Love and Betrayal by Maame Aba Asiedu

Red Herring
I met her on the fifth day; Lala was her name. She was indeed, an epitome of Caribbean beauty. The sway of her hips spoke volumes of Caribbean culture, and the slight bake of her cocoa epidermis revealed her Bahamian roots. Her eyes, oh her eyes! For some reason, they were enclosed by almost imperceptible dark circles, resembling that of a panda’s. Yet still, they were small and sharp; they seemed to cause my very emotions to cavort when they caught mine.
She spoke with a heavy Caribbean accent and her lips inadvertently moved in a gentle but somewhat provoking manner. Her hair was covered in artificial extensions, so for the short while we were together, I did not see her real hair. Nevertheless, I believed it was beautiful as well. The style that adorned her head was enough to remind any learned individual of the ancient Egyptian Princess’ which they probably studied in history class. She was everything I wanted; my Bahamian princess, or should I say, queen. My iris defied the law of gravity and a smile danced around the corners of my lips as she continuously crept into my thoughts. I smirked.
“Hi,” I greeted when I first met her at our third gathering during the first week.
I allowed my eyes to scan her figure and subconsciously, my eyes lingered on her bust. This, I realised when I returned to her face and noticed her brows crease in disgust. She replied with a quick ‘hello’ and walked to her seat, embarrassed. Yet still, I maintained the temerity to slowly turn my head and allow my eyes to scan her back, pausing for a moment when her derriere came across my field of vision. Unexpectedly, she looked behind abruptly but the floor suddenly grew interesting and I squatted looking for what only my imagination could conjure. The glee I felt for about three seconds that I had successfully prevented her discovering I was checking out her behind dissolved when I felt a glare on the arch of my back.
I messed up. 
However, her earlier embarrassment at my unconscious action was not lost on me. My face flushed in shame and I felt a sudden heat creep up my neck. 
“Are you okay?” my roommate asked with concern written all over his face.
“Absolutely!” I voiced out.
My queer response backed up by my forced accent seemed to cloud him with the utmost confusion. He shifted his weight uneasily, and after raising an eyebrow he looked away, probably now having a peculiar impression about Ghanaians.
I messed up again.
The sweltering heat of the multipurpose hall made my lungs feel as though they were stuffed with cotton wool. Beads of sweat decorated my forehead as I inadvertently jostled past people, desperate to find an empty seat. In front of me was a padded blue seat, devoid of any presence. However, immediately I allowed my hand to grasp its leather exterior, mentally declaring it my possession for the morning, a heavy built lad landed on it. 
I opened my mouth to protest but the words died out once I took a second look at his structure. I was grateful I did after I glanced at the tiny muscle on my arm.
“Participants, take your seats we’re about to start the programme,” the chairman’s voiced boomed from the speakers mounted across the hall.
The beads of sweat on my forehead had now turned into large droplets of sweat pouring down the sides of my face. Evidently, I was the only one standing, scampering for a seat in a pitiful manner. A sigh of relief escaped my nostrils once my roommate, Rahman raised a gnarled red hand, signalling there was an empty seat by him.
I began to let out short puffs as a result of my racing heartbeat returning to normal. After closing my eyes and resting for a while, allowing whatever was said to enter one ear and go out through the other, unbothered about it sinking into my head, I opened my eyes to a familiar navy blue shirt in front of me and panicked. However, I was immediately filled with immense lassitude and my eyelids, encouraged by the pull of gravity, knocked me into a state of unconsciousness. 
The smell of frangipani oil with sweat emanating from the navy blue shirt in front of me awoke my senses.
This was the longest meeting of my life. I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat and noticed the manner in which Rahman had scrunched up his face, like a piece of used tin foil. The unbearable heat of the room was stifling and this heat topped up with the chairman’s never-ending presentation brought about an unusual level of rancour within the audience. After what seemed like forever, the programme ended, much to our relief. Numerous teens poured in their numbers, desperate to allow the breeze to greet their sweat and satisfy them. 
About thirty minutes later, the buses which were to convey us to our hotels arrived. The cool air from the air-conditioner hit me once I entered, causing the muscles in my face to stimulate my lips to break into a smile.
What a relief.
I grabbed the nearest seat close to the automatic door, for after standing outdoors for a while, it seemed as if my legs were giving up on me.
I threw my head back in an attempt to get some sleep, expecting it to land into the softness of a padded cushion. Instead, it was smacked against an exposed iron bar, which had eaten its way out of the seat. After wincing in pain and lifting a hand to massage the abused spot behind my head, I resorted to laying my head against the cold pane. Darkness begun to engulf me and I drifted into a deep slumber.
The familiar scent of frangipani oil greeted me when I awoke. Turning my head to stretch my neck, I stopped in my tracks when my eyes fell on the girl had I ‘admired’ earlier on. 
Could my day get any worse?
“Hey,” she uttered.
I felt my heartbeat quicken its pace again but I succeeded in maintaining composure.
“Hi,” I replied.
“You slept for a long time,” she continued and laughed, revealing a perfect set of gleaming white teeth.
A forced smile seemed to be the only thing I could offer considering the war being waged within my emotions. 
The uneasy quiet that followed was enough to compel the beauty to punctuate the silence with a conversation. 
“So you’re Kwesi eh? Kwesi Boateng. I see,” she pronounced after lowering her eyes down to scan my name tag. 
“Yeah, and you are?” I questioned.
She had a confused yet amused look plastered on her face. 
“Anything wrong?” I wondered, edging forward to read her facial expression.
She pointed to her name tag and I slapped my forehead in embarrassment.
“Oh! Sorry about that, I can be so silly at times,” I confessed, shaking my head.
“Clearly,” she said with a laughter that was not lost on me.
To my surprise, I did not take umbrage at her mockery even as I joined her in tumultuous laughter. I was impressed by the manner in which my emotions had suddenly veered from fearful to that of amusement. Eventually, I had warmed up, now possessing the eagerness that possessed me on the day of my arrival at the ‘International Youth Public Affairs Conference’.
“Lala, nice name,” I complimented, contributing to the pleasurable atmosphere.
She smiled and muttered ‘yours too’ and afterwards, proceeded in telling me about her ancestry and casual life.
The immeasurable sense of delight I felt when she revealed her taste for jazz and love for swimming coerced me to think that she might be my soulmate. Naturally, I discovered there was some sort of connection between us two that did not even allow even a hesitation or a moment of dullness nor boredom, to disrupt our conversation.
I felt like a tour guide, as I overloaded her with a vast repertoire of information concerning Ghanaian culture, people behaviour and so on. Then, I went on to vividly describe my neighbourhood, its riotous people and recalcitrant children, yet made a conscious effort to convince her it had no impact on me.
We were so much engrossed in the conversation, it had escaped our notice that our bus had come to a halt and folks began to climb down. 
I lifted her bag and slung it behind my back, compelling her to give me a queer look.
“It’s okay, I’ll hold it,” I muttered and followed up closely behind her.
I could feel the protrusion behind her against the surface of my jeans and smirked at the feel. Daringly, I proceeded to slightly allow my hand to brush its surface, causing her to jerk and turn abruptly, sending me a warning shot.
“I apologise, that was a mistake.” I lied and stepped back, creating some space between us.
She nodded.
Upon our arrival at the hotel, we exchanged digits when it became clear we would not speak until the next morning. 
As if that was not enough, I traced and made out the number on her key holder that jingled at her side as she made her way to her hotel room.
Forget it. 
I told myself, as I saw well-built security men standing with their legs wide apart in a warrior’s stance between the line that separated the boys’ hotel rooms from the girls’. The security was tight.
I slept almost as soon as I hit the bed, my body relaxing at the touch of the soft duvet as I spread my arms wide apart, embracing my bed entirely. 
My phone vibrated irritatingly against the pillow, causing me to move away sharply in consternation. 
“Dammit!” I heaved as I grabbed my phone, hitting my index finger on its screen to unlock it.
Message from Lala.
The manner in which my eyes lit up with glee allowed warmth and calm to permeate my being. Yet, the kind of sleep hanging over my eyelids would not encourage me to answer.
Nevertheless, curiosity compelled me to open her message and I began to type. 
I had not even completed my sentence when a call followed.
My eyes were partly opened due to my heavy eyelids which felt as though they were coated with a ton of melted gold, when I pressed the green button in a drowsy and lackadaisical manner.
“Missing me already, heh?” I slurred like a drunkard.
Silence followed.
I was expecting that. 
I immediately cupped my mouth in my palm, when reality had knocked me back into consciousness, making me wish I could take my words back.
Now, my eyes resembled that of an owl’s but it seemed like drowsiness was still lurking around.
“Hello? bab…” I paused when I realised the nonsense I was about to spew out.
“Um, hi, I wanted to talk but since you’re sleepy, we could meet an hour earlier than the usual breakfast time tomorrow morning.”
“Alright. Goodnight.” I muttered, and drifted into unconsciousness.
My chuckle of exasperation reverberated across the walls of the empty cafeteria. 
I glanced at my watch. She was twenty five minutes late.
I could have used the time to catch some more sleep.
Desperately, I shifted the weight of my oblong head unto my palm and rested my elbows on the table, closing my eyes in the process.
The lunch lady nudged me and ordered me out of the cafeteria. A phlegm escaped her nostrils even as she blew hot and unpleasant smelling air on me.
“Why are you here alone? Get out!” 
She reached for a ladle and swung it towards me, smacking my cheek in the process. I clenched my fists in annoyance and was about to lash out warnings of fury when she suddenly grabbed Lala by the hair and pulled her towards the exit door. I tried pulling her from Lala but that only made her grab unto her hair more, severely hurting her in the process. Then, I threw my hand to her cheek, and she let go in an instant while I savoured my hand mark that slowly appeared on her cheek, its colour red and hot.
I felt the softness of someone’s palm on my hand, opened my eyes, and begun panting.
“Are you alright? You were asleep when I got here,” Lala said.
“I…I just had a bad dream,” I disclosed.
“You can tell me about it” 
We chatted until the room begun to fill up with teens, our stomachs raving in hunger.
“Yes, the Bahamas can be very hot sometimes!” she exclaimed with her mouth full. 
“Oh yeah, I’ve heard!” 
For a moment I paused, and stared straight into her eyes, admiring their sharp edges and the manner in which they were pulled thin. 
The bus ride seemed so pleasant since I had congenial company. 
The fact that Lala and I sat side by side this time, made the conference less of a burden. Although, I could again feel the sweat trickling down the hardness of my chest and could almost taste the moistness of the atmosphere, I was glad to have Lala by my side. 
This two week conference was sweeping by with such rapid momentum that I could not even comprehend. In the bat of an eye, we had completed almost all our assigned tasks and visited multiple spectacular scenes and tourist attractions in the city. 
The boat ride, along with its breath taking view of the ocean was stunning. Sitting opposite me was Lala, clothed in a black tank top and black denim jeans. She threw her head back in a laugh while watching a group of boys move to the beat resonating from the sound system. I seized the opportunity to take a snapshot. Beautiful.
Now, the atmosphere seemed more serene than ever. The moon shone on the waters, giving it a light shimmer which caught my eye, even as the wind carried specks of white sand which pelted my feet like miniature bullets. The soles of my slippers and Lala’s bore imprints on the beach sand while we walked towards the bus. Slowly, with my right hand, I took hers and interlocked them.
“What would you do if I tried to kiss you?” I asked casually.
“Try and see,” she replied, pursing her lips.
At that statement, my chest warmed up and I could feel the side of my lips twitch in response. 
Darkness had engulfed the cool interior of the bus, yet I managed to figure out the identities of most individuals. As expected, Lala landed in the seat next to me, right after I sat and relaxed my back in the comfort of the padded cushion. Unconsciously, I placed her backpack between us. She held it by the straps, lifted the pink and white striped bag and placed it near our feet, while edging closer. Immediately, the bus was flooded with dimly lit light from the tiny lightbulbs which were linearly arranged from the front to back. 
“Damn it,” I muttered under my breath.
Lala continued edging closer, clutching the black cotton material that clung unto her skin, and slowly pulled it down, until she had revealed a remarkable amount of cleavage. The symphony of my heartbeat adopted a quick tempo as I waited for what would happen next. She looked down for a while and looked back at me, a faint smile playing around the corners of her lips. Without a word, I buried my head into its softness, relishing at the cool feel greeting my cheeks. Slowly, I allowed my lips to caress her frangipani oil smelling skin, while moving up towards her neck, tasting every inch of her sweet skin. She went further to lift her right leg and I could now feel the weight of her thigh on mine. My hand immediately left her waist and settled on her thigh, even as my thumb moved around in circles on its surface, rubbing gently.
What a bus ride.
All too soon, we had come to the final night of the entire conference. Multi-coloured lights were strewn all over the hall even as disco balls hung from the ceiling. The music was blaring and a banner had been hung at the entrance of the hall with the words “GOODBYE” imprinted on its white covering in bold black.
The dance floor was packed with numerous folks, busting moves here and there. The atmosphere grew warm and moist and I could feel sweat trickling down the sides of my face. Yet, I was having a good time. I shut my eyes and allowed myself to wallow in the rhythm, busting various popular African dance moves, according to the beat when I stopped in my tracks.
I saw someone with a familiar curvature, displaying the moves of a belly dancer. Squinting my eyes to examine the figure, I moved forward. 
The scent of frangipani oil hit me.
She turned to face me after I gently tapped her on the shoulder. 
“Hey, wanna dance?” she asked, her eyes brightened up in glee.
“Sure , I…”
She did not wait for me to complete my response when she grabbed my hands and began to move them in an awkward manner. A little laugh escaped my lips, and she presumed it was because I was enjoying her moves. Soon enough, I began to move alongside with her to the beat, while she swung her hips from side to side and then turned with her back facing me. Then, we begun to move in unison even as I held on to her thin waist and later gripped her hips, as if guiding her in the direction to move while pulling her towards me. 
The night dragged by quickly, and soon enough, we had hit our beds but it seemed like insomnia had crept in. 
I stared at my phone, desperate to occupy my mind with something else but the only images flashing through my mind were that of Lala. My heart thudded against my chest at the thought of the farewell night and I could literally feel my cheeks grow red. The girl was a beauty. No doubt. 
I closed my eyes, hoping sleep would creep in. Yet, all I could see was darkness, which was soon dismissed by images of Lala. 
I could not take this anymore. I had to do something. Quick.
Ripping the cover cloth off my body, I leaped out of bed and headed for the door, turning the knob with so much eagerness and viciousness that the knob became loose at once. I could hear Rahman stir. I pulled the door shut behind me and then I looked down the hallway. A frown creased my brow. A security guard paced across the ‘forbidden line’ with his legs wide apart, firmly planted on the ground. 
Sauntering my way over, I admired his built structure and acknowledged his presence.
“Good evening sir,” I greeted.
“Hi there, still awake?” He questioned, a stern look plastered on his face.
“Um yeah, I’m having an allergic reaction and I needed to pick my medicine from my sister in the girls’ room.”
“Is that so? But why does she have your medicine? ” He asked, raising an eyebrow.
I kept silent for a while, searching for an explanation.
“I kept it in her backpack during the boat ride,” I lied.
The hesitation before my response was enough to inform him that it was all a blatant lie.
“Sorry kid, I wasn’t born yesterday. Besides, other guys tried this already. Remember, I’m a guy myself,” he said.
My eyes widened in shock.
“But I need my …” I whined.
“I said go to bed!” He retorted.
In complete obedience and a bit of fear, I made a one eighty degree turn and headed towards my room. 
I sighed.
Thoughts of Lala came rushing back, flooding my thoughts entirely as I clutched the loosened doorknob. I thought about her figure, the way she smiled and how I had savoured holding the various parts of her sweet skin.
My rioting emotions made me feel like I needed to see her and hold her once again. At least, for the last time, before we all left to our various countries tomorrow morning.
Silently, I took my hands off the knob and turned towards the hallway. The familiar military figure still stationed there, yet engaged in a conversation with another boy.
I planted my back against the wall like a vine, and slowly, I tiptoed across the hallway, with my arms spread out, my back still facing the wall. I had crossed the ‘forbidden’ line and feelings of pride now dominated my rioting emotions. 
She would be so impressed by my presence. I’m such a rebel.
My mind drifted to the events of the first night, when Lala’s key holder, which displayed her room number, jingled behind her as she walked and clutched her keys at her side.
To my disappointment, I did not seem to remember the number. My ego took a large dip, while I slapped my forehead in disappointment.
A familiar voice rang through my ears. Immediately, the number ‘7’ popped into my conscience. I looked at my side, noting I was standing near room number ‘4’.
I’m closer than ever.
The voice called out again. The pain with which I turned my neck to look in the direction the voice came from, was far beneath the agony I felt when I discovered who it was. 
Suddenly, I detached myself from the wall and bolted across the hallway, yearning to find the door with the number ‘7’ plastered on its surface.
I increased my momentum once I heard footsteps behind me. They carried an irksome sound even as they constantly clacked sharply on the white tiled floor. 
The footsteps grew louder and I jerked backwards at the firm pull of my collar.
“You have to see the authorities. This behaviour is appalling!”
He yelled so loudly, I shielded my ears to reduce the piercing noise reaching them.
After a long lecture from the authorities, and several threats to send me back home on the plane that very evening, I was escorted my room. 
Something was missing, I sensed, but at that moment I could not figure it out.
A smile graced my lips as I heard the officer trying to lock the door using all his might. I threw my head back in a laugh, mocking his defeat and grateful I had unintentionally dismantled the lock earlier on. 
Right after climbing into the covers, I closed my eyes, waiting for sleep to descend upon my eyelids, and draw me into slumber. 
I had to get to Lala. Fast.
Before I knew it, I was outside my door, tiptoeing through the hallways, desperate to know my fate. This time, to my relief, I spotted the officer at another end, attending to the receptionist. 
I sprinted across the enormous hallway, careful enough to avoid the attraction of attention, even as my heart thudded loudly against my chest. By the time I got to room number ‘6’ I was overcome with intense exhaustion and my legs seemed like they wanted to give up on me.
Nevertheless, I was encouraged by the mere fact that I would spend the rest of the night with Lala. At this particular moment, she was the only drive to keep me moving.
I crept along, filled with an overwhelming sense of determination, ready to claim my prize.
“Finally,” I whispered.
At the side of Lala’s room door was her roommate, Hazel. Her eyes were fixed on the ground, and the expression of disgust was evident on her face.
“Anything wrong?” I asked.
She drew her lips into a thin line lowered her eyes further. 
I simply ignored her unwelcoming attitude. After all, she was not who I came for.
I’m too tired to deal with such sass.
Clutching the door knob, this time with care, I closed my eyes, and wallowed in my silent victory. I turned it and pulled the door open.
However, I was completely astounded by the view.
Rahman stood firmly, with his hands behind Lala, who was in her undergarments, cupping her derriere intensely while planting a kiss on her lips.
She clung unto him, first wrapping her hands around his neck like a scarf, then knotting his shirt in her fists while drawing him closer. He paused, admired her for a moment and begun exploring her lips again, this time more possessively, evoking sensations I probably could not offer. Completely unaware of my presence, she proceeded to grab is hair while his hands moved upward and tugged at the hooks of her brassiere.
Right before I could turn around, Rahman had achieved effect. The back of her brassiere had parted into two and now hung loose on her shoulder. 
The world begun to spin around me as intense fatigue and a sense betrayal gripped my being. I held unto the nearby table for support and my legs folded on their own will, sending me crashing on the cold, marbled floor. 
Blurry, yet familiar faces peered at me in concern and in an iota of shock.
I grasped my hair, while shaking my head vigorously to clear my thoughts, hoping I would wake up from the torturing and heartrending view in front me. 
My head suddenly grew heavy, and in an attempt to lie down, I inadvertently smacked my head against the sheer solidity of the floor.
Everything went blank.