When the police finally came they wrote down what was missing. Some food, a fair amount of cash, and the pendant, which probably cost more than the contents of their entire home!

When the police van roared off Nomsa turned to Thandi.

“Why don’t you spend the night with Thandeka? Mrs Soci will come to help me clean up here. You need to be with a friend right now. Take you school things and leave from there tomorrow. I will be alright.”

As soon as Thandi was gone Nomsa knew what she had to do, and it was something she had to do on her own.

Mrs Soci arrived and Nomsa asked her to watch Avile for her.

Now Nomsa was relying on her instincts. And her instincts told her that it was Themba who had robbed them. Her instincts also told her that Themba would still be sound asleep. It was Sunday afternoon.

She also knew that he would probably be in a heavy, drunken sleep, having spent all the stolen money at his shebeen while they were at church.

What a fool I was, she thought to herself. He would never have changed in a million years.

Nomsa made her way to an old, tumble-down shack in the backyard of the shebeen. It was still early, and the shebeen would not be open for a while yet.

Nomsa moved quickly and silently, clutching the smallest and sharpest knife they had, deep in the pocket of her jacket.

No one was around. Even the scrawny, snapping dog that sometimes hung out in the yard was, to her relief, nowhere to be seen. Out scrounging for a bone, she thought gratefully.

Nomsa had been there only once before. That was before Avile, when Themba had persuaded her to join him at the shebeen. She didn’t like shebeens and they had fought about it.

That night had ended for her out here in this room, with Themba hurriedly stripping her, and having rough and drunken sex with her. The memory just made Nomsa even angrier.

Nomsa paused at the door of the shack. Loud and gurgling snores emanated from inside the room. Nomsa pushed gently. As she expected, the door was open.

Nomsa’s heart was racing, and the snores continued. She pushed again, and the door swung open, creaking on its rusty hinges.

There lay Themba, spread out on his stomach on the bed. He was fully clothed, with his arm flung off the edge of the bed.

Nomsa took a step into the room. The wood creaked. Themba snored on.

Nomsa quickly took in the room: the plate of half-eaten food on the table, the numerous big brown empty beer bottles lying around the floor. She saw the backpack dropped in the corner, the zip undone. She moved towards it.

Nomsa had to pass Themba’s sleeping body. She moved on tiptoe.

As Nomsa dug into the rucksack, she kept listening for Themba’s deep breathing. Every time he grunted, she stopped; when he snorted, she continued.

There it was – a small blue box at the bottom of the bag.

She pulled it out and opened it. The pendant winked at her. Nomsa smiled and slipped the box into her pocket with the knife.

She stood up and turned, stepping hurriedly towards the door. Too hurriedly! The toe of her shoe just touched the tip of one of the big brown beer bottles and it began rolling, clanking against other bottles.

Nomsa panicked, tripped over more bottles and sent the whole lot crashing and shattering behind her as she ran.

Themba roared as he woke up. Nomsa heard him, turning to briefly see him rising from his bed as she ran. He was after her, but she was out of his room at least, out in the open. She felt for the knife in her pocket and pulled it out. As she did so out fell the small pendant box, to land in the mud at her feet.

There was no one around. Themba caught her with one wild leap from his door. Nomsa fell to the ground, and then managed to slither away a little, across the muddy yard.

Nomsa screamed as hard as she could, and kicked and hit, but Themba was so much stronger than her. He got her from behind and lifted her off her feet. He ripped the knife out of her hand, slashing his own hand and her forehead as he did so, and some of his blood spattered over her.

Nomsa kept screaming, kept kicking, kept clawing at him as Themba dragged her, fighting every step of the way, back towards his room.


What do you think? What is going to happen to Nomsa? Was she foolish or brave to have gone to Themba on her own?