The falling rain seemed incessant. Streaks of lightning shone in the sky, shattering its darkness for a split second before the thunder rumbled in the far distance. It was one of those rainy nights and as usual during such storms, the Power Holding Company had taken back its electricity, probably to hold it for some time and return it when the storm ceased—or not. The entire estate was cast into pitch darkness save for those who dared the rain by leaving their generating sets on while others remained in the dark.
The bungalow belonging to the Ezeanis was one of those in the dark, partly because Matthew Ezeani had a habit of not leaving the generator on till after midnight and partly because they had all gone to bed; all but Nnenna who sat at her reading table burning the midnight candle. The hours that had gone by seemed not to matter, as being buried in her books, she became lost to all around her. The yapping of their neighbour’s puppy disrupted her thoughts once in a while and she was forced to use her headphones to block her ears, but the yapping continued.
‘I’m so going to kill that dog!’ she muttered under her breath just before she heard a knock on her door and the door opened. It was her mother.
“Nnenna, don’t you think it’s time for you to get some sleep? You don’t plan to stay awake all night, do you?” she asked, her voice full of concern.
“No mum, I’ll be done soon. I just need to finish this chapter. My group is depending so much on me and as the group leader, I can’t let them down.”
“Fine. Just try and get some sleep while you’re at that, okay?”
“Sure, mom. Thanks.”
She disappeared immediately, shutting the door behind her with a hint of a smile and a slight shaking of her head. Slipping back to bed beside her husband, she pulled the sheets up to her chin.
“She’s still awake?” Matthew asked, hardly expecting a negative answer.
“Yes,” Daisy answered. “She’s more than a jigsaw puzzle. At one time, we couldn’t get her to open her books and now— we can’t get her to close them!”
“She’ll be fine. She knows when she’s reached her limits. I’m sure she’ll be asleep sooner than you think.”
“I hope so too.”

At exactly a quarter past one in the morning, Nnenna decided she couldn’t cheat nature and shut her books to dive into bed. It was the beginning of a new week and she knew what lay ahead wasn’t going to be easy. She needed all the rest she could get. But just as she shut her eyes to answer nature’s call, the yapping started afresh. What the ….! Quickly, she flung the sheets aside and got out of bed to stare out the window. There was the puppy in their neighbours’ yard, yapping and pulling at nylon bags from the waste bin. It gripped the thick nylon with all its power, determination stirring him on till he got the bin to tip and its lid fell noisily unto the concrete.

Nnenna shook her head in dismay. Their new neighbours certainly needed a dog trainer to put some sense into the little nitwit. They’d moved in two days previously and she was yet to know what they looked like. All she had seen was furniture being moved into the house as she came home from school that day and the next day, she’d noticed a red sports car parked in the garage.

Suddenly, the outside light came on and the back door opened. A young girl of about her age, wearing an over-sized night shirt and fancy fluffy slippers appeared. She called the puppy by its name, something Nnenna couldn’t quite decipher before she replaced the lid over the bin and gently carried the puppy inside, but not before she instinctively looked up at their neighbour’s window and her gaze met Nnenna’s prying eyes. She stood for a moment or two, scowling at her nosy neighbour before Nnenna let the curtain fall back into place. When she raised it again, the girl was gone. And the puppy as well. Why the hostility, she wondered at the girl’s reaction. Almost immediately, she knew she didn’t like her. She slid under the sheets once more, pulling them up to her chin. At least, now she could sleep. Miss Stuck-up-neighbour could eat shit for all she cared! Nnenna thought. Little did she know that she was going to see a whole lot more of little Miss Stuck-up!

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