I hated how my survival plan was unfolding before my eyes. Relying on men for survival was never my idea of a future. After hanging up, I continued pacing up and down. I could feel anger through my fingertips. How could Zizo do that to me? How could she side with that witch while I was going through hell? While I was still pacing up and down, someone knocked on my door. Without wasting any time, I rushed to the door and opened. Chukwudi was standing there.. “Hey, can we talk?” he asked. “Sure” I replied, turning around and walking back into the room, leaving the door open for him to walk in..

“About earlier, what you did back there was totally out of line” he said. In disbelief, I turned to look at him. “Excuse me??” I asked.. “I mean, you can’t just bite people’s heads off over your assumptions” he explained. “Biting people’s heads off over my assumptions? So its an assumption now that Zizo is friends with that girl?” I asked. “Its not about who’s friends with who. It’s about you, accusing Zizo of taking information to someone else” he replied. “I’m telling it like it is” I said, looking away. “Mandy, you had no right to attack Zizo like that. Especially since you don’t even have proof of what you’re talking about” he said. It was clear that he was sent to call me to order, for being too vocal about my thoughts and feelings. I wanted to explode some more, and tell him where to get off, but I couldn’t. “Okay. Maybe I overreacted, but why did she talk about Alex and his little family?” I asked. “She was just informing you of Alex’s movements” he replied. ” “And what will she gain from that? ” I asked. He sighed. “Mandy, just watch your mouth. Okay?” he raised his tone. “Fine. I’ll shut up and let Zizo walk all over me. Its fine” I replied. “There’s so much drama going on in this house as it is, I don’t need more drama” he said. I nodded. “Thank you for understanding” he said, walking out. I threw myself on the bed, covered my face with a pillow and screamed..

Days went by and I was making myself as scarce around the house as I possibly could. Alex was also nowhere to be found. The only thing I saw was money on my bedside, to last me a couple of days.. It was quite clear to me that he meant it when he said he wanted nothing to do with me, and I was totally fine with it. I could not force myself on him.

On Saturday morning, Phila woke me up with a call.. I fiddled under my pillow, looking for my phone. I found it and picked up.. “My friend, are you still sleeping?” she asked. Phila was always loud, gosh! “Yes, I’m still sleeping” I replied. “Wake up and get ready, I’m coming to pick you up” she said. “Why? Where to?” I asked. “You’ll see. Its a surprise” she excitedly replied. “At what time will you be here?” she asked.. “Let me know when you’re done” she replied. “Okay, cool” I said, hanging up.. It was 9am, and I still needed my beauty sleep. I got out of bed and went to the bathroom , to take a bath. When I was done, I wrapped a towel around my body and walked out of the bathroom. I bumped into Alex, as he was heading towards the bathroom.. “Hi” he greeted. “Hello” I greeted back, passing by.. “How are you?” he asked. I turned to look at him. “I’m fine, and you?” I responded. “I’m okay, thanks. Have you been to the clinic yet?” he asked. “No” I replied, folding my arms. “You really should go there. The sooner the better” he said. “I will go there when I’m ready” I replied. “Mandy, you have to-” I cut him short. “Oh drop the act, Alex” I said. He silently looked at me. “We both know that you don’t care about me. All this caring act to is to ease your conscience” I added. “Where does that come from?” he asked. “It comes from the fact that you don’t even bother to check how I’m doing. All you’re focusing on is looking like a supportive ex. Thank you so much for your support, but I will do this my way” I replied. “Okay fine, have it your way then” he walked into the bathroom. I was sick of him, controlling my pregnancy like he had a say in any of my choices. I got to my room and got dressed at fast as I could. I just wanted to get the hell out of there..I called Phila and told her I was ready. After hanging up, I sat on the bed and waited for her to arrive. Bed making was slowly becoming my worst enemy, but i forced myself to it. She arrived shortly; I grabbed my handbag and rushed out. Alex was watching TV when I rushed out.

A Black car was parked outside. I rushed towards it. Phila stepped out of the car. “Little Miss Sunshine!!” she yelled.. I laughed as she came to hug me.. “Come, let’s go” she broke the hug.. “Where are we going?” I asked. “We’re going out. My friend and I have decided to take you out” she explained. “You and your friend? So you told your friend about me and my problems?” I asked. She laughed. “Relax, will you? Thando is a very good friend of mine” she assured me. “Then why is he here? I don’t know him, why is he interested in taking me out?” I asked. “Mandy, come on now. I told Thando that I want to go out with my friend, and he offered to come with” she explained. “Are you sure? Because I don’t want you go play cupid on me now” I double checked and she laughed some more. “I promise you. This is just innocent fun” she replied, pulling me closer to the car.. We both got into the car, at the back.”Hi” I greeted. The man turned to face me. He was dark in complexion, a little too dark, with neatly trimmed beard which beautifully covered his cheeks and chin. “Hello” he greeted, with his baritone, showing off his bright White teeth. “How are you?” he asked. “I’m good, thanks. And you?” I responded. “I’m fine, thanks. I’m Thandolwethu, but you can call know Thando” he said. “I’m Mandiphumle, but you can call me Mandy” I responded. He stretched his hand out for a hand shake, and I stretched mine out too. He tightly held my hand, looking at me straight in the eye. I looked away. He cleared his throat and let go of my hand. “I’m pleased to meet you, Mandy” he said. “Pleased to meet you too” I responded. “Thando is a very good friend of mine .. We have been through some shit together” Phila announced. Thando laughed. “You got that right” he said. “So, where are we going?” he asked. “I’m sure Mandy would love to watch a movie” Phila quickly replied. “Don’t be a self appointed spokesperson now” Thando joked, and we all laughed. “Mandy, do you feel like watching a movie?” he asked. “Yeah.. sure..” I replied. I didn’t care what we did, as long as I had a great day with some good company. “Aren’t you hungry? Have you eaten?” he asked. “I haven’t eaten, but I’m not hungry yet” I replied. He turned around and started his car.. “Movies it is then” he said..”Why are aren’t you asking whether I’m hungry or not?” Phila asked. Thando laughed. “Please, like you would wait for me to ask if you were really hungry” he replied. Phila laughed.. “Thando, will you treat me like the lady that I am?” she joked. “Dude, stop it already” he said. They sounded so familiar with each other.

We got to the mall and went for a movie. Thando covered the costs. Throughout the movie, he was holding my hand. At first, I was a bit uncomfortable, but I ended up relaxing. After watching the movie, we went to have brunch- more like a feast. We were talking about general stuff. For once, I was not the centre of attention. For once, I forgot that I was pregnant and had to decide whether to keep the baby or abort. I didn’t have to think about how I was going to tell Sibusiso about the pregnancy and how I was going to deal with the rejection that came with it. I was just happy. I was just me- Mandiphumle Soldati, not Mandy the pregnant teenager. After the hearty meal, we went to the beach. Phila insisted on staying in the car, because she “had to call her boyfriend”. “Are you sure you don’t want to join us?” I asked, looking at Phila. “I’m sure. Go ahead, guys. I’ll be okay” she replied. Thando remained silent, while Phila and I were talking. She insisted that Thando and I go without her.

“Are we going to walk on the pavement or on the sand?” Thando asked. “I want to walk on the sand. I want to feel the softness of the sand as it melts under my feet” I replied. He smiled and looked down. “What?” I asked. He looked at me. “Its just that, the way you responded shocked me” he replied. I laughed. “I’m sorry, I just love nature” I said. “No need to apologize” he said, gently patting my shoulder.. We both took off our shoes and went for our walk.

“So, tell me about yourself” he said. I cleared my throat.. “What do you want to know?” I asked. “I want to know who Mandiphumle is” he replied. I cleared my throat again. “Well, Mandiphumle is a very simple girl. A lover of nature and beauty. I am a first child at home, with only one sibling. My mother passed away recently and Uhm.. I’m very sensitive, sometimes a little too emotional. I am a matric dropout, due to personal reasons. I think that’s about it” I said. “Tell me about yourself” I added. “I’m Thandolwethu. I am not a believer of self analysis, but I would like to think that I’m easy going. I’m the what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of guy. By profession, I’m a legal advisor in some company, I don’t want to bore you with the details” he said. “Sounds interesting” I said. He laughed.. We continued walking, and talking.. We had a lot in common, even though we didn’t really share the same amount of love for nature. He was generally intelligent, and talking to him gave me insight on some issues. Before we knew it, we were so far away from the car. The walk got really thought provoking, that we forgot that we had to walk back. Upon realizing that we walked more than we wanted to, we both laughed .. Because I was so tired, he carried me on his back. He was tall and had broad shoulders. I felt like a little kid on his back, and I was screaming in excitement. He playfully ran, with me on his back and I screamed louder.. We got to the car and he put me down.. “And then?” Phila asked. “What’s up with you two?”.. Thando looked at me, signaling that I should answer Phila’s questions, but I just laughed.. We wore our shoes and got into the car..

The rest of our day was pure definition of perfection. I had the time of my life, without worrying about anything. Later, they drove me home. I said my goodbyes and stepped out of the car. When I walked into the house, Alex and Chukwudi were watching TV. I greeted, and Chukwudi greeted back. “Mandy, can I have a word with you?” Chukwudi asked, as I walked past them. Chukwudi and “having a word”, gosh. I turned to look at him. “Please come and sit down” he asked. I went to sit on the couch.. “Mandy, do you remember the conversation I had with the both of you, when I found out that you were dating?” he asked.. I nodded. “Well, I did ask if you guys were sure about the decision you took, and you said you were sure. I was asking that because I know that relationships sometimes die, just like now. I asked that because I knew the tension that your breakup was going to bring us” he said.. “Now, you guys have broken up, and we have to live under tense conditions. You’re both super sensitive and you’re ticking time bombs. We are suffering because we have to tip toe around you two and around the house at large” he added. “Chukwudi, you know I was prepared to make it work with Mandiphumle. I was even prepared to go an extra mile and take her brother too. What I cannot stand is a liar. Someone who is dishonest and conniving” Alex said. “As if you’re the most honest person on earth” I replied. He looked at me. “What does that mean?” he asked. “Its less than a week since our breakup, and you’re already playing happy families with your ex” I said. “What? Now you’re going to act like you didn’t know that I had a woman who is carrying my child?” he responded. “Guys, please” Chukwudi said. “I knew that, what I didn’t know is how you quickly got ready to be a father” I replied. “I never said I’d be an absent father to my child” he said. “Guys!” Chukwudi called out.. “That’s so sweet of you” I sarcastically replied. “,Guys!!!!” Chukwudi yelled. We both kept quiet and looked at him. “That’s not why we’re having this conversation. I’m having this conversation with you two, to show you how frustrating it is for us to be in the same house with you guys” he said. I did not like where that was heading.

“Uhm, Chukwudi. I’m sorry for making your lives miserable. I didn’t mean to. I sometimes get too emotional. I promise it will never happen again” I apologized. If Chukwudi and Zizo were frustrated, that meant I stood a great chance of being kicked out.. I couldn’t be homeless again. “Mandiphumle, this is about you and Alex. You can’t take the blame for this” he said. “Let me take the blame, Chukwudi. I’m the one who walked into your lives, only to complicate them” I said. “Chukwudi, are you done? I’m sick of this” Alex said. “Sick of this or sick of me?” I asked, looking at him.. “A bit of both” he replied with the lowest of tones. Wow! “Guys, you need to be adults about this. Breakups aren’t meant to be ugly” Chukwudi said. “Fine, Chukwudi. We hear you. As for me, I always try to keep away from Mandiphumle and everyone in the house. I don’t want to make you guys uncomfortable. I’m really sorry if I snapped at you, for whatever reason. It was never my intention to upset you guys” Alex apologized. “And Mandiphumle, I’m sorry for losing it. I guess its this whole pregnancy this messing with my head. I’ve been a little moody lately, and it bothers me a lot” he said.. That was really sweet, coming from him.. “I’m also sorry for all the drama. This pregnancy is messing with my head too” I also apologized. After a few seconds, we looked at each other and laughed.. “Now that sounded so weird” he said.. “You’re telling me? Dude, we sound like two depressed pregnant women” I joked, and we all laughed.. “Now I’m confused, what just happened here?” Chukwudi asked, and we laughed again .. “You’re sitting right there, how can you be confused?” Alex asked. “Exactly my point, I’m sitting right here and I missed the part where you guys snapped out of anger.” he explained.. “Next time, pay attention” I said.. We were laughing like nothing was wrong.

Later, I got up. “Let me go to bed. I’m really tired” I said.. “Goodnight” Chukwudi said. I nodded and walked away.. “Mandy, wait!” Alex called out. I looked at him as he rushed up to me.. “Look, Uhm.. I miss you” he said. I looked away. “I know we agreed to take a break, but I miss you so much .. I still feel like you are the only person who knows me. I feel like a piece of me died the day I broke things off with you” he added. Wow, that was the sweetest thing that Alex had said to me in a very long time.

Before I could say anything, my phone rang.. I took it out of my pocket and silently mouthed “excuse me”.. Alex nodded and looked away. ” Hello” I picked up, even though I couldn’t recognise the number. “Mandy, hi”, I swear I recognised the voice from the very first word it uttered. I tried so hard not to smiled widely.. ” Hello, ” I replied. “Are you still smiling from the day we had? he asked, silently giggling. ” Yes, actually. I am” I replied, equally giggling.. “I got your number from Phila, just after we dropped you off” he explained. “Okay, no problem” I replied. “I can’t stop thinking about you and the wonderful day that we had” he said. I took a glance at Alex, who was minding his own business, right in front of me. “Really?” I mumbled. “Yes, really. Mandy, can I take you out? Just the two of us” he asked. “I see no problem with that. I mean, we had fun earlier, so yeah!” I replied. Alex looked at me. “Thank you, can it be on Monday?” he asked. “No problem” I quickly replied. “Mandy, you’re all I’m thinking of. Its like you have casted a spell on me” he said. My heart skipped a bit.. “Oh!” I mumbled. “I will call you later, Little Miss Sunshine” he said, and I laughed. “Stay beautiful” he hung up.. I put the phone back into my pocket . “I almost forgot how loud this speaker is” he calmly said. I knew that speaker was loud, but I didn’t know it was that loud .. I smiled and nodded. “So you went out on a date? Wow, I’m … Uhm I’m happy for you” he said. I wanted to stop and correct him, explaining to him how the “date” thing started out, but he didn’t stop to listen. “Well, let me not keep you for long” he swallowed. “I will see you around” he walked away, clearly disappointed. I sincerely wished I could live a life where men were not part of my survival plan. My heart yearned for independence, but all I had was my harsh reality..