We seemed to be sitting around for ages. People were coming and going, being called in to see doctors, getting bandaged up by the sister. New patients arrived and left again, hobbling, oozing, expectorating. And still we sat. Getting a little worried, I could wait no longer. I approached the nurse who’d sent me to the sister.

“Sorry, I know you’re busy. I was here for a pregnancy test and they told me to sit and wait. Are they finished? Where should I go now?” Ever so polite, I was. I should have taped a “kick me” sign to my back right then.

The nurse looked me up and down, her eyes lingering on my name badge, which I now realised I should have taken off. I pictured her phoning the school principal during her tea break. I pictured myself being frogmarched off the school premises carrying a cardboard box of my stuff like fired employees do in the movies, running the gauntlet of jeering schoolmates and tut-tutting teachers, my humiliated parents waiting at the gate with a suitcase and a one-way ticket to a home for unmarried mothers in Klerksdorp…

This was what raced through my head in the time it took for her to look at my badge and say, “Oh yes, you. You’re pregnant.”

Just like that. In front of everyone in the waiting room, and as loudly as she possibly could without shouting. An she was loving every moment of it. Heads snapped around to check me out – this being a government hospital, there was no TV in the waiting room. They had to take their entertainment where they could find it.

Well, then. That’s settled. I was calm, I think. Amy and Abigail were fussing and squeaking and doing those things that girls do. I didn’t hear them. I also didn’t hear Bitch Nurse From Hell when she told me to come back again the following week. Amy nudged me in the ribs and I woke up a little.

“Did you hear me, girlie?” grumbled Gestapo Nurse, now impatient. She’d had enough of me. “Sometimes it’s a false positive. You should come back next week and do the test again to be sure.”

I don’t think I answered her. I was in a daze, more than a little gobsmacked. My friends steered me out of the hospital like an invalid or a drunk. I remember giggling. It’s something I seem to do in times of extreme stress or shock. Giggle. No swooning, no violent tirades or even hysterical tears. Just daft giggles.

We walked back to the library, where my mother was due to fetch me. I’d told her I’d been doing research for a project on geomorphology. Ho-ho! There’s a laugh. We didn’t talk much on the way, we just giggled. Then Amy said, all concerned-like, “Don’t go doing anything stupid now…”

I looked at her puzzled, not sure what she meant. Then I got it. Oh, she thought I was going to jump off a bridge, or OD on Dynajets. Given my history, I suppose I couldn’t blame her. But suicide was the very last thing on my mind. My head was full of a million thoughts all twisted up together, pushing and shoving and fighting to be heard. How am I going to tell my parents-what about David-what about school-what about me-what do I do… What do I do…

Among the confused jumble of panic, one thought was still. Lying curled up tightly underneath all the others was a tiny, quiet pink blossom of a thought, waiting for the fright to subside, waiting until I was ready to hear it.

I did hear it, once my friends had left and I sat waiting on the grass. I wasn’t dazed anymore; everything seemed clearer, more real. The sky was brighter, the grass more prickly, the sounds around me sharper. More there, somehow. Like I was seeing everything for the first time. I watched ants marching up a lamppost for a while, and they were fascinating.

Slowly my head started to empty a little, and that’s when I heard it – just a whisper:

“This is it.”

This was what I’d been waiting to hear all my life. It was real. I hadn’t been crazy all these years. I’d known there was something else and now it seemed to have found me. Later, when everybody knew and there was so much unhappiness and recrimination, I began to doubt myself and nearly gave up. I almost believed that I’d been wrong. But just then, there on the grass, I knew. I remember feeling gratitude: faith that everything would be okay. And I remember strength in me that seemed to come from somewhere else.

“This is it.”


As difficult as it was, I kept quiet while I waited for the second test. Because I’d been told to, I went back to the hospital, though I knew what they would say. I managed the wee cup much better this time, and in the months that followed, I became a pro. Not even a drop on the floor – I was ever so proud.

Bitch Nurse From Hell was not there this time, but Sister Du Preez was. She didn’t seem so bad. When it was positive, as I’d known all along it would be, she told me to go and see the Family Planning Counsellor. Talk about shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted and is halfway to the glue factory! Nevertheless, you do as you’re told.

“She can help you sort this out, lovey,” Sister Du Preez told me before bustling off to berate a stabbing victim who was leaking all over the floor.

The counsellor was nice enough. As I sat down, she peered at my file, then looked back at me (school uniform again), and I didn’t see judgement in her eyes. If it was there, she hid it well.

“So, you’re pregnant? You’re fourteen?” Nearly fifteen, I thought, but wasn’t going to push the issue. Only children deal in half-years, after all.