Sindi ran towards Thabo and threw her arms about him. She was smiling widely, and seemed thrilled to see him there.

Neither of them took any more notice of Joe, who walked off quickly. He had left his car parked in a field nearby.

Sindi kissed Thabo fully on the lips. He was a little taken back by her early morning exuberance, but none the less he was enjoying returning the kiss. Soon Thabo had forgotten all about Joe.

When they had finished kissing they sat down behind the boulder.

Sindi took Thabo’s hand in hers. He liked the feel of her small, dainty hand nestled in his much larger one.

They talked of many things, like school, teachers and the pupils. Sindi spoke in an interesting way, and she was very good at mimicking some of her teachers.

Thabo thought she was very mature for her age. She also had a great sense of humour. Thabo also thought she looked older than fifteen. Everything she said fascinated him. He hung onto every word she spoke.

“Last night you said you lived with an aunt and uncle? Where are your parents?”

Sindi’s eyes filled with tears. Then she leaned her head against Thabo’s chest and began to cry softly.

It was several moments before she said anything. Then she raised her head and looked sadly into Thabo’s eyes.

“My parents are … dead.”

“I’m so sorry, Sindi,” Thabo said, and wrapped his arms around her. He wished time would stand still and he could sit here with his arms around Sindi for ever. She snuggled in closer to him.

“I don’t normally like talking about my parents,” Sindi hiccupped, wiping her eyes. “What happened to them is just so sad. But I want you to know everything about me, Thabo.” She looked closely into his eyes.

Thabo felt a tight knot in his stomach. He wished there was something he could do to take the look of anguish off Sindi’s face. She looked so tiny and vulnerable cuddled up next to him.

“You don’t have to tell me anything right now, Sindi. We have lots of time to find out things about each other.”

She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. “I want to tell you, Thabo. There must be no secrets between us.”

He nodded his head. “We’ll always be truthful with each other.”

“I know I should be coming to terms with their deaths by now. It happened three years ago but to me it still feels like yesterday. I miss them so much,” she sobbed into Thabo’s shoulder.

“Shush, it’s OK Sindi,” Thabo soothed her. “Have you got any brothers or sisters?”

Slowly Sindi shook her head. “I’ve got nobody who loves me, Thabo. I was an only child. When my parents died I became an orphan.”

“What about your aunt and uncle? Are they good to you? Do they treat you right?”

Sindi shook her head angrily. Spittle flew out of her mouth.

“They hate me. They only gave me a home because my aunt is my mom’s sister. She was forced to take me in. But she and my uncle are cruel and unkind to me. They expect me to do all the housework. They treat me worse than an animal. I don’t like living there.”

“That’s terrible,” Thabo said. “They should be reported. Isn’t there a social worker you can talk to?”

Sindi shook her head from side to side several times. “I’ve tried talking to the social worker. She said I should be grateful that I have a home now. She pointed out to me that other children aren’t so lucky.” Sindi paused.

Thabo thought his heart would break for her.

“Nobody listens to anything I say. Once I tried talking to the old woman who lived next door to my parent’s house. She and my mother were friends. All she did was scold me.” Sindi shook her head angrily. “My aunt and uncle can treat me anyway they like and there isn’t a thing I can do about it. I’m supposed to be grateful because they put a roof over my head. I’m just so sad all the time, Thabo. I feel lonely. And I miss my parents more and more. Mom’s birthday is today. She would have been thirty-six.”

Thabo tightened his arms around her. “I’m so sorry, Sindi. I’m here for you now. I won’t let any more bad things happen to you. I’ll take care of you now.”

“Promise?”

“I promise,” said Thabo, taking her face in his hands and looking deep into her eyes. Then very gently he kissed her on the mouth.

When the kiss ended Sindi lay down on the boulder. She reached her hands out and cradled Thabo’s head in her lap.

“I knew you were special from the very first moment I saw you.”

“I fancied you like crazy,” Thabo said. “I could not believe my luck when you chose me.”

He didn’t see the wicked way Sindi smiled when he said those words.

***

Tell us what you think: What is Sindi planning?