Chapter 4

“Life is good” or so Esther thought a month ago.
She was a regular student with a regular life and like most of her peers the only problems she had was getting to class on time, finishing assignments, meeting deadlines and studying.

Life was going smoothly for her,she couldn’t have asked for more.
“Can’t wait to graduate,can’t say I’ll miss the school life” She had told Anita one day while they were on a leisure stroll

“You’ll miss it, trust me. You’ll have more responsibilities once you graduate. After NYSC that’s when the real struggle begins. Getting a job and all that” Anita said
“Spoken like a true shrewd” Esther laughed “You’re right though, I’ll miss this” Esther added.

She looked round the vicinity, taking it all in.
She let her mind drift to her first year in the university,away from her parents for the first time, she had complete freedom and was eager to start her university life. She met Anita on the day of registration, they had clicked instantly. Temi and Esosa had joined their clique while they were in 200level. All four of them had been best of friends ever since.
“We’ve come this far” Anita said, cutting short her nostalgia. Esther had nodded her head in affirmation.

Like every university student Esther encountered challenges,but there was none as challenging as the one she was faced with a week after her stroll with Anita.
The week had began on a good note.

Esther finally found a great topic to work on for her project also it was Anita’s birthday week.

Anita ran into the room excitedly that day, beaming from ear to ear.
“So it’s been decided” She grinned
“What?” Esther asked

“My birthday venue, it’s at lounge Roulette. Chuks and his friends are organising it. You know how he gets when he’s trying to surprise me. He thinks it’s a surprise, but I find out about it” Anita chuckled softly
“Yes, surprising is definitely not your boyfriend’s strong-suit” Anita punched her playfully on the arm and they shared a laugh

“He’s working with Esosa and Temi too. He didn’t Include you because he knows parties are not really your scene” Anita winked at her
“Yeah yeah, so can I be excused from attending?” Esther smiled mischievously
“Of course you can mademoiselle” the sarcasm was apparent in Anita’s voice, making Esther giggle.

A few days passed and Anita’s birthday finally arrived. Esther, Temi and Esosa had woken her up with a surprise birthday package. They bought her a pair of black leather boot she had been craving for online. Anita couldn’t contain her joy, she jumped up and down till she wore herself out.

Anita’s birthday party wasn’t till evening so all four of them attended a lecture that afternoon. When the lecture was over Esther stayed behind to work on her project, promising to meet up with them in an hour.

“Esther is not here yet?” Anita asked Temi at the birthday venue. They had waited for her at the hostel and Esther hadn’t shown up in an hour like she said she would. They all tried calling her number, but it was unreachable. They had been forced to go to the birthday venue without her.

“No she’s not here yet, wonder what’s keeping her” Temi’s brows furrowed
“We shouldn’t have left without her” Anita’s face turned into a frown
“Hey , she knows the way here, she’ll come. It’s probably the terrible network in that lecture hall that’s preventing our calls from connecting”
Esosa chipped in

“And we all know how much of a party bore she is, so that’s most likely why she’s taking her time coming” Esosa added

“That’s the most logical explanation right there, she’s not much into parties” Temi raised an eyebrow and continued “So are we going to start this party or what” She said loudly, attracting the attention of the other students at the venue.
They responded with applauses and whistles to show they approved of Temi’s statement.
“All right, say no more. We can start” Anita raised a glass and there was more applauses from the birthday attendees.

Esther arrived a while later, panting
“I’m so sorry I’m late! I can’t apologize enough. I lost track of time. I’ve been running to catch up” Esther said, trying to catch her breath.

“Why did you stay back in class in the first place? when you could have followed us” Anita enquired with a frown

“The WiFi was on and I had to utilize it. I know that’s not enough reason to be late so I’m sorry still.” Esther made a sad face, but Anita maintained her frown
“You can’t be mad at me on your birthday please” Esther batted her lashes, attempting to coax her.

“Why are you still dressed in your class outift anyway?” Anita eyed her
“I came straight from class, you know. Couldn’t have gone to the hostel to change. Would have been much later than this and you would have been angrier” Esther curved her lips into a smile

Anita observed her with a straight face for a few minutes then bursted out laughing
“You’re right, can’t be mad at you on my birthday” Esther’s face brightened up as she jumped on Anita, hugging her ecstatically.

“Plus I have my own personal surprise for you, wait for it” Esther dipped her hand in her bag and brought out a wrapped gift

“Wow…..” Anita’s hand flew to her mouth in disbelief “You shouldn’t have, you guys already surprised me with that lovely gift this morning”
“So I should take my gift back then?” Esther gave her a quizzical look
“Aunty be calming down, someone cannot play with you” Anita laughed till her eyes glistened

“Look who the cat finally dragged in” Esosa joined them moments later, holding two plastic cups.

“Better late than never, they say” Esther sticked her tongue out. Esosa mimicked her voice, mocking her.

“I don’t even sound like that” Esther’s eyes narrowed
“So you think” Esosa replied in a deadpan manner

The background music in the lounge intensified and chuks, Anita’s boyfriend came and pulled her away to dance

“Loosen up abeg, let’s make it lit” Esosa handed Esther a cup “Don’t worry, the content is fruit juice” She smirked mischievously

“Ha-ha, nice try. I know it’s not so I’ll go get my beloved fruit juice myself” Esther walked away from her and moved to the bar area, requesting for a non alcoholic drink from one of the bar attendants.

He handed her a canned malt drink and she speedily thanked him, turning around to leave.

She returned to the bar for another when the can was empty and she was given another.
“Instead of sitting alone looking like a lost puppy, how about you get up and dance” Temi stood in front of her with a straight face “At least pretend to be enjoying the party, come on” Temi pulled her up from the couch, ignoring her resistance.
Esther caved and they danced till they both got tired.

“I’ll go get water” Temi said breathy, she dashed out of sight and came back holding a plastic water.
“You got just one?” Esther asked

“Yes, it was either this or alcohol” Temi stretched her hand out to her “You can have it”
“You better drink up, you look like you’ll pass out any minute now, I’ll go get water outside for myself” Esther replied

Before Temi could refuse, she walked away from her, returning with a plastic water
“Where did you buy?” Temi enquired
“A good Samaritan gave me on my way out”

Esther answered, she relaxed on the couch and gulped down the water
They were soon joined on the couch by exhausted looking Anita and chuks
“How are my favourite people doing?” Anita asked with a giggle
“Oh, Esther I almost forgot. Bought a pack of non alcoholic drink, specially for you” Chuks told her with a wink. He got up to leave and came back with a pack of chivita.

Esther laughter was resounding “You’re too kind” she said with traces of sarcasm in her voice
“You’re welcome” He smiled brightly
Temi lowers to take one chivita from the pack and Esther, Anita and Chuks all followed suit, taking one chivita each from the pack.
“Thought you were all too good for juice” Esther rolled her eyes
“We didn’t want you feeling alone” Temi answered and they all laughed.
“Shut it” Esther yawned
“I’m ready to dance some more” Temi leaped from the couch and stretched
“You coming?” Anita directed the question to Esther
“Um….” Esther began

Temi gawked at her, daring her to decline
“Okay,one last dance” Esther lazily got up from the couch, with her chivita still in hand.
“Let me have a sip” Anita requested after a while of dancing, Esther gave it to her, she drank and returned it back to Esther.

“I went back to get mine, but everything was all gone. You were wise to hold on to your own” Anita said
“Of course I’m wise. I’m the only sober person in this gathering” They both laughed while they continued dancing.

About ten minutes later Esther started to feel a pang in her head, she blamed it on nodding her head consecutively to the music and asked to be excused. She sat still for twenty minutes, but didn’t feel any better, the music sounded louder, piercing her ears. The pang in her head grew into a burning migraine. She winced in pain, holding her head in her hand. She needed to rest her head somewhere comfortable, she needed her bed. She got up from the couch, Almost staggering, her gait was unbalanced as she approached Anita asking to leave.

Anita expressed her disappointment
“You were late and now you’re first to leave”
“My head is on a rollercoaster ride right now, I’m sorry. I’ll make it up” Esther forced a smile, she needed to bolt as soon as possible.

Anita could see in the almost dim light that Esther looked uncomfortable.
“Are you okay? I’ll tell chuks bye and come with you” Anita made a move to leave, but got stopped by Esther.

“I’m fine. It’s just the loud music I guess, it’s starting to get to me. I bet I’ll feel better once I’m outside and breathe in the fresh air. Enjoy your party and don’t leave on my account…..I’ll see you at the hostel if you manage to get back tonight” Esther tried to chuckle, but failed, the pain in her head galloped. She heard Anita say something,but she was already on her way out.

Outside she was happy to feel the mildly cold breeze on her face, she breathed in and out, basking in the momentary relief it provided her.
Her legs wobbled as she made her way forward.

Everything was starting to spin right in front of her and she felt a strong urge to sleep.
She staggered forward and aimlessly kept walking. Her stride was slow as she could barely keep her balance. She relaxed on a car parked nearby to gather herself before taking a step further. She should have let Anita come with her, she thought as she moved forward.

She felt highly intoxicated, but she hadn’t taken any alcohol. Everything was turning to a blur right in front of her and she tried hard to keep her eyes open, but her eyes had a will of their own, they kept shutting against her better judgement. Her brain was starting to fail her too, almost giving in to the drowsiness she was feeling. “Do-n’t sl-ee-p” She stammered to herself as she kept moving forward, barely conscious of her environment. From behind her a loud car horn shot right up her ear and into her head, she grimaced, covering her ears in pain, her head reflexively turned around as the headlights of the car hit her with full force, she staggered backward as she tried to shield her eyes from the blinding light. An overwhelming rush of pain coursed through her and in an instant everything stopped moving as her body gave way to the drowsiness. The feel of the cold hard floor against her body was the last thing she remembered as she collapsed on the floor, blacking out.


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