‘I always knew you’d end up with a man,’ says Babe, pointing the end of the cigarette in her hand at Fay.
‘Babe, you’re being so insensitive right now. Shush.’
‘Whaaat? I’m just saying, you’re weak Fay, you’ve always been weak. Can’t stand up to your mother for shit. Grow some balls, leave that corrective rapist of a husband you don’t love and tell your mother to go to hell. And when you’re done with all that shit, tell us, so we can hook you up. Girl, there are some fine-ass women fresh on the scene right now. Omg. Tell her about these women, lover.’
‘Okay, yeah, Babe’s right. You can’t let your mother control you forever. There’s hot pussy out here waiting for your ass and here you are, busy being miserable. You gotta learn how to flex that middle finger, chick!’
Fay is smiling now, she’d forgotten just how happy and free being around other ‘dissidents’ _as her mother calls them_ made her feel. And suddenly the ever hovering dark cloud appears as she remembers so many things and feelings she has no business trying to remember, for her sanity’s sake.
‘The man who hit you, did you get his car’s registration number?’
She tells them about the man, his accent had sounded Zulu, she tells them about how his eyes became bloodshot when she failed to apologise in the correct language.
‘It’s funny,’ she says, ‘the most ‘civilised’ country in Africa, I mean yeah sure xenophobia is not a one way street, I get that. For some funny reason though, yours is always punctuated with the blood of the Other, spilt.’
‘Fay, that’s not fair,’ says the one who is not ‘Babe’ and Babe gestures with her hand, begging her to keep her silence.
‘It’s not as easy as you two make it seem, it’s really not.’
Silence hangs in the air in between them, threatening to rapture the memory of their unshackled past that had just begun to appear as a distant light in the interminable dark and gloom everything within and without her is.
Fay reaches into her bag and retrieves her phone.
Forty five missed calls.
The smile on her is weak as she lifts herself from the chair as though she were a sack filled with heavy things, tusks that have become too heavy for the elephant.
‘If you need help, a place to stay while you figure things out, whatever. Babe and I won’t mind. You have a home, if you need it.’
‘Thanks, guys. I have to go now, my husband must be worried. I’ll call you.’
As she drives off, she thinks about the offer she had just been given. She thinks, rolling over the word ‘home’ in her head, feeling the different textures it had adorned.
For the first time in a long while, the words use had given her warmth.
A sense of self-elected belonging.
But it had made her want to run, from everything and herself, to everything she could have been in this lifetime had she chosen vessels wisely.
Everything she and Tino could have been if that word, beating warm fire against her breast, had not frightened her so.
Home had a new meaning when she used to sleep next to Tino. Not even the memory of her mother could penetrate that sacred place they had neatly cultivated for themselves.
Home, where there were tight embraces that you could feel in your dreams whenever they began to release their hold.
Home were two pairs of breasts, clinging tightly to each other until the drumming hearts below each pair became one synchronised song. Home had been her smile that just wouldn’t rub off, even in her sleep; it had been a permanent feature on her, on the both of them.
That is not the home she had grown up knowing.
Before Tino, and after her, home was allegiance to every being and god besides yourself. Home was a forced sense of belonging.
You were part of a home because the ones who had birthed you could so easily take that breath out of you.
Home was an umbilical cord tying itself around your neck, from birth till death.
And that lynch cord kept pulling you back to the womb, should you ever wander too far, pulling you in line, to the fulfilment and completion of the decrees and dreams of those who had brought you into this world, by the power of a higher power that had made you Eve, out of an Adam you must absolutely find one day, and set forth into the earth with, to multiply.
Home is where she was born, with a body and life that was never meant for her to plan or dream for, love and please as she saw fit.
No, that remained for others to decide. Her mother as the firm hand of her father’s law from birth, and her mother in aid of her husband’s law till death.
Home is where the skin on her face remembered the time it used to crease into a smile, as the earth remembers summer when winter has stayed longer than it had prepared for.
And home right now, was a collection of missed calls, fifteen from her mother and thirty from her husband, a nightmare from which she’s still trying to awaken.