“Sharp-sharp, Daniel! Can you believe it, dude? It’s the best news in a million years!”
Tshepo was so excited that he nearly tripped and fell down the steep hill path. His eyes shone.
“I saw it there, Daniel. There in the purple flames!”
“Saw what, Tshepo?” I was struggling to breathe, struggling to speak. There was a huge and terrible weight on my chest. I looked back up towards the sangoma’s hut. The fire was out now. Just a smouldering pile of ashes. But inside my head, it felt like the fire raged on. The old woman had disappeared.
I should never have come. I should have let my friend investigate his future alone. What a fool I was, meddling with things I didn’t even believe in!
“Concentrate, Daniel Dlamini! Why aren’t you listening? Me – driving a Range Rover, that’s what! Top-of-the-range, red Range Rover! With music blasting out of all the speakers! And there beside me… you know who was sitting there?”
“Lola, that’s who. You know, that top model? Yeah and she was smiling at me like I was the answer to her dreams. And with her hand on my arm! How lucky am I?”
We reached the bus stop and still Tshepo didn’t stop. “What a future! Hey, I hope it’s gonna start soon! Goodbye, poor boy’s life!”
On the bus, halfway home, he finally asked: “And you, Daniel? Did you see anything in the flames?”
“No,” I lied.
“Serves you right. You should have paid the old woman! Well, it’s your loss.”
I stared out at the passing fields. I tried to get my own terrible vision from the flames out of my head. But it was stuck there: more horrifying than my worst nightmares.
“It’s all nonsense,” I told Tshepo. “Totally unscientific. No-one can know the future.”
“It’s all nonsense,” I told myself. “We make our own futures.” It didn’t help.
I went to Joy’s house. Her mother said, “You shouldn’t disturb her, Daniel. Her finals start on Monday.” But I needed to hold Joy close in my arms.
“What’s wrong, Daniel?” Joy asked. “You are so tense. What happened?”
“Nothing,” I lied again. I looked down at her lovely face, down into her bright eyes. No! That vision could never come true! Impossible! This was the love of my life, my soulmate!
I said, “Tshepo got his future foretold. And guess what his future is. A Range Rover! Imagine!”
Joy laughed with me. “A Range Rover? That poor guy barely has money for taxi fares!”
“True! He’s got no chance.”
“I hope you didn’t join your silly friend, Daniel. You know how I feel about fortune-telling and stuff like that.”
Then she pushed me out of the house. “Off you go. I’m still busy. I need good results so our future can start, right?”
But all that night, the vision haunted me. It stopped me sleeping: that terrible scene that had played itself out deep inside the eerie purple flames. That night, and many nights after.
My boss asked me if I was losing my edge.
Tell us what you think: What did Daniel see in the flames?