Sipho woke up to the sight of Amanda staring at him. She had a beaming smile on her face and a content look about her this morning.

“This is creepy,” Sipho said jokingly.

“I couldn’t help it,” Amanda chuckled. “Your snoring woke me up.”

“This is something serial killers do just before they slit their victim’s throat,” Sipho added, in a jesting tone.

“You are crazy!” Amanda exclaimed and hit Sipho square in the face with a pillow. The pair burst out laughing.

“I really like you, you know,” Amanda murmured. Sipho froze in shock. In his books, girls never sent shots like this. “I was just thinking about it when you were sleeping.”

“I … don’t know what to say,” Sipho faltered. He had liked the girl from the moment they had met. He smiled as he remembered it.

Sipho had been walking down the aisle of the bus, looking for an empty seat, when he noticed the girl sitting alone, right at the back. She was looking out of the window, watching strangers going about their business, getting on and off buses in the busy depot. The girl had turned and looked right back at him.

Sipho had then walked down the aisle, enduring nosy stares as he made his way to where the mysterious, beautiful girl sat by herself, now staring out of the window again. Her beautiful braids, that put Sho Madjozi’s signature rainbow hairstyle to shame, had certainly intrigued him.

This girl here is a vision of perfect gorgeousness, Sipho thought to himself.

She had turned her gaze towards him, sliding one of her headphones to the side. He’d been holding a laptop bag, and a sack full of avocados and oranges his mother had given him that morning.

Sipho’s heart had started beating faster, as if it was about to jump out of his chest. He chuckled as he remembered that he had been sure the girl could hear it beating against his rib cage. A small cloud of warm steam had escaped his mouth, like smoke, as he took in the cold air in the back of the bus. Then he mustered his courage and turned to the girl.

“It doesn’t make sense to me that such a gorgeous lady is sitting alone,” Sipho said. “Especially in a bus full of so many gentlemen.”

Amanda had looked up from her glowing phone, blushed, and flicked her colorful braids backwards, away from her face.

“Do you always lie to strangers?” she had asked.

What had followed after those words was an experience neither of them had prepared themselves for. It had been 12 spontaneous hours of sheer joy and euphoria.

It seemed like it had been in another lifetime, now that Sipho thought about it, a year later. He stared back at Amanda and stammered, “Amanda I–”.

“You don’t have to say anything,” Amanda interrupted, as she recoiled, turning away from him, as she expected the worst. She knew it, he just wanted to play around! Damn it, Amanda, she thought to herself as she expected to hear him turn her down gently. She had known it was a bad idea but she went along with it anyway.

She remembered something Aelin had said once, that there are bigger tragedies in life than unreciprocated affection. But this moment sure felt like the worst of tragedies.

“But I do have something to say,” Sipho declared. “I like you too. I have since the day I met you on that bus almost a year ago.”

Amanda looked at him in shock. She could not believe his words. She began to blush as Sipho continued speaking.

“I wan …” Sipho began. “I want you to be my girlfriend,” Sipho said as he stretched out his hand and looked her in the eye.

Amanda’s phone started to vibrate. She reached for it on the bedside table and saw the many calls she had missed. She rose abruptly and picked up her hoodie off the floor. She fixed her hair roughly and kissed Sipho on the cheek as she hurried around.

“Yes,” Amanda said as she paused at the door.

“Yes what?” probed Sipho.

“I will be your girlfriend,” Amanda stated.

Sipho beamed and was about to rush over to hug her when Amanda added. “But now I need to go find my friend before she reports me missing.”

“B … but we haven’t–” Sipho stuttered.

“I’ll see you at breakfast, boyfriend,” Amanda declared, her contagious grin making Sipho smile involuntarily. She ran out of the room, slamming the door behind her, as her boyfriend jumped around the room in excitement.

“I hope this forever lasts more than a minute,” Sipho thought to himself, as he prepared to begin his workday. His thoughts were swarming with butterflies and roses. All day he smiled randomly, not knowing why.

He would later realize that he’d been thinking of Amanda Madigage, and then he would smile even more.

*****

Tell us: What do you think lies ahead for Amanda and Sipho? What did you think of the story?