Kamvilihle and Cynthia stood in the dark outside the hostel gate and giggled. The whole building was in darkness. Behind them Samkelo moved in the shadows. Maybe he had hoped that by offering to escort them back he might get lucky with one of them. Kamvi leaned over and whispered that idea into Cynthia’s ear. The thought made them laugh even louder as they imagined Miss Strydom, the Hostel Superintendent, finding him upstairs in their bedroom.

Miss Strydom had never married and to the two girls she seemed to be very old. The grey roots of her multi-coloured hair just about always showed, and most of the time she peered at them from over the top of the spectacles perched on the end of her nose.

“Maybe we should climb over,” suggested Cynthia, moving unsteadily towards the high, spike-topped gate.

“Are you crazy girl?” said Kamvi, tottering forward and pulling on her arm. For a moment she wobbled and then nearly fell over.

“What are you going to do girls?” said Samkelo from the shadows, and Cynthia shrieked. She had forgotten he was there.

It took a full minute before the two girls stopped giggling after that.

“I’m gonna pee in my pants,” said Kamvi, doubling over and crossing her legs, and then clutching Cynthia’s arm to stop herself from falling over. “I’ve got to get inside.”

“Well to hell with it then,” said Cynthia decisively. “We’ll just have to disturb Miss Strydoms’ beauty sleep. Too bad. Too sad.”

The two girls, with Samkelo still following a few steps behind, moved through the dark bushes to a glass door facing the road. They stood under the light over the entrance, and Cynthia stepped forward and knocked loudly.

Immediately a dog started barking. Kamvi stepped back, and nearly fell into a bush.

“Damn!” she hissed softly.

A light came on behind the glass door. The sound of a chain being drawn back was followed by the scraping of a key in the lock. Miss Strydom stood in the doorway, in a very large pink gown held together around her waist with a large pink belt tied together into a bow. She did not look good. She said nothing, but stood blinking at the light, her eyes enlarged by her spectacles.

“Kamvi and Cynthia,” she said, standing back from the door. “You had better come in.”

She stood aside for a minute and Kamvi and Cynthia moved past her. She did not look at Samkelo, but Kamvi knew that she had seen him. She slammed the door so firmly that the glass panels rattled in their frames.

“It is past midnight and you both smell strongly of alcohol.”

Miss Strydom spoke matter-of-factly, without raising her voice, and then opened the security gates and the doors to the girls’ dorm. The two followed her in silence.

“Go to bed now,” she said. “Be quiet and I will see you in the morning.” And with that she turned in her soft pink slippers and disappeared.

Kamvi and Cynthia stumbled into their room and felt for their beds in the dark. Siyanda and Thandi shifted in their sleep and muttered but did not wake up. Cynthia collapsed onto her bedcover and did not even take off her clothes. It was only a minute later and Kamvi could already hear her snoring.

The room took a while to stop spinning after Kamvi lay down on her back and stared up at the ceiling. She needed to go to the toilet, so she unbuttoned her jeans and pulled down the zip. But she didn’t move yet. She would go in a minute. These days she needed to go to the toilet more and more.

Through the blur of alcohol and the stale taste of cigarettes in her mouth she felt suddenly sober. She lay for a moment longer and then pulled her jeans off and wriggled into her pyjamas. A moment later she stood up and stumbled to the bathroom. On her return she felt suddenly wide awake, and she lay in the dark, listening to the peaceful breathing of her roommates around her.

“I shouldn’t have done that,” she whispered into the soft darkness in the room. She placed her hands protectively over the bump of her stomach. It now fitted completely beneath her two spread palms.

Kamvi knew enough to know that drinking a lot was not good at all. As she turned onto her side and drew up her knees she felt guilty.

The thing is, thought Kamvi, talking to the unborn child in her belly, I just can’t believe that you are real. Not really. No-one else even knows that you exist. So maybe you don’t. Maybe you are all in my imagination. Maybe I’m just really, really drunk.

A tear escaped from Kamvi’s eye, and surprised her by sliding down into her mouth. She tasted the salt, and for a moment wondered where it had come from. She had thought that getting drunk might help her forget, and make everything go away.

Instead here she was, talking to it for the first time ever.

And was that a kick beneath her hands?

It had never felt this alive before, and suddenly Kamvi felt terribly, terribly afraid.

Tell us what you think: What is Kamvi afraid of?