I tried swallowing the lump that was forming in my throat. Really, I did not want to be in Zizo’s bad books. Those people were all I had, and I had to treat them with the utmost respect. I got up and rushed to my room, to get dressed in Zizo’s coat. It was all I had, anyway. I decided to keep myself scarce around, because I didn’t want to bump into Zizo around the house. I stood by the window, watching the beauty of the sun as it was slowly setting for rest. That house turned me into a nature freak, I loved everything I saw through that window.

“Ah, I love that view” someone said, as the door slowly clicked open. I turned around, and there was Alex, standing by the door. I smiled. “Hey” I said. He walked in. “This view, I swear God had me in mind when He created it” he jokingly said, as he came to stand next to me. We both looked at the trees as the darkness slowly covered the leaves. “Its a really beautiful view” I said. “Oh, look at that. Look at that” he excitedly said. “What?” I asked, looking at where he was pointing. I saw a snake. In disbelief, I looked at him. “What? A snake?” I asked.

“Dude, that’s not just a snake as you put it” he said, still pointing at it. “Look at its beauty. Oh, and the way it swiftly moves around, letting its body intensely connect with the soil” he added. “Uh, are we still talking about that ugly and dangerous creature?” I asked. He laughed. “That’s the most evilish thing anyone has ever said to me in a very long time” he said. “Evilish is not really a word, but I guess I get your point” I said, and we both laughed. “Excuse me” Zizo said, as she barged into my room “I didn’t mean to interrupt” she looked at me, and I looked away. “No, you didn’t interrupt anything. Mandy and I were just admiring the nature, that’s all” Alex explained. “Dinner is served” she said, and walked out. I tried to act as cool about it as possible. “Come, let’s go and have dinner. Its rude to keep people waiting at the dinner table” I said, as I rushed after Zizo.

In the dining room, Zizo and Chukwudi had already started eating. I silently pulled a chair and sat down. Alex walked in, right after me. “I almost forgot how beautiful the view in Mandy’s room is” Alex said. “Its really beautiful, I still go there to unwind” Chukwudi said. The boys went on and on about the beauty of nature, and how it kept them excited and all, while Zizo and I were eating in awkward silence. “So, Mandy, how was your day?” Chukwudi asked. I cleared my throat. “Uhh, my day was okay. Apart from finding a man in the house, I swear I had a great day” I said. Chukwudi and Alex laughed at my lame joke, and Zizo pretended I didn’t say a thing. “Anyway, whoever cooks at sis Meissies’ knows her business. Their food is always on point, just the way I like it” Alex said.

Chukwudi and I looked at each other. “This meat is so tender, like it was prepared for king to feast on it.” Alex added. “Uhm, yeah. So, Mandy, I’ve been thinking” Chukwudi said, changing the subject. I looked at him and nodded. “Since we talked about you, going back to school and all that, I think you need to start with a computer course. I have already registered you to a computer academy a few blocks away from here” he added.

Silence filled the room. I was excited, but I wanted to check Zizo’s reaction, before reacting. Surprisingly, she didn’t react, she didn’t even say a word. “Mandy?” Chukwudi called out. “Uhm, I’m still overwhelmed by your kindness towards me. I mean, you don’t even know me, but you’re prepared to help me like this” I said. “Don’t mention it. As I said to you earlier, you need to finish your schooling, so you can secure your own future. This thing of looking for your sister should not be a priority to you” he said. Chukwudi, man. That man was heaven sent. Like, he was my guardian angel, in flesh and blood. Still, I contained my excitement and acted all normal. Appreciative, but very normal. For the first time since I met Alex, he was speechless. It was almost like, he was stuck in a room full of people who were speaking a foreign language.

After dinner, Zizo got up and walked away. I got up and cleared the table. “Let me go and rest, its been a very long day” Chukwudi said. “Goodnight” I said, as he got up and walked away .. Alex stared at me, as I cleared the table. I pretended I didn’t notice, and carried on with what I was doing. When I was done, I took everything to the kitchen, and he followed me. He sat on the kitchen counter as I did the dishes. “Mandy, what is going on here?” he finally asked. I looked at him. “What do you mean?” I asked. “You know what I mean man, what is going on here?” he responded. I saw no point in hiding what was going on, so as I did those dishes, I told him my life story. By the time I was done, we were both so touched by the story, and so moved by the pain I went through. “Wow!” he said, after minutes of silence. “Now I get why its not easy for you to share this story” he said, and I nodded. “Mandy, I’m sorry you had to go through all of that” he said, jumping off of the kitchen counter. “Its okay, I guess. I mean, life goes on. Right?” I said, faking a smile.

Alex kept me company, until I was done doing the dishes. “What’s the point of using dishes when you’re having takeaways? I’ll never understand why some people always make their lives difficult even when the fast foods joints makes things easy” he said, trying to shift from the pit of sorrow that we found ourselves sinking in. I just let out a smile and said nothing. When I was done with the dishes, I said goodnight to Alex and went to my room. I got there and closed my windows and curtains. I then took off Zizo’s coat and got into bed.

The following morning, I woke up to a little note, next to my bed. I sat up and read it:

“Mandy, I have left a little sum of money under your pillow. Take it and go buy yourself some clothes. Love, Chukwudi”. I felt uneasy. Maybe I was reading too much into things, but Chukwudi was coming on too strong. I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful little brat, but I was scared that Zizo would freak out when she realized that her man gave me money to go shopping.

I got out of bed and opened my window and curtains. The birds were joyfully playing around the trees, showing off with the beauty that lied in their color combinations. I smiled, what a view. I put Zizo’s coat on and went to the bathroom, to take a bath. There were no towels, set out for me. That alone was an unspoken message. I used a towel that I found hung behind the door and took the quickest and shortest bath in history. There were no toiletries too, so when I was done, I wore the coat and walked out of the bathroom.

I went to my room and made my bed. Chukwudi left me R 2000, for shopping. To me, that was a very big deal. I left for the shops. I had decided to start the computer classes when I’ve gone shopping. It was like a 10 minute walking distance to get to the CBD. I got lost around the streets for a while, until I could find my way. I bought myself a few clothing items, with sneakers and sandals. With the little amount that I had left, I bought myself some toiletries. “Mandiphumle?? Mandiphumle is that you??” someone asked from behind me. My heart skipped out of my chest. I turned around and was confronted by a shocked Mr Nkomo. “Oh my God, it is you” he said, as he hugged me so tight. “Mandiphumle, we were worried sick about you. Your father, Thabo, has been out of his mind, looking for you” he said, excitedly. “Let me call him and tell him that I’ve found you. Poor man, he has had a rough time trying to keep it together, without you and your mother” he said, reaching for his phone in attempt to call my worst enemy….