Only Girls Allowed – A Broke Girl’s Guide To Wealthy Living!
Six years ago…
A few weeks before she died my grandmother used to say- we do not have control over Fortune’s Wheel, but we can control what Fortune sees fit to mete out to us. Or something like that. I can’t really remember her exact words, always dismissing them as the rambling that comes with senility. I’ll admit it- I was a selfish teenager and in hindsight I wish I’d paid more attention to her in her final days but that’s all water under the bridge now, I guess.
Anyway, to the blithe sixteen year old that I was, her words held no meaning for me.
That is, until the day my life changed forever.
My form tutor, a young, lively peach of a woman stared across her desk at me. I stared back, fairly certain I wasn’t in any kind of trouble. I was slightly taken aback by her expression- sympathy and- something else I couldn’t exactly put my finger on.
“I have some bad news, Amara.”
Perfect way to start, Miss, I thought, sinking into my chair.
She ran a hand through straight, blonde hair and sighed. “The school has come to the sad decision to withdraw you from the annual English competition.” She fumbled through her desk then held out a crisp white paper. “I’m very sorry.”
A deep sense of foreboding washed over me as I stared as the sheet of paper- a letter- she held out. I’d gone through numerous possibilities as to why she’d summoned me to her office at the end of the school day but this, this was in no way one of them. Miss Haynes returned the letter to her desk when it became clear I wasn’t going to take it. “Amara, I’m so very sorry. You see, the school only makes provision for British citizens and green card holders-“
“I am a green card holder!”
“We received a letter from the embassy that puts that status into question.” She slid the letter to me. “The school will try everything in its power to sort this mess out but Amara, if you ever need to talk…”
Under a gradually darkening sky I stood at the edge of the fountain at St. Peter’s Square, a penny in hand. Closing my eyes, I made a wish, then threw the penny into the shallow water, watching it sink sink sink until it hit the bottom. Then, at the back of my mind, two words came, unbidden and clear as the evening sky: Fortune’s Wheel.
Rule One: Bloom Where You’re Planted
You know that classic story of this girl who walks into the ball clad in the most gorgeous gown and catches everyone’s eye including Prince Charming’s? Well, that’s exactly how I felt at this exact moment. Granted, my whole outfit cost lower than N5,000 and this isn’t exactly a ball and I do not in fact have a fairy godmother (or a godmother even), but I still felt like a million bucks. All I needed to do was find my Prince Charming. Which shouldn’t be hard considering the fact that every eligible bachelor in Abuja was supposed to be at this exhibition. One of them had to be ‘him’, right? Speaking of charming, I whipped my phone out and dialled a number, gritting my teeth as I listened to it ring. He picked on what I was sure was the last ring. “Where are you?” I said, trying my hardest to be calm.
“Wha—Amara?” I didn’t need to see him physically to know he was intoxicated. I just wasn’t sure what had done the intoxicating this time.
“Gosh, Tayo! You’re supposed to be at Life Pyramid, remember? For the exhibition?”
“Oh my God,” his voice, breathy and thick, answered. “D-don’t worry. I can make it. I’ll just-“
“Don’t bother.” It was times like this I wished I still had one of those flip phones. Pressing a red hang up button wasn’t just as satisfying as clicking the phone shut and hearing that snap sound. The door to the Life Pyramid art centre loomed before me, tall and forbidding. I was dateless, anxious and a little frustrated- not a very good combination at these social gatherings. I suddenly had a serious urge to turn back, go home and binge watch Jane the Virgin whilst downing alarming amounts of Coke- diet, of course. But I would not just waste an entire outfit because I wanted to be alone. I mounted the steps thinking of Tayo. Thunder fire him and all the weed I’m sure he’d smoked earlier. Clutching my ticket, I plastered a smile on my face and opened the door to light music and hushed conversation.
Cinderella never got her man with another man next to her anyway.
*Only Girls Allowed- The Broke Girl’s Guide to Wealthy Living is a satirical, fictional story of Amara ‘Amy’ Okafor, an underemployed twenty-something year old Nigerian accustomed to an upscale lifestyle. She’s sure she has a bright future- if only she could get her big break. Join Amara as she juggles love, job(or lack of) and a hugely lavish lifestyle she really can’t afford. All she ever wanted was a happy ending. Is that too hard to get?
By Rita Osakwe
A 20-something year old with an unhealthy obsession with books and food, also passionate about travel and culture.