All he heard was a massive thud, and immediately there was dust flying everywhere. He looked to his right … and saw the Range Rover. It was crushed against the Standard Bank ATM just a few meters away. A big white airbag pinned the driver to his seat. The car’s bumper was twisted into a grotesque shape. Green Heineken bottles fell out the door and shattered on the pavement upon the Range Rover’s sudden halt.
A police van in hot pursuit and with the siren blaring screeched to a stop behind it. Two officers got out and came running towards the man.
Amanda sobbed as she ran to Sipho, clasping him in a firm hug.
“You almost died, wena!” she said, holding back sobs.
The woman who had warned them of the approaching car came to make sure they were okay. A small crowd of passengers had gathered. They all watched as the driver, a fat man whose belly danced as he staggered, made his way drunkenly towards the policemen. How he had survived, unhurt, was a miracle.
“Well,” Sipho began. He held Amanda’s face in his hands and continued with a smile, “The devil doesn’t want me, and God isn’t finished with me yet.”
Amanda and Sipho looked at each other. Amanda sniffed back her tears and laughed.
They watched as one of the policemen opened the man’s boot to find more bottles, and the drunken man fished in his pocket and took out his wallet, offering one of the policeman money to make the whole situation go away.
As they got back into the bus Sipho saw the policeman leading the man to the police van.
He and Amanda were both still shaken as they sat down.
But as their Translux slid out of the parking lot, Sipho looked back again – to see the policeman take the money that the man was offering him. He shook his head. That driver was going to get away with it even though he’d almost killed them!
Amanda rested her head on his shoulder. “Look at the bright side,” he whispered in her ear. “You get to cheat with me a bit longer now.”
It was two in the morning when they finally fell asleep, their arms entwined, Amanda’s head on Sipho’s shoulder.
Sipho woke up to Amanda looking at him, her face beaming.
Something had changed since they’d shared that traumatic moment in the garage parking lot. All her doubts about him seemed swept away. Nothing else seemed important except for this moment.
“I don’t usually do this, you know,” Amanda said to him, as he stroked her hair.
“Neither do I,” Sipho said to her.
“I don’t know what you did to me,” she giggled, and pinched his ear.
“Well, every once in a while, you meet somebody who sparks fireworks within you,” he said calmly, looking out of the window with a glint in his eyes. “When that happens, it is your duty to live in the moment, without any worry or fear of what comes next. Just live.”
Amanda raised her head from his chest and they locked eyes. Then she said softly, “I enjoyed it, you know.”
“Me too,” Sipho said.
The bus began to slow down and the driver shouted: “Approaching Bloemgate in 10 minutes!”
“That is my cue,” Sipho said.
Amanda slid off him and he stood up. Her heart sank as he gathered his laptop bag and his smartphone. He stole a quick hug as another youngster unloaded his bags from the trailer. He embraced her and stroked her back, then kissed her on the forehead. Amanda wrapped her arms around him, kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear, “I’ll think of you to the moon and back.”
He laughed, “I’ll think of you to the moon and beyond.”
The cold Bloemfontein air did nothing to dull his spirits as he carried his bags across the road.
The girl on the bus kept her eyes on the back of the stranger who had lit up her soul, and watched him walk across the road as if he owned it, and all the land beyond.
He is so confident, she thought. She wondered if she’d ever see him again, but maybe this one perfect moment was enough? Could there really be such a thing as ‘no strings attached’ after all?”
Sipho turned in the middle of the zebra crossing and looked back at the bus closing its doors. He saw the girl in the window and blew a kiss. Steam escaped his mouth and Amanda smiled as she pretended to catch it. She drew a heart on the wet window and blew a kiss back.
In the bus, Amanda pulled her phone out of her pocket. She had something she needed to tell her boyfriend, and it couldn’t wait.
As Sipho walked away, he put his cold hands in his pockets, and felt a small folded slip of paper. Amanda must have slid it into his pocket when she’d said goodbye. There was a cellphone number scribbled on it. But above the number, instead of her name, she’d written, ‘The Perfect Stranger’.
Tell us: What did you think of the story? What lies ahead for Sipho and Amanda?