It was after ten that night when he tapped on her window. “Parks, what are you doing here?” she whispered sleepily.
“We must talk,” he said. “Come, come with me.” Quickly she pulled her tracksuit on over her pyjamas and crept out past her sleeping granny into the cold night. He was standing hunched up, smoking a cigarette. “Quick, baby – get in my taxi.” It was warm inside the taxi. He gave her a quick hug, but he was distracted and on edge.
“Parks, you said you’d see me later. But you never said when. I thought …”
“And here I am. Would I forget about you? Never.” He started the engine and drove left, then right and right again. They were heading away from the township towards the freeway. She recognised his route – they had taken it many times.
“I can’t believe I’m pregnant,” she whispered.
“I know, baby, I know. Don’t worry, I’m here.” He took her hand and squeezed it. And suddenly she felt safe. It was going to be all right. In that moment she wanted the baby so badly. It would be hers and Parks’s.
“What are we going to do?” she asked, staring out of the window into the dark. Lights flashed past.
“I’ll take care of you, baby, don’t worry. I promise.”
“Will we get married? If my granny meets you and you tell her you want to marry me, she may feel better. She feels responsible, you know, like she’s let my mother down …”
He laughed. “You’re too young to be married.”
“But I’m not too young to be a mother …”
“You are too young …”
“I told you not to worry – I’ll take care of it …”
They drove to Muizenberg, where he had to meet someone to talk about a business venture. While they waited in a pub outside the station, he downed a beer and she ordered a plate of hot chips and a Coke. The man he had arranged to meet arrived with a cigarette in a cigarette holder and a rasping voice. “Cash up front … cash up front …,” was all that Busi heard.
Eventually the man left. Parks turned to her and smiled, “Are you still hungry?” She shook her head. “We should have used condoms,” he sighed.
“It’s too late now,” Busi said. How could he be so casual? Now he was saying they should have used condoms. What about then, when it had been “Don’t worry – I know what I’m doing”. She felt her heart clench tightly inside her.
“Never mind – I’ll take care of you,” he said crushing out his cigarette in his polystyrene coffee cup. It made a hissing sound. It was late and the manager approached them, saying he wanted to close the place.
He would take care of her. It would be all right. At least they would be together.
Parks held her hand as they drove back along the sea. “I love you, baby – please trust me. I want you to be happy and successful.” His voice was a little slurred and she realised that he had drunk too much while they were waiting in the café. “I’m taking you to the doctor in the morning,” he said.
“I’ve been to the clinic already,” Busi told him.
“My granny took me. You weren’t there. I tried to call when the test said I was pregnant. They took an HIV test too.”
“It was negative.”
“You see? I told you I was fine,” said Parks.
“They told me I have to have another test after three months. They said sometimes the HIV doesn’t show so early, Parks. They said I must go back to talk about what to do with the baby.”
“You don’t need to see a counsellor, baby. Parks knows best. I’ll give you the best advice.”
Maybe he was right? He was the father after all. It wasn’t just her baby, she thought.
The wind came up and blew white sea sand over the road, so the tar wasn’t visible any more. Fine sand stung at the windows. He changed gear, but still the car swerved across the road. Busi was scared.
She was grateful to finally reach her house. “Can I come in?” he asked. He must be crazy, she thought, or drunk.
“Shh!” Busi whispered. “No, no, you can’t. You’ll wake my granny.”
“I thought she wanted to meet me.”
“Not now! Now go, go!”
She lay still on her bed and listened to his car pulling off into the night, tyres screeching.