Thando's Strength

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17

Thando walked in with a load of clean clothes and Vusi ignored her as he made himself something to drink in the kitchen. He made way for her to pass and she did so in silence but he could feel her eyes at the back of his head. The longer he tried to ignore it the deeper they seemed to stare at him until he’d had enough, flipping around like meat on a braai stand to confront her only to find that there was nothing there but empty space. Vusi clicked his tongue and returned to his unfinished coffee.

“So, is this where you’ve been disappearing off to, or should I say who”

Thando’s voice came out of the blue so suddenly it caused Vusi to burn himself as his coffee disappeared over the kitchen table.

“Fuck!”

Thando leaned across the wall and crossed her arms and watched him as though he were on the other side of a glass wall in a zoo as he cleaned himself up.

“What?”

“What, I didn’t say anything” Thando shrugged.

“But you want to, just say it.”

“Clearly, you see something I don’t, so tell me what it is you think I want to say.”

“You’re doing that thing” Vusi growled.

“What thing?”

“You know what thing.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about” Thando shrugged and turned to leave.

“It’s not what you think” Vusi called out to her, causing his sister to stop. “We’re just hanging out.”

“Is that what you call it?” She said, turning around.

“Yes”

“Why?”

“Because things between us are still good. Our relationship shouldn’t suffer because yours did.” Vusi continued as he began attempting another cup of coffee.

“Are you serious right now?”

“Yes”

Thando chuckled, shaking her head in disbelief. “What, what is it, are you doing this for a job or what?”

“I just told you. I’m not you, I don’t sleep around for jobs”

“Correction, I didn’t sleep for that job I got you, I asked. Not go down on my knees, or open my ass or whatever it is you do with my sloppy seconds.”

Vusi mumbled an insult under his breath.

“You can gargle his load in your mouth all you want but watch your back. That man doesn’t want any of us in his life and I don’t want any of him in ours.”

“He doesn’t want any of us or any of you?” Vusi asked

“You know what.. I’m done.”

Those were the last words Vusi heard before hearing a door slam behind them.

***

It was the middle of the following day when anybody saw or heard anything from Thando. She was still wearing the clothes she had on the previous day when she stormed off home. Where she’d left to and where she’d slept, only she knew. She headed back home but not before going to the police station to enquire about her mother’s case, only to find out it had gone cold due to a lack of evidence but the investigating officer promised her she’d keep asking questions. What good would that do if the case had gone cold, was she just saying that to shut her up, why wasn’t she told any of this? Had she not come to ask would that have meant they would have kept her and her brother’s hopes up until when? All these questions bombarded her soul on the way home, so much so she bought herself something to drink at the bottle store just before she got there. As she turned the corner and walk down the street that led to the place where she could get wasted in peace, Thabo was standing at the edge of the corner, smoking. She called out to him, peeling him away from his goons as he hurried to her. As he walked her home Thando asked him to tell her about Mandla’s car and everything he knew about it. This time, taking him seriously.

A few days later

Mandla stared out the window, making imaginary races with raindrops as they hit the window and made their way down the window pane. A piano, a grey filter and an ooh-woah-woohoo, and he’d be the perfect extra in a music video.

“You’re thinking about her aren’t you?”

“What makes you say that?” he replied, not even bothering to turn around.

“Ever since you saw her, you’ve been different. Distant. You’ve changed, you don’t want to have sex anymore, you’re always ‘busy’, and you hardly complain, even when I make mistakes on purpose just so I can get a reaction from you.”

“That’s not true,”

“Maybe she was right. Maybe I should’ve listened when she wanted to tell me something about you instead of brushing it off.”

“What did she say?” Flipping himself around to face Zama.

“You see, I can talk shit out of my ass about her and you’d jump to defend her but you give to shits about me. There literally was nothing. She said except that some random deserts were on sale.”

“You do know that’s her bakery”

“You see, you’re missing the point. You’re more concerned about telling me about her bakery than you are about my feelings and how you’re neglecting me. Neglecting this relationship over your ex who you clearly still love but won’t admit makes me feel” Zama shouted, beginning to cry.

“That’s not true”

“Don’t tell me it’s not true because that’s bullshit. Stop calling me a liar!”

“Babe, I’m not calling you a…”

There was a loud and brutal knock on the door. A knock they wouldn’t knock even if they were shouting at the top of their voices. Mandla answered the door while Zama stayed behind to wipe her tears.

“Mr Mthethwa?” The officer asked.

“Who?”

“Mandla Mthethwa”

“Mthethwa is my father’s surname.”

“My apologies, may I come in?”

Mandla moved aside and let the officer in. She noticed Zama and her traumatized state and despite her persistence decided to let things be as she insisted that she was fine. The trio sat down and the officer accepted her cup of tea before she began doing her job.

May I ask with what this is in regard to?” Mandla enquired, folding his arms over his knee.

“I’m not here to cause any alarm but I am here to follow up on the case regarding Miss Dlamini’s death. Since this is a sensitive issue would you mind Miss if you could give us a moment of privacy?”

“No it’s fine she can stay” Mandla blurted out. Stunning both women.

“Okay then. As I’ve said, we’re just doing a follow up on the case, as you were there along with the Dlamini family at the time of the incident.” The officer asked her questions and once she was satisfied got up to leave, “Oh yes, before I forget. We found a handprint on the mirror”

Mandla’s heartbeat beat itself to death.

“If you could just place your hand in this clay mould to measure its size against the print to clear you of any wrongdoing that would be great. I’m so sorry to do this but its protocol I’m afraid.”

Mandla gingerly did as he was instructed before the officer left.

The air was stuffy even though the apartment had tons of open space. Zama was at a loss for words and all of Mandla’s worse were stuck trying to process that mirror and handprint.

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