the early stages of their relationship. She got of of the car after him and walked into the house. She turned to talk to him a was dealt with a resounding slap to her face that had her on the floor in minutes.
“How dare you lie to me? You know how…i…hate…it….when….you lie to me “ he said accentuating each word with a kick. “Please…let me…don’t…” Lola tried to explain but he kept hitting her. She tried to block out the pain hoping that he would lose steam soon. A few minutes later, the blows stopped and she lay on the floor, her body racked with sobs. He gathered her in his arms… “I’m so sorry baby, I didn’t mean to get that way with you.” She looked at him and saw that he was crying. He always did that ; beat her, cry, then make love to her. She tried not to flinch when he dabbed at her eyes with his handkerchief and lifted her to the room. They went through the motions, she acting the part for if she didn’t and lay there like a clod stone, he would hit her again. Soon he was asleep, she tightly in his arms. She lay there for what seemed like an eternity and when she felt his grip loosen, she gently got up, gathered her things and let herself out of the house.
At the gate, the gate man got out to open the gate for her. He could get into trouble for this but he didn’t mind. This one didn’t deserve this. He watched her as she walked into the night.