NADIA: My mouth went wide for shock. There is only one way Brenda would have done that. She must have known I had been kidnapped; or probably, she might have masterminded all these.
"Brenda is planning to get me expelled," I explained to Daniel as he moved his muscles.
He quickly took me to the rear exit of the building; as big as the plaza was, we were out within minutes.
He led me to an Jeep. So Daniel has a Jeep?
"You'll need a new phone. I'm guessing my uncle has your phone, doesn’t he?"
He stopped by to get me a new phone, despite all my attempts to stop him.
Joyce called again.
"Nadia, there is big trouble: It seems Brenda found out; she knows you are on your way back to the academy. Instead of tomorrow, the competition has been slated for this evening. I know Brenda is behind this."
I didn't know how to take the news. It seems Brenda is really working hard to see me out.
"What do we do now?"
I questioned and signaled Daniel to drive faster.
"I'll send the dish you would be tasked to prepare to your phone... I mean Daniel's phone. You’ve got to learn it quickly, Nadia. And be fast about it," Joyce said.
"Learn it over the phone? How is that possible?"
What does she take me for? Some kind of adaptor machine?
"Nadia, you are such a great cook. Learn it or you won't be promoted to grade 2!"
I swallowed hard and shut my eyes.
"OK! Go ahead and send it."
I dropped the phone and looked out through the window.
"God, help me."
DANIEL: You know that awkward moment when you know you've really done something wrong, but you don't know how to apologize.
As I watched Nadia look out through the window, two things played in my mind: How do I tell her about my uncle's family, and how do I apologize?
I mustered courage and opened my mouth to speak, but before I could say anything, she turned around and said;
"Daniel, Brenda wants me out of the house!"
Her words were hasty; I figured she wanted me to think something through and reason with her.
I asked. I didn’t really get the point she was trying to make.
She gave me the strangest of looks. I gasped when I understood what she meant;
"Brenda is working with my uncle?"
She screamed on top of her voice when I almost lost control of the steering.
"Daniel, I beg... If I have to drive, please let me. I no wan die biko."
I wanted to laugh but the discovery was still fresh on my mind.
I began to understand all she had was saying, and her questions, and why she never questioned anything I asked for.
“What do we do now?"
I had to question, probably there must be something else she had in mind.
"First, let's get this competition trashed. I'll deal with Brenda later."
NADIA: We got to the academy 30 minutes before time. I hurried to my room to change to my apron. Joyce wasn't in the room to at least give me a tip.
I glanced through my phone again to see; we were tasked to prepare Ewedu soup. For God’s sake! This was a competition against grade 3, our ticket to getting promoted.
I was few meters away when I heard my name. I doubled my pace and dashed into the hall to see Brenda speaking to the Judges. I signaled Joyce so she would notice me.
She brimmed with smiles and I could see the sigh of relief on her face.
Sharon signaled me to quickly announce my presence.
"Nadia is here! I’m here, sorry for coming late..."
The shock on Brenda's face was just as I expected. She opened her mouth to protest;
"Nadia, it got to our table that you were reluctant to participate in this competition," One of the Judges spoke out after Brenda had done her ranting.
"Sir, it would surprise you to know that I wasn't informed of the supposed competition," I fired back.
"Where were you for the past 12 hours? You went clubbing? Have you forgotten that leaving the academy without due permission would lead to your suspension, or if possible, expulsion?" Brenda dropped another bombshell to support her charade.
I was short of words. How do I tell the house that I was kidnapped? Who will believe a word I say?
"She doesn't even deserve to participate in this competition," she added.
She was buying the Judges already. I began to think that it was all over until Joyce stood up from her seat;
"She was sick, sir."
I breathed out.
"And who is a witness to that?" Brenda fired.
It looked like a sister versus sister affair now.
"I was referring to the Judges, not you, Brenda!"
Joyce corrected and continued. The hall was now a cinema.
"There are other witnesses: Daniel, Jessy and Sharon," Joyce added.
They all stood up simultaneously to confirm it.
As for me, I was just praying so hard in my mind: "God please forgive them, they don't know what they are saying o. I am not sick, abeg no vex con throw sickness give me. You know I hate syringes."
Daniel made matters worst.
"She was sick to death, sir."
Ewoh! Jesus! God forbid!
Brenda clapped for the scene; of course, she had a plan B too.
"Why wouldn’t she call her closest pals to protect her deeds? Everything they said is a lie, my Judge!"
Joyce paused and brought out a receipt in my name; it was obvious she had a plan C.
"Not when there is proof!"
She majestically walked towards the Judge and handed it over to him.
He glanced through it and passed it to the other Judges.
"The doctor's phone number is on it; let’s give him a call for confirmation.”
Brenda wasn't ready to give up yet.
"Why won't Nadia speak for herself? You were sick and you didn't say anything? Because..."
I interjected this time around.
"Because I didn't want to bother anyone; not everyone appreciate the idea of telling the whole world the problems he or she faces."
It was settled then, the Judges were convinced. But then Joyce had to throw one final blow.
"It seems you don't care about the welfare of your students, supervisor. You only care about the prize. And then you forget we are humans. Please next time investigate very well before you try to get any of us innocently expelled."
Everyone, Including the Judges nodded to her words. Brenda was bathed with shame. I could clearly see that.
The competition kicked off shortly after that. God decided to punish me. The paper I had jotted down the recipe for Ewedu soup was tucked in the Jean trousers I left behind in our room when I went there to change.
I signaled Joyce.
"There is a big, enormous problem."
DANIEL: I ignored when Brenda signaled me to sit the moment I stood up to support Nadia's course. The anger I felt prompted me to make the matter more severe.
"She was sick to death, sir."
I noticed Nadia shut her eyes and muttered something. I knew she was forbidding it.
So I joined her.
"God forbid o..."
Immediately the competition kicked off, Brenda stole to my side and questioned;
"What was that, Daniel? Who are you standing with?"
As planned, I was supposed to keep the fact that I found out about her hide and seek games confidential, but I couldn't bear it.
"I know everything Brenda. I can guarantee you that Wilson would only use and dump you.”
She was quiet for a while. For a moment, I thought I’d gotten her; but then she smiled;
“Use and dump his wife? I’m not sure about that! You should have taken the easiest way out, Daniel; at least we would have given you a unit office to operate in. As it stands now, you have chosen war? So be it!”
She splashed the words at me and went out of sight.
Of all the words she blurted out, the ones that caught my attention was, "Use and dump his wife? I’m not sure about that!"
Continued on next page...
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