Two’s Company (1/4)

By Drum Digital
12 August 2014

Handsome Jerry made Refilwe go weak at the knees.

Jerry's hand hovered in front of the books on the top shelf. “That’s it then?” he asked. “Yes, just that one.” Refilwe giggled nervously. He wouldn’t realise, would he? She’d been debating buying the study guide for some weeks. Then her focus had changed when she’d discovered he actually worked there. “Our department still seems to consider this study guide the best,” she said quickly. That sounded better. She seemed more like a serious student. He just smiled scornfully as he came down the ladder, his eyes still holding hers with intensity.

“Oh, I wouldn’t really know, Refilwe. While you’re busy teaching your eager little pupils better English, I’ll be making big money in the business world.” Refilwe was angry.

“Actually, I’m majoring in communications and English,” she replied abruptly. “If my marks are good enough I might even lecture one day.” And they will be, she vowed fiercely. She owed it to her parents for all the sacrifices they had made. Her mother, a dedicated, overworked nurse had returned from work each evening, her face grey with exhaustion and her feet swollen from too many hours of standing – to give her children a better chance in life. That is what kept her going. Day after endless day.

Her father – not an educated man – had sweated his youth away underground in the mines. As a migrant worker he had spent long hours away from home comforts and loved ones so he could put bread on the table. Then the horror of the accident. He hadn’t lived to see Refilwe’s success. She blinked rapidly. Tears were always close to the surface when she remembered the sacrifice of her beloved father. But she couldn’t let herself cry here – or now. Well, she wasn’t about to disappoint them or herself.

But there must surely also be a balance between work and play in your life. Hadn’t many people already learnt this lesson too late? But suppose, just suppose, Jerry  should actually ask her out? What would she do?

Jerry rang up the price of the study guide on the till. Very little time left. Perhaps she could suggest something. Like . . . like what? Refilwe licked her lips, felt her heart thundering. She counted out the money, her fingers feeling clumsy. Jerry looked at her and smiled. “Brainy as well as beautiful.” Then he raised his left eyebrow. “Let me tell you something. I’m enjoying my student days to the full. Yes, third year for the second time, but who cares? I’ll get there eventually.” Would she ever bump into him again like this, she wondered?

An image of the teeming campus crowds flashed before her eyes.

There were just so many students. At least she now really knew him. Surely, next time, she wouldn’t hesitate to just go up to him and start a conversation. “So,” he said confidently as he slid her book into a packet, “since we’re studying at the same place, let’s get together sometime soon – unless Miss Ambitious is too busy to take time out to enjoy herself?”

Refilwe nodded eagerly. “I’m very busy on weekends,” he said. “I work here most of today. Tonight and tomorrow I work at that steakhouse across the road. I’m a waiter there, you know?” Refilwe felt a rush of sympathy flow through her. “Of course. I also have a part time job. Tomorrow I work all day in the bakery around the corner. Even with the bursary, there are still so many expenses.”

“But Monday,” he said, smiling into her eyes, “I will be free first . . . no . . . hold on, second period. How about you?” Refilwe felt sick with horror! Oh no – her English tutorial!

She’d been preparing for it all week. She’d bought the book today for this very reason. She was so proud of her English marks. She’d scored 75 per cent for her last essay and Mr Couzens, her tutor, was very happy with her work. She’d even confessed her future ambitions to him. She knew he was keeping an eye on her. Besides, she’d never missed a lecture. Other students did it all the time but . . . Now this! She must see Jerry again. Since she first saw him stride across the canteen during her first week on campus, she’d been longing for an opportunity to get to know him.

Her friend Dudu always told her a girl needed to make opportunities. How could she let this one go? What was she to do now? Why must life always give you such difficult choices?

To be continued...

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