I screamed. I couldn’t let my friends touch me. They then took us into a pale room in the hospital where my mom came and my stepdad explained the basics of the accident. He cleared his throat a lot while he talked. Roneldi had rushed through a stop sign, not seeing the oncoming traffic. A bus had crashed into her. The driver of the bus later phoned my mother to tell her that Roneldi had been suicidal and crossed the stop sign on purpose.
We were taken upstairs where we waited while they operated. Roneldi’s boyfriend came. We found out that Roneldi had been driving home after breaking up with him. She had gotten in at Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute and did not want to have a long distance relationship. At this stage, I felt as though the whole thing was a TV show. I never thought that she would die. I do not remember how long we waited and how long the doctors operated and who came and who left. I avoided Janah. She knew me too well.
I was sitting with my stepdad on the uncomfortable couch in the waiting room when I asked him, just to make sure that she wouldn’t: “Is there a chance that she could die?”
I knew he was going to say no.
He looked ahead, avoiding my eyes.
They were trying to get hold of my dad in Canada who wasn’t answering his phone. My mom came and left a couple of times. Just as we were about to go home for the night, as there was nothing else we could do, the doctor came in. He sat us all down.
“Roneldi is brain dead,” he said.
I could feel a part of me being ripped out. I fell to the floor, screaming, screaming, screaming and no one could touch me. My mom and sister sat quietly but everything inside of me was torn apart and the hurt left my body in a gut-wrenching wail.
Then we had to say goodbye. My mom walked with me to where Roneldi was lying. She was clean. Somebody must have washed the blood off of her. Her tiny body was lying there, eyes closed. A pipe pushed open her mouth and pumped her lungs up and down.
“Roneldi was a gift,” my mom said, “She was never meant to be.” She looked at Roneldi like she was an angel. She was calm, a kind of certainty permeated her being. The nursing staff wanted us to stay and watch the doctor switch off the machine. They wanted me to watch my sister die.
“I can’t, I can’t,” I gasped. The room was spinning. So many shades of green and blue. So many people and they’re all fine. They stand and look, like life isn’t leaving in front of their eyes.
Someone grabbed my arm, “You’ll regret it if you don’t.”
“I don’t want to!” I shouted and walked outside.
I never had to see my sister stop breathing.
It’s her birthday again. Someone who could have cared about me and helped me through this isn’t here. I realise that I have two choices: I could either go out and get completely off-my-head inappropriately drunk or I could stay at home and work through my emotions. Like any mature, rational person, I choose alcohol.
Jessica and I go for drinks.
“How are you feeling, love?” she asks, her big blue eyes trying to penetrate my emotions.
I decide to meet Mackenzie. I walk to Slug and Lettuce by myself in the dark, Cape Town roads. I don’t even let Jessica know that I’m leaving because I know she’ll try to stop me. I know it is stupid. I am scared. I don’t care.
Mackenzie meets me halfway. As we stride down Long Street, a streetkid runs next to us and asks for money.
Mackenzie puts her arms around me. Never mind that he barely had the combined mental and physical capacity to beat up a paper bag. The boy runs in front of us. As he steps he shoves out his bum and makes farting noises with his mouth.
“I will fuck you up,” Mackenzie says.
The Slug and Lettuce is packed to full capacity. We order flaming drinks.The rest of the night is a blur. Ashley joins us. We go to The Dubliner – it is loud and sweaty. I’m drinking, and Ashley, Mackenzie and I are on the dance floor. The Dubliner is an old-school bar in Long Street. It is always packed with the strangest array of people and a lot of foreigners. Downstairs there is a band playing sing-along rock and upstairs there is a DJ with more of a club vibe. So, the three of us are jumping around in front of the stage and I am jumping around so passionately that at one stage the guy playing the guitar points to me to come up. They’re singing “She Hates Me”.
I take the mike and scream into it:
“She fucking hates me!”
Everyone stops. I don’t think they were prepared for how bad I am.
“Lah, lah, lah, lah…” I falter, gripping the mike in one hand and beer in the other. Ashley and Mackenzie whoop loudly. Everyone else joins in and we’re back in action. But I don’t know the words. So I mumble along onstage and make some up.
“I try so hard but she looks like she’s heading for a head-butt… lah, lah, lah, lah!”
The guitarist and the lead singer are laughing at me and they end the song very quickly after this.
I wander around in The Dubliner and start talking to a black man.
“You know, a black man raped me,” I tell him.
He hugs me.
“I am so sorry. But why bring race into it?” he asks.
I cry and walk away.