For as long as she could remember the scent of him and that smile, all Vanessa had been doing was waiting.
She was the one who saw him that day in the school field. He was in a blue shirt and khaki trousers. The other boys were drawn to him as much as the girls were. He said something to make them laugh and that’s when his eyes met her cocoa eyes. They were dark and had a glint of mischief, but it was his height and ease that drew her to him. She had a few boyfriends in her stay in high school. There was the one she met in a bus on her way home who had written one letter but used a revised stamp. She had to pay fifty shillings to read his illegible writing and wrong musical dedications. Any fool knew that “Queen of my Heart” was a song by Westlife and not Backstreet Boys!
There was the great dancer in form three who though short had managed to hit on her best friend and get away with it. His idea of getting back at her had been to leave an empty packet of milk in her locker. She found it quite refreshing. Their break up and his upgrade became the talk of the two streams for that weekend. She told no one the that she never loved him, but was in awe of his handwriting and grammar. Even then she knew that she could not love a guy in high school. She could not lend her heart to a boy who had an influx of love letters from other girls. The thought of such deception made her cautious, but relatively stupid.
She fell hard for him.
He was talking to his friends that day but once he caught her staring, he couldn’t look away. She stood there until he walked towards her.
She could look into his eyes, but the scent of him was all she needed.
He was charming, but she knew that charm was deceitful and her heart stopped.
They were called to the hall where the results were announced. She hated Physics exams. She loved the practical exams but the theory part always had her in knots.
When their teacher announced the results she looked down aware that her performance would prove to him how stupid she was. In fact, she hadn’t studied for it. The skirt she was wearing was a size smaller, and the elastic on those new socks were stressing her, so she couldn’t focus in the exam room.
How would he know that she had been attending an English Symposium the previous evening and had been the best? Or that she wanted to know his name and hear him say that he liked her?
The result came in and he stood when his name was called and the sound of palms meeting filled the room. She could not put her palms together, but he saw her. His eyes stayed with her until the end.
The smart ones stayed in the podium to receive their gifts as the room filled with music. It was a Symposium and some entertainment was in order. She slipped out and returned to the hall when she heard E-Sir’s song, “Mos Mos” and found herself doing the Helicopter dance just like she had seen in the music videos and shows.
After a while she stepped out through the back door hoping to sneak back to her dorm and change. Those socks were really killing the muscles on her legs.
“You’re a very good dancer, Vanessa.”
He was right beside the door. His hands were in his pockets and his right leg was raised as he leaned on the wall.
“Max,you can call me Max. I was looking for you.”
“Well, you found me. ”
” I did. You’ll hear from me.” She wanted to ask when she would hear from him but she didn’t want to seem desperate. She knew his name and he knew hers. It was enough to disregard the miserable grade she got in Physics.
The next weekend brought with it time to watch a Nigerian movie and read his letter under her blanket with the aide of a flashlight . He did not just like her, he really liked her. He was not afraid to admit it, but he found her confidence a little intimidating.
His handwriting was impeccable and he signed off better than she had hoped. She read his letter over the weekend, before she could pick a pen to answer his letter. But she knew even then that her heart would always beat to his.
That was ten years ago. Vanessa was still waiting. She heard from Max once in a while but his words never reached her heart or sparked the fire that he had kindled in her.
She had dated some guys, got dumped by three and set four in the friend zone. He had evolved into an accountant. She had evolved into a woman. When they met that day at the cafe, he had invited her to his apartment and treated her to lunch. He had the same glint in his eyes. She had the same stare.
He kissed her forehead that night, but nothing beyond that. She walked home tired and spent. He had drained her of the fire she kept burning for him.
She did everything to steer clear of him. No one she knew had married their high school sweetheart, but even then she hoped she would be the first. The fire in her heart was slowly picking up. He worked in the same building as her, and they had lunch when his moods favored him. Her colleagues told her they looked great together every day. She smiled at the beginning but it became more of a burden like an unwanted constipation.
She stayed late in the office that evening. The proposals for the new Campaign had to be revised before the Shareholders meeting the next morning. She heard the knock and his scent.
“Hey, would you mind if I join you?”
“No, please do.”
“I brought you some cupcakes from the cafe. I know you always have house coffee and two chocolate cupcakes every Wednesday.”
“Thank you Max, I didn’t know that I had a stalker in you.”
“I think it’s a good thing, at least a stalker who brings you cupcakes, look, would you like to go out with me, as in be my girlfriend Vanessa?”
“I know it’s been a while but I have been watching you Vanessa. Like how you frown when you want to say something but can’t. You also love blue scarves, and that everything has to be in order for you, but more so I have seen the way you look at me.”
“Max,can we do this later, um…”
“I have waited for fifteen years to talk to the girl I met at St. Anne’s during a Physics symposium who made me lose my cool. The girl who knew she came first and who wrote me the only letters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I could sit here and go on, or tell you how much I have dreamed of this, but it is not in my style to live like am one of those Mexicans you swoon over in TV. So, what will it be Vanessa, be honest with me.”
“Are you seeing someone?”
“No, all this time I thought that it would never happen. You made me wait Max. I waited and dreamed and gave up and gained hope, it was like… Would you wait for me to finish typing this document?”
“It’s been fifteen years Vanessa, a few more hours wouldn’t hurt, but am not leaving this office without you.”
“You’ll hear from me.”