Always a Miss
by Matano Lipuka
Mum was in the kitchen when Jane came in again today. She likes having her around.
“Glad you could come, just in time for dinner and today you are not going to say no. I prepared it early so you could dine with us, and as your teacher I’ll have to order you to eat first then you can study, right?”
We were all shocked at her sudden and unexpected offer. She had never invited anyone to dinner before, but Jane knew nothing of this. “Well, if you insist, but I’ll have to tell you that I won’t eat much since I’ve already eaten at home.”
I knew it! Mum always got her way. Jane was going to sit at our table and have dinner with us. Hooray!
The tantalizing smell of chicken and rice from the kitchen soon engulfed the dining room. Then Jane asked me, right in front of Mama, Papa and Kizingo, my eldest brother, if I ever spoke to people.
My slanting eyebrows went up in alarm, the bone in my hand dropped, and the food in my mouth choked me. I stuttered, “I do talk . . . only when it is necessary.” Then I let out a small cough, to the amusement of all around—all except Jane.
“Then how come I don’t see you talking to people in the streets?”
“Because he’s shy, that’s why,” my brother quipped.
“No I-am-not!” I retaliated.
My dad’s baritone voice spoke from across the table. “Don’t you boys start! Now everyone should focus on his plate.” And the dining room became silent again, the clanks of spoons against plates remaining the only sounds.
After the meal Mummy said that since the exams were starting the day after tomorrow we should study alone she wouldn’t bother us so we went to the living room.
“How do you like studying in a boys school?” she asked, after a momentary silence, which to me seemed an eternity.
“Eehh . . . it’s cool . . . boring but cool.”
She moved closer to me. “How is it boring? No girls around?”
I looked to check if someone was coming. No one. Please help! “It’s not that . . . it’s the teachers . . . and especially during drama sessions . . . there are no girls to play female roles . . .”
“So you act? I love actors and acting!”
I was suspicious of what she really had in mind. Her closeness was biting, and I felt my heart racing. I had the hots for her for a long time but now that she was so close . . . Please help! “Eerr . . . don’t you think we should get back to our books? I have been having problems with this math and I need your help . . .” I wasn’t sure what I felt about her motives, but I wanted things clear. She moved away from me when we heard footsteps outside the door.
The footsteps passed and she moved closer again. “Do you have a girlfriend?”
I blushed. I had never been asked that before. “No.”
She leaned in and faced me, took my free hand and directed it to her bosom. “Feel my heart. It’s happy”
I looked up into her face. “What are you doing?”
She let my hand drop. “You are right . . . we should be studying. But why don’t we study chemistry and biology?”
Phew! Now she was talking. I stood up and went to my bag on the sofa. “That’s positive thinking. I am weak in those subjects too,” I said.
There was a slight smile on her face but I could sense the disappointment in her voice, thick as sake, as she said, “And that’s why you’ll never have a girlfriend.”
Kenyan born Matano Lipuka works in engineering and part-time in freelance journalism. His fiction can be found at Authorme.com, Tokyo Gumbo magazine and Sage of Consciousness online magazine. Matano enjoys relaxing under the palm trees while holding a good book. He likes to develop new talent and watch it grow and hopes to develop a reading culture among his people in Kenya and around the world.