Every winter, Johannesburg is set on fire. For three months, a bluish haze settles over the city as the local fire department lights a series of controlled burns to stop the surrounding plains from turning to kindling. It was on one of those South African winter nights — crisp, cold and smelling of smoke — that I first met my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
Well, maybe met is too strong a word. My boyfriend M. and I walked into a crowded party and I caught a glimpse of her across the room, clutching the green neck of a Heineken and laughing at a joke I could not hear. I pivoted on my toes, walked the other way, and spent the rest of the night keeping her in my peripheral vision while avoiding eye contact.