I arrive at our favourite restaurant, Papas and take our usual table out by the terrace overlooking the Mandela Square. It feels like not a single moment has passed since I have been here, except the waiters have changed and I have to say my order out loud, “a glass of chardonnay with some ice, please,” I say to the waiter eager to take my order. I can tell he is new, he has that bright eyed, stand to attention at your service manner that permeates from everyone who starts a new job. I look out onto the Square I can’t believe I am here it feels like many moons ago but, also just like yesterday. My body begins to tingle wondering about where this afternoon will lead. The waiter comes back with my wine, I thank him and glance at the time, just fifteen minutes before Sifiso gets here. I needed to be early and give myself time to settle before he arrives. Or maybe even give myself time to change my mind about all of this. How is it all supposed to work now that I have Amahle? Thobi can’t baby sit every time I meet up with Sifiso. Will he even be okay with me being a mom now? And Amahle, what if she doesn’t like Sifiso? Do I just end it all because that is what a mother would do, should do? I slowly take a sip of my wine and shake my head, I am getting ahead of myself, Sifiso just said we should meet for lunch not rekindle our love.
“Hey gorgeous.” His voice booms and fills the atmosphere of the terrace, I can feel every eye on me, admiring eyes, eyes that belong to people who wish Sifiso was greeting them.
“Hey stranger,” I say and get up to hug him. He smells like that ocean breeze that send electric pulses all over my body. His sturdy body anchors the parts of me that want to float away, he feels so safe, so familiar and I just want to skip lunch and head straight to our hotel room.
“You look beautiful, as always,” he says and cups my face in his hands, he looks straight into my eyes and I am not sure I can hide the elation, the giddiness that warms my entire body. “My God I’ve missed you.” His broad uninhibited smile floods his face and his eyes light up. Every fibre of my being knows what he just said is the truth.
“I’ve missed you too.”
We take our seats, he sits right next to me and we both look out onto Mandela Square, there are kids down below playing on their plastic scooters and their parents standing on the edges of the square where they can watch them with a drink in hand.
“So, how have you been?” he asks. He takes my hand in his and turns away from the Square. The rare occasion when someone asks how you are and they honestly want to know the answer.
“I have been okay…good, I ve been good. You?”
He looks around the restaurant and lifts his arm.
“Yeah, the staff has changed here but our waiter seems eager I am not sure why he hasn’t come over yet.”
A scrawny guy with a uniform that looks a size too big runs over to our table, “yes sir, how can I help you?” he asks and shows us all his teeth. “Heinken please, big guy,” says Sifiso. “Do you know who your waiter is?” he asks. I tell him I don’t know his name but, I can point him out. “No worry ma’am I’m positive I find him.” He grins and charges to the bar.
“How have you been?” I ask Sifiso again. I follow his hand as it reaches for his forehead, he rubs the space between his brows and lets out huge sigh. “That bad?”
He takes my hand again and looks into my eyes, “I have missed you so much, I was beginning to think I would never see you again. I am so glad you are here…now…with me.” He smiles. “I have been okay, life has been turning, I guess.”
I want to ask about the divorce, is it truly final? And what has that meant for his life but, I figure the man must get a drink first.
“How are the kids?” I ask instead.
“The kids are good, they’ve grown hey.” He exhales a soft chuckle. “I am actually surprised by their growth every time I see them.”
“How often do you see them?”
Sifiso is about to open his mouth and answer me when our waiter shows up with his drink.
“Oh he found you,” I say. The waiter nods and asks if I want another drink? “Yes please and a bottle of sparkling water, thank you.”
“I see them once a month,” says Sifiso. His eyes glaze and he looks away and almost longingly at the kids playing in the Square. “It’s better that way, you know I am still finding my own rhythm and don’t want them to be too confused by all the changes, you know?”
I nod but I don’t know if he sees me. He stares for a while longer at the kids playing and I am stuck on what to say next, seeing him being emotional is a rare occurrence and one I have not yet figured out how to deal with.
“Hey, who is that beautiful little girl I saw you with?” he asks and squishes the tears that were threating to escape back into his eyes.
“Amahle, she’s my daughter, well “adopted” daughter. She is my cousin’s child but, it’s a long complicated story, I don’t fully know myself.”
“She seems like such a sweet child.”
“Are you ready to order some lunch?” he asks. I nod but I was hoping he would add but in the hotel room.
I look through the menu although I already know what I want to eat, I watch him as his brows furrow, and he looks like ordering lunch is the most serious thing in the world. My eyes fall to his lips, the one side is sucked into the corner of his mouth all I can think about is how much I want his lips on mine and all over my body. It has been a long time since I have been touched. I hope it is true that thing about riding a bike.
“How’s work? Are you still with diplomatic Cynthia?” He laughs.
“No, I left the company and still looking for work or starting a business.”
“Oh that’s good. What business are you thinking about?”
I take a sip of my wine and take a deep breath, the enormity of what I want to do always feels so overwhelming. The idea of starting a firm is great but, it actually means I would be responsible for making sure other families have food on their table, that part puts a tight knot in my stomach.
“I am thinking of… starting my our P.R firm,” I exhale the words fast so I don’t have to think about the right way to say it.
“Oh that is awesome!” he says and his eyes glow I believe he is telling the truth. “I can’t think of anyone better.” He smiles.
“Thank you, but it is still just an idea, I am looking for work more than I am pursuing the business.”
“Well that’s a shame, I don’t think you should be spending another second knocking on other people’s doors.”
I chuckle and take a sip of my wine, I tilt my head to the side.
“What?” he asks.
“Oh nothing…it’s just…you always have a way of making me see myself bigger and better than I actually am.”
“You are bigger and better, you just downplay yourself.”
“You see what I mean?”
We both laugh. Our food arrives and we order a bottle of champagne, the odds of ending up in the hotel room have gone up and my giddiness reaches a fever pitch. My whole body wants to feel this man on it all over again, I want to find out if it feels the same without the aphrodisiac of being caught. But when we finish eating and the last glass of bubbles has been guzzled, Sifiso pays for the bill and walks me to my car.
“I want to savour us,” he says.
I roll my eyes, I thought you missed me is what I want to say. And as if he has read my mind he says, “let us do it the right way, this time?” he widens his eyes which arches his eyebrows, and he looks like a grown- up coercing a child. He kisses me lightly on my lips and I want to drink him all up, I take a breath and get into my car. He watches me until I am out of the parking lot. I keep replaying his every movement in my head as I head over to pick up Amahle from Thobi’s house. Just as I park in Thobi’s complex and message from Sifiso comes in: