Rebecca’s parents thought she was simply being a wimpy teenager as she kept to her room from that day till Sunday, before the dream. The preposterous dream. Rebecca only flossed and wore a robe over

Rebecca’s parents thought she was simply being a wimpy teenager as she kept to her room from that day till Sunday, before the dream. The preposterous dream. Rebecca only flossed and wore a robe over a little satin gown, she felt too cold or maybe too lonely and helpless inside what was happening to her, no one was ever going to understand. There was always a disgusting feeling inside her stomach each time she sees Nelson or even hears his name. She was about to walk down the stairs to join her parents in the kitchen or wherever they might be in the house when she glided to her window, she lifted it and threw the translucent curtain aside to let some air. A glance across the greens below her window revealed Nelson standing by the road. He was pacing about. Rebecca gasped. For some seconds, her head blew up. Nelson Whyte again! She must confront him.

Daniel her younger brother, Abi and her parents occupied the sofas languorously while attending to the entertaining television when she flew pass them to the door, she will run across and order Nelson to leave, leave her life alone, if possible, leave Southampton because of her and never return. Rebecca opened the door, Nelson was already standing there. What a horror, he was across her window should she say few seconds ago.

‘You nitwit!’ Rebecca found her voice. She screamed and shut the door. She opened it again, Nelson was still there, so much in shock like her.

‘You get out of here now Nelson, or better go wear your braces, take a look in the mirror and see what an ugly idiot you are.’ Slam! The door went.

Nelson was sure she heard Rebecca’s mother’s voice inside calling ‘honey, honey!’ Rebecca must be paranoid and the family must also be overwhelmed since Friday. Nelson headed out. He must leave; he could not fathom a thing. He needed to know how she faired since her sudden collapse in school. Was it terrible for him to have come down to her home to check on her? Nelson sneezed, his fingers were dancing. He tucked them into his coat and began to walk.

‘Braces.’ ‘Braces.’

No one knew he wore braces in Southampton; he only wore that in Kent. His eyes began to glisten in tears, more problems were piling up on him and no iota of solution at bay. His problems could be divided into three and maybe sub-divided into hundreds, he did not know why air kept pushing him to Rebecca Ben, his father was in jail for a crime he did not commit and he believed him. Mother ran away leaving him with a relative who later died. He stayed with the relative’s friend who later handed him to another friend who accepted Nelson moving in with him to Southampton simply because Nelson knew how to feed his cat. He had been here just four years, who ever knew about his braces. He never took any picture with that. Never! He only had few photographs with his parents back then and that was all.

Braces.’ Nelson repeated.

Nelson could not get a side job, every interview no matter how simple ended up presenting him as a masquerade before his employers. Nelson was a human being who could not complete a simple sentence. Socrates really had him as a burden. He also wondered if he could make it to college. To remind himself that he is a human being, he had enlisted himself as a candidate for student president. Not willing to win but hoping to win, in his dreams. His name on the list made him feel fulfilled like he could also get something done. He knew how many times he’d washed Mrs. Murray’s car to get his name on the list even though he could never win. Could never win.

Mrs. Murray had said poignantly, ‘Oh aren’t you such a helpless child? Wash my car forty times.’

Nelson didn’t know what he was doing, why he was breathing or where he was going. His watery eyes glanced right to some steps. He cornered and went to sit on one of the steps. Few people walked in and out of the building that he did not even look at. Suddenly, a man came to sit beside him. Nelson refused to notice.

‘I shall find you through different lives in one and through a thousand lifetimes,’ the man whispered, Nelson heard it.

‘I shall find you through different lives in one and through a thousand lifetimes,’ repeated the intruder.

‘1807,’ the man said again. Nelson was still quiet.

‘Look at the pillar there.’ The man continued, Nelson took his eyes to the first pillar from where he sat with the man. And read something inscribed on the pillar.

‘It’s hotel intercontinental. I wrote that, ha ha ha.’ The man announced and laughed alone. Such a big, stupid unnecessary laugh. Nelson wondered.

‘Ever wondered how she knew you wore braces?’

‘Wo! Wo!’ Nelson barked and sprang to his feet. ‘What? What are you…you? How did you freaking know…know…?’

‘200 pounds will solve that math lad Nelson.’

Nelson got more scared and began to walk down the stairs. If the man wasn’t good looking in features and in a neat outfit, he would have concluded that he was one of those homeless rats that suddenly turned sidekicks or unbelievable fortune-tellers. He sharply turned to the man, ’You are sick, very sick!’

His left leg struck the last step when the man said a little loudly, ‘You will win the election not because you can but because you are…you are….’

Nelson looked back in more shock. He helplessly sneezed three times in a row before walking back to sit beside the man. He did not know what was triter to do than to sit down.

‘You are the one, the one of the Negro, ha ha ha.’ The man said again with another stupid big laugh.

Unconsciously, Nelson glanced at his own palms that now looked so pale. He was a Caucasoid from hair to toe nails not a Negroid, not even a guess of Negro.

‘Let us begin this way lad Nelson. 200 pounds from Rebecca, given to you then to me and you will get all your answers. It is a condition from the spirits and I can tell you lad, oh believe me! By the grace of God, I know over three thousand demons’

‘Whaaat? Whaaat? What are…what are…?’ Nelson stuttered till he bit his tongue. Quickly, he covered his mouth with his two palms, groaning in pain.

‘Ha ha ha, I shall know when you get the condition. I will be waiting here,’ the man declared not paying attention to Nelson that was still groaning.

Nelson stood and began to walk out, like he just found a better excuse to cry, he sobbed silently on his way out of the man’s sight.

‘Oh! Poor lad, he has been existing, this is simply the beginning of his living.’

‘Yes to the man or nooooot?’ Nelson asked his own thoughts. He was walking too fast, invading spaces, jumping dying leaves, flying in his soul, conquering distance. He was rushing to Mrs. Pearl’s home, she must know a secret.  

Many branches of problems grew on his head as he walked to his teacher’s door, his brain searching for the best approach. Shortly, the door opened before he could knock, it turned out that Mrs. Pearl was running away from a fight, Nelson was frozen to see her hair messed up in her face, all bloody. A hard hand pulled her back into the house, before Nelson could comprehend what was happening. The door closed back by default, Nelson quickly threw it open and jumped on Mrs. Pearl’s husband. The man meant to kill his own wife. He was with a club, the next descending blow could have killed the poor woman at once, he was aiming for her head! Nelson on covering Mrs. Pearl received the blow on his left shoulder, that was the sharpest and hardest pain he had ever received, a sudden anger filled his spirit, a shove backwards landed his blow straight to the evil man’s adam’s-apple. He crashed to the glass table at once.

A police couple stood in front of the saved three days’ later inquisitive to the tiniest details.  

‘Oh my God! He is such a douchebag.’

‘Yes Honey, I am taking this to an emotional level, he is such a balloon-nut douchebag.’

‘Yes and I am my husband here must make sure justice sits on his head, you can ask how we deal with wild bullies, he went really wild, oh dear.’

Mrs. Pearl managed a smile and asked, ‘how about Nelson, I mean the little young boy that saved me.

‘Oh that boy is not little, he is such a strong man, my husband’s shoulder here could not have survived that club…’

‘Yeah, my wife is right, my hands are kind of weak, I do more of kicking during our job.’

Mrs. Pearl finally laughed and rubbed her face, she winced to a small ache around her forehead.

‘Mrs. Pearl, how lucky to have survived that height of domestic violence, the law is already on your side and it’s good that you finally spoke out. We will be on our way out, when we need you for any further statement, we will reach you sharply.’

‘Thank you so much, you guys really make a good police couple.’

‘Oh, Harry I told you, people like us as a couple. Thanks anyway and we…..are not married.’ That got them cackling with Pearl as they matched out.

Nelson was not refused by the teachers from picking Mrs. Pearl’s children from their school. He has been the hero winning in the local news that week, Mrs. Pearl has been such a remarkable teacher and educational personality that she made the news, little wonder; she had kept her domestic violence suffering a secret. The two boys flung themselves on Nelson once he appeared, their mother’s driver resumed driving them to the hospital, Nelson had whispered that plan to the driver. Mrs. Pearl didn’t only get tickled by her little boys jumping all over her in the hospital bed but to the flowers presented her by Nelson.

‘How thoughtful and ….caring of you.’ She almost dropped a tear. Nelson only smiled. Mrs. Pearl had suddenly become his favourite teacher so he played truant, after all, he didn’t understand what they were teaching. He had seen Rebecca few times and waved, she never waved back. He swallowed that hurt and continued to savour all the eyes on him in school. He did not mind much, Mrs. Pearl seem to be the most important figure on his mind then.

One thing silly about Duke is the way he says anything without watching. Charlie, Mrs. Pearls first child and son had come with him to the hospital to see his mother. Duke rushed the talk on shaking her.

‘My balls! I cannot believe you let that bastard humiliate you in years, Charlie where were you?’

‘He is not a bastard, he was her husband and the father of his children.’ Nelson defended.

‘Maybe.’ Charlie said weakly.

Mrs. Pearl’s response surprised them the most. ‘But he is a bastard, yes, he is a bastard. You all boys, your father is a bastard for hitting your mum! For trying to kill your mother and you know it, now none of you will ever…. ever be like your father. Never! Bastard! He is a bastard!’ Her children nodded.

She had finally realised that asking Nelson questions in class will further humiliate him, it was her turn to spread kindness and protection so after the class, she asked Nelson to wait. Nelson walked home with Mrs. Pearl that day on people’s plain stare. Her first question went, ‘Who are your parents?’

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