It was Friday. Thandi couldn’t wait to see Thandeka the next day. She was daydreaming in class, when she heard her name. She was to go to the Principal’s office. He wanted to talk to her. Her heart skipped a beat. What could he want with her?
Mark caught her eye before she left the classroom and smiled at her. What’s with all the smiles? she thought irritably.
Thandi knew what Thandeka would say. Thandi could just hear her voice: “Watch out girl! That boy is trying to smile his way right into your pants!”
Thandi breathed deeply. Now was not the time to let Thandeka mess with her thoughts.
The Principal had a large, airy office and a big, friendly smile. He shook her hand and indicated that she sit down on one of the shiny black leather chairs. Thandi perched on the edge, her hands tightly clasped in her lap.
“Well, Thandi,” said the Principal, “I wanted to see you so that I could tell you how pleased we all are with you.”
Thandi felt herself relax.
“We all know how hard you have been working to catch up,” he continued, still smiling. “It can’t always be easy for you.”
He paused, and Thandi spoke softly, shrugging a little. “It’s okay. I mean, its fine. Good.”
Again she heard Thandeka’s voice in her head saying: “For such a big mouth you don’t have much to say for yourself these days, do you?”
Oh Thandeka, I miss you so, thought Thandi. But the Principal was talking again, saying, “Well, I’ll come straight to the point.”
Thandi felt her shoulders tensing up again.
“The Cultural trip to Spain,” said the Principal.
Oh no, thought Thandi, he’s going to say I can’t go.
“You will no doubt find raising the money a bit of a challenge?”
Thandi looked up at him. Her eyes filled with tears.
“Damn it, Thandi! Stop the crying girl!” It was Thandeka’s voice again. Thandi looked down and nodded.
“Well,” said the Principal, standing up and moving to his desk. “As it happens, a solution may have presented itself.”
He opened a drawer, took out a small box and flipped the lid, showing her its contents. A delicate gold chain with a small diamond pendant lay there, winking at her.
This time Thandi heard Thandeka’s voice so clearly that she almost thought she was in the room.
“Girl! Just check that piece of fantabulous bling!” Her voice imitated the nasal voice of the TV presenter on the music show they watched.
Thandi almost told her to ‘Shut up!’
Instead, confused, Thandi said softly, “I don’t understand.”
The Principal then explained how the school knew that she might struggle to raise the R3000. A solution had been found in the form of the pendant. Some rich parent had donated it. They could have a raffle with the pendant as a prize. If Thandi could raffle it she could raise the money she needed.
Thandi sat quite still. Again, she felt her eyes fill with tears.
Again she heard Thandeka, “Damn it! What’s wrong with you these days girl? You just got given the prettiest piece of bling you’ve ever seen. It’s true though, that a diamond like that would make anyone’s eyes water!”
“Do you think you can do that Thandi?” she heard the Principal ask. “It will involve a lot of extra effort for you.”
“You go girl!” said Thandeka, in Thandi’s head again.
“Yes,” Thandi said. “Yes, I could. Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“You need to take it to Mr Pieterse in the computer lab. I told him you would be coming. He will take a photo to scan so that you can make a poster and print raffle tickets.” He held out his hand with the pendant. Thandi hesitated.
“It won’t bite!” he laughed. “Just remember to give it back to the secretary as soon as you are finished.”
Thandi was thrilled with the way the books of raffle tickets, complete with a photo of the pendant attached, had come out. She was so thrilled in fact, that when Mark stopped her on the way back to the Principal’s office, with the pendant in the pocket of her blazer, she couldn’t resist showing him.
Mark was so pleased for her, and he smiled so broadly down at her, and looked so deeply into her eyes, that for a while Thandi forgot where she was going. To make matters worse he even put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed her quickly, up against his chest.
Thandi was just thinking how amazingly good he smelt, when the bell rang for the end of school. She pulled away from him, muttering about getting her bag from the classroom. She ran off, fetched her bag and walked very briskly down the hill.
Thandi couldn’t stop thinking about Mark all the way home in the taxi, nearly missing her stop.
It was only once she had opened the door of her home, shed her bag and was taking off her blazer, that she felt the small, closed box in her pocket. The pendant!
Thandi flopped down in a chair, clutching it between her fingers. Oh no! She had forgotten to take it back to the Principal’s secretary.
Thandi thought for a moment. She could rush out and catch a taxi back to school – but it was Friday. By the time she got back to school, the office would be shut. Shut for the whole weekend.
What do you think? What should Thandi do after finding the pendant in her pocket?