Ewuranshira was having a good time with the other guys. They had had had a fun group discussion. They decided to split up, find supper and then return. Some said they would rather not eat; others needed the food to keep going since they had not eaten since morning.

Nevertheless, the late afternoon had beckoned to the shadows of dusk. These shadows came in gradually into the eaves outside the classroom. The iridescent twilight trailed in with the darkness in its wake. The night also, quietly but efficiently, spread itself out, taking positions around the whole compound.

At 7.30 pm they decided on a 15-minute break. The discussants all sat down again before 20 minutes were up. All this time, Ewuranshira was wide awake. Daddy had told her that she had been sent to the university to be the very best. Moreover, no matter how difficult that could be, she was determined to make it. This discussion group was one of many strategies she used to churn out excellent grades each semester.

Suddenly, someone shouted,

“Guys, it is past 10!”

Within a few minutes, they had prayed and dispersed. On Nshira’s way to her hostel, Fianko called her and asked if he could buy her lunch at Maa Joe’s.

“Why do you want to do that, Fianko?”

“I just want to make you happy, Ewura, you know…

“I think I have said over and over again that if you must shorten my name, it must be Nshira. Otherwise, just use Ewuranshira.

“Why are you playing hard to get? I am the only man for you, Nshira.

“Look, you know what? It is late, and I have quite some distance to walk to my hostel so let’s talk about this after the exams.

“That’s what I really wanted to say, to take you out after the exams. What do you say?

“I think that it can wait till after the exams, Fianko, it’s late, and I have to go NOW.

With that, she stomped off. Why couldn’t Fianko know when to ask? I am trying to remember what we have gone through this night so I can enter the exam hall with more confidence, and all he is thinking about is asking me out! Fianko stood there, wondering whether he should see her off to her hostel in the semi-darkness. This lady is as tight as a drum. Seeing her off would be a waste. I would be just grovelling to find words to talk to her. Maybe I should change the conversation … that may also backfire. Ok, if she thinks she is so tight and firm, let her face shadows by herself. Fianko spun on his heel and moseyed off into the darkness in the opposite direction. Nshira did not even look back.

After 50 seconds of walking spryly only in the company of her own timid footfalls, she began to wish Fianko had come to see her off. Her eyes dark-adjusted while her ears spread out, listening keenly for any sound apart from her own footfalls. In the meantime, her breath vocalized loudly in her ears.

Nashira’s unseen angel escort, Mboa, had no trouble keeping up with the anxious teenager. His Master had asked him to ensure that Nshira would arrive at her hostel safely. Mboa had already espied a bulky young man marching down in Nshira’s direction as she neared a tight curve.

Yes! She remembered her childhood fear of the dark and what Dad had told her to do.

She began under her breath,

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me to lie down in green pastures… I shouldn’t have allowed Fianko to leave me on this dark road. What if some people are waiting to pounce on me… The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me to lie down in green pastures…

Her eyes sped off to her left, where she thought she saw movement on the road.

Yea, though, I walk in the shadow of death… I will fear no evil… I left something out. Let me begin again. I’ll go faster this time. Lord, please help me… The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He restores my soul; He leads me in the path of righteousness for His great name’s sake; Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil… for Thou art with me…

A young man materialized a few meters away from her, startling her. She sucked in her breath loudly. He was gazing steadily at her as they approached each other. Her eyes riveted on him. Her ears stopped listening to everything else around her and focused on him. Why is this guy wearing a cap pulled so low over his eyes? wondered Nshira

His jaw seemed to be working up some chewing gum; his shoulders determined the shape of his tee-shirt, which danced just above his trousers. His hands stayed in his jeans pockets. They were closer now.

Mboa moved between them. His sword was drawn. His other hand was fully open, and he watched both keenly. Nshira did her best to put distance between herself and the approaching man. She glanced around – the road behind was long, and she could not guarantee she could outrun the man.

Lord, save me! She prayed as her blood pounded in her ears.

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me. He turned in her direction, his hand digging deeper into his jeans.

They were close now. The young man’s hand started emerging from his pocket quickly, his eyes on her bag. A knife flashed into his hand.

“Hey! Give me your bag!” he shouted.

A loud rustle in the bushes beside him grabbed his attention. A dog shot out and headed for him. His knife dropped. Something pushed Nshira. A voice shouted, “RUN!” Her shoes slipped off her feet as they lightly touched the ground in her flight. Despite her curvaceous body, she soon put distance between them.

Her assailant shot after her. Mboa hit the thief’s hand, and his knife fell again. She pounded the hostel door yelling at the top of her lungs. The porter came angrily to find a young girl clinging tightly to the door and shouting with all her might. After a few minutes, he managed to calm her down to hear her story. Meanwhile, a running figure whizzed past the gate.

The author first read this story on Citi 97.3FM’s “Writer’s Project” Show.