The day she met him was like every other frustrating Monday, and she was already having a bad day by the time it was getting to twelve in the afternoon. The passengers that boarded the flight that she was a hostess on seemed to have all woken up on the bad side of their bed and then sworn to vent it all on her. After all, that’s what she was being paid for; to entertain their rubbish and smile like the safety of the flight depended on it.
By one pm she had been in two flights to Lagos from Port Harcourt and back.
On the course of the flight she had been forced to deal with a rude lady who considered it insulting that she was told to put off her phone when the plane was taking off, a child who cried through the flight because he felt pains in his ear due to change in altitude, and a sixty year old grandfather who kept staring at her in an unpleasantly flirtatious manner while licking his lips amorously.
“Sonia, go and man the door to welcome the passengers” The captain ordered in his Turkish accent, sounding like a speaker that had been tuned out of proportion.
The captain had a habit of always reminding her to do her duties like she would forget if he didn’t, and it annoyed her. Hell, she had come to know her routine even more than she knew the lyrics to all of one direction’s songs; her all-time favorite music band.
Following the captain’s unnecessary prompting, Sonia cat walked graciously to the entrance of the plane and was instantly attacked by a family of six; four hyperactive children, and two hypertensive parents, as they made a loud, rambunctious scene trying to get on the plane.
“Welcome on board Riko airline, thank you for choosing to fly with us” She muttered, trying to regain her composure as she routinely looked over their flight tickets.
She waved them on and proceeded to welcome other customers on board, reciting her welcome speech absent mindedly, while trying to use their facial expressions to ascertain their personalities.
Time had gone, and most of the passengers had made their way into the plane, but some few were still sluggishly walking to where the plane was, appearing faintly concerned with the fact that they were supposed to have been on the plane already.
Unusually frustrating mornings like this seemed to remind her of how far from her dreams she was, how she lived her life to please everybody but herself.
Pleasing people was a habit she had picked up while growing up, and even at times like this when she caught herself acknowledging that this habit was disturbingly detrimental to her, she still clung to it not out of will, but out of the inability to simply let go.
She hated the fact that no matter how much she tried, though very little her attempt was, she was never the type of person who pursued her interests when it clashed with those of others around her. Once she sensed a conflict brewing as a result of varying interests, she was quick to let the other person win. What she wished deeply, was that she only let them win in arguments, and not in issues as serious as plans for her future.
She had taken up a job as an air hostess only because it was the closest alternative to the modeling career she had given up when her family continued to whine about how they would be miserable if she left Port Harcourt for good.
She was the first child of four girls who had memories of a childhood dotted with times when she sacrificed the best clothes, allowances, Christmas gifts, the bigger meat, and even the boys she had feelings for, to her more outspoken, full of life and selfish younger sisters.
One of the things that currently weighed heavily on her mind was the fact that a month from now, she was going to sacrifice her desires yet again, only this time forever.
A month from now, she was going to be married to a man she wasn’t in love with but hoped to fall in love with some day.
Her future husband had been chosen for her by her father, selected only on the basis of his wealth and prestige, and while she didn’t out rightly hate the man, she knew she didn’t feel the connection, or that fulfillment she had fantasized would come with the man that was right for her. She felt empty, and deep down that emptiness was a feeling of unhappiness.
When she had told her dad that she wasn’t eager to be married off to this rich stranger, he broke down in an emotional drama, explaining how he had waited all his life for his daughter to get to a marriageable level, and how all he was doing was for her own good.
The lament and the grievance he displayed was more than she could put up with, and as usual she promised him and her mother that she would go on with the marriage, just to make them happy.
As time went on, and seeing how excited her parents had been about the marriage, she couldn’t bring herself to disappoint them, even when it tugged at her mind every night, that she was about to make the biggest mistake of her life under the sponsorship of her parents. She concluded she would go ahead with the marriage. She would marry him now, and work on falling in love later. She was going to deny herself yet again.
She couldn’t however deny herself of the feelings of sadness that ushered her to sleep at night, and the tears that sprang forth whenever she compared her current life to what she envisioned five years ago. Five years ago she had told herself that by the time she was hitting twenty four, she would have been a world class model who would be on her way to owning her own fashion company and settling down with a man that would have swept her off her feet. Did this rich stranger even know how to sweep anything?
Five years ago she was nineteen and just coming out of the university, bubbling with big dreams and plans for her future. Five years ago she was that ambitious teenage girl with fire in her eyes, and a seemingly unquenchable drive towards achieving, but five years later she was an air hostess who now lived with the fear of dreaming, because she feared it might contradict the dreams others had for her. She was tired of giving up things. She feared that if she gave up any part of her again, she would totally shut down.
“Welcome on board Riko airlines, thank you for choosing to fly with us” she recited as the last group of people trooped into the airplane.
The airplane door was about to be closed and the airplane cleared for takeoff when Sonia sighted him walking briskly towards the airplane. At least he had the decency to be fast, knowing he was late
She waited with her hands clasped in front of her, as he made his way to the entrance.
She looked directly at him, waiting for him to get close enough for her to recite the welcome message, and be done with this boring routine, when she found him looking straight at her while taking the stairs two at a time.
He was just a teenage boy, very much younger than her, even though there was something about his now confronting look that made him seem grown and completely in control. It made her immediately uneasy.
“Welcome on boa…”
“I know. I’ve been flying with you guys for a long time now.” He cut her short, flashing a sarcastic grin to go with his high spirits; a grin that she found weirdly attractive.
Taken slightly aback by his gesture that she didn’t know if to consider rude or cheerful, she slowly sized him up, trying to make sure what she had gathered about him were the right details.
Tall, broad shoulders and a firmly built physique. A young face conveying the fact that he was a teenager, but mannerism and confidence quite overgrown.
She forced herself to smile neutrally and take his ticket to look it over.
Putting on an air of business mode, she requested for his ID card just to confirm how old exactly he was. There was nothing she needed it for, and it wasn’t even in her power as a hostess to request for an ID except when being asked by someone who looked suspiciously underage for any form of alcoholic drink.
She hoped silently that he wouldn’t question her authority, and he didn’t, instead he smirked, pulled out an ID card from his pocket and handed it over to her. Sonia looked it over and confirmed that he was really an eighteen year old teenager, and a student of a private university in Ogun state.
She stretched her hand to give his ID back to him, and he left her hanging for a short while before he reached out for it.
“Sure about my age now?” he spoke in a low tune, reading accurate meanings into her earlier actions.
Sonia was briefly stunned into silence as she looked at this teenage boy whose height made her tilt slightly upwards.
Was he hitting on her?
Wasn’t her age bracket very obvious on her face and body?
“Your seat is located at the far end, the left side of the aisle” she spoke, trying to maintain her official status and overlook the fact that a stranger had just guessed the reasons for her actions right.
The teenage boy who was opulently clad in a black suit and a classic black brocks shoe to match nodded and smirked in a way that made her shudder lightly before he walked down the aisle in search of his seat.
She turned away from the gaze of the elite men who occupied the first class section of the plane before let ting out a puzzled expression show on her face, taking in all the weirdness that just happened.
She quickly dismissed it when Sandra her co hostess mounted the announcement speaker, and began to recite the steps to take, in case of an emergency or an emergency landing.
Soon the mild encounter was forgotten, and she resumed her duties, caught between trying to make the best air hostess, and struggling not to be subdued under the depression that generated from the thoughts in her head, all suddenly wishing that she at least had somebody to talk to.
By the time the plan was mid-way through its forty five minutes flight, she began to distribute the light refreshment the airline served its passengers.
As she did this, strolling down the aisle with a trolley guided by her left hand, she came to a row where a boy and a girl obviously her age mates sat, engulfed in a romantic moment. With an arm wrapped protectively around the girl, the boy played with her nose with his free arm, while the girl leaned wholly on his chest and squealed in delight. The squeal reflected a thousand beautiful emotions and their passionate chemistry fueled her already existing unhappiness, and she felt it worsening within the pits of her stomach. This was another lucky girl living out her dreams of a happy relationship and probably a happy life, while she strolled down the aisle of a plane instead of a runway, stretching out her hands to give out packets of snacks to ungrateful passengers, instead of stretching out those hands to shake crazed fans and sign autographs.
Forcing herself to stay professional, she smiled, handed their snacks pack to them, pushed the trolley away, and struggled to keep the emotions out of her face.
Since she discovered that another of her dreams, her dream of a happy ever after would never come to pass, she got sick in her stomach whenever she saw couples sharing a priced level of intimacy, and that was basically all she saw this days. It was the universe taunting her; throwing her misfortunes in her face and waiting to see her reactions.
Forty five minutes later, the plane touched down at Port Harcourt international airport, and the passengers began to exit the plane while Sonia waited impatiently, so she could make it to the rest room and redo her makeup, while basking under the intentional deception that the action was somehow redoing her life. All the passengers and her co hostesses left the plane, and she was about to leave as well when she sighted him walking towards the door, pinching his nose with his head bent.
The memories of their earlier encounter put her on alert as he walked towards where she stood by the door, her, suddenly interested in his personality.
He stopped when he got to her front, and slowly raised his head to stare at her. Sonia couldn’t make meaning of all the glitters that danced in those pair of eyes, but she felt slightly taken aback and irritated by the intensity of his gaze, and yet feeling naked and exposed, like the eyes were stretching deep into her soul, searching through her and making a connection with something down there.
“You’re unhappy in a terrible way” his voice was barely above a moan as he spoke and tilted his head slowly leftwards without blinking, and it left her frozen to where she stood, captivated by the tension that he created between them
“Your pain. It’s too obvious, the sadness escaping your eyes, very…” his voice faded off as he moved slightly closer to her, covering the distance between them. Sonia couldn’t swallow the lump forming in her throat, as she struggled to keep her gaze on him, and stop it from wavering frantically like it was doing. Her whole body was reacting to the strange sensation that this teenager produced with his mixture of danger, uncertainty and mystery. His voice had a hypnotic effect, his cologne was intoxicating, the way he gnashed his teeth between speeches was frightening and appealing at the same time, but his eyes… it was like they spoke to her, conveyed things he wasn’t saying yet. The way they narrowed as he spoke, the way they moistened and glittered…
“The only thing I don’t understand is why a person like you would be going through any of this mess” and then he blinked and disconnected, swiftly pushing himself back and giving space between them, as he looked up like someone that had just been dispossessed of a spirit.
Sonia moved backwards to lean on the plane wall, feeling extremely weakened at her legs, and needing to support her standing frame, while struggling to recover from whatever it was she had just experienced.
“And who do you think you are?” she found her voice and growled, also beginning to find her defenses and ego. Who the hell was this teenage boy that didn’t just know where boundaries were?
He looked at her for some seconds, and then a tender pitiful smile spread across his face, soothing her pulsating heart in a way she didn’t understand. He reached into the breast pocket of his suit and pulled out a paper, dropped it mechanically on the closest seat, before exiting the plane without glancing back.
Follow your mind, talk to me, call me, was written on the paper, followed by a phone number.
Despite feeling insulted and molested, Sonia knew she was going to call him, if not for anything, because of his audacity, his bi-polar personality that she found maddening and alluring, and the fact that she feared that someone had just seen right through her.
She could swear that she didn’t know exactly how it happened, but later that night she found herself waiting at Shakaz Park, for the teenager whose name she didn’t know, to show up. Shakaz Park was a private owned resort whose trees and colorful flower filled environment offered serenity and sanity of mind to anyone who went there, and it was open at all times of the day.
When she was through with her duty, she had called, and he had expressed desire to meet her. He told her to pick a place, and she chose this place after opting out of choosing a fast food or anyplace that would make it look like a date, but yet calculating that she needed to choose a place where her security was guaranteed, and where wouldn’t be too public, or private. Some minutes later, before she could completely ease herself into the serene atmosphere and discuss with every bit of rational voice in her head, asking her what she thought she was doing, the teenager appeared in front of her, dressed in an all-black outfit, and smelling of a pleasurably intoxicating fragrance that tried to mess with her thoughts.
He looked good and creepy, somewhat vaguely evil too.
“You look good, Miss Sonia” he complemented, letting his eye run briefly down her frame and back to her face, before his gesture could be considered perverse.
“And to think that I don’t know your name” she replied, trying to make sense of what she was doing here in the first place
“The name is Joel” he replied curtly, and they began talking.
It started out shallow, both of them not letting out much of what was in their mind, and then it transcended to funny. Joel had quite a nice and twisted sense of humour, and Sonia found it entertaining. As the conversation lingered, she felt more at ease, completely absorbing into the moment of delight that was now hard to come by in her life. They talked about queer things like the difference between the life of students at government owed universities, and those at private universities. Sonia enjoyed how he made a joke out of everything.
“What? I’m being serious; I know quite a number of persons who are schooling at private universities. I’ve got younger cousins there. You all are the same! The same bunch of rich spoilt kids” Sonia exclaimed with shrill excitement to a conversation they were having.
“l.o.l” he spelt it out mockingly, in a way that sent Sonia reeling back in laughter.
“So that’s what you think? really? rich spoilt kids? If only you understand how real the hustle is out there” he argued
“Yeah, tell me about hustle” she sneered at him, trying to hold back laughter. Joel faced her squarely with a look of mock surprise on his face. He looked like he was about to say something and then stopped abruptly, and the gesture sent Sonia snorting into another bout of laughter.
“What you don’t know is that some of us in these private universities were forced to become rich children. We are rich children only because government wouldn’t jeje give us admission into their universities. You get the logic?” he explained. There was something about the way he fought against being labeled as rich that she found very funny; she was struggling to hold back laughter.
“The truth is that if many of us have our way, we would willingly join our brothers and sisters in public universities and sip garri with them for lunch too, and not use tickets to join a queue and eat something I can’t categorize as depressing or elevating.”
Sonia burst out laughing
“I’m serious! After all, not like most of us there are really rich like that sef there’s quite a number of us there that live on a one thousand naira monthly allowance”
Sonia’s eyes grew as did the laughter sounds coming out her mouth. She believed he was exaggerating, but she found the whole idea to be incredulously amusing.
“You think I’m lying? I’m as serious as a fox” he defended, and she sprang into another bout of laughter
“whaaat?” he asked in a wailing tone, obviously enjoying how he was able to make her laugh
“A fox is not serious; A fox is cunning” she corrected him, swiping the tears off her eyes with the back of her hand.
He put on a serious face and then pouted his lips as he acknowledged his mistake.
Sonia could no longer tell if he genuinely made the mistake or he was just being funny; if he was acting, then he was very good at it, but either way it left her reeling in laughter she wasn’t overcoming easily.
“All the same I’m being serious. And then you wouldn’t have the mind to ask your parents for more allowance because you’re scared they would remind you that your school fees is taking all the money, and things wouldn’t have been that way if you read harder and secured admission into a federal university. Truth is, we are really not that rich” he argued further, though Sonia knew he was lying.
She had observed, and wanted to ask him how he was able to afford the obviously expensive suit, shoes, golden wrist watch and cologne he wore on the plane the day they met, the expensive phone she saw him using earlier, even when it wasn’t properly circulated in the market yet, and his expensive ted baker palm slippers that she knew cost a fortune.
Sonia went home that day feeling light headed and thrilled in a way she hadn’t done in a long time, and when he called after some days wanting to meet again, she eagerly obliged. They continued meeting periodically afterwards, each encounter rejuvenating something within her, although she noticed how he had not talked about the unhappiness he claimed he felt from her on that plane.
The day she poured out her feelings to him was an unusually cold night when during a stroll, he began talking about his ambitious goals towering far above the clouds, and how he intended to rule the world one day. He was entertaining to watch as he gushed about things he wanted to do, but then his high spirits reminded Sonia of her own days of dreaming, and before she could deal with it, she had sunk into a depressing mood.
Joel had immediately noticed the change in mood, and as if understanding what was going on, he found a sitting spot for them, and urged her to talk.
Her guards had gone up, and her senses pinched her that this was a teenager she was about to get vulnerable in front of, but with all her problems running into one another within her and forming a pressure, stretching her to unbearable limits, she got talking, and in no time she was spilling out everything.
She cried more than she talked, letting out everything in details, making sure to emphasize the unpleasantness of the man she was marrying in what was now just two weeks away, and how she now despised him and loathed that day. Joel listened attentively, and at a point Sonia could swear that she saw tears in his eyes.
“So you’re just going to let all your dreams die because you’re not going to fight for what you want? You’re going to live with this emptiness for how long? For the rest of your life? I mean people give up dreams because they died. You’re giving up dreams while you’re still alive?” he started out slowly with a shaky voice.
“You can’t sacrifice everything for your parents you know; they brought you into this world to live, and not to sacrifice your very live for them. If they start demanding these unnecessary sacrifices from you out of their own shortcomings, it is in your place to stand your ground. You have this crazy dreams of conquering the world, this beautiful ideas of making the world better, and you’re just going to let it all go, and then in roughly less than two weeks from now, you want to add a ring to your misery?” he subtly admonished.
“Look, I know deep down within you, you just want to live your life achieving this things, but you lack the strength to, knowing what you think the implications might be, but… you have to find the strength Sonia; the strength to displease your parents if it gets to that, in the long run they would certainly be pleased. That’s the thing about success. Success pleases everyone who really loves you. And if they are not pleased though, at least you are fulfilled, you are fanning the flames of your passion, and those flames burn down obstacles and challenges on your path to queening.”
Really, queening? Sonia turned to look at him with a confused look, the phlegm and tears mixing up on her face to form a mess.
“Queening, like being a queen.” He shrugged, and Sonia barfed with delight, not able to believe she felt better.
“Don’t blame me, I’m really not good at this motivational versus inspirational talk shit” he sighed and smirked, and this time Sonia laughed.
“Here, you look a mess” Joel was about to give his handkerchief to her when he stopped abruptly and began to to wipe her face instead.
Sonia sat still; feeling weirdly shy as the younger boy wiped her face and then planted a kiss on her forehead. An eerie surge of infectious emotions oozed from every action he executed, and her vulnerable soul received all of them without any resistance.
Enjoying the cool breeze that had begun to sweep through the resort that had now become their favorite place, Sonia eased into the firm protective, but tender embrace of the teenage boy, resting her head on his sturdy chest, listening to his heart beat as they pulsed into each other peacefully.
“And to think that you’re much younger than me” she said, more to herself than to the boy who ran his arm through her rich hair.
“Age is nothing but a number?” he offered, and Sonia could feel him smile
“You believe that?” she asked.
“Of course not” he replied
Sonia knew a million thoughts ran through her mind, she knew that when her head hit the pillow that night, she would be overcome with a lot of positive emotions, but there would be that part of her that would ask what under God’s blue heaven did she think she was doing, being all affectionate with Joel.
“You know you’ve made my life better right?” she soliloquized some more
“Have I? cos the last time I checked, you still have somebody to be married off to in a week when you don’t have the slightest bit of emotions for him, when you don’t like him. I don’t even want to start talking about the marriage. It’s that simple. You don’t love him, end it. Marriage is not like dating. It’s more serious than that. And my beliefs tell me that once you get into marriage, it’s a covenant, not a contract. Breaking covenants is usually considered a sin you know?”
“Even when you’re not happy inside the marriage?” she asked
“Even when you’re not happy inside the marriage. That’s why you should not get into it, in the first place.”
Being understood, being read correctly, being paid attention to, those were the things she desperately yearned for in her life, and she despised the fact that she felt like she was finding them in a teenage boy. A teenager who wouldn’t fit into her life, except as a little friend or a son figure, because that was how the society she lived in dictated things. How in the world would she tell anybody that she had fallen in love with somebody six years younger than her?
In love? Was that what this was? Was this her, finding her Mr. Right in the body of an eighteen year old teenager? What was she supposed to make out of all this? All of his graciousness and all of her new found vulnerability; all of his confidence and boldness, and all of her timidity and excessive emotional nature?
Feeling better than she had done in a long while, she looked up at him, and shutting down all inhibitions, she leaned in to follow her will for first time in her life; she leaned in to kiss him.
Nothing surprised Sonia more than when he politely shifted back and cupped his hands over her lips.
“Don’t do that, you’re not in love with me…yet”
Sonia’s heart sank
“You’re just caught up in the moment. You’re vulnerable. I wouldn’t want to make your life more complicated than it already is by adding the drama of a romantic entanglement to it” he said and smiled.
Sonia looked at him, too stunned to react. After what seemed like ages, with her just gazing at him, she smiled, and then giggled. He chuckled too, and soon they both laughed.
There was silence for some seconds, and simultaneously, they resumed giggling, and soon they were engulfed in a beautiful web of laughter that they didn’t know the reason for.
As the laughter intensified, with Sonia letting out all her bottled up pains and frustrations with it, she wasn’t sure of anything except two things.
She was going to get married to the man that would sweep her off her feet, and one day she would visit Italy, with a modeling career being the reason.
If you’re here right now, then I really owe a great deal of my happiness and fulfillment today to you, thank you for reading this, your read makes this blog possible!
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