AVERY: The Boy From Summer School

We met in summer school, which was the best part of my holiday.

I’m Avery Turner, and here’s something about me– I don’t know how to fall in love. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t. I have been in 5 relationships, and I just can’t find the right man. Or maybe I am the problem? 

‘Nuel was my first boyfriend, loving yet berating. He was about three years older than me but felt more like a “father figure”. I could barely look this man in his eyes or even make “unnecessary jokes” about him. He had this stern way of dealing with me and had little or no regard for my friends and family. My breaking point was when he raised his hand at me. 

Haaland was my second. But the thing is, he was the only one in love. I tried all I could to love this guy but couldn’t get past seeing him as a “brother figure”. He felt like the elder brother I always wished I had, always ready to have my back any day, anytime. He was the one I called whenever I was in trouble or when my mood swung so low. Haaland always had my time, even if I rarely had his. Eventually, the guilt got to me, and I had to end it. 

Roman was my third. Our relationship was more like a contract or we were friends with benefits, as some would call it. We made each other very happy and promised to end things as soon as one of us caught our feelings. You don’t have to guess too far who failed anyway.

Now, let’s talk about Peter, the “Christian brother”. Always ready to drag me to the next church program. I think he focused too much on my spirituality that he forgot that a girl needs some love, you know? Strange enough, we lasted together more than the rest. We spent about two years together, as opposed to the 1-year record. But in the end, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore, so I left without apologising. I heard he is married to one of the active sisters in the ministry, and they have three kids.

My most recent one was Liam, and he was perfect. He was everything a girl would want in a man. Respectful, cultured, calm, and cool-headed. Yet, it felt like he could be faking it. This guy never got angry and seemed to find a way around seemingly bloody situations. I thought, “What if he was waiting to “cuff” me for life before showing his true self?” So, I did what I knew how to do; I ended it.

Mind you, I was the type of person who moved on so fast. Within weeks, I had a new man to call mine. Yet, I felt so different this time, almost like I couldn’t move on. I had this feeling that my body wanted to “purge itself”. Like I had been a “girlfriend” for so long that I could barely enjoy solitude. I needed some time to myself; it was time to discover who I was and see myself through my eyes rather than the eyes of these men. 

I swung into action and started a bit of soul-searching. Then, I met him exactly two years after my last affair. It was Ben, the first guy I ever had something so close to being in love with– my first crush. We met in summer school, which was the best part of my holiday. We were both 15 when we first met, yet it felt like I had known him all my life. I liked his smile, looks, voice, and almost everything about him. And just about the same time, Gwen, my then-best friend, told me they were dating. I respected myself and friendship enough to squash the feelings, but I always had him in mind. They had broken up one year before Gwen died, and I had lost every bit of contact with him until her burial.

He looked taller and even more handsome than before. And his smile was lighting up the room we were inside presently. My heart shook or leapt for joy. But I felt he might not even remember who I was.

“Ave!” he shouted from across the room as he walked closer without breaking eye contact. My heart shook even more, and I wasn’t sure if this was what love at first sight felt like. Okay! We had met before, but not as adults, so yes! It was indeed “love at first sight”. Then, almost immediately, I felt a jab in my chest. This was Gwen’s boyfriend, and I didn’t want someone like me to take him for a ride. He was always the type you could spend an eternity with, you know?

“Ben!” I squeaked embarrassingly when I finally found my voice. He held me in a bear hug, so warm that it felt like home. Like I had found where to stay for the rest of my life. This was me, Ave, the professional heartbreaker. I didn’t want Ben to be my victim. Hold up! What if he’s married? I hurriedly scanned his fingers as soon as he let me go. Phew! He’s not, yay! 

“How have you been, Ave?! It’s been about 10, 14 years now?” Ben said. Hmm, more like 13 years, five months, six days and some hours, Ben. The last time we met was when Gwen was laid to rest. He had come to pay his last respect. And we had said our last goodbye to her and each other until this very moment.

“I have been more than good, Ben! It’s so nice to see you. Look at you all buffed up.” I said. Your girl must be lucky, I thought.

“I am on my way to a meeting; we should grab coffee sometimes. I would love to see you more, Ave,” he said as he handed me a business card. My heart was still thumping so hard that I felt it was about to explode.

“I would love that,” I said with a smile.

A week passed, and I finally mustered some courage to call him. 

“Hey, Ben!”

Summer school girl

“And the rest is history. That is how I met my wife, my love, my best friend and my heart,” Ben said.

It was our 10th wedding anniversary. And I had heard this same line many times but could never get tired of it. Ben, my first love and the man who made me love love more than I could ever imagine. This man mended my heart, even when I didn’t know it was broken, and made me know I could love someone while still loving myself. He is my husband, father figure, friend, confidant, father of our kids, and everything I want him to be. He is my soulmate.

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