Monday morning Morwadi was talking nonstop about the dance. “It was the best yet. I loved the band.”

I was still processing the night so stayed quiet. In the end, Dineo had sent his taxi off and he walked me home under the stars, holding my hand. At my door, he turned to me and said, “This was a wonderful night, my best ever, and it’s because of you. I think I love you, Emma.”

All of Sunday, it was all I could think about. Even when Mama didn’t arrive by Sunday night, I wasn’t worried. I tried to phone her but her phone was off. I expected as much because I saw she had left her cable. I was sure she was fine. In any case, I wanted to think about the dance, and the night and a handsome boy like Dineo saying he loved me.

I let Morwadi talk as we stepped into Best Shop. I went to the fridge and got a chocolate milk. I looked up and there was Shake-Shake. He was a guy who lived on the street and often slept in the alley behind Best Shop. Mr Chen was always shouting he must leave the shop. As I was turning, I saw Shake-Shake put a litre of milk in the pocket of his big heavy coat. I got scared and looked up to see if Mr Chen was around. When I looked at the cash register, there was Mr Chen looking directly at Shake-Shake. He had seen him stealing the milk! I wanted to leave before the shouting started. I hoped Mr Chen would not call the police on Shake-Shake; he was a kind old man, a man whose life went a bit wrong was all.

“Shake-Shake! Out now!” Mr Chen said.

Shake-Shake said nothing and left the shop. I continued watching Mr Chen. He helped the customer at the counter and then looked up at me.

“Emma, if you not buying that milk put it back. Your hot little hands are making it warm.”

Morwadi and I paid for our things and left. I wondered about what just happened.

That afternoon when I got home from school Mama was back. I kissed her and said, “I thought you were coming yesterday?”

“Me too. But I wanted to pick up the keys for my new office. They let me work half-day today so I could come home and get things sorted. It was all a whirlwind since they only hired me on Friday,” she said.

“That’s great! What sort of job is it?”

“It’s at a wholesaler. I’m actually going to be the head of their accounts, and it’s better pay.” She let her hand rest on my shoulder. “I’m sorry I didn’t know about this early enough to get your dress off lay-by. I hope you had a nice time at the dance anyway.”

I laughed. “You’re funny.”

Mama looked at me puzzled. “Why am I funny?”

“The dress. Isn’t it you paid for it before you left? They sent me a message and I picked it up. I wore it on Saturday and it was beautiful. I wish you could have been here to see me.” I kissed her on the cheek. “Thank you so much, Mama, for making me so happy. You’re the best mother in the world!”

“But, Emma … I didn’t pay for the dress. I barely had enough money to get into the city. That’s why I decided to stay with Ayanda.”

“What do you mean? Who paid for it then?”

“I don’t know. But it wasn’t me.” She turned to the stove to stir her pot. “Maybe you have a fairy godmother.”


Who do you think is the ‘fairy godmother’ who paid for the water and for the dress?