“Hey babe, there you are,” he said.
“I’ve been looking for you
everywhere.” Ntombi’s eyes flicked
between the girl and Mzi.
“Meet Thumi. Isn’t she cute? She’s
Vusi’s younger sister. I was just
telling her about you.” Thumi
looked like the cat that got the
cream as she smiled at Ntombi, all
“I need some air,” said Ntombi,
feeling faint again. “I’m going
* * *
Ntombi pushed forward through
the crowd. She didn’t know
whether Mzi was following her.
She didn’t want to turn around;
she just wanted to keep moving
forward. When she was outside in
the dark she felt a hand on her
upper arm, gripping her so hard
that it hurt. Mzi spun her around.
He was angry and drunk and they
were all alone out here in the
parking lot. She leant against the
car behind her, to steady herself.
“What was that?” He spat the
words out. She looked at him
unable to speak. He shook her. “I
said,” he hissed between gritted
teeth, “what was that in there? If
you are going to behave like a
jealous girlfriend…” His face was
close against hers and she could
smell the beer on his breath. The
other, sweet, charming Mzi was
gone, and this violent stranger had
taken his place. Then he stood
back, like he was trying to
compose himself. He slammed his
fist into his palm.
“Mzi?” she said. She could see he
was trying to control himself.
“Just give me a minute,” he said,
taking a breath and walking away
from her. She stood there
shivering. Then he turned to face
her again. “I’m going inside to get
you a drink. I want you to wait out
here for a few minutes. Give me
some time to cool off. When you
come back in, we’ll pretend this
never happened. Understood?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Good.” Then he came up and
hugged her. “You have no reason
to be jealous.” He tilted her head
up with his finger in a gentle
gesture. The scary Mzi was gone.
“Thumi is just a friend. And she’s
got a boyfriend. In fact they are
probably dancing in each other’s
arms right now. She’s been going
through a rough time and I was
just trying to cheer her up and
make her feel good again. That’s
Then he was gone. Ntombi felt
bad. She hadbeen rude to Thumi –
she hadn’t even greeted her. And
after Priscilla, perhaps she had
mistaken Thumi’s smile. Perhaps
she really was trying to be friendly,
and she wasn’t after Mzi. This was
so complicated – and it had got
complicated so fast. Love wasn’t
meant to be like this with all this
insecurity and jealousy. Why
couldn’t it be like the words of
those songs where it’s all happy
ever after, always.