Yes, I finished the series! Now I can end the year in peace!
(Update: individual OTC stories are no longer available, but you can download them all in a single PDF collection on my OTC site.)
Kuukua and the Killjoy Kente
Charlotte was on the ceiling of Mr. Dotse’s office. I didn’t understand how she had become so brazen, risking being seen by someone random. She had already surprised me enough a few months ago by deciding to befriend my roommate, Nana Konamah, but that, at least, was understandable; it was only decent to make sure someone knew all their roommates, human and non-human alike. But as for my school principal dier, I had no idea why Charlotte was frolicking so freely in his presence.
I was so tense about Charlotte being seen that I almost forgot the true reason for my anxiety: the fear that I was in some sort of trouble. There weren’t many other reasons I knew for students to get called into the principal’s office in the middle of the week. I almost felt like I did whenever I heard my mother yelling “KUUKUA ANNAN!” from downstairs, a surefire sign that I was in deep trouble. Now, I was trying to backtrack, see if I’d done anything worthy of being summoned by Mr. Dotse. The closest I had come to punishable trouble was yesterday’s skirmish with Ken, but as far as I knew, no teachers or staff had been around to witness that.
Ken, my classmate formerly known as Kennedy, had been getting on my nerves lately. This semester, I’d realized something about being in boarding school: annoying people start feeling more annoying, not because they’re becoming worse, but because you can never really go home from them. It had been easier for me to ignore Kennedy during JSS. Now that he’d transformed into “Ken” and I had to see him in the hostels even after school had closed, my tolerance seemed to be withering. It was as if nothing could properly humble him, not the trick Yaw and I had played on him during the long vac, nor the way our seniors treated him here. As soon as he got over anything, it was right back to the my-father-is-richer-than-yours attitude, and it irritated the hell out of me.
The exams this semester had rocked him roff, and it was as if he didn’t know how to deal with it in any other way than complaining plenty. Yesterday, he’d been making strings of ridiculous jokes about how if he could have his way, he’d have left school long time, just that he was afraid of ending up career-wise something “wack” like a mechanic or a carpenter.
Maybe it was the stress of exam week and sleep deprivation thanks to everyone who had been demanding my assistance with maths and physics over the past few weeks, or the fact that my Ananse training hadn’t been allowed to slack a bit even during the exam period. Or maybe it was the synchronized nightmares Yaw and I were having. Either way, the very second after Ken passed his comment, I was already getting ready to slap him.
I stood up threateningly, and interjected very loudly with, “And what is so wrong with being a mechanic or a carpenter, ehn?”
Ken had obviously been taken by surprise; he hadn’t even known I’d been listening, much less emotionally affected. To save face, he quickly recomposed his expression from shocked to haughty again and said something that made me even angrier. With his signature sneer, he asked, “Ah, where is Yaw Connor? He should come and collect his girlfriend before she comes to beat me, oo.”
When I lunged at him suddenly, people actually had to hold me back.
In my defense, this wasn’t usual behavior; I was just too stressed not to ignore him. In any case, I hadn’t had the opportunity to lay a finger on him, so I didn’t think that was quite the reason for my having been called to Mr. Dotse’s office.
I was still scanning through my possible grave offenses as I watched Charlotte carefully, even as I tried to pretend I wasn’t watching her. Drawing Mr. Dotse’s attention to whatever I was looking at was the last thing I wanted.
“So,” Mr. Dotse said to me, “Kuukua Annan.”
Because he was sitting down, I could manage to look at his face as I responded to him. In other circumstances, I would probably have been severely distracted by the mystery of how such a young man could possess such a huge stomach. He was my dad’s age, so he was only in his forties, but Mr. Dotse’s stomach made him constantly look like he had just finished a meal consisting of about two whole horses, drowned down with some omotuo and light soup.
Charlotte dropped a few inches without warning from a thread she had just spun. Although I was used to her doing this often in the confines of my bedroom, over here, my eyes shot back up to the ceiling in anxiety.
“Surely the spider knows how to take care of itself?” Mr. Dotse asked. “They are usually far smarter than you Annans like to give them credit for, you know.”
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Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Akotz the Spider Kid.