Busi had strange, disturbing dreams that night. She dreamed that she was standing at the school gate and Parks and his wife were sitting outside in that big black car. She couldn’t move. She just watched as they held up a baby. It was hers and she heard it crying, but she couldn’t move. She couldn’t reach it. And then they were driving off.
She woke up crying. It was light outside and her phone was ringing. She saw Parks’s name on the screen. She would tell him to get out of her life, to leave her alone. It would be the last time she spoke to him. But when he answered so softly, so concerned, she wasn’t so sure any more. And she wanted an explanation. She wanted to know why?
“Why didn’t you tell me you were married, Parks?”
“Me, married? Who told you that, baby?” So he didn’t know that his wife had called her in the middle of the night. And now he was lying to her again, pretending that everything was fine.
“You are, Parks!” she said, “Your wife phoned me. Why didn’t you tell me?” There was silence on the other end. She could sense him struggling with what to say now that his secret was out.
“You never asked me, baby!” He said it so casually, she couldn’t believe it. “I love you, baby – that’s all that matters. We’ll work something out.” He tried to sound reassuring.
How could he talk of love? How could he switch so quickly to saying they’d work something out, when he had left her alone to have an abortion. There was only one thing he wanted to work out – how to get rid of her baby.
Busi heard her grandmother shuffling about in the kitchen, she heard her pouring water from the tap.
“Shall I fetch you, baby? Shall I come through now?”
“No, Parks,” she whispered.
When they had made love, he had been married. When they had taken that romantic stroll and he had given her a locket, he had been married. He had betrayed her, and his wife. She was aware of her heart slowly turning around, turning inside out, shedding every memory of the love she had had for him. She felt like a trespasser and a fraud. And it hurt so much. She had wanted to believe that their child was conceived in love. She had clung onto that. But now even that had been ripped away from her.
“I need to see you,” he said. And then he said the words that found the chink in her armour: “You owe me that. Just once more, Busi, for the child. I am the father … You owe me that.”
“Please. For all we had together … I’ll meet you in ten minutes. I’ll be waiting at the end of your road. Say yes.”
He was the father. He would always be the father. She did owe him that, she thought.
As she walked towards Parks’s taxi, she heard Unathi. She heard him shouting from the other end of the street. But she was five steps away from Parks’s taxi and she didn’t turn around.
“Remember you are strong, Busi!” Unathi shouted, as he ran down the street towards her. “You are strong!” But he was too late. The taxi took off, leaving dust in his face. Had she heard him?
Parks took Busi to the sea. But there was no picnic this time, and the sky was overcast. She wanted to huddle next to him for warmth. But she would not let herself. She would not touch him, even though she was freezing. “Womelele!” That’s what Unathi had called after her. She had heard him.
Parks sat up straight and looked out over the ocean. She followed his gaze, watching the squawking seagulls scavenging around a group of fishermen down on the rocks below.
“The baby, Busi. You can’t have the baby – not now, not this one. It will hurt her too much.”
“Hurt her? What about me, Parks?” She turned to him. “What about me?”
“You can’t have this baby, Busi. It will kill her if I have a baby with someone else.”
“You should have thought of that!” she spat.
He tried to put his arm around her. He tried to use those old, sweet, flattering words.
“You are strong, Busi!” She heard Unathi’s voice in her head.
“Busi, my darling, if I could I would leave her and marry you. Please understand that. But we can still be together. We just have to be careful. I really love you, that’s for sure.” He pulled her towards him again. She pushed him away and looked him straight in the eye.
“Uyamthanda yena?” she asked. He fumbled in the pockets of his leather jacket. “I said, do you love her?” She was shouting now.
“Ndinithanda nobabini. Really I do. We can work something out.” He lit a cigarette.
“Forget about me!” Busi said. “I’m never going to be a secret in anyone’s life, least of all yours!” She stood up.
“This will be the end of me,” he said feebly. “This will be the end of my marriage. What are we going to do? What will I do if she throws me out?”
“Can’t you live without her?” asked Busi.
But Parks wasn’t listening to her. “Can’t you go to Jozi, give the child up? I can arrange everything for you.” Then when he saw that she wasn’t necessarily going to do as he wished any more, he stood up and crushed his cigarette in the sand. “I’m fucked!” he screamed. He was striding back to the taxi. She followed him two steps behind. Suddenly she feared for herself … and the baby. “I’m nothing without my wife!” he said. “Don’t you understand that?” He punched his fist against the taxi. “She owns this bloody taxi. She owns everything!”
Busi stared at him. Is that all he could think about? Did he feel nothing for the baby? For his own baby?
“We should have used condoms, Parks. You should at least have done that, knowing you were married.”
“Shut up!” he shouted at her.
Busi was scared of him now, scared of his anger erupting at everything she said. She had to get away from him.
“Okay, Parks,” she said, “I’ll meet you to talk about it later. But I have to go to school now. I have an appointment with Mr Khumalo.”
He looked relieved, like he had won. “I’ll fetch you afterwards,” he said. “You’ll be there?”
“Yes,” she lied and he believed her.
But she knew that it wouldn’t be her waiting for him outside the school. It would be Mr Khumalo. Because now she was going to tell him everything about Parks. Yonke into.