It was Christmas Eve and Weruche did not know what to do with herself. Her two older brothers had gone out, they were probably in a seedy joint by now, smoking weed and doing whatever guys who lived in their slum did on the twenty fourth.
She glanced at her phone screen, the time was 6:20, it was already getting dark. Most young women her age would be preparing to go out by now-- to a friend or boyfriend's place and later to one of the many house parties and shows that always took place at the end of the year. Most young women, just not her.
Sighing, she picked up an old copy of 'HER' an Aunty had left behind after visiting three years ago. The front cover showed a beautiful light skinned girl, slim yet with mature curves. She had beautiful eyes, a pointed nose, full lips and the biggest afro Weruche had ever seen. 'How to be bold, beautiful and totally afro' the article said and intrigued, Weruche opened up.
Even though the magazine had been in the house for three years, Weruche had never opened it. She had always been busy during the day, studying, doing house chores and doing odd jobs to support her mother's petty trading. Coupled with the fact that they had not been able to afford electricity bills for close to ten years since the death of her father and so they all had to make do with sunlight and stop most activities when the sun came down.
She read through the article, trying to get into the world of the writer. A world of bus catching, traffic, work ambition and friday night partying. A world of the social media, besties and boyfriends. It was the ultimate city life. She dreamed of it, hoped to one day live that dream but deep down in her heart was the fear that she would live and die in the slums of woodville. Sometimes passing through the rich neighborhoods and wondering if she would grow old and die, a shriveled up rose that never had the kiss of the sun on it's petals or the admiration of someone who knew it's worth. She tugged at her own long soft hair that had never been relaxed as the daylight faded away and it became impossible to continue reading.
Her phone rang, snatching her out of her reverie and she looked at the screen. It was her best friend Brenda. Even though Brenda lived only two blocks away, she always flashed Weruche before she came over.
She got up and tried to put things in order in the one room apartment she lived in with her mother and two older brothers. The room always looked untidy no matter how much she tried to make it look good, a curtain partitioned it into two, separating the section used as sitting room and kitchen from the part used as bedroom by Weruche and her mother and giving them a little bit of privacy. They all used a common bathroom and toilet, shared with three other families.
"Hi girl." Brenda said from the door way. She was wearing skinny jeans that was ripped at the knee with a very small lacy, black crop top. Looking pretty and ready to party, she stood for a while at the door, reveling in her friends surprise and admiration.
"Well, come in." Weruche said at last. Why are you looking so....."
"So what?" Brenda asked, sitting down.
"So..." She shrugged. "You know like all the people we see on TV."
Brenda sucked up the compliment. "Because today is the twenty fourth! C'mon girl, we're going to party."
"What party?" Weruche asked, her brows drawn up in a slight frown. She wasn't about to attend any of the parties going on in the neighborhood and neither she not Brenda had the connections to get into any party on the other side of town. The events and shows going on around woodville usually had a gate fee of about five thousand naira for regular seats. She didn't have that kind of money and neither did Brenda, and most of the guys who were willing to pay for them expected a return of the favour in kind.
"Wouldn't you at least look a little excited?" Brenda asked.
"Brenda, I'm not going to any of those things you guys call parties where they can drug you and rape you and no one would even care."
"It's not. Okay!" Brenda smiled. "It's at the West coast."
"The West coast!" Weruche repeated, stunned. A slow smile spread over her face and she could feel her heart start racing. Fighting to keep her excitement at Bay, she asked. "How did you..... What kind of party is it?"
Brenda raised her hands palm up in a peace sign.
"Calm down.... Well you know the Onyeomas?"
"The ones your mother cleans for?"
"Yes. Well today, my mother was a little busy and so she sent me instead..... You know Mrs. Onyeoma has two grown daughters, maybe older than us..."
"I don't understand, they invited you to a party? But they don't live at the West coast." Weruche was getting confused. The Onyeoma girls as she liked to call them were two uppity girls that lived in the cleaner part of their neighborhood. There was no way they were in the position to dish out invites to a West coast party.
"No actually...." Brenda was starting to fidget.
"Spit it out Brenda!"
"Okay so I saw an invitation to Karis party and I picked it up. C'mon girl, we deserve to have fun, even if it's just for today. This year has been so stressful and..... "
Weruche held up her hand. "Karis? Did you just say Karis?"
"Yeah! And I know the girls are going to be furious if they ever find out. Look if you want me to, I'll return it."
" Wait!" Weruche said, a bit dazed. "You want us to attend a party thrown by the one and only billionaire's son and heir, Karis Ilobi with stolen invites?"
A slow smile curved her lips and mischief danced in her eyes. "Let's do it."
"Yay!" Brenda threw her arms around her friend in excitement. "So let's get you what to wear." She was already heading to Weruche's clothing bag on the floor. Zipping it open, Brenda searched through it a bit then flung a little white dress at her. "You're wearing this tonight."