All Patty wanted to do was go to bed and think of Tefo.

Patty was sixteen and still a virgin. She had wanted to wait until that special person came into her life. And now that he was here, she was more than willing to lose her virginity. She visualised Tefo making love to her. He’d be gentle and kind. He was the type of man who knew how to take care of a woman.

“Thank goodness,” Mom said, breaking her out of her fantasy.

Patty looked at her mother and saw that Thulani had fallen asleep in her arms. Very gently her Mom laid him down in his cot.

“It’s the first time he’s been quiet all night,” Mom said. “I’m so thirsty. I’d love a cup of rooibos tea.”

“Sit down. I’ll make it for you,” Patty said.

Mom did as she was told.

When she finished her tea, Mom looked across the table at Patty. She looked very serious so Patty knew she was in for some kind of lecture.

“It’s hard bringing Thulani up on my own,” Mom said. “I was Winnie’s older sister and I helped raise her when our own Mom died.”

“You were very brave,” Patty said. “Aunt Winnie was lucky to have you.”

“I loved my sister very much,” Mom said, looking sad. “I miss her more every day, if that is possible.”

“She was just so beautiful,” Mom carried on. “But she liked men too much. Then when she met Thulani’s father she fell head over heels in love with him.”

Patricia nodded her head. She knew all about falling in love. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world!

“Winnie thought she was the only woman Desmond wanted. She had no idea he was such a womaniser. She believed all the silly lies he told her. When you are in love…”

Patricia sat transfixed. She had never heard her Mom talk like this.

“You do understand, Patty, that Winnie died of an HIV-related disease? Up to the last moment she refused to accept that she had contracted HIV from Desmond. Even when she fell pregnant she refused to go to the clinic. And because of that she has passed the HIV onto Thulani. If she hadn’t been so stubborn she could have got medicine from the clinic and at least saved Thulani from getting HIV. Now she’s gone and I’m left to care for him!”

Mom put her head in her hands and began to sob.

On Monday morning Patty couldn’t wait to get to school. She just wanted to see Tefo. Yesterday she had stayed at home all day with her Mom and Thulani.

Patty had been jolted into sympathy by hearing the truth about her aunt, and told her mother to stay in bed for a rest. She offered to take care of Thulani for the day. Patty hadn’t realised how exhausting it was to look after a baby. They demanded your full attention. And because Thulani was sick, it was even worse. But he was now on drugs to fight the HI virus in his blood.

The first person Patty saw as she walked in through the school gates was Zanele. Zanele must apologise for the awful things she had said about Tefo. She was so wrong about him!

When Patty left the classroom for first break she noticed a group of girls giggling in the school yard. When she walked towards them she noticed that they were all engrossed and casting rather disgusted looks at their cellphones.

“What are you all laughing about?” she asked, walking up to them.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” a girl called Alice said. She had a smug look on her face.

“Well, I’d like to see it anyway,” Patty said.

“It’s just a video clip of a party we were at on Saturday night,” Alice said.

“Cool,” Patty said.

“Well, if you really want to see it,” Alice shrugged her shoulders, “I’ll forward it to you.”

At first the picture was grainy. Then a perfect picture of Tefo came into focus. He was lying naked on a bed! The next moment an older girl came into focus.

“Come to me, wena,” Tefo said in that sexy voice of his. “I’m so hot for you.”

“And I’m hot for you, babe,” the girl said, as she ripped the wrap she was wearing from around her middle. She wore nothing underneath it.

Patricia took some deep breaths to try and compose herself. She noticed that the other girls were watching her. She turned her head and saw Zanele beside her.

“Come with me, Patty,” Zanele took her hand gently and led her away.

“I can’t believe how stupid I was,” Patty said through her tears, as they sat at the edge of the school grounds. Zanele put her arm around her friend.

“I’m sorry, Patty. Really I am,” Zanele said.

“I’m sorry too for not believing you,” Patty said. “I should have known that you’d do nothing to hurt me. Quite the opposite, in fact.”

“Tefo has quite the reputation at getting virgins into his bed. He likes to brag that he knows best how to deflower them.”

“I’m going to be sick,” Patty said, and rushed to the toilet to throw up.

Patty was allowed to go home from school and the principal sent Zanele with her, knowing that her Mom would be at work now.

“I really was going to have sex with him,” Patty said soberly, as soon as they arrived home. “I thought I was ready. That he really loved me. And I didn’t even think about condoms. I was prepared to do anything for him.”

Zanele hugged her hard. “Tefo is charming and persuasive.”

“He’s also a liar and a cheat. I’m glad I found out in time,” she said, thinking about Thulani, and about her aunt Winnie. “Will you help me do something?” Patty asked Zanele.

“Anything for a friend,” Zanele smiled.

Together the girls prepared a special meal for when Patricia’s mom came home. The look on her mom’s face and her warm hug began to wipe away the hurt and betrayal Patty felt. This was real love and support. When her mom got up to look after Thulani, Patricia stopped her.

“No, Ma, you rest. I am going to look after my new little brother,” she said taking Thulani and kissing him on his cheeks.