After school I stopped off at Carla’s. I tried on the dress again and it was perfect. On the way home I passed Best Shop and Mr Moilwa and Mr Chen were sitting outside the store on the bench they liked to occupy.
“What you so happy about, Emma?” Mr Chen asked.
‘Nothing. It’s just a nice day is all,” I said.
“Good. You should appreciate your nice days,” Mr Moilwa said.
“I will, sir.”
“Don’t take your luck for granted,” Mr Chen warned. “In a moment it can all be gone. Don’t be one of those frivolous girls.”
“I won’t, Mr Chen.”
I continued on my way and wondered what they were talking about. Mr Moilwa at least had a wife and three grown daughters. I guessed, in a way, Mr Chen might be sad since he never married, never had children. Maybe he had regrets. Maybe he was a frivolous young man who had taken nice days for granted and now he was an old, mean, lonely man. They were right though. I would be grateful. I would make sure I let my mother know how happy she’d made me.
At home I found Kenneth alone. “Where’s Mama?”
“She told me to tell you that she’s staying in the city by a friend all week so that she can look for jobs. We should take care of ourselves and behave.”
That’s weird. She must have paid off the dress before she got the combi into the city. I’d thank her when she got home later in the week.
By Saturday morning I was crazy excited about the dance. Sadly, Mama wouldn’t be back in time to see me in my new dress – she’d sent a message that she would be home on Sunday and she had good news.
That evening I came out of my room in my dress. “Wow,” Kenneth said, “you don’t look like yourself at all.”
“I think that’s a compliment.”
Just then I heard a car pull up outside. I looked out the window and saw Dineo rushing out of the taxi he’d hired for the night.
“Okay, he’s here. You be good tonight, Kenneth. Keep the door locked.”
“I will. Have fun!”
The dance was in the school hall but it looked like a place I’d never seen before. There were Christmas lights everywhere and the stage was decorated with fake snow. In the corner was a large Christmas tree. It made me think of the ceramic Christmas tree my mother bought me the Christmas I was ten. It was one of my favourite things. I thought again about what a great mother she was.
I looked at Dineo and he was smiling at me.
“What? Is something wrong?” I asked.
“You look so beautiful.”
Just then the band on the stage played a slow song.
“Let’s dance,” Dineo said.
He led me to the dance floor. I looked around at the sparkling lights, I felt his arms around me and I remembered what Mr Chen and Mr Moilwa said: “Be grateful for the nice days.” This was indeed a nice day, my best ever, and I was so grateful for it.
Did you ever have a perfect school dance?!