Better Than Perfect

Episode 1

If you could take my pulse right now, it would feel just like a sledgehammer.

She had no alarm set. And the last time she checked, that was not her ringing tone. 

Who, then, thought it a good idea to play music that loud at that ungodly hour of the day?

It could only be one person.

"Switch off the damn music, Ini!"  She snarled.

"Wake up!" Ini shouted, as she yanked her duvet. "It's past 8:00am."

She groaned and pulled the duvet over her head. "Let me sleep!"

But with Ini awake, who would get a good sleep?

"No one asked you to stay up late."

"Just switch off the music." She groaned, as she rolled over and covered her ears with the pillow.

She turned to find Ini futzing around in the room, already dressed for the day in a jean and white hoodie.

"Wake up, Toni!" She spinned to face her, her hair looking like a bird nest, yet to be dressed. "If you plan on getting that registration done today, you'd better get out of bed."

Toni willed herself to, but she had fallen short of the Monday morning rule already, if Ini said it's past 8:00am was indeed past 8:00am  - She woke up late. 

"You got through yesterday, you will get through today.".She had no idea when exactly she started giving herself that daily pep talk - or why. It sounded like a ridiculous mantra. She had no need for a mantra.

But still, she felt the need to remind herself of the temporariness of a day. It's just a day - another day amongst many.

When Ini screamed her name the second time, she finally kicked off the duvet, sat up and glanced at the digital clock on the reading table. It read 8:23.


Aderayo would kill her. They had agreed to meet at their faculty by 7:30am, and there she was, just waking up.  

"Glad you finally decided to be productive." Ini snickered.

"Get out." She hissed and slumped back in bed.

But Ini wasn't done. "You only get to wake up by 10am in your parents house, not here."

She rolled her eyes. "You are annoying!"

"What?" Ini grinned. "It's a month already. Better get used to waking up early."

Just a month! Toni found it hard to believe she had spent just a month in the University of Ibadan - it felt like three! 

She glanced at Ini who sat huddled up on her bed, her attention on her phone. Wondering how the sweet girl that approached her on her first day had metamorphosed into this annoying creature.

That day, she had stood at the reception, staring blankly at the little card the hall warden had given her; the little card that spelt the alphanumeric - D50.

 She had heard enough horrible tales of the Obafemi Awolowo female hall stairs to make her dread climbing those stairs with her many luggages. 

While she stood debating back and forth on whether to seek for assistance or not, a light tap on her shoulder had jolted her back to reality. 

She turned to fi nd a beautiful chubby girl with warm eyes and smooth skin smiling at her.  "Hi, I'm Ini Jacobs. I wrote my name after yours." She said in introduction, gesturing towards where the hall warden sat.  

"Wow. You are a Jacobs too." She had said in astonishment as the girl grinned widely in reply.

"I'm Toni Jacobs. And let me guess, your room number is D50?" She had asked again, offering a silent prayer to the heavens as she awaited Ini's response.

A yes from Ini had the two girls smiling widely. Together, they hulled up their luggages to their room amidst introductions and stories. They clicked naturally.

Ini turned out to be one of those friends you shouldn't go out with if you do not plan on staying alone.

She was quite popular, attracting "hi's" and hello's" as she moved around, and getting pulled into meaningless conversations, there by leaving her partner hanging. It was never intentional, but it was always annoying.

 Ini was an extrovert, always brimming with charisma. 

She was the opposite of Toni, a reason why Toni found more afiliation with their other roommate, Ella. A good book, cool music or nice movie was enough comfort for their souls. They both loved the quiet.

"Where is Ella?" She asked, noticing her absence in the room.
"She left early, something about a lecture... I'm not too sure." Ini replied.  

Of course, Ella was the early bird. How she had managed to sleep through her early morning routine was beyond her understanding. She wasn't that much of a deep sleeper, it was just Ella's way. Quiet.  

"She tried waking you up, but as usual, you slept like a log." Ini smiled at her. It had mockery written all over it. 

Toni eyeballed her as she picked up her towel. "Bath. Be back in a minute."

"Take more than five minutes. I'll prepare the custard!" Ini shouted after her.

In the bathroom, she stripped and shuddered as her body protested the cold water. "Damn, cold water," She muttered. 

She hated cold water. She hated having to wake up early. She hated school life. What more?  A few minutes later, she was back in their room.

 Ini still had Fifth Harmony's Sledgehammer blasting from her MP3 player. She swayed slowly to it's beat as she got dressed.  "Eat up, Toni. We're running late." Ini said, placing her custard bowl on the table.

She smiled up at her thankfully, as she hurriedly packed her bag.

"I know right? What will you do without me?" Ini said smugly.

She rolled her eyes, ignoring her grinning friend. Sponning down her meal, she read a message from Aderayo, her best friend.

Where are you?
She texted back: Running ten minutes late.
Aderayo replied within seconds: You are always late.

And it was true. She was always late. It would be a shock if she had gotten there on time.  Aderayo and her had been best friends since secondary school. 

They had seen each other through exams, boy drama and parents pressure. 

They bonded over their mutual drive to be the smartest kids in the class, but these days, Aderayo cared more about her photography than her grades. 

They were the complete opposite of each other - Aderayo was more like Ini - so it was a wonder their friendship had lasted so long.

"Any plans for today?" Ini asked as she rolled her braids into a bun.
She registered the question in the back of her head as she stared at her phone. "Usual, I guess. I will head to the library when I'm done with the faculty registration."

Ini stared at her like she came from an alien planet. "Gbogbo eyin omowe yi sha. Too much studying is detrimental to learning, shey you know?" She said.

"I don't study too much, " She replied.

"Girlllllll, you were up till midnight studying." Ini countered. "Try dey rest oh, lectures never start proper."

"You stayed up late too." She shrugged, sponning down the last portion of the bowl.

"I was up watching Peaky Blinders." Ini laughed. "You know I'm not an advocate of too much studying."

"Abeg, let me read oh. I'm not here to waste my father's money."  Ini clapped her hands and shook her head ruefully.

 "So I'm the one who is here to waste her father's money?"  Toni laughed at her friend's antic. "I didn't say that oh. Woo, leave me jo. Let me be Toni Jacobs in peace." 

 She was not Ella, the badass writer or Aderayo, the natural photographer or Ini, the girl with a melodious voice. 

She was Toni. The girl with perfect grades. She had been that since forever.  She was Toni.
And Toni must not change.

"Sha dey rest, that's the main thing." Ini said with a wink.  "I know right." She laughed.

Her phone buzzed. She picked up the used bowl and hurriedly rinsed it before placing it back in it's place.

Her phone buzzed again.
She strapped her bag and picked up her phone just as it buzzed again.

"Abeg, let's go before Aderayo blow up my phone with messages."

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