“I’m excited about these two try-out contemporary dance performances Golden has set up in Emalahleni.” Siboniso is smiling and sighing, both at once. “But they mean two nights apart from you, as it’s too far for us to travel home at night.

They were just inside the entrance of the Academy building one late afternoon, about to say goodbye.
“I hope he’s booked decent accommodation for you.”

“Not too sure. Sounds like some school hostel place…shit, looks like they’re waiting for me.” Siboniso glances at the bus outside. “Lesedi—”

“I know!” She speaks with feeling. “Be brilliant…no, wait! I mean, break a leg.”

He laughs at her superstition, hugging and kissing her fiercely. Then he shoulders his backpack and jogs out to join the contemporary dance troupe on the bus.

Lesedi follows him as far as the entrance, waving as the bus pulls away. Turning to go back up to the ballet studio for the late class, she thinks she sees a familiar figure on the other side of the street. Focussing, all she sees are strangers.

She has got to stop this. Why is she letting Bheka haunt her? It’s not as if she’s missing him and regretting their break-up. She loves Siboniso with her whole heart, in a way that she never loved Bheka.

Later, after class followed by a short rehearsal for the coming performances, it feels strange to be walking to the taxi rank with only Mariel for company, no Siboniso.

“Just us two at home tonight,” she sighs when they reach Yeoville. “Zotha WhatsApped to say she’s staying over with Nails.”

Mariel gives a scream as they reach their flat door and Lesedi digs into her bag for her keys.

“God, Sedi — what’s that?”

That is lying on the worn old doormat that was here when they moved in.

“Looks like…a bundle of feathers tied together.” Lesedi speaks with revulsion and fear. “Mariel? They look like owl feathers.”

“No. How can you know?” Mariel doesn’t want to believe her.

“I’ve seen a dead owl at my grandparents’ place in Mpumalanga. A spotted eagle owl, they said it was; these feathers look the same.” Lesedi is jittery. “Mariel, someone is trying to…to ill-wish us.”

“Us, or one of us. But who? And how are we going to get rid of it? I’m not touching that.”

In the end, Lesedi manages to tilt the doormat with the toe of her shoe so that the little bundle goes slithering away from their door.

Once inside, she sinks into a chair. Into her mind comes a memory of a day before Bheka had left the Academy.
“Mariel, remember that time our class was arguing about black cats, with that one girl swearing they brought good luck, especially with money, and most of the others believing they were bad luck?”


“And didn’t you and I join in about owls being the real bringers of bad luck and even death?”

Horror is growing along with suspicion. Bheka? Can it be?

Tell us: Lesedi’s superstition is mentioned several times in this story, and now there has been this incident with the owl feathers; are you superstitious? Why, or why not?