Lost Stars (edited)

I had written this story here weeks ago and realized It had lots of errors. So this is an edited version of it.

They will ask me when I knew I was in love with you. I will sigh and say I don't know. It happened in fragments, piece by piece, separate moments over the months. Moments… that's how I remember it. They will be surprised when I say I fell in love with you though I had never seen you. It was love in no sight.*********My phone beeped, and I knew it was you. You were the only one that sent me messages on Facebook... "Done with the class?" "Yeah, I just got to my room," I replied almost immediately. Though you were 25 and I was 16, you found me fascinating. I won't say we met by accident; maybe it was destined. But whatever it is, I'm grateful it happened. 

About a year ago, an account had sent a friend request on Facebook; I quickly went to check for pictures, but there were none; with a lot of doubt, I accepted the friend request, and in less than a second, my phone beeped. "Hello, my name is Christian," it sounded boring to my ears; I wished I hadn't replied to you. "This one is probably a jambite," I murmured to myself. Yes, I was also a jambite, but that's not the point. 

"I'm 25; I stay in Ukraine…moved here permanently seven years ago""Haaa…this one, nah, yahoo boy ohh. I don't even have anything he will steal from me," I laughed quietly to myself. "I'm Zara. I stay in Nigeria… I'm a Nigerian, and I'm 16" "Ohhh," Came your dry reply five minutes after seeing the message. To your dismay, I was Nigerian living in Nigeria, but you kept talking to me just for that day. You had planned to ghost me the next day. But in people's words, I am a lovable person, whether offline or online. And I did work my magic on you (unknowingly, though). You opened up to me that you were bullied as a kid, I sympathized with you, and you were glad I didn't dwell so much on your japa story or ask you to dash me dollars (I was naïve then, though).**************

Weeks rolled into months, and we had become fond of each other. We talked about everything and nothing; you always told me that you were proud of me because I was just 16 but was already in university and taking my life seriously. And then you told me about your family in Lagos, Nigeria.************** "Send me a picture, nau," I asked casually; we were in the middle of me teaching you how to cook jollof rice even if I'm a terrible cook.

You smiled quietly. "I will send one within the week" "Why can't you just send one now as we are talking?" "Ahbi, you've seen me?? Is that not enough for you, or do you want to use me for juju?" You asked, laughing. I laughed too. "If I wanted to use juju on you, I would have done so long ago so that you would marry me" "I sincerely think you have a crush on me but can't just tell me," you joked.

"Is this you trying to tell me you have a crush on me?" I asked pointedly. "No…I just noticed that you are fond of me," came your reply. I felt disappointed. Three days later, you sent me a picture of you; "Your eyes are tinier in the picture; next time…tell your photographer to take from a better angle," I said dryly in a voice note. "Are you okay?" "Or course I am fine!" Came my irritated reply almost immediately. "Yes, we met just months ago, but I know you, and I know you are not okay…you better start talking! What is wrong with you?!" You demanded angrily. "I was raped last night! Christian, I was raped last night in the movie theater that you coaxed me to go to" I started to cry over the voice note; saying it out loud was affirming to my heart that, indeed, last night was a reality. Immediately it left my mouth. I regretted it; you didn't deserve that outburst.

"Zara, I'm sorry. I am deeply sorry," you wrote back. I went offline. Reading your apology made me feel pity, and the pity made me feel bitter because it reminded me that I was weak and vulnerable. We didn't speak for three weeks. Then one day, someone sent me a message on Facebook. He wasn't a friend on Facebook neither did we have mutual friends. "I'm Zion, Christian's brother." I froze. Why? I don't know yet.****************** "Did Christian send you to me after three weeks of ignoring me?" I couldn't hide my anger, and his pride was not making it any easier.

He laughed gaily. "Christian, no fit send me."

"So why are you calling me?" "Which juju did you use on my baby brother? Christian had sworn heaven and earth never to fall for a Nigerian girl…yet here we are," I laughed in irritation. "Look, Zion…I may be 16, but I am not foolish. You and your brother want to use my head and play this rubbish game" "What game?? And no, Christian did not send me" "Look, go and tell whoever sent you that you did not see me!" I snapped. "He tooled me you were lovable, not feisty," He mocked.

"Please leave me alone!" "Hold on…someone wants to speak to you," he replied, ignoring my request. I heard a faint shuffling of feet.

"Hello," a woman's voice rang through the speaker; I could tell she was a foreigner from her accent.

"Good evening, ma," I stuttered. The Nigerian girl in me manifested as I bowed slightly, even if we were on a call. "Sweetie…I know this isn't exactly the right time, but I just wanted to thank you for all you do for bringing my baby back home to me," she said in her song-like voice. I laughed quietly, mostly because I wasn't sure what I did to bring the baby home. "Thank you, ma," came my shy reply. "Alright then, talk to you some other time." The call ended; I wasn't exactly sure why she said now wasn't the right time, but I really hope to this day that she didn't mean our last discussion.************************* I have developed a soft spot for you. I loved that you were strong-willed and independent. But if I was asked when I knew I was in love with you? I honestly don't know when, how or why exactly I loved you.***********************

"Heyyy…I don't know how to say this better, this is probably not what you might want to hear, but I'm in love with you. I don't know how it happened. I have made a lot of bad decisions in my life, but this is one I am 100% sure of" I smiled wildly, mostly grateful that it was a mutual feeling and that I wouldn't die with the embarrassment of loving a guy who didn't love me back. I wanted to type a long note about how much I loved you, and whenever we spoke, there was this cloud-like feeling in my chest. "Why did you leave me when I needed you? I needed to talk to someone that others understand, and you just left…." I replied instead. You sighed sadly. "I couldn't stand you are crying that night; I didn't know what to tell you; that was why I called my brother; I wanted to be there for you. My messaging you wasn't what you needed at that time," I laughed happily. You were right. "let's have a virtual date?" You suggested. "So what are we going to be doing on this virtual date?" "Well, we could have drinks and just basically talk about everything…our first date as people in love."

I laughed again. "Christian, we've been doing that…is it not like video call??" "Yes, something like that, except this time we actually sit and talk" "Okay, so what's your favorite drink?? If I can afford it, that's what we will both have" "Well, it's coke," you laughed in embarrassment. "I'm sensing a back story…spill" "Okay, when I was much younger, Zion told me the bubbles in bottles of coke were actually people, and whenever I opened the bottle, they were struggling to come out." I laughed hard while clutching my stomach. "Now that o think about it…It was just tactics to get my drink!" You joined me in laughing.

During the date, you told me though I may never outgrow my hurt, one day, I will talk about it without crying because my heart had healed.******************** We never quite happened, even if everyone thought we did. You never really told me you loved me ever since the first time you said it in April; I understood we were two broken people finding our feet again. You were going to ask me out in November; by then, you would be in Nigeria. You sent me gifts through your brother; I was particularly fond of the perfumes you sent because that was what you used to. I anticipated when you would ask me to date you, I would smile and hug you tightly with my lean arms, and you would wrap me with your arms that had muscles the size of my head.***************

 Your brother's call woke me up the day you died. "Christian is dead!" "Ehnnn?!" I pressed the phone to my ear harder, hoping I would hear something different. "Christian is dead," he repeated like an automated recording. Like he had been practicing and had said it to hundreds of people. I willed my phone to fall out of my hand, but it didn't. It clung to my hand like a large slug. "I will never get to talk to Christian ever in my life again," I thought to myself. My body felt numb. Grief is hard. Because just when you think you're over it, it hits you that your person can no longer talk to you, and then you get this crippling feeling in your chest like it's constipated, and your throat suddenly feels like a rolled-up wet sock.

I lay on my bed and hoped, I hoped that the next day would bring better news. I still wanted to hold you in my hand for the first time. I didn't ask your brother how you died. Your mother asked me to come to you're your house in Lagos. I didn't decline. I packed my things like an architect in a rom-com and headed to your house. Your mother showed me your room; I laid on your clothes she had piled on the ground and coiled myself up in them. I didn't cry. I deleted my Facebook account.**********

Your brother came to visit today. "Bottles of coke still make me laugh." I blurted while staring pointedly at the bottle of coke in my hand as though I was talking to it. "What??" He asked between laughs. I laughed too. Then I started to cry for the first time since you died seven months ago. "A stray bullet killed him," Zion said quietly. I don't know if it was tears that made his eyes glisten or the sun's rays directly on his face. "It hit him straight in the heart. He died before an ambulance came…they said an investigation is on going. We don't believe, though," He continued when I didn't say anything. I didn't want to imagine you covered in blood and dragged to a stretcher, the first responders calling your name through their noses and shaking their heads sadly when they found no pulse.

 "Why did you love Christian?" I knew it was a question he had been meaning to ask. I sighed deeply. Keeping you in my memory alone was unhealthy. When I talked about you, it made me feel like you were coming back to me. "Even if we weren't meant to be, Christian was home to me." 

The end.

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