When the bell rings for the end of school I rush to the sports field, hoping Tony is somehow there. He is captain of the soccer team, and they have an important match this week; he wouldn’t miss practice. I ask Simon, one of the guys he usually hangs with, if he’s seen him. He shakes his head. I check my phone. Tony still hasn’t responded to any of my texts. My phone pings but it’s a text from Nonny telling me she left for home with her boyfriend Mzi.
I decide to walk straight to Tony’s place from school. I text Fana and tell him not to pick me up.
When I get to Tony’s house I see that there is a chain on the gate, held closed with a big padlock. This is unusual. I’ve never seen it locked before. I rattle the chain and shout. Eventually the door opens.
“Hi!” Tony stands in the doorway. He doesn’t seem too pleased to see me. He’s still in his pyjamas and he looks stressed.
“I was worried about you. I thought you were sick. Are you sick?”
He comes over and unlocks the padlock, letting me into the yard. I follow him into the house and he locks the door after me. It looks like he is alone.
“I have something to tell you,” he says finally, as we sit next to each other on the sofa. That was the longest moment of silence we’ve ever had. His hazel eyes look weary. I move closer to him on the sofa and look into his eyes.
His eyes run away from mine when I ask. And now I know something’s terribly wrong. Tony sighs and his frustration hangs in the air between us. His eyebrows furrow. All the things he cannot say are written on his face.
My heart pounds in my chest at the possibility that he might dump me. I’ve seen how these things go, followed by all the reasons why it’s not you, but him. I don’t think any of that makes it better.
“It’s about the riots going on outside,” he says.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I realize that he isn’t about to break up with me. I don’t think anything he has to say could be worse than that.
He takes my fingers in his and strokes my knuckles gently before placing a light kiss on each of my hands. He stares at me for a while and I see the defeat in his eyes. He’s decided not to talk about the thing that is worrying him, I think. He has shut down. He leans in instead and kisses me – kissing my worry away.
It isn’t enough to silence all the questions I have, but it is enough to make me understand that I still have him – in every single way.
Tell us what you think: Why is Tony staying home?