“Hey babe,” Kaya greeted me. She was dressed in orange from head to toe. I sat down next to her on the green grass in the park. “Weird energy last night, eh?”

“Yeah, sorry. I don’t know what was going on with Matlho.”

“But you seemed to be hitting it off with Michael. That was good.”

“I think so. He called me this morning. He wanted to know if I’d come to some family thing they’re having tomorrow. I said yes. He’s sweet.”

“Yeah, he is.” Kaya looked out over the park where an old lady walked a tiny dog on a leash. “But you don’t think there was something else going on last night.”

“Something else like what?”

“I got the feeling Matlho was jealous − jealous of you and Michael.”

“No, I don’t think so.” Kaya looked at me closely. We both knew I wasn’t being completely honest. I explained, “We’re both getting used to a new way of seeing each other. It’s just some growing pains I think.”

“I hope so,” Kaya said. “You two need to be honest if things are not right. I really like Matlho, I won’t lie. But if you two have issues you need to sort them out. I’m your friend, remember that.”

I sat quietly. I didn’t know how to be a good friend to Kaya. It was all confusing. I had always understood Matlho: he was my safe place. But suddenly I understood nothing and nowhere was safe. How could I be honest about anything when I didn’t know what the truth was? “Kaya, when I understand everything, I’ll tell you − I promise.”

* * * * *

That night I stayed in, even though it was Saturday. I watched some TV with my mother then went to bed. I was just falling asleep when I heard a knock at my window. I pushed the curtain aside and there was Matlho. We used to do this a lot when we were kids: sneak over to each other’s houses in the night when we were meant to be asleep. I smiled at him, remembering those night-time adventures. He’d bring a torch and we’d go searching for ghosts or collecting frogs. Later we’d slip back into our beds, feet muddy, pyjama hems wet.

I opened the window. “What are you doing here?”

Matlho held up a torch. “I thought we might go lion hunting.”

I slipped on my jeans and jersey and climbed out the window. He grabbed my hand and we ran across the garden to the gate and out onto the road. We headed for the park down the road. At the swings he said, “Get on.”

I climbed on and he pushed me high, and then even higher. I watched my feet fly to the stars. Then he got on the other swing. Pumping his legs hard, he was soon swinging even with me.

“Does everything suddenly seem confusing to you?” he asked.

“Yeah, it does.”

“What is it? What’s going on between us?”

“I don’t know. I guess we’re growing. Maybe we’re growing a bit apart. It was bound to happen.”

We let our swings slow down. Soon they came to a stop. I twisted mine so I was facing him. “Matlho, I don’t know what all of this is. It scares me. But I know one thing, you’re important to me. I can’t not have you in my life. I don’t know that kind of life. I don’t want to.”

“Me neither. You know, when this thing started with Kaya, I didn’t think it had anything to do with us. But it does, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, it does.”

He got off his swing and came to me. He took my hands and pulled me to my feet. The moon came from behind a cloud and suddenly his face was bright and clear. His eyes were full of tears unshed.

“I think we need to get home,” he said.


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