We all jumped with fright when the telephone rang. Ma picked it up. “Oh, thank goodness! Are you sure she’s okay?” Tears were running down Ma’s face.
“The driver of the bakkie has just brought Lizzie into a police station in Port Elizabeth. He hadn’t even known she was on the bakkie until he stopped there.”
I felt weak with relief. My legs felt strange. In no time, we were on our way to PE. We found the police station. Samora waited in the car.
Ma and I went into the police station and there was Lizzie, sitting on a chair. Her whole face lit up with a smile when she saw us. The three of us hugged and kissed each other.
“Ma, Esther,” she said. “I’m sorry I got into the bakkie. I didn’t want to go home then. But I do now. I’ve missed you.”
Ma turned to the police officer and said gratefully, “Thanks for looking after Lizzie.”
The officer smiled and told Lizzie never to get into cars or bakkies with people she didn’t know.
“I won’t!” she promised, clinging on to Ma with one hand and me with the other.
Then Ma called Dad on his cellphone. She seemed calm now and I could hear the relief in her voice. I realised that Ma and Dad were talking about us – Lizzie and me.
They were still our parents after all.
She handed the phone to Lizzie. We listened to her telling Dad about her trip to PE.
I couldn’t hear what Dad said. But Lizzie answered, “I promise I’ll never do that again, Daddy. I was upset. I didn’t know what to do.” A moment later she handed the phone to me. I looked desperately at Ma, and shook my head.
She took the phone from Lizzie, spoke softly for a minute and then disconnected the call.
I wasn’t ready to talk to my father yet. I was still very angry with him. I kept thinking of all the dreadful things that could have happened to Lizzie.
In my mind he’d only been thinking of himself. Ma, Lizzie and I had suffered so much over the past few weeks. It wasn’t easy just to forget the pain he had inflicted on us. Everybody maintained that divorce was no big thing these days. But Dad’s betrayal had hurt me deeply.
It had affected everyone in the family.
A week later when I returned home from school Dad was waiting for me outside the house. I stopped in my tracks. He looked so sad and downtrodden that I wanted to run into his arms. But I held back.
“Hello Dad,” I eventually said, softly.
“Can we talk, Esther?”
I nodded my head.
“I know everything has been very hard on you. I came to say I’m sorry and to see how you are.”
“I’ve made many mistakes. I’m not seeing that woman any more.”
It was then that I started to cry. Once I started I couldn’t stop. Dad tried to put his arms around me but I pushed him away angrily.
“You mean all this was for nothing!” I sobbed.
“I thought you would be happy about it, Esther.”
“Does this mean that you are coming home?”
“Your Ma said she wouldn’t have me back now. She needs time.”
“I don’t blame her. You can’t just do something like you did and expect us to welcome you home with open arms.”
“I understand,” he said softly.
“I don’t think you do, Dad. You break up our family for what? A fling with a woman you just met!”
He just stood there.
“You’ll have to give me more time too, Dad. I’ll have to learn to trust you again.”
“Thank you, Esther.”
Tell us what you think: Must trust be earned?