THE BOYS WHOSE HEARTS WERE SEPULCHRES

by Moso Sematlane

ISSUE THIRTEEN | FALL 2019

On Sundays Sello Nalane would stare at the white boy. The boy would look away, then, like the aroma of soil rising up after rainfall; the boy would smile. A remnant smile. Flickering upon the boy’s feminine, rosy lips. It was because of that smile that Sello kept staring. Before long, Sello had come to think of it as a cat-and-mouse game, one they played every Sunday, and one (it was pointless to deny it now) that Sello came to church with the sole intention of playing. As the congregation sat on the pews, drowning in the Eucharist hymns, Sello’s eyes would meet the boy’s, only briefly, before the boy pulled his green-eyed gaze away, shifting slightly in his seat to show what––discomfort, pleasure, boredom? 

Sello was ashamed at first. The shame of two boys whose eyes graze against each other by accident. A moment suspended in time. Questions asked of each other. It was a strange signal, understood only by the boys who loved other boys. The boys whose hearts were sepulchres. With this signal, picked up in restaurants and malls and nightclubs, the boys could tell what the other was. What the other wasn’t. Sometimes the moment would lead to a conversation. To exchanging numbers. To sex. Other times the boys would disconnect the gaze, walking away from each other like nothing had happened. 

Sello couldn’t tell which scenario the boy’s eyes led to. The smile was evasive. Too opaque. He needed a surer sign. Whenever someone shifted on the pews, Sello would study the boy through the opening left by the person’s body. The way he shaped his lips in an ‘O’ when he sang along to the hymns. The way he crossed and uncrossed his legs for most of the service. But still Sello could not tell. This ambiguity around the state of things also kept him interested. Things in motion and things in stillness. The sturdy body underneath the boy’s clothes. His dark hair the colour of licorice. 

In the mornings, Sello’s mother, ‘MaSello would turn the trips to church into impromptu driving lessons. Sello was about to finish his Matric. She would tell him how a driver’s license had to be his first ‘adult document’, one that would come even before his Matric results. But Sello didn’t want to be an adult. He didn’t even like driving.  Ideally, he would have liked to remain eighteen forever. Endless days with friends. Even homework was tolerable, if it meant he would never have to face the future. And so his hands would tremble against the car’s steering wheel. ‘MaSello was an impatient teacher, and she would bang her hand against the dashboard when he made a mistake. To make himself feel better, Sello would think about the boy. 

The opportunity to start a conversation with him never presented itself. The church’s architecture itself was designed to separate them. Although they both sat in the third row, a wide, polished aisle stood between them. It was impossible for Sello to look too long at him without being conspicuous; leaning too forward would risk a brush with the person in front’s nape.

There was also Bishop Marais. He had a gift of sucking every strand of inattention from his congregation, until for a few minutes, one forgot about God and Jesus, and he became everything, and everything became him. With his white robes on, sweeping the floor as he walked and talked, he looked like a flower that had bloomed from the centre of the earth. Watching him was a sensation so pronounced that Sello felt he was sinning just by looking at the boy. Sello would make an effort to cast every thought of the boy to the back of his mind, away from the stained-glass eyes of the church. Away from Bishop Marais. 

Even if Sello wanted to approach the boy, most times ‘MaSello would whisper to Sello just before the service ended;

 

Ha re tsamae.

Let us leave.

Lately, she had taken to being in church as little as possible, a stark contrast to her enthusiasm about church when they first moved to Ladybrand. ‘MaSello was a bishop’s daughter herself back at the parish in Lesotho, and for her, the church was a fact of life that grounded her in whatever locale she chose to fling herself into.

In Ladybrand she was rootless. This was a frontier town built to consolidate the land the Boers had taken from the Basotho in the 1800s. The town was built for white people. So was the church. ‘MaSello would make conversation in the hope of reestablishing herself in the new parish, only to be reprimanded by small-talk that went cold too quickly, smiles that never reached  the eyes, and even some rebuffs of;

Ek praat nie mooi Engels nie.

I do not speak English very well.

So the service would end. Sello and his mother would be the first to leave. Opening the wooden doors, the sunlight had the flat, blinding quality of magnesium combustion. Its glare would make Sello’s head hurt. Or maybe it hurt because once again, he was leaving the church without so much as a word exchanged between him and the boy.

One Sunday, ‘MaSello and Sello left the church through their normal, shiftless routine. Approaching the car, Sello already dreaded the possibility that she would make him drive. He was a bad driver, and the lessons would just add to his failures. The car would turn off when he changed gears. 

Sello excused himself. He needed to escape.

What if I told him right now that I want to fuck him? Right here on God’s lawn?

He drifted to the edge of the church lawn, intending to calm his nerves with a drink of water. He bent down to the stone drinking fountain. He had barely drunk anything when a hand came into his view. The flow of water stopped. A white hand gripped the tap so tightly that tendons moved beneath the skin.

Sello raised his head.

Frozen, with water crystals still trembling around his mouth, Sello found the boy standing in front of him, as real as the touch of water on his lips.  And then the familiar smile. Unsure of itself. So, so delicate. The smile made Sello’s chest warm, like having a baby wrap its palm around his finger. 

Sello opened his mouth to speak. The smile disappeared. Sello stayed silent instead, watching the boy’s mouth pull furrows across his forehead. His eyes changed, the mirth leaving them. This was how human beings unraveled, how a husband could shoot his wife, his children, and finally himself.

The boy took a step closer. His breath poured against the side of Sello’s face.

If you keep looking at me in church, I’ll fucking kill you. I’m not a moffie. Okay?

Sello nodded. Why did he nod?

Up close, he appeared so big that Sello felt he was being pulverized into the earth. Sello didn’t even know his name and yet––

Breyten!

A woman called from across the lawn. The boy unlatched himself from Sello.

Breyten!

Sello knew that woman. Her name was Annelise, Bishop Marais’ wife. She wore the same green suit every Sunday, a shade lighter than the green of the lawn. Even from afar, Sello could see hints of Breyten’s face in hers, his soft features reconfigured into a cruder, more angular design.

Breyten.

A strange name without epoch or place. It could have belonged in the American cities or here in the farmlands of Ladybrand. 

Breyten, who like ‘MaSello, had a parent who was a bishop. Connections severed before they could form. Breyten hopped towards his mother with an athletic gait. He didn’t even look back at Sello. 

Mrs. Marais threw an arm his shoulders, kissing him on the lips. Breyten absorbed this with a shudder and walked away. 

Mrs. Marais remained. The lines on her face hardened at Sello. She had seen Breyten speak to him, their faces close. 

Sello saw his chance for revenge. There was fear in Mrs. Marais’ eyes, and as punishment for how Breyten had made him feel, Sello would make it real. When they got home, Breyten would have to explain to her why their faces had been just centimeters apart.

He met Mrs. Marais’ glare with the force of his own. He hoped that she could see the lust he felt for Breyten, for boys whose biceps peeked out their shirts with an unfiltered, hormonal beauty. 

The boys who could love only in the darkness.  

* * *

After that Sunday the days moved as only Ladybrand days could. Small-town days when the smell of boredom was everywhere and made things slow and elemental. One hot day, Sello went to Lielehoek with his friends Refiloe, Seeiso, and Jhunaid. Sello had known Refiloe from his primary school days in Lesotho, but Jhunaid and Seeiso he had met after moving to Ladybrand. The four friends found an empty campsite and started a braai. The boys took their tops off. Refiloe peeled off her frock to reveal a neon-green bikini top. They moved around the park, feeling the white people’s eyes against their bare, brown backs.

When the meat was done braaing, it came out tough and blackened. They ate it regardless. Sometime throughout the day, the heat lessened. Sello and Refiloe broke away from The Boys to take a walk amongst the pines. Earlier that week, Sello had said something unforgivable to her. Though he felt remorseful, he hadn’t apologized.  Sello and Refiloe argued under the shade of a pine tree. By the time they returned to The Boys all had been forgiven.

Another day, the friends crammed into Jhunaid’s car, played the summer’s biggest songs, and joined the N8 to Bloemfontein. Their petrol was running low. Watching farm after farm pass by the window, Sello became electrified by the wildness of the land. 

The petrol finished near the town of Botshabelo.

How much money did you guys bring?

The Boys left to buy petrol, leaving Sello and Refiloe behind with the car. They had only been gone for five minutes when Refiloe bolted from the car and ran into the farmlands. She lifted a barbed wire fence and crawled through; a sign attached to it:

OUTLET FOR SUBSOIL DRAIN

Sello followed. He lifted the fence too, making sure his clothes didn’t catch in the spikes. He chased and chased after her, running for no other reason except to run. Years from now they wouldn’t be eighteen, seventeen, eighteen, and eighteen anymore. Matric would be over. They would have lived through a hundred recessions and twice as many economic booms. Some of them would be married. Some would be failing a university course for the third time.

Running is a kind of baptism, a thin layer of sweat clinging to your skin. Sometimes when you do it hard enough, the holy water of your body soaks through your clothes. It carries a scent of the first kiss, the first wail that ripped through your lips when you fell and scraped your knee. The first time you opened your eyes and your mother was there to meet you. Where she held you close and whispered that she had waited all her life to meet you. 

* * * 

‘MaSello was cooking curry on the stove when Sello came to tell her that he didn’t want to go to church the next day. The smell filled the house and steamed the windows. The disagreements about church weren’t new. She was prepared for each one, because to be Sello’s parent was to learn to counter-argue like a philosopher, nothing had changed from the small boy who had asked her why planes could fly since they looked so heavy, to the man who stood in front of her now, asking to be allowed to not go to church. What she wasn’t prepared for was the look in his eyes, as if he was pleading to be released from some inescapable fate. She asked him if something was the matter.

 

No. But what I’m trying to understand is why you always make me go to church with you, when you know what God thinks of me.

Sometimes, and she wasn’t proud to admit this, she would have doubts about Sello’s claims about his sexuality. Perhaps he was just confused. Weren’t we all at some point in our lives? She knew the feeling of being in her own body, the heat in her navel awakened by a man’s touch. There had been many men in her life, Selinyane, Tellang, Sello’s own father, Mphethe, and it confused her how her son could feel this same heat for a man. 

What God thinks of you? What does God think of you, Sello?

And so she would seek to understand Sello. In her mind the reward was something not even God could give her. To understand her son as clearly as she understood herself.  In restaurants, in doctor’s offices, in queues at the cinema, ‘MaSello would fix her eyes upon any woman who happened to stand in her line of vision. She would wait to feel the heat from her navel. ‘MaSello would envision her hand going up the woman’s skirt, kissing the woman’s soft nipple. Her heart would beat faster. 

That I’m going to Hell. For something I can’t even change about myself. How does this look to you––going to church and having to hear that I’m sinning….just for loving someone else? I don’t want to be a disingenuous person. 

She knew Sello had had a boyfriend, a nameless and faceless shadow that had floated at the edges of his grade eleven years. She had mentioned him only once––an invitation offered to Sello to bring him to dinner. But the words had grated her as soon as she said them. Both she and Sello were left feeling uncomfortable. She never mentioned the shadow again.

Just because God says something, it doesn’t mean he’s right all the time.

Then how do you explain it? I can’t change myself. But sometimes I wish I could. When I see a boy I like, every part of my body comes alive with electricity. I’ve never felt that way with a girl. I’ll never feel that way with a girl. If God created me, then why can’t he understand that?

And finally, some of the women would return ‘MaSello’s gaze. When the heat finally came it was like rapture. Laying down to sleep, its texture would pollinate her dreams. She would see a mysterious woman, naked and beautiful, and their lips would touch. If only Sello could see this part of her, he would be protected from every pain in the world. But how would a mother have those kinds of conversations with her gay son? 

We have to allow God the leeway to be wrong. We have to allow mankind the leeway to be wrong.

Why? Why should I allow them to fuck me over like that?

Because my love, that’s how you love.

Despite how badly their last encounter had gone, in church Sello kept looking at Breyten, and Breyten kept looking away. Breyten smiled. As if the last Sunday hadn’t happened. They were back where they began. Early in the service, Sello had committed himself to avoiding the right side of the church altogether. But his mind wandered towards Breyten. His eyes soon followed. 

Sello surrendered himself to their ‘game’. As if he could sense his surrender, Breyten looked back at him, and this time, did not look away. The truth was uncovered; two boys falling into each other in every possible way.

What was in Breyten’s eyes? There seemed to be an intensity that made Sello want to stand up from the pews and walk over to the right wing. Perhaps lean in for a kiss? Perhaps sit beside him so their bodies were touching?

If you keep looking at me in church, I’ll fucking kill you. I’m not a moffie. Okay?

Sello looked away.

 

––––Where you going?

Outside the church, Sello’s speedy departure with his mother was delayed. This time it wasn’t because of Sello’s ‘car-fright’, but because of Breyten himself. He intercepted Sello like a bolt of lightning.

Where you going?

Surely he had mistaken Sello for someone else. It was impossible that the boy who had just brushed Sello’s elbow with his fingertips was the same boy who had insulted him last Sunday. With Breyten standing before him, Sello felt a resignation anchoring him to the earth; as if the two of them, here on the church grounds, was an image predestined in the bibles of the world. They were like boys drawn on parchment paper, vines curled around their ankles, their upper bodies naked and bound with primordial scriptures.

Sello tried to remain calm.

I’m going home. And you?

Look. I came to apologize to you. I shouldn’t have said those words I said to you. They were horrible.

You were right. It was wrong of me to make you feel uncomfortable. I apologize too. 

Still…

Breyten’s cheeks grew red. Only then could Sello muster the courage to meet his eyes. Didn’t Harry Potter have green eyes as well? Breyten shifted his weight around and bounced on his heels. It seemed he was burning to say something; 

Can I ask you a question?

Sure.

Don’t be cross with me, okay?

Okay.

Are you…gay?

Sello studied the sheen of sunshine against his cheekbones, his lips almost swollen against the summer heat. There was a smell coming off his clothes too; of old rooms toasted to sterility from sunshine. Knitted jerseys. Summers that were so slow they left you suicidal. 

Sello didn’t answer the question.

They stood in silence for a while, before Breyten took out something from his pocket that looked like a large battery. Only when the sunshine glanced against its screen did Sello realize it was a phone.

Do you want to take my number?

Sure.

Sello held out his hands for the phone, but Breyten recovered it with possessiveness not unlike how he had grabbed the tap at the stone fountain last Sunday. If you keep looking at me in church, I’ll fucking kill you. I’m not a moffie. Okay?

Do you mind if I take your number rather? I’ll SMS you.

Sure. It’s zero, seven, eight. Nine, seve––

Sorry, not so fast.

Sorry. It’s zero…seven….eight….nine…seven…one…two…five…three…nine

Zero-seven-eight-nine-seven-one-two-five-three-nine

Yeah. It’s Sello.

Cool. My name is Breyten. Thanks. I’ll SMS you.

Cool.

Cool. Thanks.

 

A short while after moving to Ladybrand, Sello started to have sex with a friend of his named David. 

They wouldn’t have sex in Ladybrand itself. David worked in Bloemfontein, and Sello would take a taxi to meet him there, travelling for two hours. Like Breyten, David was white, but much, much older. So old he had streaks of silver through his hair, but a handsome smile that revealed a boyhood beauty that must have driven the boys and the girls insane. A white boyhood where the world was also a feast; the WHITES ONLY beaches, the WHITES ONLY restaurants––David had witnessed the South African dream. In spite of this, there was one dream that Apartheid’s mailbox-lined streets could never grant him.  As young as Sello was, it was a dream the born-free years couldn’t grant him too. 

Not for people like them. 

They attempted to find it in each other’s bodies.

Cor Jesu Sacratissimum––The steel lance pierced in the Heart of Jesus. Like Jesus at Calvary, Sello shed some blood when David entered him. Sello wondered if Jesus had screamed too. Had he, like Sello, felt the pain and the pleasure of surrendering his flesh to the madness of mortal men? Men whose muscular chests jiggled like earthquakes when they fucked? Sello and David filled up the sepulchres inside of each other, both moaning in their hollow halls. It hurt so much it felt like there was a crown of thorns around David’s cock. As the condom dried up, the pain intensified; latex and flesh engorged inside Sello’s body. It was also a kind of heaven.  

When it was over, they picked their clothes from the floor as if they were picking up shed-off skin. Sello watched David in the darkness of the room, his back turned towards him. After throwing the condom away, David would always leave. Sello hesitated. He finally broke the silence.

I think I’m falling in love with you.

Keep that to yourself. I just came here to fuck.

* * *

There came a fear, and Sello knew it was the same one that had cut through his chest when he had first laid eyes upon Breyten. Or when Breyten had said he would kill him. Sello was scared because it was true. They both knew it was true. Sello was scared because of the sheer physicality of him; how he towered so high he seemed to cast a shadow with his brawn. A fear like encountering God. And yet this was the image Sello masturbated to in his bed. Sello’s God with the bulky frame and green eyes. Boys like Breyten were skilled in building the kind of pyre Sello would gladly throw himself into, the flames licking his elbows and entering his mouth. He looked at Breyten’s hands, rust-streaked with what he revealed was a lifestyle helping out his father on their farm.

I find that hard to imagine…your father taking off his robes to drive a tractor?

You’ll find that he’s a normal, Afrikaans man behind the theatrics. I’m like him almost.

Really?

They had met at Cranberry Restaurant on a Monday morning. He had kept his promise to text Sello, writing Sello’s name in capital letters in what Sello assumed was a conversation starter:

SELLO

But when Sello texted back, no reply came, and for a week, the now context-less SELLO hung in the space between their phones like a tablet of stone. Until Sunday evening.  Sello had stayed behind in his first successful boycott of the church. Though he had fought with ‘MaSello, his reward had been an SMS from Breyten.

Sello didn’t question the choice of meeting on a school day. No more than he questioned which school Breyten attended, or who his friends in Ladybrand were. He was aware that Breyten was creating a secret universe for both of them, tightly woven so they could occupy it while their friends were at school and the adults were at work. ‘MaSello had dropped him off at school just like any other day, but that Monday, Sello had waited for her car to pass around the bend before he started walking back. She had surely crossed the border to Lesotho at that point. Sello changed out of his school uniform in the bathrooms at Wimpy and walked to Cranberry on foot. When he got there, there were patches of sweat on the undersides of his arms, but he had no time to freshen up because Breyten was already waiting.

The conversation moved slowly. He was so beautiful Sello’s heart ached! Clouds passed over them. Along with pockets of sunshine. The shadows from the sky played across their bodies. Sello learnt that he was a Cancer, born on the 25th of June. Breyten had an interest in birding.

Every word Sello uttered in return was a sacred offering: apology, summer, Lesotho. Breyten had this way of looking at him, especially when he discussed things Sello couldn’t easily understand. The birds. Rugby teams. An intensity his eyes gained as he waited for Sello’s mind to assemble the pieces of information he needed for the idea to make sense. Breyten ordered a beer. When it arrived, the glass was perspiring from the chill. Sello wanted to transform himself into a liquid so Breyten could drink him in too.

A strange look clouded Breyten’s eyes. Sello saw it from behind the rim of the beer glass.

By the time he had put down the glass, the conversation had died. Only the strange look remained. Sello recognized it immediately; Breyten had touched the walls of The Glass Castle.

In The Glass Castle, a hundred boys fumbled over each other’s naked bodies. Their mouths moved, but no one could hear what they were saying; the castle walls were too thick. Breyten was one of them, as was Sello in his own way. The boys pulled the hair from their skulls, singing of a longing for release that could never be satiated. Sello never had to ‘come out’ to ‘MaSello, but he still remembered how it felt to be trapped in The Glass Castle himself. In many ways he still was––-why else would he agree to meet with a boy still trapped like Breyten if he wasn’t?

In the restaurant, the summer sunshine filtered through the foliage, creating a calm that seemed to stick even to the fabric of their clothes. Despite this, Breyten excused himself, and from his body, Sello could sense the weight of the unspoken words that shrouded the both of them. The weight of the summer, and all the small and precious things they had said and done to each other. 

After exactly seven minutes (Sello counted) Breyten returned.

He had barely sat down when Sello opened his mouth to speak. While Breyten was gone, he had gone back and forth deciding if the words he was about to say would be appropriate. In the end, Sello had convinced himself that it was his job to save Breyten. He would break The Glass Castle on his behalf. But as soon as Sello said the words, he knew that they were too big. 

I think I’m falling in love with you.

Breyten made a strange sound in his throat. Did Sello regret saying these words? His heart was beating faster, but there was none of the ugly feeling of self-loathing that had stuck to his body in David’s bed. A breeze moved through the restaurant. It touched Sello’s skin, creating gooseflesh even from under his shirt.

Breyten made some movement. He glanced at Sello before lowering his head and placing it between his hands. Wasn’t there a painting like that somewhere in history? The Boy in The Garden who couldn’t handle the weight of his thoughts, so he tried holding them in his hands instead? Sello couldn’t see Breyten’s face. What was he thinking? The restaurant’s pet peacock strolled beside them, dragging a shock of feathers behind it. 

When movement finally came, Sello was startled, because Breyten was still statuesque. Sello struggled to connect the too-still boy in front of him to the sudden, goading movement that came from underneath the table. 

It was Breyten’s foot touching his.

Warmth spread across Sello’s legs, summoning an erection. He allowed Breyten’s foot to roam across his; searching, nudging. When people made their shoes, all those sweatshops in the Asian countries, had they envisioned such a grand future for simple patterns sewn into leather? 

Sello laughed. 

Breyten didn’t laugh back.

His foot wasn’t roaming anymore. It lay beside Sello’s foot. Breyten peeked at Sello through his hands. 

I can’t tell you what you want to hear. But thank you for telling me that.

I know you can’t tell me. But can I get something more than ‘thank-you?’ Please.

That’s all I can give you for now. I’m sorry.

Both their eyes followed the peacock. It seemed aware of the attention it was suddenly getting, lifting its long neck. Sello turned back towards Breyten.

It’s not as hard as you think it’s going to be. My life changed the day I decided not to give a fuck about what people thought.

Breyten shook his head.

Let’s not speak about this anymore.

Sello felt around for him under the table. His foot was gone. Suddenly, Breyten was sitting up straight again. Like he had always done in church. His eyes were impenetrable.

How you getting home?

Sello’s foot tingled. This was how his body had tingled when months ago in Bloemfontein, he had woken up in David’s bed but David wasn’t there. The tingling across his arms when he used to wake up and hear ‘MaSello arguing with his father. One day Sello’s father had started his Toyota in the night and never came back. 

Um, I’m walking home.

The tingling didn’t stop. Breyten took out a leather wallet and paid for both of their food. He remarked on the peacock, asking if Sello knew that peacocks could fly? Finally, when the preliminary ‘leaving of restaurant’ rituals were done, waiting for the change, signing off the tip, Breyten looked into Sello’s eyes.

Can I ask you for a big favour?

Sure.

I’m going to ask you to leave fifteen minutes after me. Fifteen minutes, okay? I don’t want people to see that we’re together.

Sure. Wh––

Breyten got up and placed his chair neatly against the table. Without saying goodbye, he walked away, while Sello held on to the tightness in his chest. Words were meaningless, as was the regret of either saying them or leaving them untouched. Watching Breyten disappear behind Cranberry’s foliage, one of the last thoughts Sello had, lingering like the last guest at a party, was that he had a nice ass. By then Sello’s foot had stopped tingling.

* * *

Sello met David at the hotel. David had already booked out the room, telling Sello not to bother checking in at Reception. 

Just walk through to the room.

Why was Sello back here, even after he had promised himself never to return?

David wasn’t a bad person. When they had sex, he would kiss Sello’s eyelashes, as if to counteract the pain his flesh caused inside Sello. There was something beautiful about the gesture––Sello felt delicate under his weight. When they undressed, David would sometimes stand in the middle of the room, eyes roaming over Sello’s naked body;

I forgot how beautiful you actually are.

David once told Sello that he had been married to a woman. 

What made you divorce her?

I was tired of living ‘the lie’. Things were different when I was your age. If I’d been honest with myself, I would have avoided so many fuck-ups. 

Sello listened to the sound of David in the bathroom. Pee hitting the bottom of the toilet bowl, David opening the tap to wash his face (he always sweated after sex). There was always something to hope for—to meet a boy, to fall into his arms and know that he would break Sello’s fall. Sometimes Sello would entertain the possibility that Breyten could be that boy. Maybe with enough trying, Sello could still set him free. Other times Sello forgot why even liked Breyten at all. When David was inside of him, the sensation felt realer than anything Sello had experienced—the glances exchanged in church, Sello’s fleeting, but palpable moments of joy in Cranberry––David tied himself like a knot inside Sello’s body and Sello convinced himself that this was all there ever was. It was all there ever would be. Cheap hotels in Bloemfontein. Dilapidated apartments; a shirtless man smoking on the balcony beside a potted plant. Things seemed so easy for Sello’s friends at school. He would watch them at discos while they danced under colourful lights. Boys with girls. Girls with boys. As the night approached its end, they would lean against other with all the freedom of unsupervised teenagers. 

This bed, here with David, this was Sello’s world.

He dreaded the aftermath of David getting ‘done’. David would throw his legs off the bed and immediately start picking up his clothes. He would throw the condom away. Checking the time, his phone would light up in the darkness. Sello expected much of the same; he knew the texture of David’s back better than he knew his face. David didn’t reach out for his phone this time. He turned around on the bed and faced Sello.  There was an expression Sello hadn’t seen in his eyes before, a glimmer of warmth, or was this something Sello was reading into a face that he really didn’t know? 

You’re quiet. Are you alright?

Sello smiled. 

He answered that he was. 

Moso Sematlane is a writer and filmmaker who lives between Maseru and Johannesburg. He has been published in Brittle Paper and Enkare Review, among others.

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