“Let me check your homework,” Masego’s mother said, before they left for school.

Masego took her books out triumphantly and handed them over to her mother. “You should really try to improve your handwriting,” she said, and shoved the books back at her daughter.

Masego walked to the car and gave Katlego the ‘don’t ask’ look.

“Remember to keep out of trouble,” her mother said.

Her father added, “Remember that bad children shame their parents and bad parents shame God.” Then he looked at their mother who looked back at him and they smiled and faced the children, like two television hosts saying goodbye to their viewers.

* * * * *

“Zee, come, I want the news,” Malebo said, pulling Masego to their chill spot behind their register class. Most learners hung out there to catch up on everything.

“He called to say he’d realised there was no cinema in Kuruman, so I should come to his house to watch movies,” Masego said, waiting patiently for the butterflies to strike. And they did. She smiled a wide smile and looked away.

“Remember what happened when I went to my boyfriend’s house?” Malebo said and smiled.

“And you and Boikago are still doing it,” Masego said, making a disgusted face.

“Darling, you have never even kissed a boy. Be careful of those butterflies! They can carry you away! At least I knew Boikago well before we had sex. All I’m saying is that going to his house is a bad idea.”

“So, you are now the expert?” Masego said, walking away as the school bell rang.

At lunch break, Masego’s phone vibrated. It was a WhatsApp from Odwa.

Hey, do you want anything from the
tuckshop? [Kiss face]

Masego stared at the phone before typing back.

A Lunch Bar would be nice [Kiss face]

“Zee, just be careful. You barely know this guy,” Malebo said, breaking the silence that stood boldly between them.

“Male, I’m strong. Plus I’ll pray and ask God to give me additional strength to resist,” Masego said, not looking up from her phone.

Malebo coughed and Masego raised her head. Odwa was walking towards them.

“Hi ladies!”

“Hi,” the girls said at the same time.

Odwa handed Malebo a Lunch Bar first, and then gave one to Masego too.

“I know that you have a twin, so I couldn’t buy just one chocolate,” he said, and walked away.

“OMG, did that just happen?” Malebo asked.

Masego didn’t say anything. She was watching Odwa walk away, his scent still hanging in the air between them.

At the end of the day, the school bell rang and the learners rushed out of the classroom, like captured birds finally set free.

“Hey,” Malebo said, pulling Masego from the crowd, “What are you going to say to your parents when you visit the hottie?”

Masego stopped walking. She hadn’t thought of that. She never went anywhere her parents didn’t approve of. Her Saturdays were spent at the church youth service or at a school event, or sometimes at Male’s house if they were working on a project together. Her Sundays were spent at church.

“You were right. This is all a bad idea,” Masego said as she walked towards the school gate. She could hear the preacher’s words, “If you give in to the Devil’s temptation and defile your body by having sex before marriage, you are worthless! Remember, your body is a vessel for the Holy Spirit. Treat it with respect.”

She started to jog, trying to escape the words in her head and her confused feelings of guilt and desire. Malebo came running after her.

“Hey, if you really want to go to Odwa’s, you can come to my house as cover first. We have the economics project to finish anyway.”

Masego looked away as she gave Malebo’s words some thought. After a while she turned to her. “Are you sure this is going to work?” she said.

“Of course. Your parents will drop you off at my house and, as soon as they’re out of sight, we’ll walk together to Odwa’s house. I can go to Boikago’s until your date is over,” Malebo said confidently.

“How do you know where Odwa lives?” Masego asked.

“I don’t know. You must ask him how to get there,” Malebo said spiritedly.

“I thought you wanted me to take it easy. Why the sudden cheerleader vibe?” Masego asked.

“Listen, do what you want. I’m just trying to help,” her friend said impatiently and walked on ahead.

Masego didn’t run after Malebo like she had run to her. Instead she stopped to text Odwa.

Hey, where do you stay?

As if he’d been waiting by the phone like a girl in a Tamia song, he replied immediately.

Opposite the sports ground.

Masego couldn’t believe it. You could almost touch the sports ground from Malebo’s house. He must stay on the same street. The plan might just work!

With butterflies again dancing in her stomach, she ran after Malebo. Panting, she finally caught up. “I’m new to this, Male. I’m sorry I snapped at you. I’ll ask my parents if I can come to your house this Saturday.”

“What changed your mind?” Malebo said.

“Odwa stays on the same street as you. That must be a sign, right?” she said, smiling.

The girls walked home, and on the way Malebo told Masego more about the pleasure she and Boikago had in the bedroom.

“But, Zee, you must remember that Boi and I waited seven months to get our groove on. And I felt ready to open up to him physically because I know he is my soul mate,” she said, surprised by her own words.

“Malebogo Nonyane, saying ‘soul mate’? There is indeed a God!” Masego said, and laughed.

* * *

Tell us what you think: Is it okay for teenagers of 16 or 17 to be sexually active like this? How about the pastor’s view of sex before marriage?