“Winter is sneaking up on us, how I miss the short-lived summer.” Thulani moaned one autumn evening when it was chillier than usual in mid-May.

“Lucky I’ve got you to keep me warm all winter hey.” Nozuko teased. She was less uptight about sex and most of the time they did cuddle and kiss. They just hadn’t gone all the way yet.

“Mmmh and I do love snuggling next to you, pity you must go home soon.”

“Who says I do?” Came a snotty reply. “Well you know what will happen if you don’t.” Thulani snuggled closer and kissed her neck.

“You better stop torturing yourself or else you’ll burst.” She moved away.

“I’ll make you burst, come here…” he jumped on her and started tickling her all over and she laughed till she cried. When he noticed the tears he stopped and laid next to her waiting for her to catch her breath. The noise was not audible to the outside because Thulani had a flat out back in his yard, a man needed privacy.

“What?” she asked when she saw him looking at her like he’s never seen her before. He did that a lot lately, like the world stopped and it was her alone. Sometimes she would catch him staring at her if they were with company and it gave her Goosebumps.

“I love hearing you laugh. It’s been a while.” He kissed her forehead and they embraced.

“I have been a little preoccupied lately, haven’t I?”

“Only a little? If I didn’t know any better I’d swear you were cooking a plan.” She kept quiet. “Are you gonna tell me or do I need to tickle it out of you?” he threatened so she told.

“It’s Nora, the girl I told you about in grade 10 at Masibambane.”

“Yes, what about her?”

“I don’t know she’s weird lately like something she’s hiding is bothering her.” She then told him how her behaviour had changed. Nora was a 16 year old girl in grade 10 at Masibambane High School, Nozie’s old school. How she was very bright but an extremely shy girl, a real introvert if Nozie had ever known one. They had met during one of P.O.W.A.s visits to their school when Nozie had accompanied a counsellor giving a presentation about speaking out. The girl was alone and she had no friends in school, when Nozie found out she befriended her. She also found out that Nora is quite a chatter box but only when she’s comfortable with a person. She enjoyed writing, reading, and she wished she had half a nerve to do public speaking. So together they had come up with a plan to start a school magazine so that Nora could write often and maybe make some friends. The idea was accepted by the school principal because Nozie had volunteered to steer the project, pro-bono. She had chosen Nora as her assistant editor and things were good. But lately she had gone back into her shell, hardly talking to Nozie and always keeping to herself. Her grades were not suffering yet so Nozie didn’t understand what was going on and it bothered her deeply. But what troubled Nozuko the most was that Nora reminded her of herself and what’s worse, she’s timid, bright and has Mazibuko as her English teacher…