It is hot and humid already and it’s only seven in the morning.

Day one in Durban. I cross it off on the calendar. I can hear the dog barking in the yard next door. It feels like they barked all night. I am grumpy and what makes it worse is that everyone else is so cheerful. My mom and dad can’t wait to get to the beach. I want to just lie under the sheet and try and sleep all day with the curtains closed. That way maybe when I wake up it will be time to go back to Soweto and my friends.

“We want to get to the beach early,” Dad says. Mom has packed the umbrella, towels and a full cooler box, like we are going to camp there or something. “We want to get a good spot before it gets crowded,” Dad says when he sees my face.

“It’s seven in the morning,” I protest, “Every sensible person is still asleep.”

And sure enough when we get to the beach we are the only people there. “Isn’t this great?” Dad spreads his arms wide. “The whole Indian Ocean to ourselves.”

“And the sharks,” I add, hoping the shark nets are up. I walk as far away from my parents as I can without seeming ‘rude’.

“She just needs some space,” I hear my mom explaining to my dad. I spread my towel out and lie down with my book. I must have fallen asleep because when I wake up I see that the beach has started to fill up. My mom and dad are reading the newspapers and drinking Cokes from the cooler box. I put my head back down on the towel again. I am lying on my stomach. It’s so hot and I want to go and get a Coke but it’s just too much effort.

That’s when I feel the ice-cold water drops on my back. I shiver. It’s the kind of thing Dad would do as a joke, and it’s never funny. But it isn’t Dad. He is over there reading the newspaper. For a second I freeze. I don’t know what to do. Then I hear a voice above me.

“Hi! You look like you need cooling down.” I turn around and see the cutest boy I have ever seen standing there on the sand. It’s hard to tell how old he is, maybe sixteen or seventeen. He’s coffee coloured with these dark curls. Like a Top Deck.

Dark chocolate and milk chocolate all mixed together into heaven. I am so embarrassed suddenly to be in my swimming costume with him staring down at me. And there is no time to grab a towel and wrap myself in it.

He trickles some more water onto my skin and laughs. “I’ve been watching you,” he says. “From over there.” I look across the sand to where he’s pointing. There is a surfboard stuck in the sand.

So he’s a surfer. I wonder how long he’s been there. “Are those your parents?” He points to where Dad is now jogging down to the water, with his beer belly swaying from side to side. I want to say no, but it’s really obvious as Dad turns and waves at me.

“Are you here with friends?” I ask him, expecting some really beautiful girl in a bikini to come bouncing up across the sand and shatter my dream.

“No. I’m alone,” he says.

“Are you here on holiday?” Too many questions. I should just shut up … I can hear my friend’s voice … she’s always telling me to play ‘hard to get’. It drives guys wild, she assures me. Well, I think, it’s too late for that.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” He’s smiling.

“Sure,” I say. I wonder if I should go and tell my mom and dad, but what if they stop me? They are both in the water now.

‘You don’t even know his name,’ I can imagine my mom’s voice.

And Dad: ‘We don’t know anything about him. You can’t just go walking with any person who comes up to you on the beach.’ But this isn’t any person. I know that immediately. This is someone special. And somehow I trust him…


What do you think? Should Busi go for a walk with a stranger? Would you?