She ignored the taxi driver when he asked her if he could take her out on Friday night. “Hayi, neva,” she joked. She felt him watching her as she got out. She waited until he had driven off before she got enough courage to go inside the tavern. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest. It felt like everyone in the dingy room could hear it too. She looked around. There were a couple of middle-aged gents drinking beers. They were lounging back in the plastic chairs with their beer bellies spilling out of their jeans. They looked like they had been in there all day. Thumi felt naked as they stared at her. There was no one else in the tavern besides them. No one waiting for her alone at a table. It had been a big mistake to come here on her own. But it was too late now. She went to the toilets to escape their stares. What was she, a 15 year old girl, doing here waiting for who knows who! If only she didn’t need to find out so badly! She put on some lipstick and then went back out into the tavern.
One of the men tried to order her a drink. “No thanks” She said. “I’ll order my own.” She heard them muttering into their drinks …rude girl…who does she think she is? Thumi ignored them and turned to the bar tender who was pouring her a Coke.
“Ignore them, they’re drunk,” he said, winking at her. When he said ‘drunk’ a terrible thought crossed her mind. What if K was Mr Khoza from school? He was always drunk and when he took detention he tried to get the girls to kiss his fat cheeks. “Just here…” he would say “Just a little kiss for your favourite teacher!”
“Are you here alone?” asked the bartender.
“I’m meeting someone,” she said quickly.
“He’s one lucky guy.”
He turned and called back to his friend in the back of the bar. “Hey Khanya bring some peanuts out here for this gorgeous girl.”
“Khanya!” Thumi’s heart beat faster. Was this K?
“Some snacks.” Khanya pushed a bowl of peanuts over to her. He was cute and what a sweet smile.
“Did you send me a message?” she asked.
“No, but I wish I had.” He laughed. “Don’t be embarrassed. I tell you one thing. I wouldn’t be late if I had a date with you.”
Thumi smiled. He was sweet. But he wasn’t K. She checked her cellphone. But there were no new messages.