‘Skint’ A Short Fiction Story By Theo-Ziny Joel

Voom! Voom!, the phone vibrates as it moves to the sound it produce, wandering around on the bed like one indecisive on where to go. After few seconds, it stopped. The screeching fan continued its cry, running slowly like babies crawling in chase of themselves. Voom! Voom!! The indecisive wandering phone continued in its act of confusion, toiling up and down the bed. I grunted tossing side by side in bed, laying to rest my head underneath my pillow. The caller wasn’t giving up neither was I giving in to its disturbance. Voom! Voom!

“Who is this one sef” I blurted out throwing the pillow to the air as it landed back on my head.

With ferocious fury sketched on my face like wrinkles, I picked up my phone

“Yes? Hello? ” Stain of anger was evident in my voice

“How far ? You still dey sleep nii?” Dayo asked over the phone

“No, I dey bake yam” I replied in frustration

“Stupid child. I just wan hear your voice ni”

I was placed on the hot seat to choose between to remain upset with him for disturbing my sleep, or for him reminding me that I still had a good friend who kept me in mind despite my present financial meltdown.

I let out a deep sigh “You really disrupted my sleep”

“Awwwn, peeeele. Nah that Gbolade girl you dey dream ni?” He asked with certainty. A sign he already knew my response

“Guy, I tell you o. That girl just they use my head play long tennis”

“The girl nah Serena Williams be that o”

“She good pass her”

We blurted out in laughter. Dayo was one friend I could call a brother,though our difference in attitude is very much Jesus and Devil- we were opposite of ourselves, but still, confiding in him yielded result.

“Guy you are yet to send the 2k you promised me” I reminded him

“Really? Like seriously?”

” Why you come dey talk like girl? You know very well I hate those words”

“No vex. But I have sent you the money , two days ago. It’s one of the reasons why I am calling, because you never even called to appreciate, which is very unlike you”

“Two days ago?” My legs were now on the floor as I sat with half my butt on the bed

“Yes. Didn’t you get the alert nii?” Dayo asked

“It must have been network issues” I had the phone clasped between my shoulder and my cheeks. I picked up my Jean that was hanging on the door, as I struggled to wear it, hopping on one leg.

I continued “you should have called me imme……” Before I could realize what was happening, I met myself licking my room’s morning dirt on the carpet. It was a terrible fall for me. My phone battery had divorced my phone, as they went their separate ways. I ignored the pain I felt on my right arm as I forced in my skinny jean to fit in. Without a second thought, I picked up the nearest top my hand could grab. A quick glance at the mirror, it told me my hair was untidy. I replied with a frown

” must you always be truthful?” my thoughts to the mirror

A clue on where I kept my comb existed not. I had no time for my typical fine boy look, all my aim was to go and withdraw the money sent to me by Dayo. It’s been over three weeks I have subscribed. Three weeks of no Instagram and whatsapp!Hell couldn’t be as worst as this. Thanks to Airtel free Facebook that kept me going.

I hurriedly located my separated phone, as I joined them back together. I grabbed my ATM from my locker. Dust had formed shelter on it. Quickly, I wiped it on my top as I raced out of the room.

The sun was all out naked. My skin had started to bake.

I swayed my hand across the road “Okada, first bank”

The bikeman halted some few distance from me as I jogged to meet him.

“Hundred Naira” the bikeman said

“To and fro, I will pay a hundred and fifty naira. I quickly want to use the ATM”

“Oya wole ” he said as I hopped on as we rode along.

Few minutes later, we arrived the bank.

“Be fast abeg” the bikeman said

 I was so elated that the queue had just one person waiting. I gladly jumped off the bike and confidently walked in as the security men greeted me. In no time, it was my turn to withdraw. I was very acquainted with the machine. It took me no brain cracking to navigate myself through it. I waited for the machine to dispense out my cash as I whistled an unknown song. The bikeman hit his horn to notify me to swift. I rubbed my palms together in the air, a sign of plea that I’d be with him in no time. As I directed my head to the ATM screen, it wrote “Insufficient balance”. My facial gesture started to reshape, I felt my skin wrinkle. My mouth tasted sour like one who has fever. A drop of sweat drew a straight line down my face. Immediately, I wiped it off. I checked my account balance, it reads”0.25kobo”. Blood rush ran through my body. I decided to try again with faith despite I knew there was no money in my account. I waited patiently with faith, accompanied by prayers backed up with bible quotations as my transaction was still in progress.

Low and behold, to my surprise, as my transaction got completed, it displayed boldly on the screen that “Insufficient balance”-again. I couldn’t wait any longer, queue had started to form behind me. I tried Dayo’s line immediately

“Guy I am at the bank. And I didn’t get the money” with a cracked voice I said to Dayo over the phone

“What money?” He asked

“The two thousand naira you said you sent”

Dayo let out a loud laugh” Someone can not play with you?”

“What do you mean by that?” My voice held harmful weapons

“I was just joking na. Why I go send you money? You be woman ni?” He continued with his demonic laugh

I hung up the call as my heart bleed out boiling blood. As the bikeman saw me approaching, he kicked start his bike. I got closer to him without hopping in. How am I going to explain to him that I had no money on me? I casted all my hopes on the supposed money Dayo said he sent. I looked at the bikeman like I was going to seduce him.

“Oga enter make we dey go. You don too waste my time for here” he angrily said

I said nothing. I just stood there as I pinned my gaze on him like I was going to hypnotize him to bend to my command. I moved a step closer as I held his left hand.

“Wetin happen?” He asked

My words were as scared as I was. I had no word to utter out. All I could do was mumble unknown language. The bikeman stopped his engine.

“Daddy, please. There is no money in my account I….” He interrupted me

“Who be your papa? You no know your papa nii?!!! wey my money? He blurted out.

Passers by had started to look our direction. I held him firm so as for him to reduce his voice. Instead, he pushed my hands away. He grabbed me by my cloth.

“Wey my money?!” He spoke to my face as his spit stamped on my face. His breath smelt like cigarette and dry gin. I knew I was in for my own as soon as I perceived his breath.

My fellow Nigerians had started to gather in twos and tens watching a free cinema movie. I saw some eating snacks and drinking drinks as anxiety lived on their faces. The bike man pulled off my top and seized my foot wear. He was about pulling off my trousers when an elderly woman came to my rescue

“How much is he owing you?” She asked the bike man

“Five hundred naira” he said. I had nothing to say. My freedom of speech had been entrenched. She pulled out her purse and handed him five hundred naira. He pushed me away. He threw against me my top and footwear. He rode away on his bike away. I stood on same spot as I trailed his bike as it disappears into thin air. The movie was over but people still plugged their eyes on me. I wished I could stone all of them to death. I gently wore my top and foot wear . It occurred to me that I didn’t appreciate the woman who helped me. She had gone.

I walked slower than tortoise away from the scene. As I passed the movie watchers, I heard whispers of voices from them.

“Naso dem dey do” a male voice said

“Fine boy like this dey do criminal” this time a tiny female voice said

I ignored their existence as I walked away . Moreover, No blame could be casted on them but on Nigeria that made Joblessness fall on them. I felt pity on myself. Tears was the only one around to console me. The sun had also enjoyed a good drama for it went indoor after the movie, allowing the rain to pour down heavily on me. At least I had someone who cried along with me. To be completely skint is a deadly disease.

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