Since I started dating, I have experienced my fair share of character development. Cheating, trauma, baby mama drama, and sponsor drama. There is nothing I have not gone through. Yet somehow what Nathaniel did to me hit deeper than anything I had gone through at the hands of a romantic partner.
We came from different parts of Nairobi, yet we ended up at the same university. Despite being social media famous whenever I was in public, I liked spending time alone and since people liked to mind their own business it was rare for someone to approach me. However, there were instances when a first year would see me and ask for a photo and I didn’t mind.
During my first year, I spent time partying and doing so many unspeakable things. By my second year, I was tired of that lifestyle and realized how much I wanted to lie low. Three times a week I would visit the library to get some reading done. By reading I mean I would spend an hour or two reading chapters of “it ends with us” by Colleen Hoover.
I had so many of her books because of aesthetics but had never managed to read them. One day I read the first chapter and I was hooked. On a random Friday, I found myself in the library with Nathaniel.
I didn’t pay attention to him since he seemed very invested in what he was reading. I opened my book and started reading silently. Occasionally I would stumble upon something funny that a character has said, and I would try to contain my laughter. However, as I kept reading, I found a very funny scene, and I could barely contain it. I let out a burst of laughter which caught Nathaniel’s attention.
“Let me guess, a Ryle and Lily scene. She was tensed about meeting his mother and called herself a blasphemous whore in front of her,” He said with a grin.
“How are you able to say that with a straight face?” I asked, still trying to contain my laughter.
“I also burst out laughing when I first read the book,” He said.
“ I didn’t think men liked such kind of books. This is a first,” I said.
“ I aspire to be an author and let’s face it women write male characters better,” He said.
We spent the rest of the afternoon talking and I couldn’t believe that I had never seen him around the campus or in the library. I loved how he viewed things from the perspective of books and also the fact that he was an English major.
Since I was focusing on myself though, I decided to treat it as a casual conversation and didn’t think much about it. The following week I didn’t have time to go to the library given the many projects I had to do. As I moved around the school, I also realized how big it was since I never saw Nathaniel anywhere.
Eventually, by the time I got back to my normal library routine, I found him at his spot. He was still reading a large document which looked like a novel draft.
“Assignment?” I asked in a low tone as I sat down.
“Essay project actually,” He replied.
“Isn’t it a bit too early to be doing that?” I asked.
“When you are a perfectionist too early is too late,” He responded.
I never actually thought of it like that. Normally I would start my projects a week before they were due. The pressure of finishing them always pushed me to do my best work. However, seeing him taking this project seriously was a bit attractive to me.
I wanted to ask what his essay was about, but it felt like prying. He asked me how far I had gone with the novel and once I told him I was done he looked impressed. We talked about the book, our favourite moments and how we both felt the author had captured the book. Through this conversation, I started feeling the urge to have more conversations with him.
Luckily, he felt the same and so we exchanged numbers. We moved from acquaintances to friends since he was also not looking to date anyone. We would meet at the library three times a week and he would help me out with different projects. However, he wouldn’t let me see his project, which was a bit disappointing.
The more we spent time together the more I started to like him more than my friend. He was unlike most guys I knew, which was a good and bad thing. I always found it hard to hit on a guy since most guys I liked always made a move on me. Yet here I was with a guy I liked and the only thing I could do was hope he would make the first move.
As the weeks went by, I realized that if I wanted an answer, I would have to make the move and so I did. Luckily, he also felt the same and that’s how our relationship started. Nathaniel intrigued me every day we spent together. He was funny, smart and an old-school lover who believed in sending love notes. Whenever we couldn’t see each other, he would always send me a letter which warmed my heart.
It had been so long since I could open up about my past life but with him, it was so easy to be free. He never judged me since in his eyes all that mattered was who I had strived to be. As we neared the exam period our projects became overwhelming which made it hard to see each other. However, Nathaniel always insisted on seeing me, which I thought was romantic. We would talk about our days but in between our conversations, he would ask me about small details of my past. Most of the time it was the rumours he had seen online on blogs.
Normally I would find it insulting if someone asked me about a rumour but since it was him, I didn’t mind. I answered all his questions honestly and he was so keen to listen. By exam season we barely had time to see each other. Spending time with him made me procrastinate so much. At the end of the semester though I had managed to finish all my work which meant I could spend time with Nathaniel.
I made a list of different date ideas we could try out and texted it to him. Normally he would respond after a short while, but a day passed and I never received a response. I didn’t think much about it since the exam period is always overwhelming. Three days later he had read my text but still no response.
The clown in me wanted to go over to his hostel and ask why he wasn’t responding to my texts. However, I realized that I didn’t even know where he lived, just the name of the building. So, I took a deep breath and decided to give him time. The holiday period went by, and I never heard from him. As the days went by it was easier to let go of my thoughts of him.
At the start of the new semester, I didn’t even bother to look for him on campus. It took me some time to be okay with going back to the library but when the assignments started, I realized it was time. I walked into the library and settled at my normal spot. My curiosity prompted me to look around for him, but he was nowhere to be seen.
The semester went by fast mainly because I was focused on school and home. One random day I walked into the library and as I sat down, I noticed a book on top of the table. The cover looked intriguing, so I picked it up. Before reading a book, I usually look at the synopsis, so I turned the book and was shocked to see Nathaniel’s face on it.
“He’s the author?” I wondered as I opened the book to read the first chapter.
The chapter was a description of my first days on campus from his point of view. I was stunned since I always thought he first knew me from our encounter. I became invested in the book and after a week, I was done. Nathaniel had told the story of my life. In some parts, he described me as an extraordinary person who changed his outlook on life. In the other chapters, he spilt all my secrets including one that I had sworn never to tell anyone. A secret that could land me and someone else in jail.
I didn’t know what to feel. As I was falling for him, he was using me as an inspiration for his book in the worst way possible. I had the sudden urge to rant about it but that would draw attention to the fact that I was the character in the book. So instead, I pulled out my phone and sent a simple text.
“I hope it was worth it,” and clicked send. He opened the text immediately but didn’t respond. I didn’t think I could ever experience a deeper pain than the one I felt at that moment. My only hope was that he would never tell anyone that the story was based on my life.
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This story first came out on Potentash as An Author In Love Or In Need Of Inspiration.