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from They Call Me Nothing by Jenny Young

Copyright © 2018–2021 Jenny Young

Chapter 24

It was probably childish to organise a lunch date today of all days, but I was miffed at Robert for excluding me. After all, Edwin phoned me when he was stuck in Soweto. It is true that having Robert come with me made it a lot easier and less scary, but I expected to continue to be part of the rescuing process.

I smile at myself and the direction my thoughts are moving. I used to be Kaye, the Rebel, then I became Kaye, the Perfect Wife and I finally ended up as Kaye, the woman who never got over the loss of her baby. Do I now think of myself as Kaye, the Rescuer? I wonder how Susan thinks of me. I wonder how Robert thinks of me. He mentioned “mother hen” last night.

I finish the bar of chocolate without noticing, which really is a waste. Jasper noses his ball until it is almost under my feet. He’s probably also feeling excluded.

“Shall we go for a walk?” I say. Jasper responds immediately with his impression of a rubber band and, after changing my shoes and attaching his lead, I try not to be pulled through the doorway.

My mind is still on Edwin and Robert but Jasper manages to amuse himself quite adequately without me. I follow his zig-zag path as he investigates every interesting tree and lamp post, leaving his calling card wherever he thinks necessary. When we get to the park, I set him free as usual and he races around like a bee chasing nectar.

We return to the house with my dog happily tired. He lies in the shade in the garden while I settle myself on the newly vacuumed couch and catch up on my reading.

The book I’m reading, “Behind Closed Doors” by BA Paris, holds my attention and I manage to forget about what might be happening at the Alex police station. It also makes me realise again how reality can be so different from what is portrayed to the world. To the world Keith and I looked like the perfect couple. It took a tragedy to show us how very fragile our relationship was.

Dora brings coffee at half past ten and I sip it while I read, ignoring the biscuit she has put on the saucer.

With difficulty, I tear myself away from the book and get ready to go out for lunch.

Susan arrives at the same time as I do. She wears a navy skirt and jacket with a pin striped blouse, very formal compared to the jeans she sports to book club meetings. The same bubbly blonde hair and ready smile though.

“Kaye, I was just thinking. We’ve both belonged to the same book club for ten years and this will be the first time we’ll have lunch together. Thank you for initiating it. It just shows you how stressful life in Johannesburg is. It’s rush to work, sort out the family, and go to bed exhausted.” She gives a start and puts her hand over her mouth. “Sorry, I forgot.”

“Don’t worry,” I say. I lower myself into the dark grey chair indicated by the waiter. We order a glass of wine each.

The restaurant is tastefully decorated with grey walls and purple curtains draped over cream blinds. Abstract art in shades of grey, maroon and lavender are framed in groups of three. A small stone pot of lavender adorns each table on top of a grey table cloth splashed with purple serviettes rolled and secured with grey raffia and little sprigs of lavender.

Susan is outgoing and talkative so I know that if I want to get any advice from her, I must ask directly, preferably before she starts talking about her children. I make my move as soon as we have put in our lunch orders – a quiche and salad for me and a chicken wrap for her.

“Susan, I need your advice. I am taking care of a fifteen-year-old orphan from Alex. I have no clue about teenage boys. Do you treat them like children or adults?”

“Kaye, that is fabulous news.” Susan puts both hands over her mouth and lets out a little squeal. “I am so happy for you both.”

Susan is very happy to give me the advantage of her parenting skills.

“Every child is different, even from the same parents. Sarah now, I never had to check her homework or make sure she was studying. She has always been driven. Graham, on the other hand, I’ve tried everything. I’ve bought him biltong to be eaten only when he studies, I’ve offered incentives if he gets A’s in his matric exam. You wouldn’t think he’s writing in a month’s time. He lazes on his bed, sometimes reading an English set work book and that is all the studying I’ve seen him do. I’ve offered to help him set up study time-tables or ask questions from his text book but he says he’s got everything under control.” She sighs and wipes a escaped tuft of hair from her forehead.

“Can you go through your daily routine with me?” I don’t even know what questions to ask. 

“It depends on what day of the week it is. Monday and Wednesday were hockey practice although that has finished now that we are in the Spring term. This term it is cricket, but I told Graham he has to concentrate on his studies. There will be time enough to play cricket at ‘varsity next year. Anyway, if you want an hour by hour, we get up at six and everybody makes their own breakfast and packs lunch if they don’t want to use their allowance to buy something. Sarah usually has lunch at the varsity canteen.”

“Allowance? How much do you give them?” I rub my head. This is overwhelming.

“Sarah gets five hundred rand a month which must also cover her clothes and cosmetics. Graham gets three hundred and fifty but I provide him with sports clothes and equipment. Othe...

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