The next morning I woke up full of purpose. I had to know what was going on even if I had to ask Siwe outright what she was up to. I didn’t have a chance to at school as we were writing tests and everyone was in a panic. But after school I found her by the school gates. She was on her phone and she looked worried.

When her call ended I asked her if she wanted to walk with me to the spaza and buy a Coke.

“I have to go home,” she said, “my brother is still ill.”

“I could come with you,” I suggested. I still hadn’t been to her house.

“No, don’t worry. I don’t want you to get sick too,” she said quickly. She seemed in a hurry to leave – to get away from me. All I could do was wave as she ran off down the road. I watched as she disappeared around a corner. Where was she going?

I waited a few minutes and then I headed for Mongezi and my secret place. When I turned the corner into the street with the unused plot I stopped. I couldn’t see Siwe, but what I saw made my heart beat faster. A police van was parked right in front of the old building on the overgrown plot of land. I couldn’t see anyone inside the van as I walked closer, slowly. Had they bust Siwe for drugs? Was she inside the ruin of the building right now with the police?

The long grass brushed against my legs as I picked my way through the rubble and bricks to where there was a hole in the wall of the building. I pressed my back against the concrete and then slowly turned my head so that I could see into the inside.

There was Pheli standing next to a policeman. But there was someone else in there with them:


I felt sick. Siwe had been in this all along with Mongezi. They had been using me. To think she had pretended to be my friend and I had grown close to her. She was worse than those bitchy girls at school. She had betrayed me.

I took a step back and stumbled. My ankle twisted and I cried out in pain. Mongezi looked up. As soon as he saw me he strode across the empty space between us. I turned and stumbled back across the grass and rubble onto the road. Why wasn’t the policeman chasing after him?

“Pheli, stop!” he called after me. I couldn’t look at him, my face was streaked with tears. “I need to explain.” He reaced for my hand but I pulled it away.

“There’s nothing to explain. You belong where you are going. In the back of that police van with your new girlfriend.”

“Pheli, it’s not what you think.” I looked up at him, something in his eyes stopped me from running then. “Tell me, why did the policeman let me come after you? Where are my handcuffs? Please, Pheli.”

“I don’t understand anything anymore.”

Then I was in his arms again. He pulled me close and I let him.

“I had to disappear, Pheli. I am sorry I couldn’t tell you the truth.”

“Where were you, Mongezi. I thought you had died.”

“I was working undercover trying to flush out a ring of criminals.”

“Thabz?” I stepped back and stared at him.

“Thabz’ crew were part of it, but it was the big guns we needed. Thabz was the go between.”

“So you pretended to be one of them to get information? Who are you Mongezi?”

“I am the guy who fell in love with you,” he said pulling me into his arms again. “I didn’t mean to fall in love. I wasn’t supposed to. It might have jeopardised the whole operation. That’s why we met here. I couldn’t even tell your mom. Especially not her, as she was in charge.”

Suddenly everything was clear. Why nobody knew the Mongezi I knew. He had to be two different people. He had to fit in with the gang so he had to act like one of them. But with me he could be himself.

I heard the crunch of boots on the rubble and the policeman was by our side with Siwe. He was frowning. He bent towards Mongezi and said something in a low voice I couldn’t make out. Mongezi looked at me.

“Siwe will walk home with you. You have to go quickly we are expecting to bust one of the ring here, in ten minutes.”

I watched as the policeman and Mongezi hurried back to the van. The policeman got into the van and drove around the corner. Mongezi disappeared back into the delapidated building.

“Come quickly,” Siwe took my hand and we ran back down the street. Only when we got around the corner into the next road did we stop, out of breath.

“How do you now Mongezi?” I asked her.

“He’s my brother,” she told me “I couldn’t tell you – not while he was still undercover. He told me to look out for you in school after he disappeared. He knew it would be dangerous for you if he stayed in contact. But he had to know you were OK. So I looked out for you.”

“You pretended to be my friend.”

Siwe hesitated. “Maybe at first, and I’m sorry. But now we really are friends.”

“And the pink note?”

“I put it on your doorstep, but I didn’t write it. That was Mongezi.”

When we reached my home Siwe gave me a big hug. “I’ll see you at school tomorrow,” she said. “everything is going to be OK.”

My mom was waiting for me. I told her about Mongezi. She had wanted to tell me he was OK when I had asked her if they had caught him, but she couldn’t. Not until the operation was over.

“So he was the young man at the police station? No wonder all the girls loved him there. They saw the real Mongezi.”

“He did a good job,” my mom said, hugging me. “I’m sorry you had to go through what you did. And I’m glad you are safe. I wish I had known earlier that you had got involved. Pheli, Mongezi should not have put you at risk by getting involved with you. But we are all human; that’s how your father and I first met – undercover!”

“It’s strange Ma, I feel like I have to get to know him all over again. Will I like this new man?”

“He’s the same man to you that he has always been,” she reassured me.

“I don’t even know if he’s safe right now?”

“The operation is over. I heard just before you arrived that they got the man they were waiting for and Mongezi is safe.”

That night as I lay in bed I got a text in the dark.

C U tomorrow

Usual place



The end