Cole Sebastian hated Amara Oke. He hated her pretty face and her smile. What was she always smiling about? She always smelled like flowers and he hated flowers; it seems there were too many flowers in Africa. Were Africans not supposed to be dressed in animal skin or something? The worst part was that she came here on full scholarship. Were they trying to say she was smarter than him? Since when did Africans know how to read and write? Or maybe she just couldn’t afford to pay the tuition…yes, that was it.
Amara wore a t shirt that read “Straight Outta Africa” to class just to annoy Cole. The idiot made her life miserable everyday just ‘cause she’s African and he even called her Africa. She was waiting for him to use the “N” word then she’ll show him….
‘Hey, Africa did you run out of animal skin to wear today?’ Cole asked. Few people laughed today. Amara turned and looked at him. ‘Did you forget that you graduated high school or did you parents not tell you that you were applying for a masters program?’ More people laughed. Cole’s smirk disappeared. ‘Careful Africa,’ he said with a low voice. ‘Or you’ll make me your slave?’ she asked him raising her eyebrows. ‘Oh, I’m scared,’ she said in mock fear.
Cole was so angry. How dare she say such a racist thing to him.
Cole’s father was a board member of the school. He read the complaint filed against his son and the allegations against Amara. He smiled remembering the first time his son came home disturbing everyone about this annoying girl in class who had the pretty pink lunch box and how she always had pretty pink ribbons in her hair. He claimed he hated her because everything she did annoyed him. Mr and Mrs Sebastian knew their kid was in love. Naturally, he denied it for five years. He finally admitted it the day he saw her with another guy and his heart broke. Cole then declared his hatred for all females except the ones that were family.
His father reading this complaint now saw history repeating itself and he prayed that his son will realize that he was in love.
When he got home he knocked on Cole’s door.
‘Come in. Hey, dad.’ ‘Hey, son. The complaint filed against you got to my desk.’ ‘I know dad,’ Cole said rolling his eyes. ‘I just hate that girl.’ ‘Do you now?’ Mr Sebastian said to his son. He entered the room and sat on the bed beside Cole who was laying down still holding the book he was reading. ‘Dad, she gets on my every last nerve and I don’t even know why.’ Mr Sebastian chuckled. ‘Well, I think you are in love with her. You call her Africa, you hate that she smells of flowers…son, you are really into this girl and I don’t want you to fight your feelings.’ Cole sighed. He was afraid to admit it but his dad was right. But what was the use anyways? Amara hated him for teasing her in class and man the girl had a way of saying things that tore his heart into shreds. This afternoon in class she said he grow up and stop thinking he can remain a high school bully for the rest of his life. One, he was hardly a bully in high school and two he was a grown man. Ok, he made a few girls feel bad in high school but that was it. Ok, she was right. Damn.
Amara was eating her burger and fries at lunch when she heard someone singing The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel my Face”. She turned round and saw Cole, headsets on dancing and singing seriously. She smiled and shook her head but she couldn’t stop staring. He caught her smiling at him and his heart nearly stopped. He froze for a second.
‘Hi,’ he said sitting next to her. ‘Hi,’ she said her smile disappearing and her face becoming sad. Cole’s heart sank. He felt pain in his chest because he knew it was his meanness to her that put that look on his face. Ok, Cole we have to fix this mess.
‘Will like to have dinner with me?’ She looked at him. ‘Why?’ Oh dear. He wasn’t sure how to answer that. ‘Cos I’ll love to hang out with you,’ he said with a smile. Amara went full Nigerian on him. ‘Since when do you hang out with Africans?’ ‘Umm…I ahh…’ She glared at him. ‘What, you’ve run out of mean things to say to me?’ Cole was at a loss for words for the first time in his life. What….oh boy… He wasn’t going to give up. ‘I’m so sorry Amara…’ ‘Sorry for yourself,’ she said interrupting him. He starred a her. Here he was trying to apologize but she was all being difficult and sh….
He decided to say things the way he felt them.
‘I’m in love with you. I have been since the first day I saw you. You wore this very beautiful Nigerian dress and you looked so amazing and effortlessly gracious. I didn’t realize or no, I did realize that my heart was acting funny but I refused to accept what was happening to me. My stomach felt all fluttery and I freaked out. So, I got all mean to you cos I didn’t know how else to react.’ Amara just looked at him like he was some confused human being.
‘So, your own way of expressing love is by being mean to people?’ she asked him dryly.
‘I know. It’s not as excuse and I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am and how bad I feel.’ She said, ‘How do I know you are not just saying these things to try to get me into your bed?’ Cole was shocked. He didn’t have an answer to that because she was right to think like that. After all he was mean to her and she had no reason to trust him. He sighed and was just about to give up when his father showed up. He looked at Amara and smiled, ‘You must be Amara. I can tell from your African dress; you look elegant. Do you think there is a way you could get me a copy of this lovely material? My wife’s birthday is next month and I wanna surprise her. She always wanted a Nigerian dress since she watched African Voices on CNN and the riches woman in Nigeria was wearing something that looks like yours.’
‘Well, the style was inspired by her,’ Amara said returning his smile. He turned to Cole, ‘I see you are not teasing the lovely Amara today,’ he said with a small laugh. ‘He teased this girl when he was little everyday and he kept denying his true feelings for her. For years he teased her till she broke his heart that was when he realized he was madly in love with her,’ Mr Sebastian said to Amara whose eyebrows were hanging in the air.
‘Thanks a lot dad,’ Cole said. ‘I’m not feeling embarrassed at all right now.’ His father laughed at him. ‘I’ll see you kids later,’ he said and left them.
Amara new deep in her heart that there was a possibility that he was bullying her ‘cause he liked her. On the other hand she needed him to suffer for making her life miserable. She looked at him and said, ‘So, you got your father to join the game ehn?’ That did it. The look on Cole’s face made her know that he had suffered enough. ‘I’ll won’t go to dinner with you,’ she said to him. ‘I can do lunch though,’ she said. Cole was not a chewer of fingernails but that day Amara got him so bad he didn’t realize he was chewing them till she said she’d go to lunch with him.
‘Tomorrow?’ he asked carefully. ‘Yes,’ she said shrugging like she didn’t care.