As he speaks, I wonder if he’s always been a stammerer.
‘So, wait, what do you need me to do? Why…why are you even telling me all these?’
‘I think she thinks it’s you who’s been writing the letters. So, I want you to be me.’
The ashen look returns to his face in split seconds. He comes across as one who just wrestled with Amadioha in his sleep.
‘That’s not possible!’, he blurts, unleashing spittle all over my face. I want to slap him across the face, but I manage to stow my twitching palm.
‘Look, I have a solid plan. Nothing will go wrong. You’ll meet up with her, tell her you like her and it’s been you sending the letters.’
‘Ehen…’ he anxiously nudges me to keep talking.
‘Then…’ I pause thoughtfully for a moment to see if I’m making any sense. I realize I’m not.
‘I just need you to play along till I’m ready to show myself. I didn’t think she would agree to see so soon, I didn’t really prepare.’ I say, licking my lips in agitation. Why does sense seem to elude me in moments like this when I need it most?
‘So is it me who you’re just telling two days to the time, that is prepared?’ he says with obvious sarcasm. Because I do not know how to answer his question, I swallow some more saliva and keep mum.
First, I cannot understand why Tracy would think it’s Titus who’s been sending letters. I’m insulted by the thought.
I mean, Titus is a geek! He’s boring, his uniform is always big, and he doesn’t really talk. I on the other hand am a lively guy, and I think I manage to be cool too. My friends say I try. If only Baba would just change my sandals to leather plimsolls…
‘Look…dude, I can’t help you here. I’m terrified by that girl. Every boy wants to be with her, and I just don’t want trouble.’ He says finally, pats me on the back like some older brother, and walks away.
I need to think fast. Time is running out and I’m not sure I can face her. I’ll just stutter to death.
One thing I know about Garba is that he can change into anything the situation demands. I nicknamed him ‘chameleon’ shortly after we became friends. This is why he was the first person I thought of when the idea of the letters came to me. He was also the next person that came to mind as soon as Titus declined my request. I had talked with him about my crippling fear of facing Tracy at this point, and he didn’t need much convincing before he had agreed to be me.
‘After all, na me dey write all those letters sef’ he had said and I had laughed drily.
Did I fail to mention that he’s conceited and greedy too? He still managed to ask me for some more money, exploiting my helplessness. I have somehow managed to become a pathological liar and a thief, thanks to him, so I have milked Baba of a lot of cash.
Oh! And I must never forget to mention he’s one good-looking son of Adam. Even I am intimidated by him. The stupid dude!
Garba and I devise a plan to make it look like he, though not in her class, had been sending the letters through me. Garba, in our plan, is a secret admirer who sees her sometimes as she comes to school. We both know that since he finished high school some three years ago, Garba hasn’t really done anything reasonable, despite being smart, but we agree to make him a university student in our plan, and this he likes very much. We also set up a date, on Saturday, which I unfortunately will be funding in its entirety. Garba, once again, drafts the letter that I must deliver to her tomorrow to set the plan in motion.
I was ecstatic at your letter. Of course I am cute. I’m whatever you say I am; that’s the kind of effect you have on me…
At this line, I suddenly feel deflated, but I allow him to write on.
But I’m afraid I’m not who you think I am. Patience, baby. Patience!
I would like us to meet up on Saturday, 12pm, at the mall two blocks away from school. My heart is doing multiple somersaults just at the thought of our first date: to see something more beautiful than the stars in your smile, to tell you how much you’ve crept under my skin, infected my blood, stolen my heart.
I adore you, Tracy, in a quite simple desperate human way. I know you’ll say the same too. Soon.
As I stand to take the letter from his hands, I hold his gaze for few seconds, not missing the glint of mischief in his eyes and the cynical smile on his lips, or something like it. I silently hope he doesn’t have other plans.
You really never know with Garba.
Suddenly I’m petrified.