“That baggy sportsman’s T-shirt has got to go,” said Babalo, throwing it on the floor. “There are lots of boys in the athletics club. When you go running, wear this!” She tossed a tight, pink tank top at Lerato. “Put it on.”

For the first time in a long while, Lerato and Babalo weren’t competing, but collaborating. Every afternoon, Lerato helped Babalo with algebra and any other school work she didn’t understand. As promised, Babalo worked on Lerato’s appearance. She braided her hair, and overhauled her wardrobe.

“Aw Babs, I’ll feel silly in this.”

“Put it on; and these hot pants. Not those baggy shorts that look like an old man’s underpants.”

“Babs,” whined Lerato, “it’s just not me.”

“Not you – yet. Now come on. I did your homework, you do mine.”

Lerato changed into the tank top and hot pants, and went to stand in the full-length mirror.

“Now some lip gloss,” said Babalo, painting some on her sister. She stepped back to admire her handiwork. “Wow! Now that’s better.”

Lerato examined herself in the mirror. She had to admit, Babalo had done an amazing job. The hairstyle, lip gloss and tight clothing gave her a completely different look. She looked glamorous.

“Now go. It’s almost time for running club. Go run after those boys!”

“Dressed like this?” asked Lerato, her eyes widening.

Babalo rolled her eyes and clapped her hands. “No. Dressed in your father’s pyjamas. Yes! Like this! Go!”

Lerato didn’t argue further and jogged out of the door. She ran around the block to the meeting place by the park. She had to admit the clothes felt good. They felt streamlined and gave her an awareness of her body that she didn’t usually experience. Lerato slowed down as she approached the gathering group.

Suddenly she heard a wolf whistle.

“Nice new kit Lerato,” admired Andile.

“Thanks,” muttered Lerato, not knowing where to look. Her confidence had evaporated and she wished she was wearing her old blue shirt and baggy shorts.

“Wanna run together today?” asked Andile.

“OK,” said Lerato. She’d noticed Andile before but had never spoken to him. They started off down the hill at an easy pace.

“So you’re Babalo’s twin sister,” said Andile.

Lerato’s heart sank. Oh boy. Here we go again. Talking to me, to get to Babalo. So much for the outfit, she thought.

“Yip,” replied Lerato. “Want her number?”

“No thanks.”

“Why not? All the boys want her number.”

“She’s not my type,” replied Andile. “Race you to the post box?”

“OK!” The two took off. Lerato sprinted as fast as she could and won the race.

“Damn!” cried Andile, puffing. “I’ve been beaten by a girl. That’s never happened before.”

“Always a first time,” teased Lerato.

“But not a second. Race you to the blue car,” he shouted.

This time Lerato didn’t win. But for the rest of the training session, they raced each other and joked along the way. When they got back to the start they were both exhausted.

“You’re good Lerato, really good. This is the best run ever. No-one else challenges me like this.” He paused, then spoke again, “Um…Lerato…would you like to go to a movie on Saturday night?”

“Me?” said Lerato.

“No, the invisible girl behind you. Yes, who else?”


“Cool. See you then.”

They waved goodbye and Lerato sprinted, jumped and skipped all the way home. “Babs! Babs! It worked – you are not going to believe what happened,” she yelled then told Babalo the whole story. Babalo was delighted with the success of her plan.

“Tomorrow, no homework after school. Lee, we’re going shopping. You’ve got to look amazing on Saturday night.”

Under Babalo’s guidance Lerato bought an outfit she would never have chosen: a short, tight black spandex dress over bright, patterned leggings, with red beads, red heels and gold hoop earrings. Babalo did her hair and make-up and by seven o’clock on Saturday evening Lerato was like a newly-emerged butterfly ready to take flight.

She started to pace up and down the house. “Babs, I can’t do this. I don’t feel like me. I don’t want to go. What will I say to him?”

“You’ll think of something. Don’t worry.”

Lerato glanced up at the kitchen clock.

“We’ve still got fifteen minutes – that’s enough time. You get dressed. You go in my place.”

“I can’t do that. Don’t be silly. You’re just nervous. It will be fine, you’ll see.”

“I’m not going; I’m not going!” shouted Lerato and ran into the bathroom and locked the door.

Babalo banged on the door. “Lee! Lee! Come out.”

“No. I’m staying here the whole night.”

“No you’re not. Come out. He’ll be here soon.”

“No. I won’t!”

And no matter what Babalo said, Lerato refused to open the door.


Tell us what you think: Is Lerato going to overcome her nerves and go on the date? What do you think will happen?