“Again I must congratulate you on a job well done. You truly have a natural flair for writing and public speaking; you will go far with a little guidance.” He said leaning closer to her, his hand rubbing her arm. “Now I’m always here if you need anything, day or night.”

The last sentence was a whisper that made Nozie nauseous and uncomfortable. She stepped back and looked around in hopes that somebody was looking but nobody was insight.

“Thank you Sir. I will keep that in mind, “ she managed, just so she doesn’t throw up in his face.

“I have some grade 7 papers to mark and I’m a little behind, will you help me with them, say tomorrow afternoon? Two great minds will be faster than one. What do you say?”

Now he was very close. She could feel his breath on her face and the bile was rising in her stomach.

“Sure Sir. I’ll just let my parents know. See you then.”

She quickly dashed out of the class and ran as fast as her legs could carry her. Her mind was racing; her pulse had accelerated to blood boiling. Did it really happen or was it her creative imagination? He had come on to her and now she didn’t know what to think. She just ran.

“Whoa, where’s the fire babe?” Thulani was at the gate waiting for her like he always did.

“Oh nothing, I was just trying to catch you coz I thought you left,” she lied.

“Would I ever leave you? I would follow you to the ends of the earth and back, you know that right?”

He meant it. They have known each other since grade 4 when they were in the same class. Thulani had made a brave declaration in front of the whole grade 4 class and said he wanted to be Nozie’s husband when he grew up. That day he had caught her eye and attention and over the years he won her heart. He knew everything about her, her dreams and visions he supported and her values and principles he respected. As hard as it was for a teenage boy whose hormones were ranging wild to stay committed to a girl who wasn’t putting it up, he never thought twice about being with anybody other than Nozie. He loved everything about her and he knew she loved him back.

“You really did great today, made me proud. You’ll make one hot lawyer Ms Dlamini.”

“You did great too. I learnt more about Sir Isaac Newton than I would’ve read on any book. Insightful presentation babe, you’ll make one good looking Physicist Mr Majeke.”

“I know I worked hard on it. English is not my favourite subject. Give me numbers and I will show you magic,” Thulani said.

They both laughed as they reflected on how different they were but they got on like a house on fire.

“So, when would you like to start working on the poem Juliet?”

“We could start this afternoon. Tomorrow I’m helping Mr M to grade his papers in the afternoon. Do you want to join us? Three great minds will be faster than two.”

She was hoping he’ll say yes so she won’t have to deal with him alone.

“Eish, I can’t my angel. I promised my dad we’ll work on the car before the party. Shall I pick you up at Mr M’s house?”

He didn’t notice that her countenance had changed. She was worried to be alone with Mr Mazibuko after the incident in class earlier. She wanted to tell Thulani but she was afraid of sounding ridiculous so she kept quiet and just nodded her head in reply.

They walked hand in hand together in silence. She was thinking about what had just happened, what had got over her teacher. The man she respected and thought highly of, a family man. Maybe he was ill; maybe it was early mid-life crisis; his wife had passed on five years ago so maybe loneliness had got to him. They couldn’t have seen the car that was cruising slowly behind them, watching them from a block away, and watching her as she walked with her boyfriend. They couldn’t have known the man driving was silently cursing Thulani for being with her and promising himself that he will get her very soon.