The club was exactly as I expected it would be. The music was too loud. The crowd was too much. And the air seemed too little to keep us all alive. Naledi was like a butterfly moving around to her people, letting them see her, letting them bask in her light. I sat at a table in the furthest corner possible from the stage, hoping that my ear drums wouldn’t explode. I enjoy hearing; I’m weird like that.

“Do you see? He’s not even here yet. Was I supposed to be waiting around for him like some pathetic loser?” Naledi said, plopping down on the chair next to me.

“You said his car broke down.”

“Yeah, well … my boyfriend needs to have a car that doesn’t do that, isn’t it?”

I sigh. How is a person meant to respond to that?

But I had my own problems to worry about. I couldn’t stop fiddling with my clothes, that didn’t seem to have quite enough material to cover me, and I really needed to go to the toilet. Naledi forbade me from taking off the shoes, and wearing them meant I couldn’t walk, so the toilet was a problematic mission. But even though I was half-naked and about to wee on myself, I was sure the poor boyfriend fighting his way to get to the club was going to have a far worse night than me. Naledi was angry, and an angry Naledi was not something you wanted in your life. I already felt sorry for the guy before I even met him.

Naledi went off in a huff when she found no sympathy from me. I watched her as she squeezed her way to the dance floor. I sort of hoped the boyfriend wouldn’t show up at all, then I’d get to go home early. I was going on a bird-watching trip in the morning. I didn’t tell Naledi that. She thought bird-watching was stupid. She thought most of the things I liked were stupid.

I was bending over trying to see if there was a way to break the heels on the shoes so I could technically still wear them and get myself to the toilet. I could put them back together once I got home, but I needed to make a loo-plan before it was too late.

So, I was so busy looking down and focussing on shoe destruction, that I didn’t notice Naledi with the finally-arrived boyfriend.

“Kea!” Naledi shouted. I pulled my head out from under the table.

You know in movies where everything goes slow motion and the sound all disappears and the woman and man lock eyes and you know, you just know for sure and certain, that they will be in love for ever? Have you seen that? Well, it was not like that at all.

I knocked my head on the table as I raised it from the shoe inspection, and so I was rubbing the already-forming knob and feeling slightly sorry for myself and I snapped at Naledi: “What?!”

“Baboloki has finally arrived.”

I didn’t notice him at first. He was behind her. But then she moved to the side. Baboloki is average when you look at him first. He’s a bit taller than me, just a bit. He keeps his hair short. He dresses in clothes you’d not notice. He’s slightly dark in complexion and not too thin and not too buff. He’s just, yup, sort of average.

But then he smiled.

You know some people smile and it’s just part of their face. Others have nice smiles. Some even have quite lovely smiles. And then up there, far, far away from people with nice smiles you will find a category that is reserved for people with such exceptional smiles you’re sure they border on illegal. Smiles that open the heavens and angels sing. There is one person up there. That person is Baboloki.

He held out his hand to me. I took it as if I was watching myself do it.

“Hi. Sorry I’m late.”

“No problem,” I said mechanically.

Naledi butted in. “No problem? No problem? Of course it is a problem! A huge problem. I’ve been waiting here all alone for you; god knows what could have happened to me!” Naledi was working herself up for a big rant. I looked at Baboloki and I could see he was preparing himself. He’d been here before. I could see by the way he clenched his fists at his sides that he was stressed.

I decided to step in. “It was no problem; I was here with you. Nothing was going to happen. He had car problems. Give the man a break.”

Naledi shot me a glare that promised I’d get it from her later. “I really don’t see how this is any of your business, Keamogetse.”

“I’m just telling the truth.”

“I can’t deal with this now!” Naledi turned on her own pair of spiked heels and marched off.

“Don’t worry. She’s like that,” I said to Baboloki.

“I know.” He sat down in the chair opposite me. “But thanks for sticking up for me; I hope she won’t be too mad at you.”

“It’s OK.”

He smiled again and I wondered if this was what love feels like. Can a person really fall in love at first sight? Had it just happened to me? Had it just happened to me with my best friend’s boyfriend?!

I was pretty sure it had.

***

Tell us: Do you believe in love at first sight?