The Inklings: Chapter 13

Fanta had been forcing herself to study all morning. Her final uni exams started in a week and she really wanted to do well, but she was so tired and distracted that she may as well have spent the morning staring at a wall.

Fanta hadn’t been able to sleep very well the night before. After arriving home she’d put the piece of paper with John’s phone number written on it on her desk. When she got up she looked at it again. She wondered whether she should throw it away immediately in case she was tempted to call him, keep it for a while and think about calling him or just call him. When Fanta remembered what Syafika had said about John she was swayed in the direction of throwing John’s phone number away. Then Fanta remembered how nice it was to talk to John and decided she should give him a chance. Then she thought about her little sisters (who she was the guardian of) and decided that it was better to avoid anyone who might upset their happy home. Then she remembered that she had told John she would call him, which meant she really did have to call him (even if it was just to say she didn’t want to see him). Finally Fanta decided that she didn’t have to decide anything yet because it would be silly to call John so soon anyway. Fanta was just about to start remembering what Syafika had said about John again when the phone rang. It was Syafika.

“Fanta! I’m coming over to your place right now. I need to escape my crazy family” said Syafika.

Syafika arrived not long after and spent the next hour telling Fanta what had been going on at her house that morning.

Festus was still fuming about the damage Amanda had done to the house. Even Rose was angry with Amanda, but that was mostly because the wardrobe had squashed her gardenia bushes. Because Amanda was hiding in her room Festus and Rose couldn’t help directing their anger at Syafika (which Syafika thought was really unfair. She thought her parents ought to be feeling thankful that she was not as naughty as Amanda and be rewarding her comparatively good behaviour with kind words).

Syafika reckoned she could have coped with the bad vibes coming from her parents if her Aunt Binta and Ousman hadn’t also come around with their own problems. They were already yelling at each other when they arrived. Ousman had done something naughty again, only he didn’t seem to think he’d done anything wrong. As Syafika left she’d heard Ousman complaining that there was no point doing well at school if it wouldn’t get him what he really wanted. That sentence had delighted Syafika.

After telling Fanta all about her morning Syafika decided that it was the right day for Fanta to meet Vincent. Syafika and Vincent were going to meet at their favourite café when Vincent finished work and Syafika wanted Fanta to come along.

Fanta was suspicious that the planned introduction to Vincent was just to stop her from being annoyed that Syafika was going to interrupt her plan to study all day.

“So what will we do until it is time to meet Vincent?” Syafika asked, but none of Fanta’s suggestions (clean the house, do the washing, read textbooks) tempted Syafika so Syafika and Fanta ended up making cakes and biscuits and having lots of cups of tea until it was time to go to meet Vincent.

In her head Fanta had a picture of a Vincent who was jumpy, nerdy and weedy (despite Syafika’s description of Vincent contradicting this picture), so when Vincent arrived at the café Fanta was surprised (and a bit sad because she’d grown fond of the imaginary Vincent). Vincent looked strong and had a permanent frown. Fanta imagined that Vincent was the sort of person who would competently take charge in emergency situations. She could see why Syafika liked Vincent but she couldn’t help wondering whether Syafika sometimes annoyed Vincent. He looked like he wouldn’t approve of silliness. Fanta decided that she better try not to giggle too much when Vincent was around.

Vincent and Fanta exchanged meaningless greetings and then Syafika burst in with “How was your day?”

“Busy, but I can’t really talk about it” said Vincent, looking suspiciously at Fanta.

Vincent sat down next to Syafika on the bench and they snuggled up. Fanta was sitting on a chair on the opposite side of the table. She felt like she was intruding. She actually felt even worse than that. Fanta knew that she should be happy for Syafika, and she was happy for her, but she had this other feeling too. It was to do with the change in the way things were. Fanta felt really lonely and decided to leave. She stood up and said something about needing to get home before her sisters made a mess.

Vincent and Syafika acknowledged that Fanta was saying something, but they weren’t really listening. They just said “Bye” and Fanta left.



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