Hardly an hour in his space and he was already treating me like trash. I could not imagine myself as his wife, enduring all the pain and misery while forced to wear a smile as my makeup. I gathered some strength and went to one of the spare rooms. I didn’t want to irritate him any further, so I chose to sleep in one of the spare rooms. The room was cold, almost as if there is no furniture- like it was an empty hall. I switched the air conditioner on and adjusted it to the temperature I needed. I peeled the bed cover off and climbed into bed. My thoughts were contaminated with the worry of what my family would say when they find out that I have escaped. I couldn’t sleep a wink. Bazukile messed up and was just too proud to admit it. There was no way we could reach any form of solution if he couldn’t admit that we had a problem. To me, escaping from hospital was a big deal, a big deal I was dismissed when trying to question.

I must have dozed off, because Bazukile came to wake me up the next morning. He gently shook me.

“Baby, wake up”

He whispered. I opened my eyes and looked at him. He was smiling like everything was okay.

“Here you are, I’ve been looking all over for you”

I took a deep breath, trying to maintain my calm.

“Baby, I am really sorry about what happened earlier. I know this situation is stressful for you, and I understand that you also have a right to worry when things seem to go wrong”

He grabbed my hand and rubbed it. I removed my hand from his.

“You’re sorry? So how is your sorry going to fix the mess you have just created? How is your sorry going to take my pain away?”

I saw a glittering tear, escaping his eye.

“Mandiphumle, I am really sorry. I love you, please understand that this is all new to me too. I struggle to keep myself together too. I don’t know what’s going on”

He leaned on his knees with his elbows, resting his face on his hands.

“We were at our happiest moment, and we loved each other right. I was there for you throughout your pregnancy, as I promised. I loved you and I wanted to spend the rest of my life ensuring your happiness”

He took a sigh.

“You seeing that body changed things between us. Whether we admit it or not, but things are not the same anymore. It came as a shock to me too, and having to always come up with solutions to these forever rising problems kills me too. Maybe the way I’ve been doing things has been hurtful to you, but I was doing what I thought was right and needed to be done. I’m sorry if I’ve been hurting you in the process. I wanted to solve each and every problem we face, alone, forgetting that I am not alone in this. I thought I was protecting you”

He wiped his tears with the palm of his hands.

“The way you asked me those questions last night made me feel stupid. It hurts to be viewed as stupid by the only woman you have ever really loved. I promise you that I will try harder. Please forgive me. I am human, and I learned from my mistakes. When I got back to the living room and couldn’t find you there, I got the shock of my life. I thought you had run away. You scared me, baby. Please don’t do that again”

He sounded so sincere. Maybe he meant every word because every word carried so much emotion. I cleared my throat.

“I love you too, Bazukile. Yes, you and I were at our happiest phase. What happened came as a shock to us both, now we need to find ways to deal with it, together. We need to talk about it”

He nodded.

“I agree. Look, I really meant it when I said I wanted to marry you. I really want to spend the rest of my life with you”

I cracked a smile.

“Thank you, I love you too. I guess I need to learn to accept that you are a murderer and that’s not going to change”

“I am. That’s why I really didn’t want to turn you into this. I didn’t want to take your innocence away from you”

“It’s done. Let’s find ways of dealing with it”

I sat up.

“I have asked the nurse to call your Mommy before knocking off and announce your discharge. I will take you home myself and talk to your parents myself”

My eyes popped out.

“What will you say to them?”

He smiled.

“I don’t know. I will speak from the heart”

I got out of bed.

“What time is it? We need to get home before Mommy thinks of fetching me from the hospital after the nurse’s call”

I took my toiletries and rushed to the bathroom to take a quick shower.

“It’s five. Hurry up”

“It’s five? Five in the morning?”

I shouted back over the running water. He laughed out loud.

“Hurry up. We need to make sure that nurse calls Mommy while it’s still very early so she won’t be able to do anything”

I stepped out of the shower as he walked into the bathroom. I got dressed in the same pair of pajamas that I was wearing when I got there.

“Baby, let’s go”

“I’m done”

I wore my slippers and followed him out of the bathroom.

“Don’t worry about the bed, we will deal with it later”

We rushed to the car and drove off.

“Where are we going?”

I asked, looking at him.

“To the hospital, I need to speak to the nurse. I want to be there when she makes that call so that there won’t be any slipups”

He explained, taking a glance at me and then looking at the road ahead.

“What if this doesn’t work out?”

I asked again. He took a deep sigh.

“Mandy, please. I am trying to focus here. I am trying to get us out of this sticky situation. Please, spare me the negativity”

He sounded defeated.

“I’m sorry. It’s just that, you know, I’m a little nervous, that’s all”

I mumbled under my breath and he ignored me and continued driving in silence. We got to the hospital and he parked his car.

“Please wait here. I will be right back”

“No, I’m coming with”

“How? How do you think the other nurses would react when they see you? You escaped, you can’t be seen here”

He sounded rather annoyed. Maybe I wasn’t thinking straight too, but gosh, I was so nervous.

“Trust me. I will get us out of this mess”

He stepped out of the car and locked me up inside. Bazukile didn’t really have a plan, but he just didn’t want to freak me out by admitting to that. My worst fear was getting caught and finding myself drowning in an ocean of trouble. I had to think of something, and fast. Yes. Phila popped in my mind. Without even thinking about what I was going to say to her, I took my phone out and called her. She picked up.

“Mandy”

She sounded like she was in her deep sleep.

“Phila, it’s me”

I yelled.

“Geez, I know it’s you. What do you want this early in the morning?”

“Listen, I need your help. Bazukile got me to escape from the hospital.. To his place and… and now mommy might visit… he needs to pay more money so the nurse could do a thorough job..”

“Whoa whoa!! Slow down”

She cut me short. I paused and took a deep sigh.

“Now, what were you saying?”

I took a deep sigh again.

“Bazukile got me to escape from the hospital. Now we are trying to find a way to convince Mommy and Daddy that I have been discharged. He wants to drive me home, but I don’t want to. Mommy and Daddy will have a problem with a stranger taking me home, a male stranger”

She laughed.

“So let me get this straight, you want me to leave my warm blankets and take you home to your forever-suspicious parents?”

“Phila please, I really need your help here”

“Mandy, why do you always drag me into your misery? Why do you always force me to share your pain with you?”

I took a deep sigh.

“Please, don’t be like that. I really need your help”

“Hello? I needed your help a while back, when Vuyani was turning my life upside down. Did you avail yourself?”

Tears rolled down my cheeks.

“Phila please”

“No, Mandy. I don’t roll like that anymore. I am done being your friend only when it suits you”

She hung up. Phila was so mean. I mean, when was I ever happy and in a space where I could be there for someone else? I was a mess. I have always been a mess, so much that I wouldn’t know what to say to someone who is going through something. Bazukile got into the car while I was still crying over how mean Phila was.

“Hey, what’s going on?”

I sniffed.

“It’s Phila. She refused to help me convince Mommy and Daddy that I am really discharged and that she is the one bringing me home”

I replied. He looked at me.

“You asked for Phila’s help?”

I nodded.

“I was trying to come up with…..”

He slapped me across the face and I screamed.

“Didn’t I tell you that I was going to sort this out? Why do you always go against my word? Huh? Why do you always disrespect me like this? So Phila must be thinking of how useless your man is. Damn you, Mandiphumle! Damn you!!”