A Paralyzing Chill

A paralyzing chill ran down my spine as I stood at that bus station. I was a mess. My heart was knocking on my chest as an irritated toddler would at his mother’s leg when he demands to be given flight privileges.

“Would you like to know the time, son?”, A distant voice said, snapping me out of my head.
My face must have inadvertently folded into itself.
“You’ve looked at my wristwatch seven times in the last ten minutes. Would you like to know the time?”
The voice came from a middle-aged man, I assumed due to the faint horizontal lines running across his face in a wave-like manner. His mouth was slightly curved upwards to form a subtle and gentle smile.

“No, thank you”, I responded in a dismissive, and what my mother would call rude tone of voice, considering that I was addressing an elderly person. She was always telling me that I needed to speak more charismatically and louder when older people were talking to me. I could hear her voice clearly in my head even at that moment lecturing me about all the things I should do to be a better child who behaves like a gentleman. a better human. She said that people were always watching our family, so I needed to be extra polite when spoken to as it reflected badly on her when I displayed bad mannerisms.

“I’m waiting for someone here, just worried she may have missed the Duduza 2pm. I hear the Madala who drives it is very strict on departure time,” I added, perhaps in an effort to appease and hopefully silence my mother’s scolding voice in my head.

“You are early. It’s still a few minutes past 1pm. So you’re going to be here for a while. You might want to get comfortable.”
I knew I was early. I had told myself that it would be better that way. it would be better if I arrived first so that when Zuziwe’s bus stops I could pretend to be looking away so that she could see me first. That way, she could decide if she wanted to continue with this “date” or ditch me without having to worry about it being awkward when she inevitably noticed how much fatter I had gotten since we had last seen each other in the previous 10 years.


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