I fling the last newspaper over the garden wall. Some big dogs bark like they want me for breakfast. Sho! Last delivery. It’s five to seven and my job is done.
I buy some steaming hot mielie bread and walk into my best friend’s house. His sister, Anela is wearing a crumpled t-shirt and a dreamy, blissful smile. It’s the first week of school holidays. Even half asleep, she’s prettier than anything I’ve ever seen. “Mzingisi,” she sings.
“And now? What’s all this happiness?”
She giggles, “You know me too well.”
She’s right. I’ve known the twins since I was five. I think I’ve been in love with Anela since then. I drop the warm bread on the table. Her brother, Khuzani comes in and whacks my chest in greeting. He holds the mielie bread to his nose. “Mm. Thanks, bhuti.” Their mother, Ma Makwena comes in.
“Hi Mzi. Did Anela tell you about last night?”
Anela sighs dreamily, “You know I went to Long Street? That club, Molten Gold.” A gentle smile spreads on her beautiful lips. “I met the owner. Raynard.”
“Tell him, Anela.”
“I sang him one of my songs. You know the one, Too Green?” I nod. “He loved it. He says I can sing on Saturday night. He said I must come over today and show him my others.”
“Wow. That’s amazing.” I”m not faking it, but that look in Anela’s eyes lights a flicker of fear inside me.
Khuzani ruffles Anela’s hair, “Go for it, sister.”
Ma Makwena says to Khuzi and me. “You see? If you prepare properly, the opportunities come. Anela’s been working on her songs for how long?”
I look away, ashamed. What kind of preparing have I done? I dropped out of school last year when my mother died. When she got sick, it’s like I couldn’t concentrate. When she died, I gave up even trying. My brother said don’t worry, he’ll get me a job on the City News. So he’s a journalist. I”m a newspaper delivery boy.
Anela wakes up like Sleeping Beauty from a long sleep. She jumps up, “I”d better get ready.”
While we eat, loud music pumps from Anela’s little room. The sweet smell of her deodorant drifts under the door. It seeps into my skin. I’m happy for her, don’t get me wrong. It’s just … the way she says that guy’s name.
I know every chord, every note of Anela’s pieces. When my mom was in hospital and my brother worked late, Ma Makwena insisted I stay with them. I almost moved in for a while. Every day Anela made me sit and listen to her latest melody. I didn’t mind one bit. Anela had eyes only for her guitar, but I got to sit in the middle of her funky sounds, so close that if I lifted my hand I could touch her skin.
Anela’s door opens now. I nearly choke on my coffee. She’s wearing a tight white dress with high silver shoes. Her hair is pinned off her face, glossy and thick. She’s more gorgeous than any billboard, any ad on TV.
Ma Makwena says, “Isn’t that a bit tight for the day time?”
“Mama, this is show business.”
Ma Makwena laughs.
I stand up, “Good luck.”
She hugs me, “Thanks, Mzi”. I feel her breasts against my chest. My knees lose all power, but I force myself to walk out of the door. “See you later, guys.”
My task for today? To plant grass in our yard. How’s that for glamorous?
Tell us what you think: Is Mzingisi genuinely glad for Anela, or is he self-centred and jealous? Do you think Anela is going to get the gig?