“You okay?” Fiona asked.

“Sure. Why?”

“Just asking.” I handed her back her calculator. “You can keep it I don’t need it just yet,” she said.

“No, it’s okay. I asked Reena and she still had an old one from when she was in school, so I’m good.” I took out my new calculator and showed Fiona, to prove it.

She held out her hand and I gave it to her. “Reena didn’t use it much. It looks new.”

“You know Reena. Never had time for school.” I snatched the calculator back and pushed it into my bag.

We walked by the staffroom just as Pearl came out. She was behind an old woman in a doek. “Hey Pearl,” I said.

“Hey Kagiso.” Her face was pale and thin, eyes rimmed red. The old woman kept walking, not realising Pearl had stopped to talk to us.

“Who’s that?” I asked.

“My gogo. She came to take me out of school.”

“Are you moving?” I asked.

“No. I wish I was.”

“What’s it then?” Fiona asked.

“What do you care? You’re probably happy!” Pearl snapped.

“Happy about what? I don’t know anything about you,” Fiona replied.

I could see Pearl was suffering. As much as she annoyed me, I felt bad for her. And also, I wanted to know what happened. I knew it had to do with Mr Phaladi. I put my hand on her shoulder and she seemed grateful for that small bit of comfort.

“You’re good Kagiso, do you know that? You’ve always been good to me.” I felt bad because I knew that wasn’t true. “I’m pregnant. I need to leave school because I’m pregnant.”

I felt like I’d been punched. Now I knew what the argument was about that morning. Now that she was pregnant, she was no longer “his special woman”. She was nothing more than a piece of rubbish to throw away. “Pearl I’m sorry, neh? Really sorry.”

Her grandmother called her from the gate. “I’ve got to go. Maybe if you get a chance you can come by my house and see me some time,” Pearl said.

“Sure,” I said, though I doubted I would.

Fiona turned to me when Pearl was gone. “Your future if you keep it up.”


“I said, that’s your future too. I know what you’re doing.”

Fiona knew? How did I ever think that she wouldn’t know? She knew me better than anyone. “I’m not Pearl. It could be different with me.”

“To him you’re exactly like Pearl.”

“Don’t say that Fiona!”

“Why? Do you want me to tell you lies?”

“No… I… I don’t know what I want.”

Fiona took me by the shoulders and forced me to look at her. “I care about you. You’re my best friend. And I will not let you mess up your life. Look at that girl. She’s finished. Do you want that? I thought you had plans.”

“I do. I just thought this might help some how.”

“Help? Are you mad?”

I pulled away from her and walked toward the gate. She ran after me. When she caught up she stood in front to stop me. “No! You’re not going to brush me off. I want what is best for you. But do you?”

I was angry. “What do you know about anything? You’re life is perfect. You don’t live in my house where everything is falling apart! I was just trying to find some way. And he made me feel… different, special… and it was nice. It was nice, okay?”

Fiona’s face softened. “You are special. But not because some lecherous teacher told you so. You’re special because you’re bright and strong and tough.”

I began to cry. I was stupid. As stupid as Pearl. I was no better. I was exactly the same.


Tell us: Are you a friend like Fiona? Do you tell your friends the truth even if it is painful to do so?