“It’s not me they are going to
hurt,” she sobbed. He led her to a
chair in the corner.
“Sit down here. I’ll make you some
sweet tea.” She nodded. Suddenly
she felt safe. Safe and warm – like
she’d come home. After a few sips
of tea she started to tell Olwethu
about Zakes and Mzi, the cellphone,
her plan and her trip to Mama’s.
“Do you know how dangerous
what you did was?” Olwethu’s face
looked horror-struck. But she
“It’s going to happen tonight. We
have to tell the police.”
“And you’ll have to tell your
mother,” said Olwethu. “She has to
know now.” Ntombi got up to go.
“How are you feeling now?” he
“I’m fine,” said Ntombi. “Really, I’m
* * *
Olwethu walked her home and she
gave him a hug by the door. “Stay
inside. Don’t go out,” he told her.
“And when your mother comes
home, tell her what has happened.
I’ll come when it’s all over.”
“Okay,” said Ntombi.
“I got you this.” Olwethu handed
her a small can that fitted into the
palm of her hand.”
“What is it?”
“It’s pepper spray. I got it in town.
One spray in the eyes will buy you
time, if you are ever in trouble.”
“Thanks,” said Ntombi, slipping the
can into her pocket.
“And remember, if Mzi calls, act
normal. Promise me you won’t
leave the house?” She nodded. He
leant over, kissed her on the cheek,
and then was gone.
Ntombi went in and locked the
door. It was nearly eight o’clock
and her mother still wasn’t home.
Zinzi was watching TV. “You look a
mess,” she said to Ntombi. “Where
have you been? Out with your new
“None of your business,” said
Ntombi quickly, disappearing into
“Hey, I’m just going out to the
spaza to get some milk,” Zinzi
called after her.
“Don’t be long. It’s getting dark,”
Ntombi warned as she heard the
front door slam.
* * *
She was wiping the last traces of
make-up off her face when her
cellphone lit up with a message.
Her heart thudded in her chest – it
I nid 2 tlk 2 u.
The letters glared at her in green
on the screen. Ntombi felt cold.
What did he know? Had he found
out? Then another message came
“Promise me you won’t leave the
house,” Olwethu had said to
Ntombi. And now Mzi was outside
in his car, and she hadn’t stopped
Zinzi from going out. If she didn’t
go out to Mzi he would try to come
in, and Zinzi was out in the street
somewhere. What was the best
thing to do? She felt in her pocket
for the pepper spray.
The decision was made for her,
because at that moment Zinzi
bounced in, saying, “Your
boyfriend is in the car outside. You
better not keep him waiting. I told
him you’d be right out.”
Ntombi took a deep breath. She
would soon be performing in the
Teen Voice auditions. But tonight
she would have to give another
kind of performance – and it would
have to be the best performance of
her life. Mzi could not suspect
anything was wrong.
She checked that she had her
cellphone in her pocket before she
went out to greet him. The
cellphone was the only connection
she had now between her and
Olwethu, and she would need it.
She just prayed that her battery
wouldn’t die, and that Olwethu
had his phone switched on. They
hadn’t thought that this would
happen: that Mzi would come to
her house first. They were both
counting on the police catching Mzi
and Zakes red-handed later that
“Hey babe.” Mzi stepped out of the
car and gave her a hug and kiss.
Ntombi felt sick because she was
still attracted to Mzi, despite
everything that had happened.
How pathetic that was, she
thought. She made herself think
about the “other Mzi” – the cold,
rough, cruel Mzi who had grabbed
her by the arm, who was helping
Zakes to rob innocent people.
“Come and sit in the car with me
for a minute,” he said. Ntombi
opened the car door and got in.
She shut her eyes. This was a
“beautiful nightmare” she thought,
as he rested his hand lightly on her
thigh. “Hey, I wanted to take you
to a smart restaurant. Something
classy,” he said, “but I’ve got to
work later and I’m a bit broke.”
Lucky Mzi couldn’t read her
thoughts right now. He seemed to
think nothing was wrong. In fact
he laughed. “I need the money, if
I’m going to treat my girl right.
But,” he turned to look at her, “I’ve
got a surprise for you. I thought I’d
take you somewhere else instead.
I’ve got a couple of hours to kill,
and I can’t think of anyone I’d
rather be with right now.”
She could smell the beer on his
breath, the beer that he had drunk
at Mama’s while she sat at the next
table, listening to their plans. She
had been so close.
“Where are we going?” she asked,
and her voice sounded shaky to
her ears. She needed to keep calm.
“How’s your mother?” he asked,
instead of replying, as he weaved