There is this café. It has a vibrant yellow colour and a shiny yellow look. Music pours out of the open doors, along with the aroma of freshly baked carrot cake. Retro golden bulbs are dangling and waving along with the wind. It is cosy and the vibes are dreamy. The coffee, the music, and the smiles of people who are enveloped in fragments of heaven; I wouldn’t mind being here with you over and over again, I think to myself; allowing hope to step in with the leaves of my morning tea.

With relentless personality and willpower that stretched to infinity and beyond. That is how I remember Lucia. She was a powerhouse to the universe. I remember sitting in this exact space with her.

“We don’t need to fit into empty stereotypes of what a woman should be and look like!” she expressed boldly between generous gulps of coffee. “I won’t conform to someone else’s idea of what womanhood is.”

She had this way of flourishing her hands that would make her statements all the more powerful. Her opinions on feminism, politics, and the modern-day educational system — I’d take them in and ponder upon them. I finally realised how much I longed to be so much like her; that woman with her machete in hand, relentless and ready to fight for what she believed in.

I’d only ever seen her as brave, heroic Lucia, but when I saw the crimson of her blood diffuse in her milk-bath, I saw another Lucia. One I wished to meet earlier in our friendship; someone struggling to find her home after losing the only one she’d ever known. She was a writer and wrote much too much about home. That was a sign. Why did I not take notice of the bright red lights flashing right before my eyes? Now, vertical lacerations across her wrist would be her one-way ticket back home.

This bold café.

This is where she still boldly exists. Her spirit, the delicate citrus notes of her perfume, and our conversations on how we’d make ourselves so damn proud someday. This is where a chance at our togetherness, our friendship still exists; even if just for an hour or two in the morning.

“We need to go now,” my mother tells me. “We have a long trip ahead of us to Cape Town.”

She’s excited. I can tell from the way her voice rises a notch or two. She’s always been a fan of road trips. I guess even amidst the sadness that she must be feeling about my going away, she’s really looking forward to the time we’ll be spending in the car together.

A strong sense of guilt washes over me when I think about Lucia. I feel horrible for having to experience this without her. She’s always wanted Cape Town. The city lights. The vibrancy and tangible thirst of youth to make oneself into something. I feel guilty that I didn’t do all that much to save her. Part of where I’m going is greatly thanks to her, and I guess leaving all this behind, somehow feels a great betrayal of our friendship.

She told me one evening during our many sleepovers that I would make a great writer, but honestly I never really know what to write about. Choosing to attend the Cape Institute of Literature, I believe, would help me tap into that beacon that would lead me to that path of becoming a great writer.

Alright then, I whisper under carefully orchestrated breaths. Tell my city that I’m coming home.


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