When Mr Peterson finally dismissed the class and Richard came right to where Thandi was sitting and leaned down to her. She went on gathering her books into the bag and pretended not to see him.

“Can we talk for a minute, Thandi?” Richard asked her quietly.

Thandi paused a little and closed her eyes. She swallowed a gulp of saliva and reopened her eyes. She stood up, picked up her bag, put it on her shoulders and walked towards Richard. She didn’t feel as brave as she looked when she looked Richard in the eye. She felt vampirously hungry for his touch.

She suddenly moved one step forward but then stopped.

That was not what she wanted. He was the one who betrayed her in the first place. Richard was looking at her warmly. Just from the look in his eyes, she felt so complete. But she knew that in reality she was very far from complete, not when his father was still walking with his two feet. She sighed heavily.

“I am late for my last class,” she gave him a weak smile and walked past him out of the room.

She walked heavily without looking back. He didn’t come after her; he didn’t call after her but she could feel his eyes on her as she walked. She walked on without paying attention to where she was going. All she could think of was to get out of his sight before she could collapse.

Thandi stopped walking when she arrived at the corner of the class and leaned against the wall. She felt tired and heavy already. It had been only four months and she could feel a baby inside her. The belly was just a bit visible when she wore tight shirts, which she avoided recently. The old people already suspected something, like Mrs Josephina, the Entrepreneurship lecturer and her landlord Mrs Elizabeth.

Thandi knew that it was a matter of time before Mrs Elizabeth would phone her mother and all hell would break loose. Her mother wasn’t at all scary, but she was scary when compelling her father to punish her. She always got severe beatings from her father when she had done something wrong because of her mother.

She would sleep in the cattle kraal with the cattle because she managed to escape her father’s beatings. Her mother would do nothing other than to cuss her. Sometimes Thandi wondered if she was her mother’s daughter or if she was a found orphan. She didn’t even look like either of parents, though she had a few features like her big brother who looked so much like their father.

Maybe that was why they were actually close to each other. And for the longest time that she could remember, her brother was the one who bought her clothes and most of her needs. Her parents covered her medical fees and only sent her money after three months.
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Thandi stood up from the wall and took a turn from the classes. She was intending to skip Entrepreneurship lecture. She was over with the day’s stress. She made her way back but then decided against it. She was avoiding bumping into Richard again, so she walked all the way around the design studio which was just on the opposite side of her class, and walked past the security house and out of the school premises.

Once she was out she felt at ease. She could walk with ease and not look behind her back to see if anybody was following her. She even walked slower and tried to gather all of her thoughts together. She wanted so badly to talk to Richard but she wasn’t going to let her guts down. Not when he left her in the midst of worries and loneliness.

He didn’t say anything when he was gone and he didn’t even call her. He wasn’t there when her father called her and asked her if she was still behaving herself. He did that every month. He would call her for not more than three minutes, asked her whether she was behaving and not pregnant yet.

She never talked with her mother, only her sister who would occasionally call to tell her about what new things she got. The one person that she talked with more often was her brother, even though he was in South Africa. They talked almost every week except the last two weeks.

Thandi had tried to call him but his phone went straight to voicemail. She got really worried because it was the time that she decided to tell him the truth about her pregnancy.

***

Tell us: What do you think Richard wanted to say?