Khosi moved amongst the tables on the restaurant patio, changing dirty tablecloths and emptying ashtrays. It was the first thing she did on her shift. She had been working at The Beach House restaurant for the last six months. Today she just didn’t feel in the mood for work. Mind you, she never did. To her this job was something to pass the time until she could move away from this small town and follow her dreams.
Just then her cellphone beeped with an SMS:
Nid 2 meet
Gt Sumting 2 tell u
Khosi sighed. Why wouldn’t Sbu leave her alone? It’s not like they were together anymore. Sbu had always been unable to be faithful to her. But he had never really accepted that it was over, even though she had broken up with him over a year ago. And here he was, SMSing her with what would probably be another of his crazy get-rich-quick schemes.
and pressed SEND.
There was no way she could avoid Sbu, even if she wanted to. He lived in the same street as her. They had grown up together. In some ways they were still connected. Sbu had been her first real boyfriend, and people say that a girl never forgets her first time.
Khosi straightened the place settings, picked up a silver spoon and polished it until she could see her face shining in it, upside down and pouting at her. Khosi smiled, and the strange fish-eye face in the spoon smiled back.
“What are you smiling at?”
Khosi turned. Bongani’s shift had started and he was standing in the restaurant entrance, smiling that sexy, slow smile that always made her dizzy.
“Wishing you’d been born with one of those in your mouth?” he said, pointing at the silver spoon.
“What?” said Khosi, flustered, then, “Don’t we all?”
If being ‘born with a silver spoon in your mouth’ meant having a lot of money, then those spoons had been a long way from her mouth when she was born.
Bongani stepped out to join her on the restaurant patio. He looked so good in his trainee chef’s apron and cap. His crisp white button-up shirt was neatly ironed, as were his blue-and-white checked trousers. He wore a long white apron, tied twice around his waist, and his black shoes were polished. He looked the part – like he belonged in this restaurant in this small tourist town. Not like her. She had never felt she belonged here.
“I’m just shining spoons for other people to use, as usual,” said Khosi.
She looked back into the restaurant. The floor manager was on her back the whole time, making sure they got their money’s worth. It was slave labour, thought Khosi.
“Hey, there you go again,” said Bongani, with a laugh, as a large truck came rumbling along the main road in front of them.
Khosi looked up. The long metal sides of the trailer were covered with a huge photograph of a young girl sitting on a large leather couch. That little black girl, with two curly bunches of hair sticking out on each side of her head, was Khosi.
Everyone in Pebble Beach knew it was her.
Years ago Khosi had won a competition run by Hammonds Furniture Emporium. The prize had been to be their ‘cover girl’ and have her picture plastered over the sides of the truck. She was eight in the picture. She was eighteen now.
“I wish they would change that picture,” said Khosi frowning. “I’m sick of it.”
“You’re still just as cute,” said Bongani, touching her cheek, before the manager called him to come back to the kitchen. “See you later.”
One thing was for sure, thought Khosi. That eight-year-old girl on the side of the furniture truck had travelled a lot further than she had. Khosi often thought of that truck, driving up and down the highways and byways, visiting cities and other towns. Places she dreamed of seeing.
Doing Matric was meant to have been her ticket out of here. But here she still was.
Her phone beeped again. It was Sbu. It was like he was watching her every minute, reading her thoughts.
C u l8r
We’re goin 2 get outta dis
place 4 gud
Khosi and Sbu had shared a dream of getting away to the big city for as long as she could remember. Only now she was beginning to think that dream would never come true…