Ethan had been relieved and ecstatic to receive 68% on his first test.
“Ma, that’s really hurtful, what you are saying,” said Annelie. “Ethan worked really hard studying for that test.”
“I’m just being realistic, my kind,” said her mother evenly.
Annelie inhaled, and boldly stood up to the woman who raised her.
“Ma, luister na my. I know you’ve had misgivings about Ethan in the past, but it has to stop. Hy’s my man, Ma, the man I am going to marry. You need to learn to respect that. I won’t have you insinuating nasty things about him, trying to bring him down. I believe in him, and I won’t hear it.”
Her mother turned a shad paler than usual. “How can you talk to me like that, Annelie! I’m your mother.”
“Yes, Ma, you’re my mother. So, start acting like one. Support me: love me. It’s what I need. And support Ethan too. He’s part of our family now, Ma. Our daughter is your grandchild. Do we want to bring her up in a divided, angry household?”
“Of course not. That’s not what I was saying.”
“I need harmony, Ma. I’m tired of anger and confusion. This is a really great thing for Ethan. He needs it. You have no idea, ever since he lost his job, he’s been like a shadow of his former self. Knocking about with no real direction. There is so much riding on this. He needs it. I need it. Our daughter needs it.”
“I still think it’s possible he cheated.”
Annelie threw the dishcloth down in exasperation. “Fine, think that. But please, Ma, you’ll keep it to yourself. If you won’t do it for him, you’ll do it for me. I mean, imagine he found out you thought that? He’d be so hurt. And from someone in his own family, too. He didn’t cheat, Ma.”
“So, can you explain how he improved so much, especially with all the maths involved?”
Annelie bit her lip, then announced: “He had help from someone good with numbers and maths.”
“Who, may I ask?”
Annelie looked her squarely in the eye.
“Putt-putt? Want to impress you with my mad skilzz.”
Bronwyn couldn’t help but laugh at the sms from Ravi.
“You’re on,” she typed with her thumb, then pressed send.
Bronwyn was staying at the ‘out’ accommodation provided by Silvertree for leaving patients.
Silvertree provided a large portion of rental at an upmarket hostel in Breyton’s Bay High street. It was the kind of place student backpackers often rented, especially foreigners. Bronwyn was happy with it. It would do for now.
But not forever.
It only lasted for two months.
After that, she was on her own.
Luckily, the hostel was clean, bright and cheerful. She locked the door of her suite and skipped down the stairs. She waited for the bus on the road, and jumped on a bus going in the direction of Stormy Point, where the sea pavilion was.
It was not typical beach weather.
Breyton’s Bay was having a coastal warm patch, but it was nothing like the gorgeous summer.
Bronwyn was in leggings, and oversized jersey and a cardigan.
She felt happy.
Ravi was waiting for her at the ticket-booth.
“Hey,” he said, looking happy to see her.
She wished she could capture the moment, and keep it forever.
She and Ravi, outside of the watchful arena of Silvertree. On their own. In the real world. Doing something every normal couple could do.
She came to him, and they kissed – unhurried, affectionate.
He enveloped her in a hug.
“I’ve been missing you so much. You been missing me?”
“Yup,” said Bronwyn into his neck, breathing him in.
“Have you seen this little train?”
He took her by the hand and led her a little to the left of the booth, which opened up to a large circle of lawn, in the middle of which was a children’s playground.
Around the circumference of the playground a miniature train ran, the kind you could get on, with small little carriages.
“Let’s go on it,” said Ravi, his eyes playful.
“It’s for kids though!” thought Bronwyn out loud.
“That’s ok,” said the ticket seller, an old black man in a beanie. “Everyone deserves to reconnect with their inner child now and then. Tickets are 10 rand each, ma’am.”
Ravi paid, and they entered the platform, a patch of grass really, where you climbed on.
The carriages were small and cute. In front of them, two young women with small children hopped on.
Ravi and Bronwyn smiled at each other as the train rattled to life.
“Mommy, they’re kissing!” exclaimed in the carriage in front of them.
‘Don’t worry, my darling,” the woman told her toddler. “They’re just in love.”
“You don’t have to answer now,” said Ross, and Emma was relieved.
She was cold and wanted to get inside the shop.
“Here, take my number,” he suggested, and pulled out of his jacket a little notebook and pen.
“You come prepared,” Emma said, with a grin.
“Always,” said Ross.
He handed her a slip of paper with his number written on it.
“Got it,” Emma said, and slipped it into her pocket.
“Don’t lose it now!” said Ross, then laughed, to show it was a joke.
The beautiful girl he saw liked smiled softly, then nodded in greeting.
“See you, mister,” she said, before walking into the shop, the glass doors closing behind her.
As Emma was paying for two bars of chocolate and a litre of milk, she was able to see Ross in the parking lot outside.
He was having a conversation with what looked like a beggar, a painfully thin youth in dirty clothing.
Ross appeared to be listening.
Then, he went into his grocery packet, fished out a loaf of bread, and gave it to the man.
“That’s R22.60, ma’am,” said the cashier.
Emma was still locked in thought after seeing Ross’s act of charity.
She paid, went to her car, sat in the front seat, broke a bar of dark chocolate, and popped it into her mouth.
She got the piece of paper with Ross’s number out and looked at it.
He had terrible writing! She smiled softly.
She wondered if she found him cute. He was fairly dorky, but good-looking, in a way, if you could overlook the terrible dress sense and awkward mannerisms.
He was so kind to that beggar though. That had touched her, somehow. But did she feel that spark? She didn’t know.
What should Emma do? Help her D-side, readers!