To be in isolation is to be a loner. You are a teenage student in an average Nigerian secondary school. You are an introvert and your name is Nchekwube. Every day, you are sitting, observing an inanimate object in the classroom. A beautiful flower vase sitting on the shelves at the end of the classroom. The principal had warned the students never to touch it. Sometimes, you think there are eyes on its body staring at you, giving you a memory of something that has eluded you. But it is nothing. It’s your mind playing a trick on you.
You sit in the classroom, eyes moving all over the biology teacher as he continues talking, his lips moving triangularly. You have been one of the smartest students in the class but for a long time, you don’t partake in the classroom activities whenever the teacher asks a question. The classroom that had been a place you thought to be home, had slowly drifted away.
Now, you only stare, keeping to yourself especially when you leave for your house after the school hour has ended.
It’s a new term with new students, new faces, with some of the students looking smarter from their calm demeanor. You don’t care. Nkechi is gone from school. The last time you heard from her was when every one of you came to school to get their report cards. After you finish, Nkechi drags you to a secluded place, staring into your eyes, allowing silence to overshadow you both. The calm breeze that sears through the back of the building is settling, the birds occasionally chirp. There is a tall tree that doesn’t bear fruit at the side of the building. Every morning, some students are left with the burden of sweeping its fallen leaves and pollen.
You are the opposite of each other. Except for height, but unlike her, you are not frail with sunken cheekbones. Despite your stark difference, your eyebrows are exact. It made people assume you are siblings. The eyebrows bear uniqueness, having distinct carving in between them. You don’t know it is the last time you will see Nkechi. You stare into her eyes, expecting her to say something. Nkechi moves closer, planting a tender soft kiss on your cheek. It is your first. Except for a few times, your sister Echefuna kissed you on your cheek whenever she returned from the campus. But Nkechi quickly moves her mouth, putting it into your lips, and your spittle mixes, tasting like nothing…