After dinner, Trevor and Thoko both cleared the table. I got up, with an attempt to follow them to the kitchen.

“Mandy?”

Mommy called out. I stopped on my tracks and turned to look at her.

“Could you please sit down for a few minutes?”

She humbly asked. I went to sit back on my chair.

“Mandy, Daddy and I would like to talk to you, before you go to bed”

I nodded. She looked at her husband, signaling that he should take over. He cleared his throat..

“Mandy, as we’ve already said earlier, you are more than welcome to stay for as long as you want. Since you will be staying with us, we feel its important that you know the people you are staying with”

I nodded, totally fascinated by the “we” vibes that he had going on.

“I am Pastor Vusumzi Nkomo. My wife over here is a very important part of who I am. She is my prayer warrior, without her, I wouldn’t be standing firm in my salvation”

Mommy almost evaporated from her seat.

“In this house, every child under our care is our child. Biologically, God only blessed us with Thokozile, but we know He had a reason for that because look at our family now. We are complete. We want you to know that to us, you are on the same level as our kids. You can talk to us about anything and everything”

I nodded, fiddling with my fingers.

“Honey, just like any home, we have ground rules. They are not impossible to live by, look at Trevor and Thoko. All we expect from you is respect. We expect you to conduct yourself in a dignified manner”

Mommy added, and I nodded again..

“We all have a strong relationship with God, and we would like you to join us and have a relationship with Him too”.

I looked at Daddy..

” We will not put pressure on you though”

He added. Mommy took me through all the do’s and dont’s. I’ve already heard everything from Thoko and Trevor, but I had to keep calm and pretend like I was hearing everything for the first time. When they were done, they both prayed for me.

“Amen, you can now go’

Mommy said.

” Thank you”

I got up and walked away.. When I got to the kitchen, Trevor and Thoko were chatting up a storm, but they keep quiet when I walked in..

“Phew! You scared us. We thought you were one of them”

Thoko explained the sudden tension. I smiled, showing that I understood..

“So, as I was saying, Derrick thought Tracy was cheating on him with Morris. He was so furious. I kinda knew that Tracy and Morris were no longer on speaking terms, but I couldn’t tell him that”

“Why not? And how did you know?”

“Ah come on man, Tracy? Tracy is not even capable of cheating. Yes, she really loved Morris and the whole school knew that, but she is over him”

“Yeah, but how did you know?”

“I.. Well, I sort of read a text from Morris on her phone!”

“Trevor!!”

Thoko hit him with the dish cloth and he ducked ..

“What? The text came through while I was busy downloading some songs from her phone”

“And you had to open it? Wow dude, you’re something else”

“Derrick is my friend. A part of me really wanted to know what he was getting himself into”

“Or maybe you were just nosey. Geez!”

He laughed.

“Anyway, Mandy.. What were the folks saying?”

“The usuals. They were giving me the ground rules. Oh and, they suggested that I accept Jesus Christ, but they are being smart about it because they say they are not going to put me under pressure”

“Haha! Wait till they start putting you under pressure”

Trevor giggled.

“Want my advice? Accept the guy and get them off your case. They will keep a close on you if you are not saved. Play them at their own game, so they can trust you easily”

“Point taken. I will do that as soon as possible”

It was the first time I ever had a close relationship with pastors’ kids. To me, being a pastors’ kid was something special and glamorous because it came with a lot of benefits. What I didn’t know was miserable pastors’ kids are. I didn’t know how empty they felt inside as their parents lived their lives for them. I couldn’t believe I was one of them. I could not believe that my frustrations included sneaking out to be myself for an hour or so. Wow!

While we were still chatting, Mommy walked in.

“Kids, its prayer time”

She announced..

“We’re almost done, Mommy. Give us a minute”

Thoko replied. Mommy walked away. Thoko quickly wiped the kitchen counter and we went to the living room for a prayer. The prayer lasted for about an hour. I couldn’t believe it. Daddy was practically flying around each room and we had to follow him, while we were also praying. We went into each and every room in that house, praying. By the time we were done, I needed a foot massage, but Daddy didn’t seem like a good Samaritan in massage donations. We then all shared a group hug and parted ways. Trevor and Thoko ran up the stairs. Like, with what energy?

I got to my room and changed into my pyjamas. I then got into bed and fell asleep almost immediately. The following morning, Thoko’s singing woke me up. Why would someone sing so early in the morning while other people are still sleeping? Selfish! I checked the time on my phone, and it was 6:30. I also noticed that I had a text message. I opened it and it was from Thando and it read as follows;

“My Sunshine, I hope everything is still going well on your side. We need to talk, please get back to me as soon as you get this”

Without wasting any time, I sent him a message, asking him to call me. He called.

“Thando”

I picked up..

“Sunshine, how are you?”

“Where have you been, Thando? Where did you disappear to?”

“I’m sorry for that. I know I was a jerk for pushing you away when I needed you the most”

“You pushed me away Thando, I tried calling you but you wouldn’t pick up. I texted you, Thando, but you never replied”

Tears were welling up in my eyes.

“I know, and I’m really sorry. I know I messed up. Truth is, I didn’t want you to see me when I was falling apart. I thought it would all go away and things would go back to normal, but I was wrong”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve lost my son. I feel like I have lost a part of my entire existence”

“Oh my God, Thando.. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. When did this happen?”

I sat up. .

“Last night. You were the first person I thought of, but I didn’t want to wake you up because it happened late last night”

“I’m really sorry, I don’t know what to say”

“Mandy, I am weak. I am tired of being strong”

I could hear it in his voice that he was crying..

“I need to come and pay my respects. Please send me your address”

“Please, I need you here. I need you right next to me”

I cleared my throat..

“Please send the address. I’m really sorry for this. No parent deserves to go through this”

“Thank you, I will send you my address. Please tell Phila as well. I need her to know as well”

“Okay, I will”

We wrapped up the call and hung up.. I covered my faced with my hands and cried. I almost imagined myself in his shoes. No parent deserved to go through that.

“Oh my goodness, are you okay?”

Someone asked. I looked up, without thinking of wiping my tears. My face must have been a mess, because the look on Mommy’s face was scaring me..

“Honey, are you okay?”

She came to sit next to me..

“No, I’m .. I’m not okay”

I spoke through very heavy breaths that carried so much pain.

“What’s going on? Please talk to me”

I sniffed..

“My .. My friend lost his son”

“Oh Father God!! Oh Jehovah! What happened?”

I wiped the streaming tears.

“He got burnt by boiling water. Poor kid, he was only four years old”

“My condolences to him and his family”

I sniffed.

“Mommy, can I go and pay him a visit?”

She looked rather uncomfortable..

“Please, I promise I won’t be long. You can even drop me off and pick me up there”

“No, its okay Honey. You can go and see your friend. He needs you now more than ever”

I sniffed again..

“Thank you so much.. Can I use your phone? I want to make a call and inform my other friend”

The real reason why I asked for her phone was to make her listen in on the conversation I was going to have with Phila. I wanted her to trust me.

“Yes,you can use my phone”

She handed me her phone. I dialed Phila’s number and called her..

“Mmhm?”

“Phila, Thando has lost his son”

I forced the words out of my mouth.

“What??? Mandy, no! When did this happen?”

“Last night. Phila, can we go and visit him? He needs us”

“Of course. Where are you now? When can we go?”

“I’m home. I’ll wake up and prepare now. Can we meet in two hours?”

“No problem. Where are we meeting?”

“In town. Choose as spot if you got there first and I will do the same”

“Sure”.

I hung up.

” Thank you”

I handed Mommy her phone.

“Honey,you need to remain strong for your friend. Please cry for as much as you want now, because you can’t cry when you get there”

“I will try to be strong. He needs us strong”

I got out of bed..

“Let me leave you to prepare. I’ll be downstairs if you need anything”

She walked out. I rushed to my en-suit bathroom and took my first shower there Life really is a roller coaster ride. Just a few hours from that moment, I was in love with Bazukile’s bathroom, not knowing that I was going to own mine sooner. When I was done, I got dressed and quickly made my bed. I took my phone and rushed out of the room. Mommy was downstairs, in the living room. She looked like she was packing..

“Mommy, I’m ready to go..”

I looked at the suitcase she was zipping up..

“Are you going somewhere?”

She looked at me and smiled..

“No, I’m not going anywhere. These are the dresses we’ve made for our clients. We’re doing deliveries today”

Huh? I didn’t understand what she was trying to say, but I didn’t have time ..

“Oh, I see. Uhm, I have to get going”

“No, not so fast. Eat breakfast and take your supplements first”

I smiled and looked down.

“Oops, I’m sorry”

“No need to apologize. Make it snappy, you might get yourself a lift from me”

“Okay”

I rushed to the kitchen and quickly made myself a bowl of cereal and ate. When I was done, I went to my room and took my supplements. Those stairs were going to be the death of me. I was so lazy to walk up and down the stairs. Mommy was now waiting for me in the living room..

“I’m done”

“Let’s pray and go”

We prayed and left. While we were driving to town.. I decided to conduct and control the conversation..

“So Mommy, where and when did you meet Daddy?”

She looked at me and smiled..

“No child has ever asked me that before”

“Oh, I’m really sorry”

Damn, overstepping the boundaries!!!

“No, its okay. You don’t have to apologize. I met Daddy at a church revival. My father was invited to a revival in his neighborhood, so Daddy says he heard the good singing and decided to attend. He met me while I was on stage, worship the Lord the beat I know how”

I smiled.

“Oh, wow!”

“He says he fell in love right at that moment. He knew he stood no chance, so he decided to repent, and be a man of God, just to be close to me. He even joined my father’s church and had to travel for about an hour just to get to church”

“Seriously? He changed for you?”

She nodded, almost blushing..

“He dedicated his life to the Lord. It took him five years to even talk to me. When he finally proposed, I just knew he was the one”

“That’s a very beautiful story to tell. So you’re also a pastor’s kid?”..

She nodded.

” So, you also grew up the same way you’re raising us?”

She nodded again.. We were arriving in town..

“Oh, that’s a very beautiful story”

“Thank you. We all have beautiful stories to tell”

I wouldn’t agree with that. There was nothing beautiful about my story.

“Where are you meeting your friend?”

“Let me quickly call her”

I took my phone out and called Phila. She told me where they were waiting for me. She didn’t mention who she was with, but she was not alone. Mommy dropped me off and I went to meet up with them. They were in Bazukile’s car. Esona and Phila were at the back and Bazukile was standing next to his car..

“Hi”

He turned to look at me..

“Mandy, hey”

He rushed up to me for a hug.. I stepped back.

“Uhm, where is Phila?”

I really didn’t want to take any chances. What if Mommy was watching from a distance? He disappointedly looked at me.

“What’s wrong?”

He asked.

“We’ll talk later. I really need to speak to Phila”

I opened the back door.. Esona and Phila were all giggly.

“Guys, hi. Phila, can I have a word with you?”

“Sure”

She stepped out of the car. I pulled her so we could stand away from Bazukile..

“Let go of me. What’s up with you?”

“Phila, what’s going on with you? Are you lesbian now?”

She laughed.

“What’s up with the label?”

“Phila, snap out of it already. Esona is turning you into something you are not”

“Esona? Esona is turning me into something I’m not? What am I? Please, tell me what I am, because I, myself, don’t know what I am anymore”

“You are a straight woman who loves her man. I don’t like this person that you are becoming. Please don’t let this person lure you into her web”

“This person? Well, I love this person.She has accepted me for who I really am”

“That’s because she doesn’t know who she is. Phila, this lifestyle is not normal. Get out, while you still can”

“Dude, did you come all this way to preach about my lifestyle? If yes, thank you so much but I’m not in the mood”

I sighed.

“Please take your stuff so we could go”

She went back into the car. Bazukile walked up to me..

“Mandy, what’s going on?”

“What do you mean? Nothing is going on”

“No, don’t give me that. What is going on? You are not the girl I was with on Sunday morning”

He was right. I had changed. I had a new purpose and a new chance in life.

“Nothing is going on”

Phila walked up to us..

“Let’s go”

She said.

“Sure”

I took a few steps away and Bazukile grabbed my arm.

“Oh no, you’re not going anywhere. What is going on? I deserve to know”

“Let go of me”

I spoke through my teeth.

“Mandy, I deserve to know what is going on. You can’t just shut me out like this”

He let go of me..

“Guys, let me go and wait in the car. I don’t need to listen to this”

Phila walked away.

“Mandy, please talk to me”

“I can’t be with you anymore. Okay? I want us to make this as less dramatic as we can”

“Less dramatic? Mandy, you are breaking up with me. What do you expect me to do?”

“Its not even like we were in a relationship”

“Well, I love you!”

He burst out. I looked at him, with my mouth hanging open.

“I knew from the day I laid my eyes on you that I loved you. I just didn’t want to go down that route because I have always been scared of opening my heart for love. I’ve always been afraid of being vulnerable in the hands of someone else.Now that I feel like I’m losing you, I am willing to learn to settle down. Please don’t leave me. Don’t walk away with my heart”….