My eyes fluttered open and the first thing I felt was the absence of Junior. My heart stung a little, knowing he was not here by my side. I turned around and looked at the time on my phone. It was a little over 8 a.m. I sat up straight from the thick black comforter and stretched my arms.

“Did he propose? How is the ring? Is it so huge that it feels like you are wearing a rock on your finger?” Missy asked when she called.

I let out a sigh, and Missy went quiet for a minute. “Oh,” She let out. “He didn’t propose.” I shook my head as if she could see me shaking my head, and a tear escaped and rolled down my cheek. I didn’t even know why I was crying, I angrily wiped the fallen tear away and banged my head on the headboard. “No, he didn’t.” It hurt a little bit more having to say it out loud.


When I got out of the Uber, I came across Sihle’s car parked in the driveway. She was here already, great.

I have nothing against Sihle. Growing up we were okay, not close like all the other siblings out there, but we tolerated each other. Although I call her my sister she’s actually my cousin. When I came to live with her and her parents after my parent’s death, she never hated me at least, even though she, an only child, now had to share her room. She would only pass a few snarky comments when I made her mad, but I still considered her as my sister and her parents as my own, believing that maybe one day we would grow close – but we never did. There was always something separating us. Her parents always found something to fault me for, like if I got a bad grade, I would instantly be called out and be compared to their precious ‘perfect’ daughter. But they still became mom and dad to me, even if I was the odd one out.

I sighed and balanced the Tupperware full of biscuits in my arms and opened the door. The thick laughter of Sihle and our mother swallowed me the minute I walked inI. I closed the door behind me, casting out the coldness that seemed to follow me inside.

I formed the most perfect smile that I could muster and went to the lounge where I found everyone sitting and playing a game. Two of my aunts being here made this a full-blown gathering. I greeted everyone and excused myself to go to the kitchen where I placed the Tupperware on the counter.

I took a deep breath. This was going to be a long day, I thought to myself before returning to the lounge and joining in the game they were playing.

My parents always wanted us to have lunch at least once a month, where our mother would have the opportunity to ask what we have done with our lives to better them. It was the day of judgement when I was compared, as usual, to Sihle, who was always excelling and doing wonderful things, while as for me, my life felt like it was stagnant. I hated these lunches but they were mandatory ever since Sihle and I moved out.

With my other aunts’ presence, the lunch went by perfectly; for the first time in forever I actually enjoyed having lunch with my family. The table was lively instead of being filled with tension and high expectations. I was almost sad when the lunch came to an end. I took the dirty dishes to the kitchen, and I felt Sihle’s presence before she even said a word. “Do you want me to help you?”

I smiled. “What you should be doing is go and sit down and not be on your feet.” I looked at the dirty dishes and nodded towards them. “I’ll manage here.” She was pregnant, after all.

“Okay, if you insist.” She turned around and left. I sighed and started doing the dishes.

When I’d finished, I wondered what kind of game they were playing now. I hoped it was a game of cards, I thought as I walked into the foyer leading to the lounge. I stopped in my tracks when I heard Junior’s name.

“He’s been very present since he heard that I was pregnant,” Sihle replied casually, like it was no big deal.

“But the wedding preparations have been going great, well not as great as I would have liked because Junior has been dragging his feet with telling Simbongile about us, but I gave him an ultimatum: maybe that will be enough to push him,” Sihle continued.

My heart was galloping on my chest like a horse running away from something, my hands got sweaty, and tears blinded my eyes as I tried to make sense of what I just heard.

Wedding? Spending time together, what the hell was going on here? What were they even talking about? My heart stopped beating for a few seconds, no, this couldn’t be. This had to be a sick joke of some sort. Was Junior was making me a complete fool while he had a whole different life with Sihle – and everyone knew except me?

Instead of going to the lounge, I ran outside and tried to suck in air to my now dry lungs – I couldn’t breathe – was this how it felt like to die?

The cold air hit me on my face the minute I walked out; tears stung my eyelids. It all felt like a dream, a bad dream that I couldn’t bring myself to wake up from. My hand clawed my chest, feeling my heart shatter into a thousand pieces.

I ignored the beeping sound from my phone when I got inside the Uber.

Tell us: what would you do if you were Simbongile?