It was late evening at the Sutherlands, where Mandisa worked. After mopping the floors and washing the dishes she went to her bedroom and called her mom.

“I passed my driver’s test Mom!”

“I’m so happy for you, my child. Now you must save up to buy a little car, even if it’s a scrap, so long as it gets you from point A to point B.”

“I promised Sindi I’d go to church with her if I passed,” Mandisa laughed. Sindi had been on at her for months to come and listen to her Pastor. Church was everything to Sindi. Mandi had warned her that just because she went once didn’t mean Sindi would convert her.

“Promise me you’ll get a car…” Her mom wouldn’t let it go.

“With what money, Mama?”

“You need to save up, baby.”

“That’ll probably take me five years, Ma. Anyway I have more good news. Sarah Sutherland is organising me an interview at Sutherland and Son, their construction company. She says I can’t be their helper all my life. She can see how talented I am.”

“You have been blessed, my child. This is your one chance of getting that freedom and comfort you’re always speaking of. Don’t play with such opportunities. God rarely hands them out twice.”

“I know. I’m so happy today. I feel like a kid in a sweet factory. Anyway, I don’t have much airtime. We’ll chat soon, OK?”

“We’ll be praying for you, my dear.”

She sounds just like Sindi, thought Mandisa. “Sure, OK, goodnight.”

“Have a good night, my baby.”

Mandisa sat back now, smiling wide, rubbing her tummy.

Mandi hadn’t yet told her mom or anyone else that she was expecting. It’d been two and half months already. A bulge would soon show, she feared. Her man, Themba would have to assist in the matter, and unfortunately, he’d also have to pay, as per tradition. But Themba was out of town with Mr Sutherland right now, so Mandi was on her own.

A glowing Mandisa turned her bedroom lights off, got into bed and slept.

The forest was dark, eerie, wet with mist that enshrouded everything, making the shapes of branches look like sinister claws reaching for them. Three terrified young girls were desperately fighting their way through, constantly looking back at their pursuers who were not far behind. Their breath came in gasps. Thorns and branches ripped and scratched their clothes and flesh, but they didn’t dare to slow down. The girls sprinted as fast as they could. Behind them, danger – possibly even death – chased them relentlessly. They were getting so tired …

Mandisa woke up.

It was a recurring nightmare that she had been having for twenty years. It had become part of her, consuming and dominating her sleep, and no pills could help the kind of insomnia that followed.

She woke up soaking wet, her heart pumping.


Tell us what you think: Why might Mandi struggle with nightmares? Is there something deeper behind them?