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Ama called her pastor, holding back tears. She was sick and tired of being sick and tired of herself. She kept falling for this same temptation every time. How hard was it to be right, to live right? All that crossed her mind now was death. She’d actually asked God to take her away, take her home. Where there’d be no struggling, no hurt, no pain, just bliss. Pure bliss. She’d worship God unabashedly, basking in His glory, playing with angels, running around barefooted and…

“Hello”, she heard her pastor say

“Hello sir, it’s Ama”

“Hi Ama, how are you doing”

“I’m fine sir… Actually I’m not fine. I did it again…”

“Ama…” He sighed, “Have you prayed? Have you asked for forgiveness?”

“Yes, I have but I don’t think He listens to me anymore. I think He’s tired of hearing me say I’m sorry for the same thing over and over again”

“His mercies endure forever but don’t take it for granted. I’ll say a prayer with you now and I’ll keep praying for you. We all have that peculiar temptation we will always fall for if we don’t pray and immerse ourselves in the Word and presence of God. You’ll be fine dear. Don’t give up on yourself ok? Let’s pray”

“Thank you” she replied then bowed her head and repeatedly said “Amen” while he prayed. After the call, she thanked him again and went back to brooding.

She thought of the one person that had occupied her mind for several months now. Cassie.

She had been friends with her for less than a year but it seemed like she’d known her forever. They’d met at a conference in Atlanta and had just clicked. She’d noticed a subtle masculinity in some of her mannerisms as she walked in rather late for the morning session of the conference. The odd slouch, the tiny ear studs and was that boxers sticking out the top of her jeans? She hadn’t got the chance to stare because the facilitator had just announced that it was time for their coffee break.

She’d walked to the back of the hall and joined the moving queue but before she could say, “I’d like a sandwich please”, she felt warm liquid spill down her back.

Why was someone carrying a cup of warm anything BEHIND her on the queue? What was all this for heaven’s sake? If this was home, she’d be yelling or close to it right now. Those were the thoughts that had flit through her mind as she tried to calm herself down. She’d turned around slowly, still a little confused and all she’d heard was I’m sorry. About a hundred times.

“I’m so sorry, oh my goodness, I’m really sorry, oh dear Lord what have I done, I’m terribly sorry…”

He sounded British. She’d smiled. She definitely couldn’t yell in this place.

Her eyes had caught those of the facilitator and without words she’d been given permission to step out to perhaps have a change of clothes. It felt good to have the conference hall in the hotel she was staying. Trying hard not to look upset, she’d walked out of the hall and slouched against the wall the minute she stepped out to regain her composure. She saw the pair of feet first and stared up to see a smiling face.

“If that happened to me, I won’t have smiled at all” the girl had said. “What was funny? What sort of clumsiness was that? What was he even doing behind you? What if that tea was hot and poured on your head and burnt your brain?”

At that she’d burst out laughing.

“Burnt my brain” she’d said, still laughing. “Ok that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week, in fact this year. Burnt my brain” she’d repeated and burst out laughing again.

The girl had watched her, smiling.

“I’m glad I made you laugh” she’d said. “I’m Cassie. You’re Nigerian right?”

“Yes I am. Ama”

“Cool. Nice to meet you”

“Same here” She’d replied as they shook hands

“I brought you your phone, saw it on your table” Cassie had said and then added, “Thought you might need it”

“Aww thanks. I was just going to dash to my room to change my top but thanks anyway”

“No problemo. So… I’ll see you when you get back, yes?” Cassie had asked as she walked back into the hall.

“Sure” she’d replied and then thought, yep, she’s a tomboy alright.

They found out later that they both lived in Port-Harcourt, had mutual friends, had attended the same church at some point in their lives and were even on the same flight back to Nigeria. The conference had suddenly got more interesting for both of them and they’d both known they were going to keep in touch.

In Port-Harcourt they’d become inseparable. They talked for hours on the phone, went to the cinema after work at least once every week, gossiped about colleagues and even donated gifts to Port-Harcourt Children’s Home after Cassie had called Ama one evening, crying about the injustice in the world because she’d just watched a documentary on abandoned babies.

Five months after the Atlanta trip, Ama was to go on her annual leave. The highlight of the leave was going to be her trip to Ghana to see her older brother. He lived there with his wife and she absolutely loved being around them. They were such a fun couple.

Cassie had come the Sunday before the trip to help her pack.

“You are so lucky!” She’d said “I’d give anything for a holiday right now”

“Your holiday is in 2 months” Ama had replied laughing, “I’d be jealous then”

“I’ll miss you jo. No movie for me till you get back cos I can never go to the cinema alone. Never!”

“Hahaaha, height of loneliness. Please don’t go alone cos people will laugh at you”

“Whatever!” Cassie had replied swatting her with a towel.

And they’d both laughed uncontrollably for a while falling over each other till Ama suddenly realised she was laughing alone.

“Aww, you’ll miss me right?” She’d asked

“Yes I will” Cassie had replied. Very seriously.

As Ama had begun to ask, “Hey, why so se…”, she was shut up with a kiss.

She’d known there and then that there was a problem when she didn’t resist.

This was the 7th time she was calling her youth pastor in 5 months. It hadn’t stopped at the kiss and it hadn’t ended that day. She enjoyed it every time it happened but she’d lost her peace of mind. She couldn’t pray like she used to and had stopped going to church because of the weight on her conscience. She knew it was a sin and the youth pastor had patiently and repeatedly told her to cut Cassie off till she found her peace and rebuilt her faith but it was so hard to let go. She loved her!

She broke down again as she always did after talking to the youth pastor and just as she was about to fall asleep, she said a little prayer, “Dear Lord, help me…”

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