When she woke up the next morning, Khosi could hardly believe that she had agreed to be a part of Sbu’s plan. As she got dressed she decided that she would find Sbu after work and tell him that she had made a big mistake. That she wanted nothing to do with him or his crazy plan.

Everything made her angry, not just Sbu: Nhlanhla with her jealous words, her home that seemed so small and crowded; the dusty street littered with rubbish, the broken swings, her mother, her job, this small nowhere town. They all made her angry.

But right now, most of all, Sbu made her angry, with his tempting words, his beautiful clothes and his charming ways.

If I could just get away from all of it, thought Khosi, as she got ready for work. If I could just have a chance to be the person I’m meant to be…

Khosi was working the late shift that day. When she arrived at the restaurant, she went and stood in the doorway of the kitchen.

“Hi,” Bongani smiled at her. He picked up a large knife and began chopping a pile of onions.

“Wow!” said Khosi, moving closer. The knife in Bongani’s hand flashed skilfully and accurately, slicing incredibly quickly through the glossy white flesh of the onions.

“You have impressive knife skills,” said Khosi.

“It’s an important part of the job,” said Bongani, pausing and winking at her, before beginning on a fresh pile. “At the moment I seem to spend my life chopping piles of vegetables,” he laughed, “but it won’t always be like this.”

Bongani pushed the sliced onions away across the metal tabletop, using the blade of the knife. He swung the knife through the air, and said: “I have plans to conquer the world.” Then he smiled, and added, “But for now, how about joining me for a drink after work?”

“OK,” Khosi found herself saying, grateful to have a reason to not meet with Sbu.

“Great,” said Bongani. Khosi stepped back as the large blade flashed in his hand.

Bongani laughed. “Sorry to scare you, Khosi,” he said as he lined up a row of blood red tomatoes, and began slicing into their soft, red flesh. “Don’t look so scared. The only damage I’ll ever do with a knife is to these pretty little tomatoes,” and Bongani gave Khosi a playfully wicked grin.

As Khosi wiped the tables down she started worrying about Sbu. She had never meant to say that she would help him rob the restaurant. People would get hurt, she was sure of it. What if Bongani got hurt? But the thought of telling Sbu that she wanted out scared her − a lot. It had never been easy to say ‘No’ to Sbu.

What if he wouldn’t accept it? What if he decided to do it anyway?

* * * * *

It was late when Bongani and Khosi strolled across the road to a nearby club after their shift at the restaurant was over. The club was empty, apart from a few figures slumped over their drinks at the bar.

“Don’t you just hate this town?” said Khosi, sitting down with a cold Coke.

Bongani shrugged. “It’s just a place I’m passing through,” he said, sipping on his foamy beer. “This isn’t my destination. It’s only part of the journey.”

Khosi sighed. “I want my journey to begin,” she said, taking a long sip of her cola, “but I seem to be stuck in a dead end.”

“No,” said Bongani firmly, leaning back in his chair. “It’s only a dead end if you think about it like that, girl. To me everything is an opportunity. To me,” he added, still smiling, “nothing is ever a problem. I’m a solutions man.”

Bongani stretched his arm across the back of the soft leather couch. Khosi was very aware that if she leant back, just a tiny bit, his arm would be around her. She just wasn’t quite brave enough. They finished their drinks and crossed the street together to catch the last taxi home.

In the taxi, Bongani sat up close beside Khosi, and Khosi looked out onto the dark street. She liked having him close like this. It made her feel safe. And he made her laugh and forget her troubles.

But right now, there was her trouble − out on the street. She recognised Sbu when he looked up, and her heart beat faster. He was standing in a shop doorway with a group of guys all wearing hoodies.

“Sbu?” she said out loud, and turned in her seat to look back. The taxi drove on. She felt Bongani tense beside her.

“What does he want?”

But Khosi shook her head. “I made a mistake. It wasn’t him,” she whispered. But she hadn’t mistaken that face and the way he looked up just at the moment when the taxi passed.

Lying in her bed later Khosi struggled to fall asleep.

They were planning the robbery. She was sure of it. They were checking out the restaurant.

Khosi sat up in bed. It was past midnight, but she reached for her cellphone and SMSed:

4get me
& 4get ur plan

When she had sent it, she closed her eyes and tried not to think about Sbu anymore. The only way to drive him out of her thoughts was to think about Bongani. Finally she fell asleep.