Mrs Edwards removed her spectacles and squinted at Thobeka while she rubbed them clean. “There are many ways of getting your books on the market. You should join writing groups on social media and interact with authors all over the world.” She perched her spectacles on the tip of her nose. “That way you can learn from their mistakes.”

“I can’t be doing too badly,” Thobeka smirked. “l’ve already received an offer for my novel.”

Mrs Edwards clapped her hands together again. “That’s fantastic. You submitted to a publishing house and they’re representing you?”

“Not exactly.” Thobeka smiled and stood up straighter. “They saw my stories online and contacted me. So I sent them the novel I finished.”

A cloud flitted over Mrs Edwards’ eyes and she sighed. “And what have they asked for in order to publish your novel? What have they promised you?”

Thobeka’s smile stretched over her face. “They’re an international company, so my book will be read by millions all over the world, Miss. Imagine that!”

“They sent you a contract outlining your relationship with them?”

Thobeka gritted her teeth. Yoh, she’s not even happy for me. “Well … not exactly. I first have to pay them–”

“Stop right there!” Mrs Edwards jumped up from her chair. “That’s not how it works.”

“What do you mean? They’re going to put my book in stores all over the world. I’m not turning down this opportunity.”

Mrs Edwards shook her head. “Do yourself a favour and join an online writing group. Tell them about this.”

“What for? I already have a deal. No offense, Miss, but … you’re just a teacher.”

Mrs Edwards nodded as though shaking a thought loose. “Do you write under a pseudonym, or your own name?”

“I use a different name.”

Mrs Edwards winked at her. “So do I.”

* * * * *

“Zotwana, Dlamini.” Mr Sanzanza crooked a finger at Alex and Thobeka when the bell rang.

Alex shrugged when he caught Thobeka looking at him, her eyebrows raised.

“Dlamini, you have an excellent grasp on maths, and Zotwana here is sinking faster than the Titanic. I want you to help her.”

“Sure, Sir. No prob.”

“Good, good. You work out the logistics with each other. I expect to see an improvement in the next test.”

Thobeka felt the heat creep onto her face. “Thank you, Sir. I won’t disappoint you.”

“Don’t worry about disappointing me. Don’t disappoint yourself. Now get out of here.”

As they walked toward the school gates, Alex stopped. “Hey! Where do you live?” When he noticed Thobeka’s hesitation, he winked at her. “So we can arrange study sessions.”

“Oh … okay. Muizenberg. Close to Sunrise Circle. You?”

“Just up the road from Sunrise. My mother is the domestic worker for a businesswoman, and we live in the cottage attached to the main house.”

“So, you’re, like, close to me?”

“Practically on your doorstep.”

Thobeka smiled and nodded. It will be beyond awesome if you don’t have a girlfriend, she thought.

Alex bumped his shoulder against Thobeka. “Take my digits – we can start today, if you like. And don’t I get a ‘thank you’, since I’ll be doing all the hard work?”

“Today sounds great. Thank–”

“And now?” Victoria’s voice piped in from behind the bus shelter: “What are you two whispering about?”

“It’s on a need-to-know basis and you,” – Thobeka jabbed a finger at her – “don’t need to know.”

“Puh-lease, Farm Fresh. I know everything that goes on here. If I don’t, it’s just a matter of time before I do.”

“Since you know everything,” Thobeka grinned, “you will know how to keep your nose on your own face instead of in my business, right?”

Before Victoria could respond, Thobeka’s transport pulled up to the kerb and she hopped into the front seat. “See you later, Alex. I’ll send you my address.”


Tell us what you think: Victoria mocks Thobeka as being ‘farm fresh’ – from a small town/rural area. Is this a common thing? Why does it happen?