S S S || A Tad Bit Grey
…Forty eight, forty nine, fifty. I counted in my head as I took the last step down the flight of stairs. Pythagoras believed everything was made up of numbers and I totally agreed with him. I counted every single thing, thirty nine steps from the dining room to my bed, twelve to the girls’ bathroom, and sixty three steps from my bed to the garden and probably twenty three from the dining room to the garden. Those were the only places I ever went to, I probably had a case of arithmomania, practically obsessed with numbers and I always saw numbers as colours.
The nuns told me I was about a year old when I was brought to the orphanage, my parents had died in a car crash and I was the only survivor. I soon grew to be black, not just my skin complexion but my age. Sixteen. Nobody seemed to like me and I really did not care as I didn’t like them either. Sammy was the only one who seemed to like me, he was a tad bit grey. He was not so tall, a white kid but not American like the rest of the kids, he had brown beautiful hair and two or three strands of hair on his chin, I knew because I had counted them.
Sammy seemed to limp when he walked, he said he didn’t know why when I asked him, but he probably fell down when he was little.
I looked up from the book I was reading and saw Sammy walking towards me. He always stopped by to say hello while I sat at my favourite spot at the garden, reading a book during recreation hours.
‘If no one spoke to me, I would speak to my books then.’ I always thought to myself.
The nuns knew I liked to read so I always got books from the monthly donations shared to the kids, I never got good clothes or shoes but I didn’t mind.
‘Eating up some words again today, eh?’ Sammy asked.
‘I came by to say hello and also, dinner is ready. So hurry up, you don’t want Madam Tina to be mad.’
‘I’ll be there in a bit.’ I said, closing my book and standing up.
‘I have something to do before dinner though. Bye Najite.’ Nah- jee- tair.
‘It’s Najite (Nah- jee- tay),’ I shouted, as he ran towards the back door. ‘As in, stay.’
‘Whatever.’ He shouted back.
I laughed in my head, Sammy was the only one who knew that Naj was just the short form of my name, Najite. My parents had insisted on naming me with just a name, a tribal name from Nigeria where I came from. My parents had relocated to the United States shortly before they died. I knew nothing about them except that their names were Nere and Amaka, little information I got from the newspaper where the news about their death was written about fifteen years ago. I slept with that piece of paper under my pillow every night and sometimes, I spoke to my parents, hoping they heard me.
Two years later, I left the orphanage home. Eighteen, and no one adopted me because nobody wanted a child who never smiled. I was once adopted by a man when I was twelve and those were the worst six months of my life. He had lost his wife and needed company in the house.
‘Shhhh…It’s not going to hurt, Naj.’
‘That’s what you said the last time, dad. What if I get pregnant?’ I sobbed.
He chuckled. ‘Vasectomy, Najjie. That can’t happen. Now be a good girl, let daddy show you how to love.’
This went on for a long time, sometimes every day before I decided to run back to the orphanage. I pretended to be sick one day so I could skip school, I stole some change from his bed-side table when he had gone to work and took nothing but my books along with me. I called a taxi and told the driver to take me to the only place I ever knew.
‘St. Catherine’s Home for the Homeless.’ I said as I hurried into the back seat of the yellow taxi. He took me there with no questions asked, he probably didn’t want to have a conversation with a black kid. I got to the orphanage and met someone new, Sammy, and we grew pretty close, sharing secrets except for the love my foster father showed me. I never told anyone about my experience with my foster father and he dared not to look for me after the injury I left on his penis and threat I gave to kill him, the night before I fled.
‘Coming right up,’ I said as I spun around to attend to the customer. My eyes widened as I saw the surprise. ‘Samuel!’
‘Oh my gosh, Najite!’ he finally got it right this time. ‘What in the world are you doing here?’
‘Working. Duh. It’s been, what? A year now? How have you been?’
‘Good good. I see you’re busy, let’s catch up after you’re done working, eh?’
A smile, then I nodded.
The bar closed shortly after 4 a.m. and I was not so surprised to see Sammy standing by the entrance door.
‘Walk you home?’
‘Mm-hmm.’ I let out a little smile, throwing my jacket over my shoulders.
We talked about everything and quickly caught up on all we had been through and missed out on the past year. Sammy was adopted shortly before his eighteenth birthday by a wealthy man, he was in college now studying Astronomy. He walked me to my apartment which was a tiny bedroom with a cupboard for a bathroom, it was all I could afford at that moment with the little I got paid with at the bar. Getting a job at the bar was hard enough for me.
‘Goodnight Naj, I’ll give you a call sometime.’
‘Goodnight Sammy.’ I said and turned to open the lock but he held my hand.
‘Nothing,’ he said. ‘Just this.’ Then he leaned towards me and kissed me, better and gentler than my foster father. His lips felt like silk. I fumbled the key into the lock and we both fell on my bed, the only furniture in my room at that time, it was just like it was with my foster father but this time, we made love.
I woke up the next morning to Sammy by my side, I stared at his face as he slept like a baby, his beards were fully grown now and I couldn’t count the strands of hair. He looked different than he was when we were at St. Catherine’s, more muscular and definitely taller. So much development in about a year. I studied his face until he woke up. He caught me staring and smiled, he kissed my forehead and stood up from the bed, picking up his clothes to wear them and I watched.
‘I better be heading home now, I’ll come see you later.’ He said, after getting dressed.
We soon started dating and it was the best moment of my entire existence. Everyone seemed to notice I was a lot happier and more productive at work and I even got a raise. I was soon able to afford a better apartment, a little bit bigger and more spacious. Sammy was the best boyfriend ever, I soon realised that I had always loved him. I had my doubts at first, he seemed to be the only one I thought of every night after he left the orphanage but I thought we were just really close friends seeing he was the only person who ever spoke to me.
Part 2 coming up next week! 😁 Did you like it? What do you think is gonna happen next? Btw, this story was submitted for a contest but unfortunately I wasn’t shortlisted 🙁
I’ll just keep pushing aye?