She must have made a noise when
she woke up because her mother
was standing next to her bed.
“What’s the matter, baby girl?” she
said. “Did you have a bad dream?”
She wasn’t a witch. She was the
loving, kind mother Ntombi had
known before Zakes came along.
All Ntombi could say was, “You
“Of course I came back. And I want
to thank you for cooking supper
and looking after your sister last
night. I had a really good time
with Zakes. You know things are
going very well with him. I
wouldn’t be surprised if…”
“No,” Ntombi said quickly. So it
was true he was going to ask her
to marry him.
“I was going to say, I wouldn’t be
surprised if he asks me to his end-
of-year work party.”
“At the car dealership?” Ntombi
asked warily. She was sure there
was no car dealership. Or else that
it was a front for something else
that Zakes was up to. Something
illegal and dangerous. She had
heard talk in their neighbourhood
that he was in some shady
business. Whenever his cell rang
when she was around, he switched
it off without answering it. Once he
hadn’t seen her come up behind
him while he was talking, and he
had shouted at her.
“Never do that again, sneaking up
on me like that when I’m on my
But her mother wouldn’t listen to
the rumours. She said that people
just wanted to bad-mouth him
because he was successful.
“Zakes says it’s going to be the
whole national team of sales reps
at some smart hotel. I can’t wait.”
Her mother sounded so proud of
him. Ntombi’s heart sank. Nothing
“Thanks for the tea,” was all she
“It’s a pleasure.” Her mother
hesitated. Ntombi waited. She
knew what was coming.
“Zakes has invited me out
“But Mama, you went out last
night, and the night before.”
“I know. But he wants me to meet
a friend of his, who could get me a
“You have a job.”
“A better one. Please, Ntombi. I
promise I’ll do something nice with
you on Saturday. I promise.”
Ntombi looked at her mother: she
sounded like a teenager herself,
pleading like this to go out with
her boyfriend. And making
promises she couldn’t keep.
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