“That shirt looks perfect on you, chommie. And it hides your bump.”
Asanda was right – Busi could see in the mirror. “I’ll take it.”
The girls were out shopping. For once Busi had a bit of money, and it felt like the old days as they all commented on the latest fashions and tried on outfits. For a few hours she stopped worrying about everything as the girls did their bargain hunting.
“Come on,” said Ntombi. “You can wear that to Thabiso’s tavern this weekend. Some of the Matric DJs are doing a little fundraiser for the Matric dance.”
“I’m not going to the dance,” said Busi.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t come to the party,” said Asanda. “And with that shirt you’ll look as gorgeous as you usually do!”
After the shopping they sat in a fast-food restaurant, sipping milkshakes with their parcels beside them.
“Unathi will be there,” said Lettie, winking at Busi. “Come on, it’ll be fun. You need to get out.”
“Maybe,” said Busi.
“Oh no,” said Ntombi. “You will say yes, otherwise you can’t go home. And you can’t change your mind, do you understand?” She shook her finger in Busi’s face as the others laughed.
“OK,” Busi said. “I’ll come.”
Her granny was delighted to see her getting ready. “I haven’t heard you singing for such a long time, child. It’s good you’re getting out now when you can.”
Busi didn’t want to think about what those words meant right now. “I know, Gogo. And I will make sure that someone walks me home safely – you don’t need to worry.”
Her granny nodded and started to say more, but then had one of her coughing fits that always frightened Busi.
“Are you all right, Gogo?” she asked. “Should I stay at home with you?”
Eventually her granny could speak. “If you stayed home every time I coughed you would be here all the time. No, get off with you and enjoy yourself!”
The girls picked her up, their faces shining with make-up and excitement. Busi used some of Parks’s money to pay for her entrance ticket. She stopped herself from worrying about it. Tonight she was here to have fun!
It had been so long since she had gone out that she had forgotten how noisy these kinds of places were. The music blared, and the air was so smoky she felt as if she could hardly breathe. The others went to get cooldrinks.
“No alcohol for you,” said Ntombi. “You’ve got to look after that baby.”
Busi wished she hadn’t mentioned it. She didn’t even feel like drinking, and she didn’t want to be reminded why she shouldn’t.
Olwethu came up and took Ntombi, then Themba and Lettie started dancing.
Busi looked on. Where was Unathi? Then she saw his familiar, lanky figure on the dance floor. She smiled. His long arms and legs flew out when he danced. He looked a little like a wind-up toy. She was standing up to go to him when she saw Asisipho opposite him, dancing closer and closer, so that eventually they were just about touching. Busi sat down again. She noticed Asisipho’s tight shirt, hugging her curvy body as she swayed her hips. She noticed how Asisipho didn’t take her eyes of Unathi’s face.
The music slowed down, and Asisipho put her arms around Unathi’s neck. They rocked slowly together for a while. The beat got wilder, and they fell apart again.
Busi felt a burning inside her. She knew Asisipho liked Unathi. But was Unathi interested in Asisipho?
Someone came to sit next to her. It was Princess, wearing a tight, short skirt and a little vest with silver sequins. Her face was thick with make-up.
“Glad to see you found something to wear,” said Princess. “You must have had to look in the maternity section.”
Busi sighed in desperation. What was it about Princess that made her so want to hurt anyone she could?
Princess had seen her looking towards the dance floor. “Isn’t it sweet to see new love blossoming?” she said.
Ntombi and Olwethu joined them, sitting down together, laughing. “What are you saying, Princess?” asked Ntombi.
“Nothing,” said Princess. “Just that it’s nice to see that Unathi is getting himself a girl, finally.”
“What do you mean?” asked Ntombi, looking at Busi.
“Asisipho. They look so sweet together, don’t they?”
They all looked at Unathi and Asisipho still dancing together. As they watched Asisipho put her hand on Unathi’s shoulder. He bent down to her and she said something into his ear. He smiled and nodded.
Busi suddenly felt sick, and tired. How had she thought that Unathi would stay interested in a girl who had someone else’s baby inside her?
Then she saw Unathi coming over, Asisipho following him. Did they have to come and rub it in? “I need to get some air,” she said, standing up.
“Busi,” started Unathi. But she brushed past him.
“Hey,” he called after her, “aren’t you staying for my DJ set?”
She turned back to see if he looked like he wanted her to be there. But Asisipho was touching his arm again, and he was looking down at her. Busi walked away, not noticing that he had looked up again, started to follow her, and then given up. But she turned back just in time to see Asisipho pull Unathi’s face towards her to give him a kiss.
Outside in the cold air Busi felt the tears on her cheeks. What had she been thinking, coming here with all these people? This was not her life any more. And Unathi was lost to her. Unathi, who had always been there for her, was being snapped up by Asisipho. Busi had missed her chance, had lost her best friend.
She walked home quickly, ignoring the whistles from a group of drunk men at the corner. One lurched towards her and she started running, feeling frightened for the first time. She was glad she was not in high heels.
When she got home she felt sick with exhaustion. She was glad her granny was fast asleep so she didn’t have to pretend that she had had a good time.
As she was undressing her phone rang. It was Lettie.
“How could you leave like that?” she shouted. “We have all been so worried, and looking for you. You didn’t tell us you were going or anything. Only now Unathi told us he saw you leaving.”
“I’m sorry,” Busi whispered.
Lettie disconnected the call without saying goodbye.
Busi lay in bed and wept into her pillow. It had been a mistake to go to the tavern, to think that everything could be like it was before. She would not make that mistake again.
On Monday morning the chatter at school was all about the party. The girls had forgiven her for rushing away, but they stopped trying to include her in everything. She had said no too often, perhaps. None of them said anything about Unathi and Asisipho. And she was too proud to ask.