Ten minutes later, and they apparently have a unit that is “in the area” and will take anything from half an hour to an hour to come get me. I phone my mom and tell her. She is relieved and tells me that she loves me.
I take a deep breath and phone Mackenzie.
She doesn’t answer.
Taxis pass me. They are bigger than my Yaris. They all watch me, as if they are sharks waiting for me.
I phone Jessica.
“Jess, I’m stuck, I hit a curb and my tire is flat and I’m by myself and I don’t know what to do!” I scream.
“Shit. Shit friend. What happened?”
I repeat it.
“She’s here with her sister.”
“Put her on.”
I repeat it again.
“Okay. Okay. We’re on our way. Where are you?” I tell her the street name.
“Okay. We’re on our way. We’re coming now. Okay?” “Okay. Please hurry, the men in the taxis scare me. I’m alone and I’m scared.”
I message Julia to tell her what happened. She says she will try and find me as well.
It’s getting darker. I touch my forehead and my hand comes away wet.
I look next to me. A taxi driver had gotten out of his taxi. With a wide smile he is banging on the window and trying to open my passenger door. If I hadn’t locked it, he would be inside.
“Open!” he yells.
I shake my head no. He bangs his fist on the window.
The light turns green and he jumps back into his taxi and leaves.
The minutes tick by. I message Julia again. I phone Mackenzie. I speak to my mom. As long as I am on the phone, someone will know if something happens to me. I hear my heart beating. The sun disappears, uncaring. The police drive by. They look at me, make eye contact, and drive away.
I watch the last, pink limbs of sunlight disappear behind Table Mountain. Finally I let the tears fall. I hate myself for continually getting into these situations. This doesn’t happen to anyone else, just to me. So, obviously, it has to be my fault. I will probably be raped again by the time anyone finds me.
I hate myself for attracting so much disaster. Like how I lost four wallets last year and the woman at the desk simply started silently handing me forms when I walked in the police station. Like how my car looks like a bumper car because I drive into a wall or lamp post every second week. Sometimes it’s amusing, but at times like these I just hate the drama that comes with being me.
My phone rings.
“Hi! I’m in the street, where are you?” It’s Mackenzie.
“I’m at the robot.” I get out to make myself more visible.
“Oh, there you are!” She hangs up.
She parks her little black Citroen across the street from me. She runs across the street as I hop up and down with joy: someone has come, someone cares! I am not alone in this world!
When she is close enough I jump into her arms. We hug for a long time while I cry and pull myself together. I am not alone.
“Here,” she holds out a cigarette and a lighter for me.
I laugh as I light it. She knows me well. Mackenzie, her sister and I stand chatting. Julia’s white Corsa rams up the sidewalk in front of us. Someone else loves me as well! I am loved! I run to her. Now there are four of us waiting for the AA.
It is completely dark and extremely cold. The wind pushes us around. Our noses are red from the cold and we all have a halo of our own hair surrounding us, lit up each time a car zips past.
A few more police cars roar past.
A big bakkie slowly climbs the sidewalk behind Mackenzie’s black Citroen. Two guys are here to rescue the damsels in distress.
“Naand dames.” And of course they are Afrikaans.
They chat with us and ask what they can do. After explaining to them that we are waiting for the AA, due to the absence of a spare tire, due to my stupidity, they gallantly offer to wait with us. We insist it’s not necessary, they insist that it is.
Our little group is growing. There are six of us.
“Mich! Why don’t you just phone Jess and ask if you can use her flat tire?” Mackenzie suggests. Jess and I both drive Yarises.
“Do you think I can do that?” I ask skeptically.
“Well, it’s going to save everyone a lot of time and money,” she points out.
“That’s true.” I consider. It will be easier.
I phone Jessica.
“Jess, can Mackenzie please come and fetch your spare tire because otherwise I have to have my car towed and… everything. She’ll be really quick and I promise to take my car in tomorrow morning so you’ll have your tire back by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.”
“Ja, that’s fine. But Mich, you really should have gotten your spare tire fixed.”
“I know.” I pause, bitter. I really did know that. I already felt like an idiot.
“It’s just, it’s really dangerous driving around without a spare tire, friend.”
“I know,” I say flatly.