Oh God, thought Ntombi, then said,
“Of course. Here it is.”
“Thanks, babe. I mean your
girlfriends aren’t going to call in
the next five minutes, are they?
And if they do I’ll tell them you are
unavailable for gossip right now.
But you’ll have lots to tell them
later.” He smiled.
She had to go; Mzi was already
asking the shebeen owner if his
girl could use the toilet, and the
owner handed her a key. “I’m
afraid it’s a walk,” he said. “It’s
round the corner at the far end of
“Hurry back,” called Mzi. “We don’t
want to miss the sunset.”
Ntombi was all alone. She crossed
the yard and opened the door to a
shabby-looking toilet. It was dirty
inside and there was no toilet
paper. What was she going to do?
She prayed that no message would
flash up on her screen when Mzi
had her phone, or worse, that
Olwethu would phone. When she
got back, she handed the owner
the key. Mzi was already waiting in
the car, and he had opened two
beers, and was drinking his. As she
sat down next to him, she could
sense something had happened.
“You got a message,” he said as he
started the car and swung out into
the road. They were definitely
heading for the river. Ntombi
recognised the trees they were
approaching. She put the phone in
“Aren’t you going to read it?” he
asked – his voice had gone cold.
Reluctantly she took the phone
out. Please don’t let it be Olwethu,
she thought. But it was from
Hw wz da foto shut? I bet u lukd
cool in da long black wig, ur mom’s
red dress and stilettos – wats it lyk
2 b a movie star?
Mzi had read it, she knew by his
voice. But would he make the
connection to the girl in Mama’s
Mzi had turned off the road and
they were bumping down the dirt
track between the trees. “I didn’t
want us to miss the sunset,” he
said. Ntombi looked at the red ball
sinking below the horizon, and all
she could think of was that it
would be dark soon. She would be
alone with Mzi in the dark and
there was no way she could text
Olwethu now. Mzi parked the car
and they got out. “Here, come sit
with me.” He took her hand and
helped her up onto the bonnet. He
was acting like nothing was
wrong. “Cheers.” She took the
bottle and clinked it against his.
“To your photo shoot,” he said. ”I
thought you would have told me
about such a big thing in your life?
Why so secretive?” he asked. So he
had read Asanda’s SMS.
“You know how it is,” said Ntombi
slowly. She had to stay calm, and
think fast. “I don’t know what will
happen yet. The music producers
might not like the photos. I didn’t
want to jump the gun.”
“And you wore a black wig?” His
hand was stroking her hair.
“They wanted different looks. Like
natural, and then something
different, so I borrowed Asanda’s
wig.” She took a sip of beer. She
needed to get him off the subject
fast. He was on his second beer,
and she wasn’t sure how many he
had had earlier. Suddenly he pulled
her towards him and started
kissing her. She tried to respond,
but her body was tense.
“What is it this time?” he asked. “I
thought we’d got through that?
I’m only trying to kiss you – am I
that bad? Or is it your music
producer you’ve got eyes for now?
Am I not good enough for you?”
“No,” Ntombi shook her head. “I’m
sorry, I just – it’s just nerves. You
know, waiting to hear whether
they like the photos or not. It’s put
me all on edge.”
“Well, I’m glad that’s all. I thought
it was me.” Mzi laughed, but
Ntombi knew the laugh was false.
She leant into him. It took all her
strength to kiss him on the cheek.
He was staring ahead of him. The
sun had gone down and it was
dusk. Soon it would be pitch black.
“You know, a funny thing
happened to me early this
evening…and then when I read
your message from Asanda, well, it
made me think. Before I came to
your house I was at Mama’s. There
was a woman there. She had long
black hair and was wearing a red
dress and stilettos – she wasn’t
very friendly. In fact she didn’t give
my friend, Zakes, the time of day
when he asked for a light. I
wondered why she looked so
Ntombi waited, holding her breath.
She put her hand in her pocket and
felt the pepper spray she had
brought with her. But would it be
enough? Would it just make him
angrier? And there was nowhere
she could run to out here. Then she
saw his car keys lying on the
bonnet between them, and she
knew what she had to do. She slid
her hand over and made a tight
fist around the keys.
“I don’t know what you are talking
about,” she said, trying to sound
light-hearted as she slipped the
keys in her pocket. Her hands were
shaking. “Anyway, you said you
didn’t know Zakes.”
Mzi gave a laugh. “Thought I’d get
to know your family,” he said. “But
back to that girl,” he said
threateningly. Ntombi’s mind was
racing. She needed to get him
away from the car.