I could not stomach the fact that he made it clear from the word-go that he only wanted to sleep with me because nobody else had slept with me. Amongst other things, I was offended. “What do you take me for?” I asked, folding my arms infront of my chest. He smiled. “I take you for a brave young woman, who knows what she wants” he replied. I rolled my eyes and walked away. He called after me, but I ignored him. I had no intentions of sleeping with him for money.

I got home and changed into my sleepwear, I wanted Uncle Thabo to think that I was in bed the whole day. Later, they arrived. I was watching TV when they arrived. “Mandy, hello” Uncle Thabo greeted as he sat on the couch, opposite mine. “Hi uncle Thabo” I responded. “How are you feeling now?” he asked. “It still hurts a little, but I’ll be fine” I said. “Mmmh” he loosely crossed his legs. “You heal a  lot slower than your mother” he said. My insides turned. “Anyway..” he got up, “I brought some take aways” he announced as he walked away. I had lost my appetite. How could he say such a cruel thing?

He walked back into the lounge, with a tray carrying our food. “I’m not hungry, thanks” I said. He looked at me. “What? Why?” he asked. “I just.. I’m just not hungry” I said, trying so hard not to fall apart. “You need to eat, or you will never regain your strength” he said as he handed me my food. “No, I don’t want to eat!” I shouted. The sharpness of my own voice pierced through my ears. Uncle Thabo stared at me, still holding my food. “Who did you just yell at?” he asked. I looked down. “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again” I said. “Sorry, huh?” he threw the food at me and it spill all over me. “You’re sorry?” he asked again. I got up, and thoroughly apologized, promising to never raise my voice at him again. “Go to your room, before I slice your tongue and feed it to the dogs” he commanded. I literally ran to my room, fearing for my life. I knew I had to leave the following morning. I changed into a clean pair of pyjamas, locked my door up and tried to sleep. I tossed and turned the whole night, trying to sleep- with no luck.

The following morning, I heard them as they prepared for their day and I waited for them to leave. They left and  I got out of bed. I didn’t know where to start packing, but I knew I had to pack as fast as I could. Olwethu knocked on our back door, as usual. I went to open for her. “Hey, what’s new?” she walked in. “I’m leaving.” I announced. She looked at me. “Yes, I’m leaving. Today” I emphasized. “Where are you going?” she asked. “I don’t care” I said as I walked to my room and she followed me. “What happened to waiting until you get hold of your sister?” she asked. “I changed my mind, the minute uncle Thabo threatened to slice my tongue and feed it to the dogs” I said. “Eew! That’s so disgusting” she said. I took my suitcase out. “That man is sick, and I don’t want to push him” I said. She nodded. I packed as fast as I could. “Where will you get the money to travel around?” she asked. I stopped packing and looked at her. “I will see” I said. She was so worried about me. Little did she know that I had Mr Nkomo’s son at the back of my mind.

“Mandiphumle, I have to go.” She said, and I nodded. “Please take care, okay? Please. If things don’t work out, please come back. I will beg my parents to take you in” she said. I nodded again. “Thank you, I will keep that in mind” I said. We shared a very tight hug, crying on each other’s shoulders. I was scared, but leaving was my only option. We broke the hug and she left.

I finished packing and went to take a quick bath. While bathing, I was staring at my naked body in the mirror, trying to check if Mr Nkomo’s son was going to like what I was going to offer him. I was also rehearsing what I was going to say to him, especially after the way I left him the previous day. “Hi, I came to accept your offer” I said. “Arg, that sounds too plain and boring” I condemned my statement. “Hi, do you still want me?” I said as I raised my eyebrows. “No man, that sounds too ghetto” I said, laughing at myself. In the midst of my laughter, I stopped and tears rolled down my cheeks. “What am I doing?” I  silently asked as I stared at my face through the mirror.

I went to my room and got dressed in a simple dress and sandals. I neatly made my bed and walked out with my suitcase. On the way, I had cold feet. I thought of going to sis’Thandi instead, and ask her to hide me for a couple of days. When I got to her house, the gate was locked. I hopelessly stood there for a few minutes. “Mandiphumle, sis Thandi is not around” a guy said as he walked past me. I looked at him. “Where is she?” I asked. “She went to a church conference. My mother left with her, and they will be back on Sunday” he said. “Okay, thank you” I said. Sunday was a day or two away, but it felt like forever. I picked my suitcase up and rushed to the shop. Mr Nkomo’s son was there. His face lightened up as I walked in. “Hey, look who’s back?!” he  sarcastically said. I put my suitcase down and stared at him. “Does that mean you’re…” before he could finish his question, an old lady walked in. She greeted, and we greeted back. “Mandy, what’s with the suitcase? I saw you walking down the street carrying it” she asked. “I’m taking old clothes to the orphanage home, in town.” I said. “Oh, that’s so thoughtful of you” she proudly said. I faked a smile and looked away. “MaDlamini, how can I help you?” Mr Nkomo’s son politely asked. “Oh, please give me a 2 kg’s packet of rice, the cheapest, and three bananas” she said. Mr Nkomo’s son gave her what she asked for, and she paid up. “When is your father coming back?” she asked. “He has three more weeks to stay there” he said. “Oh wow, that’s a long time. And you, Mandiphumle?” I looked at her. “Where is that forever-smiling mother  of yours?” she lovingly asked. I cleared my throat. “She’s around. She hasn’t been feeling well, that’s all” I said. “Oh, okay. Send my love to her” she said and I nodded. She said  her goodbyes and left.

“So, you’re here for our deal?” he asked and I shyly nodded. “Okay cool, here” he handed me a key. “What’s this for?” I asked. “That’s the key to the house. Or you thought we were going to have sex here?” he giggled. I took the key. “Open up and go straight to my room. Its the first room on your right, down the passage” he ordered. I nodded, picked my suitcase up and walked away. “Hey,” he called out. I stopped on my tracks and closed my eyes, waiting for him to say whatever he wanted to say. “Help yourself with some food, you look like you haven’t eaten in days” he said. I opened my eyes and silently continued walking. I got to the house, which was just back yard, and went to his room. It was a very tidy room, with photos of the whole Nkomo family. They looked really happy, with smiles and all.

After looking at the photos, I went to the book shelf that was neatly packed  on the corner opposite the door. I took one book out and browsed through it. “Shit!!” I remembered that I left the letter and envelopes at home. I ran off. Because I wasn’t going to be long, I decided to rush home without telling Mr Nkomo’s son. I was just going to take the letter and rush back there.

I got home and rushed to my room, qickly grabbed the letter and the envelopes, and ran back to Mr Nkomo’s house. His son was standing outside when I got there. “There you are! You gave me a fright” he said. “I’m sorry. I quickly went to take these” I waved the letter and envelopes in the air. “What are those?” he asked. “And what’s with the  luggage?” he asked again. I opened up and we walked in.. “Mandy, what’s going on?” he asked, almost as if he cared. “I need to get away from here. My life is in danger” I said. “What do you mean?” he asked. We got to his room and he closed the door behind us. “My step father is.. he’s.. ” I looked at him. “Can we do what I came here for?” I asked. “Okay, but are you okay?” he asked. I nodded.

He came closer to me and gently rubbbed my shoulders, trying to get me to relax. He then took my dress off and I was left with my panty and bra. I was so uncomfortable. He kissed my neck and I moved away. “Kissing wasn’t part of the deal” I said. He laughed and slid his hand in my panty. I felt chills down my spine as he carried me and layed me on my back, on his bed. He undressed as fast as he could, then he got on top of me. I closed my eyes as he took my panty off.. For my escape, I had to sell my soul, creating a soul-tie with a man I never even loved.  A man whose name I didn’t even know.