The first contestant does this big ballad number, really good, but The Pit crowd isn’t much into that sort of thing. I feel sorry for her, and worried for Mongezi, because he’s hinted he might do a ballad.

“I don’t know why he’s so secretive about it,” I tell my gang. “Where is he, anyway?”

“Maybe he’s chickened out because he knows he can’t compete with you, K,” Francine jokes.

“Here’s some of his crew.” Wandisa always knows exactly where every attractive male is in a crowd. “Okuhle and Irwin. Hey, you.”

We all went through school together, and still sometimes catch each other over weekends. Everyone starts updating the others on their lives, and I feel a bit side-lined, because I can’t talk about things like lectures and that whole vibe that goes with tertiary studies.

“Still learning how to put together ‘floral arrangements for every occasion’,” I tell Okuhle when he asks what I’m doing. But in a way I’m angry with myself for making it sound like nothing much, when I’m actually getting good at it. “Where’s Mongezi?”

“Haven’t seen the man.”

“Quit stressing, K-girl. Remember how we’d give you a beat when we were kids, playing at being musos?” Francine reminds me.

“With me pretending to be this cutting-edge rapper.” I give myself a moment of sweet remembering.

We applaud the next few contestants. Two of the performances are more dance than song, against the rules, but we give them respect, they’re that awesome.

“Next up, number six,” Die-Mond announces, like he’s going for the record for how many words he can get out in the shortest time. “Mongezi Fakude!”

My heart thumps hard and fast as Mongezi sprints on to the stage. Damn, he’s still the best thing I’ve ever seen. Those lips, those eyes, the strength in his neck and shoulders … Please let him do well.

“I can’t wait to hear what he’s doing!” I yell in Chuma’s ear.

The recorded music starts, something familiar. Mongezi does this swing thing with his hips, and raises the microphone.

That music. Not just familiar …

My eyes are brown, my eyes are blue,
My eyes are green, my eyes ain’t true.

It’s like someone has come up to me all smiles and then hit me really hard.

I see Chuma’s mouth hanging open. I see Wandisa staring at the stage in disbelief. I see Francine’s questioning eyes as she turns to me.

The same questions are hammering in my brain. Shock is making me lightheaded.

He’s stolen my freakin’ song! My own boyfriend has stolen my song.

Hot tears flood my eyes, and my heart is twisting itself up into a knot of agonising pain.

 ***

Tell us: What would you do in Khaliso’s position: protest to the contest organisers, or just keep quiet?