Minenhle was alone in a place she hadn’t ever been before, she buzzed with energy. Her heart fluttered, and her stomach knotted the moment the plane landed at Cape Town International Airport. There was comfort knowing that her parents were still in Durban, at least 1278 km away from her.
She had a driver waiting for her at the airport that she would soon ditch and a hotel that her parents were paying for. She would ask for a room change to a much less fancier room. Her family was drowning in money, which was something that her father had ensured for them, but that she didn’t care much for.
As soon as Minnie had arrived by the beachfront hotel and saw the waves. A wide smile spread over her face. Cape Town felt different to Durban, it was less crowded, and the air felt calm. The blue sky and the sun felt good on her dark skin. The salt air didn’t smell too different, but she felt lighter and the possibilities here, felt endless.
She could be happy without her parents constantly nagging her.
She had walked in to the hotel, careful to the eyes that were watching her as her boots hit the tiled floors. When she reached the clerk at the counter, she felt jittery.
“What do you mean you would like a smaller room?” The clerk asked, her eyebrows furrowed, and her lips pressed into a thin line.
“My boyfriend had urgent business meeting to attend to. I won’t be needing that large room anymore.”
“Would you like a refund?”
“I would appreciate it.” Minnie gave the clerk a warm smile.
The receptionist made it quick and hasty, Minnie had at least a thousand rands in her hand. She had at least twenty thousand in her personal bank account, but she was still antsy to spend it. After all, she was going to school in February and her father might not be so generous then. Especially once he heard what she had planned to do.
The room she had gotten was at the front of the hotel overlooking the street and the beach. It had white walls with sky blue accents. The bed was a double bed nonetheless, with white and blue linen. The curtains were a shade of matching sky blue that bellowed from the light breeze of Cape Town. From what Minnie had read, that light breeze was not something that was common. It was not the windy city, but the place was not known for being so gentle.
The sun was beginning to set, placing the whole room in a weird orange glow. Minnie placed her suitcase and walked to the beach, a beach towel in hand. The sand beneath under her flat sandals was something she was used to, growing up in a seaside city but it still made it hard to walk.
The beach was empty except for a few surfers out on the sea. It was eight p.m., it felt odd for her to see the sun set so late, but she was more than happy to lay her towel down and relax. The blue waves hitting the sandy shoreline and the sky strewn in shades of orange, pink and red. She had never seen a sunset so beautiful, her fingers itched to draw it.
Minnie swore as she realised that she had left her sketchpad in her bag upstairs. But she didn’t let that sour her mood, she would be there for the rest of the month and it was only the 1st of December.
She woke up right as the sun rose, like she did when she was at home. The blue curtains didn’t do much to hide the sun, but she didn’t mind it at all.
Minnie took a quick shower and put on a pair of dark blue high-waisted shorts and a white short-sleeve crop top that read ‘Salut, ça va?’. She didn’t know how to speak French but according to google translate, it meant ‘how are you?’ Kiara Olesky, one of her close friends had told her that google translate was not reliable. They had tried to use it to translate back and forth between Polish and English. Nothing made any sense to the Polish speaking girl.
She had her breakfast brought up to her room and she ate the omelette while packing her beach bag. That time she remembered to take her sketchpad and her pencils down with her. She set up right by the beach front, at least two metres from the sea on top of her baby blue beach towel with a pattern of small white sea shells.
Minnie watched the sea, the waves reaching the shore. They hit against the sand begging for her attention, but they moved too quickly to be drawn, so instead she took a mental image. The way the water darkened the sand it touched, the way the white foam moved against the sea and the shining blue sky. She watched the restless clouds shift and merge against each other.
It was a beautiful scene and before she knew it, a pencil was in her hand and her sketch pad was open on her lap. The pencil glided across the page, moving slowly at first before picking up a good pace. She didn’t stop, she didn’t look up until she felt as if the picture was done but she remembered the words of her art teacher: “An artwork is never done, you just feel as if you can’t work it further.”
Mrs Brennan had dyed pure white hair and a weird threatening glint in her eye, but she was sweet. She cared for all her students, she brought out the best out of them. Minnie would miss her the most out of all her teachers. She was the one who had persuaded her father to let her continue art all the way to the final year, even when her father said art was a useless subject.
As she looked up, she saw someone walking up to her. He was wearing a wet black full body swimsuit; his skin was tanned, and he had black hair. He held a white surfboard with blue strips under his right arm and when he looked up at her, he smiled. He had dimples on his cheeks and day-old stubble.
She studied him, she thought that he would turn away from her. She knew white guys in SA tended to be picky about what race they dated and she was staring at the guy. But he didn’t walk towards his own towel but rather straight towards her.
The closer he got, the more of him Minnie could see. He had sea green eyes and his wet hair was curled, sticking to his forehead but he made no effort to remove it. He walked right up in front of her and his smile was a blinding white.
“Hi.” He greeted, he was tall. If she stood up, she would most likely only reach up to his shoulders. But sitting down on the sand, he was a giant to her.
“Hi.” She smiled back, she hadn’t expected anybody to approach her. After all she was a black girl with a sketch pad, sitting alone.
“I saw you sitting here and I thought I would say hi.” He told her, suddenly he seemed nervous. His eyes flickered down to the sand beneath his feet before returning up to her.
“Oh” Minenhle paused. She didn’t want to make him run for the hills. She remembered what Pia, one of her other friends had told her, introduce yourself. “I’m Minenhle but everybody calls me Minnie.” She held onto the sketchpad tighter.
“I’m Nicolas but my friends call me Nic.” His voice was melodic. Nic stuck his board into the sand right in front of her. The surfboard, on the side facing her, had blue and white strips and markings. There were some scratches and dents and a few letterings made with a dark blue pen.
“Nice to meet you Nic.” She smiled right up at him and didn’t bother to move away. If they did continue this conversation, he was going to have to either sit down or she was going to have to get up. All this was going to strain her neck.
“You draw?” Nic asked nodding at her sketchpad. She looked down at her drawing, internally thanking God for the pencil not being smudged. She had fixative (hairspray) in her bag but she didn’t feel comfortable whipping it out in such a public space. Even if the beach was so empty.
“Yeah, for fun.” Minnie nodded, adjusting the pad in her hands so she wouldn’t smudge anything.
“Do you mind if I look at your drawing?” Nic asked, he looked back to his feet. Minnie tried not to look at his feet but failed, stealing a glance at tan large feet with clipped toe nails.
“No.” She handed him the sketch pad and without hesitation, she felt like a weight had lifted off her shoulder. That drawing was not her best work, she didn’t want to lie. It had been quick and sloppy in some areas. Nic studied the drawing, his green eyes flicked across the page in awe.
“I draw too but I could never draw this good.” He nodded his head at her, giving her back the sketch pad. If anything, Minnie was certain she was blushing. A warm smile covered her face, a spread of heat travelled all over her body.
“I’m not that good.” She shook her head, closing the sketchpad. She placed it down beside her.
“That’s what everybody says.” Nic commented, leaning his head to the right. His words were odd sounding to her, as if he had some sort of an accent.
“You aren’t from around here.” Minenhle watched him carefully. The slight breeze on the beach blew his hair all around and his smile deepened his dimples. He had a few small moles on his face.
“What makes you say that?” His eyes darted around. He looked nervous about her recent discovery. It seemed as if it could change the whole world, but it was something so small. She admired anybody who could be so far from home, anybody who could travel away.
“Your accent sounds straight out of a Hollywood movie.” Minnie spoke slowly watching for his reaction. But he didn’t bring out anything that was bad, instead he broke out a dramatic fake gasp.
“Shit, you caught me. I’m an American spy.” He shook his head, grinning with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Minnie wasn’t sure if he was joking or if he was telling the truth, but she laughed nonetheless.
“I don’t believe it.” She shook her head, returning a smile.
“Fine, I’m a tourist.” He admitted, he didn’t seem bothered by it, but she could tell he was trying to cover something up.
She gasped, dramatically of course.
“Oh, the horror.” She placed her hand to her forehead, feigning a faint.
“You from around here?” Nic’s laugh was something she didn’t expect to hear. It was deep, and it vibrated through him. His smile touched his sparkling eyes. She had never seen such a genuine smile in her life before, especially at something she had done or said. It sent a warm feeling through her body, causing her to smile wider than she had before.
“I’m South African but I’m from Durban.” Minnie nodded, she placed her sketchpad down on the sand next to her. The pencils on top of it. The wind blew some of her hair into her face. The loose thin elbow length braids were blown by the breeze.
“Here for holiday?” He was asking out of courtesy, she could tell but she didn’t mind. She tucked some braids behind her ear.
“Yeah.” Minenhle answered, the sun was moving and now it was starting to blind her. Nic’s skin glowed with the sun as it dried, she placed a hand above her eyes to shield herself from the burning sun. She had sunglasses somewhere in her bag, but she wasn’t ready to pull them out. Not ready to look like a crazy bag lady trying to pull them out of her bag.
“Alone?” He looked around where she was sitting, as if expecting something (or someone) to pop out of nowhere.
She nodded, “All by my lonesome self.”
“That’s rather unfortunate, beautiful ladies should not be left alone.” Minnie tried to contain her shock. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t been called beautiful before but the way Nic said it, it made her feel like a supermodel. Not skinny and tall, but good. She had listened to many boys tell her this, just to try and get into her father’s business or money. She was used to being used, but he. She was certain he meant it.
She shook it off.
“I can handle myself.” She shook him off nervously, if she could blush visibly. She would have.
“I never doubted it.” Nic shrugged. He smiled down at her. “How about I keep you company for a while?”
“It wouldn’t hurt.” Minenhle nodded her head to the side.
“I’ll be right back.” Nicholas placed his surfboard in the sand right next to her towel. As he bent down, he smiled even wider. His eyes wicked. She returned the smile; her insides were melting, and she was going to lose herself in it all.
As he jogged off, most likely to go get his towel. She couldn’t help but notice how fit he was. How the swimsuit stuck to his body, showing off muscles. Not big and bulky but still evident and lean.
Minnie wondered what he looked like underneath that, but she felt a twinge of guilt soon after that. She had only met the guy. And now she was swooning over him.
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