I was about to turn the corner when I heard the sobs coming from behind me. It sounded horrendous, like breaking glass, only it was heart wrenching. I turned around to look at where the weeping was coming from. And my heart almost jumped out of my chest. Standing behind me was Paballo, her eyes red from crying. Suddenly, it felt like the wind that had been blowing gently into the hallways from the open windows had been flushed out suddenly. The bright orange hue of the paint on the corridors looked black and white.

“Pabbie,” I muttered, startled by her standing there. My brain failed me and I did not know what to say to her. She looked at me in disgust. “How long have you been standing there?” I enquired as the air started to back into my lungs.

“Long enough to see you stick your tongue down my best friend’s throat, Sipho!”.

“It’s not what it looks like,” I said, trying to defend my honour. “I swear!”

I edged forward to hold her hand and embrace her. It was a clumsy attempt to comfort her. She broke away from my embrace and started crying hysterically.

“I am not going to be that girl Sipho,” she exclaimed in between tears, “the one who has to always understand when you are being unfaithful! Why did you ask me out on a date when you are going to fool around with my friend!” she cried and ran out of the building.

The days that followed that incident were not easy, or fun. As sunny as it was in those midsummer days, my days were dark and gloomy. Almost three days passed and neither Pabbie or Rossie would pick up my calls. I did not know what to do.

But on the third day a call with my brother helped put things into perspective. It has always been a joke that he likes to say in conversations, that there are no VIPs on the streets of Umjolo. He said that again on the Friday evening I called him on. He reminded me that ultimately, those who make us feel truly alive are the ones we should always go for. He also shattered my romantic idea of seeing both girls at once.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it mate,” he said jokingly. “You have got to choose whichever one makes you come alive when you are with her.”

His cryptic advice did not make my quagmire any easier. Suddenly an idea lit up in my mind. I put on my hoodie and ran out of my commune. I knew exactly what I had to do. It was as bright as day in my mind. I ran and did not stop, until I was standing outside the gate at her student commune where she stayed with her best friend.

The cool evening air blew roughly against my face. Her street was quiet and deserted. The only sounds I could hear were car engines in the distant night, and the sounds of dogs barking at whatever dogs bark at in the long, cold night. I took a long gulp of air to get my breath back from all that running. I felt my chest expand and contract as my heart threatened to jump out of my chest to desert me for what I was about to do. But I was sure about this, and it felt right. My brother had said that if it was the right choice my heart would know.

Yet as I stood there, in front of the not so random gate at the deserted John Chard street, letting the cool evening air of Bloemfontein beat gently against my face, I shouted her name repeatedly and swore to myself that I would not stop until she walked out. I saw a figure stand against the window of a brightly lit room in the house. A face peered out and retreated, then I heard the front door open and the girl of my dreams walked out. She looked annoyed and unimpressed.

“It’s cold, why are you shouting my name at this time?” Rossie said, looking at me.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you,” I said, edging closer to her.

“You should have thought of that before you went off and got between me and my friend.”

“I am in love with you, Roslyn,” I stuttered. “Nicholas Sparks says that the best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. And that’s what you’ve given me. That’s what I hope to give you.”

She looked at me and said calmly “So what are you trying to say?”

“I would like you to be my girlfriend, Ros…”

“Hhay hhay stop it right there,” She interjected before I could finish. “I will not compromise my friendship with Pabbie over a boy I kissed only once.”

“Does that make you happy?” I asked.

“Yes, I am satisfied with my choices. And you should be too!”

She walked back into the house and slammed the door behind her loudly. Her decision shattered my heart. My eyes stung and for a moment I could not even see properly. But as I walked back home, slowly and defeated, I realised I’d respected Rossie more for knowing what she wanted. I felt like during these whirlwind few weeks, I’d learnt something important about love. And who knew what surprising hallway encounters awaited me in the future, on campus and beyond?

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