We walk away from the party. We follow the path to the beach and sit on a bench on a grassy patch that leads to the sand and rocks. We can almost hear the music and laughter from the party.
As she starts telling her story, I look over her shoulder and see two well-dressed men heading in our direction. I don’t think much of it when one of the guys comes and sits on the bench next to us. It irritates me, but it doesn’t scare me.
“Are you tomboys,” he asks, but it’s not a question. His white teeth flash, a stark contrast to his dark skin. He leans his upper body over his knees, folding his hands together in a cavalier manner.
This is obviously some kind of lingo but I have no idea what he’s talking about.
“Are you lesbians?” he asks. Now I get it.
“No,” I say defensively. The other guy is standing behind us and we can’t see him. The guy who speaks to us is well-dressed in jeans and a leather jacket. The only rational thing to do in these situations is to get out. I am not scared. I am irritated with these guys for interrupting our important talk. I want to protect my friend.
“We are leaving now,” I say, getting up assertively.
“No, no, we’ll go,” he says and they start to walk away. For a moment, I am relieved. This is always how these situations end.
They walk about twenty metres away and I see them standing and talking about something. The waves continue to spray over us.
“Mich, I’m scared,” my friend says.
“It’s fine, don’t worry, we’ll leave now,” I’m irritated with her for being scared. Haven’t I been in similar situations hundreds of times before? All we need to do is get out of there. I turn around from looking at them. I can’t see them. Then I hear them walking back to us and I know.
They are on us. One grabs my friend, his knife against her throat. The other lunges next to me. Flashes his panga. Hands are on my bag. They are shouting. I won’t let go of my bag. I fall to the ground. He tries to jerk my bag away from my body. My heart is in my head.
This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.
“Give me!” He holds his panga over my body.
I let go. I have no idea what’s going on with my friend. I can’t see her.
This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.
He opens my bag. He takes my cellphone, my wallet, my GPS. “Take their jewellery,” the other one says. The one with my friend. He is in charge.
The one who is with me grabs my fingers. Flesh touches.
Rough, shaking. Him or me? Jerks my ring off.
I shake as I take off my watch. My necklace. He puts on my ring. My watch. He is wearing my jewellery.
Look at his face. Remember his face. They will want to know what he looks like.
I stare and stare and stare. He rifles through my bag. From his hand, the panga dangles – lazily, carelessly. The panga drops. He catches my eye.
The thought is in my head before I can stop it, irrational.
But this isn’t happening. I’m not strong enough.
I grab it. He looks at me, shocked. I am more shocked than he is. I lift the panga and thrust it into his arm. I scream. I hope my friend will follow my cue and fight back.
My hair is pulled out of my skull. The other one kicks me.
He kicks me again.
“Stupid bitch!” He grabs the panga out of my hand. He swings his leg into my curled-up body.
“I will kill you!” He kicks me. Kicks me again.
My friend screeches. She hasn’t moved.
“Don’t hurt her!” she screams.
He yanks me up by my hair to a sitting position. The guy who I grabbed the panga from stares at me. Without blinking, he punches me in the eye.
I feel nothing. I am surprised. I thought getting beat up would hurt. This was little more than an itchy bite.
Give me more. I can take it.
“I will kill you, stupid bitch!” The other one stands over me. “I have killed for less! Listen here.” He grabs my shirt and pushes his face against mine. “I killed a man, knifed that white fucker! For less than what you do! I kill you!” His breath smothers me.
He means it.
“Drag her over there,” he tells the other one, pointing to a patch of sand next to the wall.
My guy pushes me there. I lie down on my back.
Michelle. It’s really happening.
I start sobbing. I cry because I am scared. I cry because I want them to feel sorry for me.
“IF YOU CRY I WILL KILL YOU!” He spits into my face. His spit joins into the snot and blood already there. I stop without a sound. Without looking at him.
I don’t know how else to manipulate them.
They pull my friend down next to me.
I know I am supposed to memorise what their faces look like, for later. So I try.
I can’t concentrate.
Okay Michelle, they are going to rape you now.
Don’t be here. Leave. Michelle, they are going to rape you NOW.
The one who stole my bag comes to me. He undoes my pants. He yanks them down to my knees and pushes my legs apart. He yanks down my underwear. The sand rubs against my bum. He undoes his own pants. He lies down on top of me. His body anchors me to the ground. He isn’t heavy. I do not fight. I know that if I do anything they will kill me.
I am not here.
Question: Do you think it was foolish or brave of Michelle to stab the guy with the panga?