Forever Yours

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Chapter 23

For the first time in what felt like forever, Rilah woke up without the dread of having to face the Daniels and their home. She woke up to an empty room but it was filled with sunlight and what Rilah identified as hope and a faint tinge of happiness.

It was too early to get up but Rilah had always woken up so early to do housework that it was now ingrained in her. She used Lihle's bucket to warm up her bath water and finished performing her morning ablutions. She then headed out to shop for a chest of drawers, dishes, pots and cutlery. She also shopped for pillows, a few clothes, a water warming bucket and some food. She could not help noticing how quickly her money diminished; she'd already spent around four thousand and she hadn't even started preparing for the baby. She felt her head start to pound and her stomach start to twist.

It didn't help that wherever she went people stared. Not only was she a pregnant teen but she was also of the lightest complexion amongst most people there. Although her father was black, Rilah's complexion had shifted more to her mother's side, who was worthy of acting as a redhead Snow White. In school, it hadn't bothered her in the least because it had been a cocktail of all races and religions. Now, not so much. Tired of all the worrying, she resolved to go home, drop off her goods and eat.

After cooking herself a simple stir-fry with noodles, she ate and packed away her clothes and shoes, leaving two drawers for the baby. She set out again in the afternoon, on a mission to get her CV typed, printed and distributed. The male clerk in the internet café helped her with filling out her CV but they stumbled when she had to fill out contact information. Rilah didn't have a phone - she'd never had a need for it. Luckily, the male clerk - who seemed to take a liking to her (maybe a little too much) - put down his email address and cell phone number in place of hers. He told Rilah that she'd have to come each day to find out if anyone had called. Rilah could already see her money rushing out of her account: sooner than later she'd have to buy a phone.

She arrived home tired but satisfied and threw herself on the bed. It was now evening and she had nothing to keep her busy except stressful thoughts and the gentle nudging of her baby. She sat up abruptly and frowned at her belly. Splaying her fingers across it, she asked suspiciously, "Why do you seem to be growing at an alarming rate, little Nudger? Yes, one day you are small, the next you are the size of a watermelon", she added when the baby kicked. "You do know that I still have one last exam to write, don't you? So if you could please hold off on growing for the next two days, it would be much appreciated."

"You know, talking to yourself is the first sign of madness."

Rilah jumped and turned to see Lihle leaning against her TV stand, which doubled as a room divider. She released a breath and settled back down on the bed. Voice nervous, she replied, "He or she can hear me", she pointed to her baby bump. "He kicks whenever I talk."

Lihle walked over to her, and with a giddy smile on her face, she asked, "Ooh, can I feel her?"

Rilah hesitated and decided to go for the truth, "I'm not really comfortable with people touching me. Especially without warning."

Lihle's hand dropped back down and her face betrayed disappointment. "Sorry, it's just that I was pregnant a while ago but I miscarried before I could feel the baby kick."

Rilah suddenly felt guilty. Losing one's baby is bound to stay forever a painful memory. Surely she could do one little thing for Lihle; she could let her feel her baby kicking - it wouldn't do her any harm. Furthermore, Lihle had been so welcoming so far, and had not asked any personal questions. It was the little that Rilah could do for her.

She took a deep breath and said, "It's okay, you can feel her just a bit."

A disbelieving glow appeared in Lihle's eyes. "Are you sure?" Rilah nodded and taking Lihle's hands, guided her to her belly. They both sat still, waiting for a little nudge. None came.

"Hey, don't go on being shy all of a sudden. Just say a little hello to the nice lady", Rilah tried persuading the baby. Lihle glanced up at her with a funny look but quickly looked down with a smile on her face as she felt the baby kick fiercely.

She laughed a little and started talking to the bump, "There's the little boxer." She proceeded to talk to the bump in a language that Rilah could not understand or recognise. However, she could hear that they were loving sweet words. Lihle looked up at Rilah and smiled at her, finally taking her hands off of her. Rilah breathed a sigh of relief and smiled back at her.

"So, are you going to find out the gender?"

Rilah contemplated it and shook her head. "I don't mind either way. I don't really have a specific picture of how the baby will look like in my mind so I'd rather it be a surprise."

Lihle nodded and said, "That makes sense. Do you have any names in mind?"

Rilah thought it over again and said, "Yeah. It's a name of one of my favourite characters from one of my favourite books. Cam. I think it will work for a boy or girl."

"Just Cam?"

"Yeah. Just Cam." She didn't want to explain what it meant and why it would be perfect for her baby. It wasn't even something she would tell Sylvia or Charlie, let alone a stranger. Perhaps noticing Rilah's change in mood, Lihle excused herself to go cook herself supper. She also informed Rilah that her twelve year old daughter would be arriving from boarding school the next week.

"Oh, you have a daughter?"

"Yes, cute but very naughty", she laughed and stood at the door. "I'll dish some food for you too, so there's no need for you to cook. Oh, did you buy food? Remember I said you can put it in the fridge."

"I did buy but I haven't put it in there. You weren't around."

"Oh, you really don't have to wait for me. Even when I'm not around, you can just come and go as you please. I'm a free person." To avoid any protesting, she rushed out of the room quickly.

Rilah smiled and thought of how nice a roommate Lihle was and that she would probably love living here. The next day she'd be writing her last exam and after a few days, she would buy a new phone and call the Cunnings: two days without seeing any of them had turned out to be the worst. Rilah felt like there was a big gaping hole in her, and it would only close when she saw them. Just a few days - a week at most - to make sure that the Daniels would not find her and then she could see her family again.

* * *
It rained in the morning. Long, hard droplets flying sideways, making an umbrella useless. If one didn't lose his umbrella to the wind, one would arrive wet nonetheless. It was the kind of weather that made people curse like sailors, forgetting that they were the ones who were crying about potential droughts and praying for rain.

However, someone was very happy about this weather. In fact she was ecstatic, even though she didn't have either umbrella or raincoat. This lovely weather meant that she had an excuse about why she looked huge. She could easily tell people that she'd piled on clothes to avoid getting bone wet, and no one would suspect her pregnancy. Yes indeed, it was the perfect weather to have an art exam.

None of the teachers or fellow classmates asked Rilah about her bulging uniform; either because she arrived right in the nick of time or her plan to conceal her tummy had worked. As soon as the exam was adjourned and Rilah had submitted her work, she was out of the room and the school. She looked around anxiously, on the watch for any of the Daniels and left after ensuring that it was safe.

She had just walked a few metres ahead when someone called her name. Afraid that one of her classmates had noticed her, and for reasons she didn't know wanted to talk to her, she increased her pace. However the person was insistent. She only stopped when the person shouted, "Rye! Stop!"

Turning quickly, she saw Sylvia running across the street towards her. Rilah's eyes widened - she couldn't believe that she was seeing her. The minute Sylvia reached her, she pulled Rilah into a huge hug, not even noticing that Rilah had stiffened.

"Where were you? How could you leave just like that - with no notice whatsoever and no way to reach you? Mom, dad, Charlie and I have been so worried. Where are you staying? Are you okay?" Sylvia was rambling - something she did only when she was really worried.

"How did you find me?" That was the most urgent question at the top of Rilah's mind.

Sylvia frowned and folded her arms against her chest but answered her. "I'm your best friend Rilah. I know your exam timetable so I hoped that you would take the exam and I'd see you when you came out."

Rilah was stupified. She hadn't at all thought that Sylvia would know her exam timetable. She didn't think that she could use that to find her. Then a realisation dawned on her; if Sylvia could use that to find her, what would stop the Daniels?

"Let's go. I'll tell you everything when we get home". She started crossing the road towards Sylvia's car - which was originally Charlie's before he moved to London - which was all the way back near the school.

"Home? We're going to my place?" Sylvia asked, trying to keep up with Rilah.

"God, no", Rilah laughed nervously. "We're going to my place." Sylvia looked at her strangely but got in the car and let Rilah direct her closer to the heart of the city.

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