So Busi was in trouble – that’s what everyone thought. Her friends had warned her, had grown tired of covering for her. There was not much they could do or say to save her any more. But Busi didn’t care. The love bug had bitten her and Parks was all she could think about. When she thought of him it made her pulse race. The next day she missed school, and the next. It was a joke between them – how she left the house every day dressed for school, her hair tied up and her books in her school bag. Her granny would call after her, “Your lunch, child, you’ve forgotten your lunch!”
She didn’t need the lunch, but she would run back and take it from her grandmother’s trembling hands. She’d give her a peck on her hollow cheeks to show her gratitude. And she’d give the lunch to some hungry child along the way. These days she feasted regularly on the most expensive KFC on the menu, or Steers burgers with extra cheese that she downed with a lime milkshake – double thick, of course. And every Friday, as a special treat, she and Parks would try out a new fancy restaurant. Money was no consideration at all.
“Order what you want,” Parks would say to her. And it didn’t end there. He was generous. “And get yourself more airtime.” Life was so good. She had almost forgotten how alone she had felt at the hotel. But at night in her bed darker thoughts would creep back in and she would feel lost and lonely. And sometimes, just as she was going to sleep, she would see the woman’s face staring at her from the window of that smart black car.
“Busi, is that you?” her grandmother called from the back yard as Busi came in from another lunch with Parks. She had changed back into her school clothes in his taxi.
“Yes,” she called, as she pulled off her grey skirt and white shirt. Should she wear the new dress he had bought her to the dance? The dance!
In the taxi on the way home she had plucked up the courage to ask Parks. It had taken guts. What if he said no? What if he didn’t want to hang out with schoolgirls and schoolboys?
“Parks, there’s a school dance on Friday and I’ve told my friends you’re coming,” she said as they approached her street. Silence. Then he laughed and she could breathe again.
“So, you’ve been telling your friends all about me.”
“Well, I’m so proud and happy to be with you. And you’re so good to me. I wanted them all to know.”
“Of course I’ll come to your dance. Friday, you say? Just SMS me the address. I’ll meet you there. I’m sure you’ll want to go along with your friends. I know you girls – you like to get ready together.”
“Are you sure? That’s so kind of you, Parks. I knew you’d understand. I’ll see you there,” she’d said, and kissed him goodbye.
“Sure thing,” he replied, winking at her.