Nandi managed to avoid Beauty for the whole of Saturday. But thoughts of Fernando making movies and the R500 that Beauty had earned would not leave her alone. She thought about the Matric Farewell dress she couldn’t afford. She thought about the money she needed to go to college.

On Sunday she found Beauty outside the church. Nandi slipped her arm through Beauty’s and suggested that they walk home together. “I’ve been thinking Beauty,” said Nandi, “about this ‘acting’ job of yours.”

“Ha!” said Beauty, with a big, loud laugh. “I knew you would! I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist it!”

“It’s not that,” said Nandi calmly. “I just wanted to know. Did you really not have to actually do anything? You know…”

Beauty paused then laughed again. “Of course not!” They walked on and then Beauty said, “I just took my top off and…”

“Okay,” said Nandi, not really wanting to hear – but not being able to resist asking more questions.

Before Nandi could speak again, Beauty interrupted her. “Do you want to come along and see for yourself? You do! I can see you do!” Beauty laughed loudly again.

Nandi didn’t answer. Her head was spinning. Around her, people were all walking back from church, in their very best dresses. Her aunt was helping wash the church tea cups and would be home later. Nandi still heard the words of the gospel song she had been singing swirling round in her head.

“It’s not right though, is it Beauty?” she asked softly.

“Oh, come on!” said Beauty. “Fernando doesn’t actually make us do anything. You just have to sit you know. Why don’t you come and see for yourself?”

Nandi walked on in silence, deep in thought. She felt certain now that on Monday they would announce that Zinzi had got the lead role of Juliet in the play. She felt even more certain that her dreams of walking up a red carpet of any kind, for the Matric Farewell, or as a famous celebrity one day, were just that – dreams that melted away in the morning when she woke up.

Beauty had R500 in her pocket and she had earned it for doing next to nothing. And here she was boasting that she was the best actress in their house. Nandi suddenly stopped in her tracks. She turned to Beauty. “Okay,” she said, “take me to this Fernando guy and let me see for myself!”

Beauty let out a whoop of excitement and hugged her. “Come on then!” she said. “We can go this afternoon. Fernando works seven days a week.”

Nandi and Beauty worked side by side to tidy the house. They did it so well that even Nandi’s very fussy aunt couldn’t find fault with anything. When she got home she was very happy and went to her bed to lie down. Nandi and Beauty knew that she would sleep soundly for quite a few hours.

When she was snoring loudly and deeply the two girls slipped out of the house and took a taxi into the small town. They clung to each other, giggling and whispering. When they got out Beauty led Nandi down a dark, back alley. They stopped in front of a closed door.

Beauty knocked loudly. In that moment Nandi changed her mind. “Come on Beauty, let’s go. This is a mistake.”

But the door had opened and Fernando was there, looking down at them. His frown turned to a smile.

“Hello girls,” he said, running his hand through his shiny, oily hair. “Nice to see you. Come on in.”

Beauty slipped past him into the dark flat. Nandi, after casting a nervous glance back up the alley, followed her. Fernando shut the door behind them.


Tell us what you think: What’s going to happen at Fernando’s? Do you think Nandi should ‘model’ for him?