I don’t know how everything got so … twisted. I was always happy before. Now, a dark cloud is always over me. And I don’t know how to make it go away.

School is a nightmare. I don’t know how more kids don’t just step in front of a truck. The teachers scream at us as if we’re criminals. We get hit too. We report this to the Deputy, and he always wrings his hands, and promises to do something about it. Fat chance. These guys are liars. They don’t like children. They just pretend to. I can see through it. I can see through everything.

I don’t have a favourite subject. I used to be good at maths and my teacher said I was clever at it. She left the school and now we have Mr Dlamini who is hopeless. He doesn’t discipline the class so nobody does any work.

Plus, when he tries to explain an equation, he actually gets confused, and we’re all thinking, ‘How do you not know how to do that, if you’re a teacher?’

It’s not very motivating, tbh. Your teacher not being able to do the sum. It’s demoralising, is what I think.

There is one thing I like to do. I can run. I am fast. I won my age-group’s gold medal for the hundred metre sprint. They sent me to the interschool quadrangular and I won bronze, even though I was younger than the other competitors.

I also like feeling like I am running away from everyone, and they can’t catch me. In that moment that you surge forward, you can begin to feel free, just for that one second.

It’s precious.

Piko is snoring in front of the TV. It’s 9.47 p.m. His phone rings. His ringtone is some dumb rap song. He listens to the stupidest music. It’s all ‘hoes’ this and ‘bitches’ that. It’s aggressive.

Anyway, his phone, it’s ringing. I look to his face, to see if it will wake him. It doesn’t. He’s just lying there like a corpse, the TV making a blue shadow on his face. The phone stops. He grunts. Then appears to sleep again.

I look out of the window. I can see the moon. It shines so brightly. Like an eye. It gives me a small shiver – it is beautiful.

The phone rings again. Whoever it is, is desperate to get hold of him.

Feeling guilty, I move to the shelf where it lies. I dare not answer it. I am not allowed.


Tell us what you think: Can verbal abuse, as in this chapter, affect a victim as much as physical abuse?