“What’s wrong with you?” said
Zinzi in the morning, as Ntombi re-
did her hair for the tenth time. “Is
the audition today?”
“Yes,” lied Ntombi. The last thing
she wanted was her nosy little
sister pestering her about Mzi. She
wouldn’t leave them alone. It was
bad enough they had to take the
same taxi. But luckily, before they
got to the taxi Zinzi was swooped
along by a crowd of girls from her
class. They were all giggling and
looking at something one of them
had written on Mxit. Zinzi didn’t
notice Ntombi getting onto the
Mzi said something to the guys on
either side of him, and they moved
to make room. She couldn’t believe
they were moving out the way for
her, Ntombi, who had never drawn
the attention of any of them
before. Now she felt really proud
to be sitting next to Mzi – so this is
what it felt like to be someone’s
girl. She thought she liked it.
“I missed you,” he whispered to
her. She was very conscious of his
thigh pressing against hers. It was
warm and muscular. He was
strong. He would protect her. “Did
you have sweet dreams?” he
asked. She smiled at him. Suddenly
she couldn’t speak. It was like the
words caught in her throat. She
knew what she wanted to say, but
she worried that she would sound
uncool. So she smiled instead.
“Hey, have you decided about
Thabiso’s?” he asked.
“Not yet. I’m still thinking about it.
” She smiled. She was pleased with
herself, for playing hard-to-get.
She didn’t want him to think that
she was too easy.
“Did you hear that?” He turned to
his friends. “She’ll ‘think about it’.
You’d better,” he said. “You see,
nobody else will do. It has to be
He gave her hand a squeeze. As
they got off the taxi he pulled her
close to him. “I’ll pick you up at
“You don’t know where I live…”
she called out.
“Yes I do,” he laughed, and was
* * *
Ntombi didn’t know how long she
had stood in the quad before
Asanda and Lettie found her. “You
look like you’ve been taking
drugs,” laughed Asanda. “You look
like a zombie. What’s up?” She
looked at Ntombi closely, then she
let out a huge whoop. “Oh my God.
You’re in love!” She turned to
Lettie: “Ntombi’s in love.” They
danced around her, teasing her.
“Who is the lucky guy? Come on,
tell us, we’re your best friends.”
Perhaps it would be okay, telling
them, Ntombi thought. Wouldn’t
they be happy for her? If they got
to know him, they’d see what a
sweet guy he was. She didn’t stop
to think that she hadn’t got to
know him yet. It felt like she had
known him forever, although they
had only spoken a few sentences
really. “It’s Mzi,” she said looking
Asanda in the eye. “And before you
say anything, he’s not who you
think,” she added.
“Can a leopard change his spots?”
“He’s not his brother, chommies.
He didn’t do anything to Tilly –
that was his brother.”
“I suppose so,” said Asanda,
sounding unsure. “Lettie, maybe
Ntombi’s right. We should give him
a chance to prove himself.” Lettie
didn’t look happy.
“I suppose he’s invited you to the
party at Thabiso’s on Saturday?”
“Yes, he has.” Ntombi was so
relieved that she had told them.
They would all spend some time
together, and then they’d see what
Mzi was really like.
“Why don’t you come and have
your hair braided with us? We’re
going after rehearsal,” said Asanda.
“You are coming to rehearsal
“Yes” said Ntombi, “I promise. I’d
be crazy to miss it. I mean, the
audition’s next week.”
* * *
“How are the lyrics going?” It was
Mr Ntlanti. He stopped in front of
Ntombi on the way to his Grade 8
“I’ve got some ideas,” Ntombi lied.
“That’s good. I told Selwyn you
would come up with something
good.” Ntombi had a free period in
second, as their Life Sciences
teacher was absent, as usual. This
was a stroke of luck today, because
she could write down a rough
draft of the lyrics. At least she’d be
able to show Selwyn and the team
something at their first meeting.
She opened her book. There was
the blank white page with lines
just waiting for the words. But she
couldn’t think of anything, except
Mzi’s smile. It was like her brain
had turned to jelly. She had never
felt out of control before and it
was quite frightening.
Love! Surely she could write about
love? Wasn’t it what she was
feeling after all?”
He winked at me….
He held my hand, he held my heart
I knew we couldn’t be apart…
I loved the way he
Surely she could do better than
that? By the time the bell went she
had only written four lines, and
she had crossed all of them out.
She would have to tell the team
that she needed more time, and
she’d have to work on it after
At break time Ntombi couldn’t help
it. She found herself walking down
to the sports shed where she had
met Mzi the day before. She could
hear voices as she approached and
she heard a shout. On the street
outside the school grounds a car
pulled away from the curb and
sped off – a silver BMW. As she
rounded the shed she saw three
guys with their backs to her. They
were smoking, and one was
counting hundred rand notes. She
stood frozen. She should have
turned and run, then they wouldn’t
have seen her. But she couldn’t. Mzi
turned and saw her first.
She raised her fingers in a small
wave. He walked towards her fast,
gripped her by the arm and
practically pushed her back across
the tarmac. It happened so quickly
it took her breath away. “What
were you thinking?” he hissed at
her, and when she didn’t reply, he
shook her. “What were you
thinking? Why are you here?”