(Update: individual OTC stories are no longer available, but you can download them all in a single PDF collection on my OTC site.)
The first thing I do when I enter a room is try to figure out what the best way to get onto the ceiling is. It’s an automatic, reflexive thing; I walk into a room, I look up. Most people look around, but I’ve always felt that if anything potentially dangerous or interesting were dwelling in a room, it would most likely be on the ceiling, wouldn’t it? But hardly anyone ever looks up.
I stood precariously on a chair that had two wooden tables underneath it, stacked on top of each other, just so I could reach the ceiling of this classroom. My makeshift ladder was dangerously wobbly, and I was lowkey scared for my life, but Kess was below me on the ground, holding a steadying hand to one of the bottom tables’ legs, and ready to catch me if I fell. Yaw was standing guard in front of the open classroom door, ready to whisper a warning if he saw anyone who might catch and report us to authorities approaching.
“I can’t believe you’re actually doing this,” Kess said.
“Don’t you know by now that Kuukua’s a badass that does everything she thinks up, the moment she thinks of it?” Yaw said from the door.
I took the piece of clear tape from between my teeth and stuck it on the ceiling to hold the thread in place, so that my mouth was free to form words.
“Yes, what Yaw said,” I concurred. “Kess, hand me another strip of Sellotape.”
“Kuuks, I really don’t think this is going to work,” Kess continued to object.
“Of course it’s going to work,” I replied, as I tied the string of thread into another knot. “When is the last time a plan of mine failed? In any case, that’s why I have you and your big head, so you can poke all the holes in my plans for me to see them and fix them, isn’t it?”
“Hmm,” Kess grunted, though it was clear he was somewhat placated by the praise. The second you said something good about Kess, it went straight to his head and made him bend back into your will when it looked like he was straying. Yaw was always telling me that what I did to Kess was wicked manipulation, but the way I saw it, it was just a resourceful application of someone else’s character traits to accomplish whatever needed to be accomplished – and if buffering Kess’ fragile ego got me what I wanted, I would continue to do it.
Besides, Kess didn’t really have any friends; Yaw and I were the only ones in the class who were nice to him, so he stuck around us a lot, helped us with our plans even though he didn’t agree with them, and kept our secrets. At least I treated him better than the rest of the class had been doing since he came to the school in Class 4.
His real name was Keshawn, but when he had arrived as a new student, everyone had thought his whole body to be too skinny and his head to be too large, so they called him, cruelly, “Ti Kɛseɛ” – “Big Head,” which had eventually been shortened to “Kess.” It had stuck. (If you asked him, though, he would always lie that Kess was only short for Keshawn, which, I admit, was a conveniently clever alibi.) Additionally, Kess had never been the brightest child in the room, and our Class 4 math teacher had used this joke often: “Ti Kɛseɛ nanso wonni nyansa” – “Big head, but you still don’t possess wisdom.” Most people had laughed and gone along with it. But, as skewed as Yaw was constantly telling me my moral compass was, I had refused to laugh along with them.
“I’m ready to get down,” I said to Kess. “Then we can start with the floor.”
“Can you jump?” he asked.
“Yep.” My voice sounded confident, but I prayed a quick, silent prayer before I launched myself off the chair and nimbly landed on all four limbs.
“Oh, Jesus!” I heard Kess yell, and then he dashed to catch the toppling wooden chair before it fell on me and crushed my skull. As he caught the chair by a seat’s edge, I swiftly scuttled out of the way, and once I caught my breath and recovered from the shock, I exhaled, “See, that wasn’t so bad.”
“Sis, you almost died.”
“But the point is that I didn’t die. And look, this wouldn’t even be a problem if the school would just pay for quality furniture. One hour sitting on those wooden contraptions in class, and my botoss feels like it’s ready to drop off my body. Mtchew.”
Yaw cleared his throat from the doorpost. “Can we cut the banter and hurry up, please? It’s getting to seven-thirty. People will start coming upstairs soon.”
“Chill,” I said, dusting myself off and getting up. “I’m almost done. Kess, put the chairs and table away, and make sure you don’t trip on the floor threads.”
As Yaw watched me put the finishing touches on the setup, he remarked, “Chale, you really know how to hold a grudge, oo.”
“Oh, me dier, I must get my revenge. How can you come and mark me down for such nonsense? Anka if it were something sensible that I was losing marks for, okay – but as for this one, I won’t take it. And since Mr Gaisie refuses to see sense, today, he will taste pepper.”
“I swear, I am terrified of what will happen to me the day I get on your bad side.”
For the rest of the story, download the file. It’s linked at the top of this post. Thanks!