I freeze. I can’t move. You see I hear this terrible squealing sound coming from behind the toilet wall. It’s like someone’s got Dumi and Vusi by the balls and is twisting, it’s that kind of squeal! Then Petunia comes out holding Dumi and Vusi by the scruffs of their necks and dumps them down beside me. “Cheater! Liar!” She spits on the ground by my feet. “Come Phathi, let’s go.” She says to Phathokazi. “Don’t waste your time with these…these…” It’s like she can’t find a word bad enough to describe us! And then they are gone, leaving dust behind them, and a broken heart!

All Dumi can say is “Sorry, bra. I guess it didn’t work.”

“Ja,” Says Vusi. “Sorry, bra. Someone should take that girl out.”

“Maybe Zuki can arrange it.” says Dumi, and they are laughing again.

Now I am feeling like there is no way I can show my face at school again. I’m going to have to move schools, and neighbourhoods. While I wait for the taxi home I’m trying to stand really still so no one notices me – so still I’m hardly breathing. That’s the last time I try to talk to a girl – I make a promise to myself. And then I hear this girl’s voice behind me.

“Thando? It’s Thando right?” When I turn I see this girl who never says ANYTHING ever in class. She’s always just working with her head down in her books. They call her bookworm. But it’s like she likes it that way. She’s not part of a girl group like Phathokazi, she hasn’t got a whole team of chommies. In fact she’s shy, like me. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without her specs. But now she’s taken them off and she’s smiling. And you know what, she’s really pretty. Not in a ‘look at me’ showy way that Phathokazi is, but in a quiet intelligent way. And she’s smiling – AT ME!

“Petunia’s mad,” she says suddenly. And we both laugh. And then she says, “Do you want to sit next to me in the taxi?” And it’s not joke, she’s not mocking me. I can’t believe my ears. “On one condition,” she adds. “Don’t try any of those stupid chat up lines on me, Dumi and Vusi are such idiots.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. In my head we’ve already gone on dates, exchanged rings, made vows… Hold on, Thando! I give myself the best advice. “Just get on the taxi – for starters! You’ve got the rest of your lives…”


What do you think Phathokazi will do when she sees Thando and his new girlfriend, Nosipho?