I wonder what story I can make up so I can go and meet Tefo, Patricia thought. She was sixteen years old, and in love for the first time in her life.

Her cellphone beeped. It was from Tefo.

Want 2 meet me at the mall 4 a coffee?

She tried to keep the excitement out of her voice as she spoke to her Mom.

“Zanele wants me to go to her house and help her with her English homework,” she lied, easily. Lately Patricia had learnt to tell many lies.

“Oh Patty I wanted you to stay and help me with the baby.” Her mom said.

For a moment Patricia felt guilty. Mom looked worn out from taking care of the baby, Thulani.

“I won’t stay too long,” Patty promised.

“I don’t want to get in the way of your studies,” Mom said. “But could you just spare me half an hour, Patty? I’m exhausted.”

Patricia felt annoyed and resentful at her Mom. She didn’t want to keep Tefo waiting. She felt lucky that he had asked her out. He could have any girl he wanted, but he only wanted her.

“You’re beautiful,” he told her again and again. “I want to be the man to make love to you.”

Tefo wanted to have sex with her. Patricia was still a virgin and wanted to keep it that way. But of course that was before she met Tefo. He was different to every other guy she had met. He was tall, handsome and so very sexy. Who in their right mind would turn down an offer like that?

Ever since baby Thulani had come into their home everything had changed. He had to be looked after all the time.

“Why don’t you fill the bath with water for me?” Mom asked. Patricia heard another beep on her phone.

R u coming or not?

“I don’t want to bath Thulani!” Patricia yelled, making an ugly face at her mother.

“What is the matter with you, Patty?” her mother responded calmly.

“You can’t take your bad mood out on an innocent child, Patty,” Mom said, shaking her head. “We’re his family now. We must take care of him.”

Patricia sighed deeply. “He never stops crying. I can’t stand it.”

“It’s just all so strange to him,” Mom said. “He misses his old home. He misses his mother.”

Patricia saw that her own mother was close to tears, but she didn’t care. All she wanted was to get out of the house and meet Tefo.

“Where is Aunt Winnie? When is she coming to fetch her baby?” Patricia demanded.

Mom had tears in her eyes. “She’s not coming back, Patty. Aunt Winnie died recently. I explained everything to you when I brought Thulani home with me.”

“Sorry. I forgot,” Patricia lied.

“Now wena, how could you forget something like that?” Mom said.

Mom looked at her with concern – as Patricia knew she would. Patricia had recently become good at manipulating a situation to suit herself. “OK, go and meet your friend. But remember you must be back here by ten at the very latest, Patty.”

“Yes Mom,” Patricia said. “I’ll just go and wash my face and hands.”

Patricia disappeared into her bedroom. She pulled a brand new, white, strapless T-shirt from a box under her bed. She had also hidden a short denim skirt and a pair of very high-heeled, gold, strappy sandals.

“See you later, Mom,” she called.

“Bye, sweetie!” Mom didn’t even look up because Thulani was crying very hard while she tried to feed him a bottle.

Patricia hurried past her ex-best-friend Zanele’s house. She didn’t want Zanele to see her. Though she hated to admit it, Patricia missed her friend very much.

The two teenagers had been friends since they were small children. Last week they had a terrible row on their way home from school. They had not spoken since.

“I don’t know what’s happening to you, Patty,” Zanele had said.

“What do you mean?” Patricia asked.

“It’s like you’ve turned into a different person since Tefo started taking an interest in you.”

“No, I haven’t!” Patricia protested. “I think you’re just jealous.”

Zanele cleared her throat and stopped walking. She looked closely at her friend. “Jealous?!” she echoed. “I’ve known you for ever, Patty. And have you ever once noticed that I’m a jealous kind of person?”

Patricia sighed. “Well then, why can’t you be happy that Tefo has asked me out?”

“We both know that Tefo only wants one thing, Patty. When he gets his way with you, he’ll discard you like a used tissue.”

“Please don’t say that about him, Zanele. I know I can change him. I’ll make him respect me. He loves me.”

“Have you slept with him?” Zanele demanded.

“No – not yet,” Patricia said, with a smug look on her face.

“A leopard never changes his spots,” Zanele said. “Tefo won’t change.”

“I want to make love to him,” Patricia said.

“Tefo doesn’t ‘make love’, Patty. He uses innocent girls like you for sex.”

“How would you know?!” Patricia yelled at her, and stormed off home. She had not spoken to her friend since.