“Oh my baby, going on her first date!” my mother said, tweaking my cheek. “You look so beautiful. Tell me about this Michael fellow.”

“He’s a good guy. Quite smart, usually the top in our class. Plays chess. Likes to read.”

“He seems like the perfect guy for you.”

“Just about,” I said. I was trying to be excited about the date. It was true, Michael was great. He liked the things I liked, he was cute. Not as tall as Matlho but tall enough. Friendly, though a bit shy, like me that way.

I was surprised that I was excited about the date. I had thought I had only agreed to it to please Matlho.

Matlho had borrowed his mother’s car and was to collect everyone. We were going to dinner and then a movie. A real date. I saw the car pull up outside the house. “Okay Ma, they’re here. I’m going!”

My mother rushed into the room. “No! Let them come in. I want to meet this Michael.”

I opened the door and Kaya, Matlho and Michael were already halfway up the garden path. I ran out to them. “Hi guys.”

Matlho smiled. “You look beautiful.”

“Thanks.” I noticed Michael at the back, looking awkward. I took his hand. “Hi Michael. My mother wants to meet you, if you don’t mind.”

We went into the house. Michael chatted with my mother politely. Kaya and Matlho stood to the side. Matlho kept looking at me. I had my long dreads piled up on my head, not the way I usually wore them. My mother had helped with my make-up: she’s better at it than me.

Kaya whispered in my ear, “You look so beautiful, baby.”

* * * * *

At dinner it was difficult to keep the conversation going. Matlho was behaving oddly, and Michael was very shy. We talked a bit about chess, about how difficult the English Lit exam had been. Kaya teased us about being brainiacs. I felt sorry for Michael − I wanted him to relax.

When Kaya and Matlho went to sort out the bill, I leaned forward and kissed Michael on the cheek. “I hope you’re having a good time,” I said.

“I am,” he smiled. “I really like you, Dineo. I have for a long time.”

He kissed me on the lips just as Matlho and Kaya came back to the table. “Whoa, Michael, moving kind of fast don’t you think?” Matlho said.

“Leave him alone,” Kaya laughed, thinking Matlho was teasing, but there was something about Matlho’s face that said he wasn’t.

At the cinema, Matlho and Kaya couldn’t agree on which film to see. They fought about it, but Matlho finally gave in reluctantly. Inside, again Matlho made a fuss about how people should sit. He wanted to sit next to me.

“What is wrong with you?” I asked quietly once we had sat down.

“Nothing!” he hissed, as the opening credits rolled. Then: “You seem to really like Michael all of a sudden.”

“Aren’t you the one who set this up?” I whispered back.

He turned away.

After the movie he dropped everyone off. Since our houses were near to each other, I was the last one in the car. He stopped in front of my house. “What was going on tonight?” he asked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Were you trying to make me jealous or what?”

“Jealous? What does that even mean? I’m trying to move on with my life. You were the one who said I needed to start dating. I guess you didn’t want the obligation of me when you now had Kaya!” I was getting angry.

“Obligation? You will never be an obligation to me.”

“Then what is it, Matlho?”

“I don’t know.” He shook his head as if to knock things back into place. “I don’t know why I behaved like that. I’m sorry.”

I got out of the car and went inside.


Tell us what you think: What is going on with Matlho?