Sylvia looked around the kitchen and whistled lightly. "Nice digs."
"If only it was all mine", Rilah turned and smiled tightly. "But we share here. My room is this side." She turned and opened the door to the room she shared with Lihle.
"Well, at least you have the whole room to yourself", Sylvia said as she walked into the room.
Rilah laughed sarcastically, "Not that lucky. I share this place with this woman, Lihle. She's quite nice." She saw Sylvia force a little smile. "It was the best I could find in my price range and I was running out of time."
She gestured to the bed and Sylvia sat on it, bouncing a few times. Looking to break the tension, Sylvia laughed lightly and said, "You know it's not snowing right? You're dressed like you are ready to take on an iceberg!"
Rilah laughed and said, "I was trying to avoid being rained out in the morning." She moved to the chest of drawers, tracing the intrinsic pattern on the top. She could see that Sylvia was waiting for her to explain, yet she tried to avoid doing so.
"Rilah, why did you move out so suddenly?" Sylvia asked gently.
"Don't freak out, okay?" Hesitantly, Rilah reached to the zipper of her matric jacket and slowly pulled it down. She removed the jacket, put it on her chest of drawers and the shirt followed suit. She watched as Sylvia's jaw dropped as her well rounded tummy was on display, the white tank top she was wearing clinging tightly to her.
"You are pregnant?!" Rilah nodded when Sylvia had regained her power of speech. She stood up and walked back and forth, muttering to herself. Finally she stopped and faced Rilah. "It's Charlie's, isn't it?"
Completely stunned, Rilah could not seem to answer for a while. "What would make you think that?" she snapped at Sylvia.
Sylvia seemed taken aback by Rilah's outburst and stammered, "Well, you two are so close, and he told off Cynthia for you and always told off all those bullies . . ." Noticing Rilah's face reddening with fury with each word she spoke, Sylvia shouted, "You slept in his room for God's sake!"
"That doesn't mean I had sex with him!"
"I'm sorry but everyone thought you guys were together. Even mom and dad think you guys are an item." She folded her arms and sat back down on the bed.
Dread filled Rilah as she thought of Mr and Mrs Cunning believing that she and Charlie were an item. "Wait, so your parents think Charlie and I were . . . " She didn't even know how to ask what she suspected. "They think whenever I slept in Charlie's room we were . . . sleeping together?" she asked slowly.
"Well, yeah", Sylvia answered her softly but sympathetically. "At first they didn't know, I think but you weren't as quiet as you thought you were. I saw you once when you were leaving Charlie's room and I think that mom probably saw you too. She sometimes wakes up early. Charlie's reaction when he found out you were raped - like he wanted to commit murder - sort of confirmed our suspicions."
"Sylvia, how many times did I tell you that there's nothing between me and Charlie?" Rilah asked through gritted teeth.
"Oh, there is something between you and Charlie. It may not be intimate but everyone can see that you two love each other." Sylvia cut Rilah off as she tried to protest. "Even dad saw it. He refused to tell any of us that Satan's name, knowing that Charlie would force it out of anyone he knew and be there to strangle the bastard."
Ignoring all claims of love between her and Charlie, Rilah voiced her concern to Sylvia. "How could you guys think that I'd sleep with someone under your parents' roof? And while they're in there nonetheless? I'd never be so disrespectful, and neither would Charlie. I'm actually very offended."
"I'm so sorry, Rye. For even thinking that you would do that." She paused and asked the most pressing question, her eyes darting to Rilah's belly. "Who's the father then?"
"Isn't it obvious? It's that satanist. Sylvia, I've never slept with anyone." She opened her drawer and took out a pair of black sweatpants.
Perplexed, Sylvia asked, "But wouldn't that make you eight months pregnant?" She recounted in her head and reached the same conclusion.
Rilah replied while pulling up her sweatpants, "Almost eight months. I'm thirty four weeks by Monday."
"You don't look eight months pregnant! You look like you're maybe five or six months." She watched Rilah throw her uniforms to a corner of the room, on top of her bag.
"Yeah, I probably would've been one of those 'I didn't know I was pregnant' people. The doctor said it might be because the baby is more to the back of my uterus and me being a teenager and underweight is probably a contributing factor."
"So you've known, all this time?" Sylvia's voice had a note of accusation.
"No, I only found out when I was three months along, when you took me to the hospital for that allergic reaction. The doctor told me - with this huge ass smile - that my nausea was because of pregnancy."
Sylvia cracked a smile as she followed Rilah to the kitchen, where she started to cook rice and a chicken and vegetable stew. "That's why you asked for a job. But wait, didn't they give you pills to prevent pregnancy and STIs or something like that?"
"Yeah, they gave me", she grabbed a cutting board and started chopping carrots. "The morning after pill failed but I didn't notice."
"You seem to be okay with this though", Sylvia pointed out as she cut the chicken breasts into cubes and threw them into the pot.
"Well, I wasn't at first but after Florence tried to stomp my baby to death, it kind of changed the way I felt."
Rilah went on to explain how Florence found out about the pregnancy and how she'd demanded that she aborted. She also told Sylvia about how her grant money was the only reason she wasn't sent back to the orphanage but decided not to tell her about their backup plan. They talked until they had finished cooking - reminiscing about fun times and talking about the oncoming results. It would be at least a month before the results came out so none of them were too stressed.
"Rilah, should I tell mom and dad about this?"
"Yeah, you should, to prepare them but don't tell them where I live yet. I don't want to risk the Daniels finding me, not until I turn eighteen."
"So we can come on your birthday, to take you out and celebrate?" She did her big puppy eyes and Rilah reluctantly agreed. Sylvia jumped for joy and pulled Rilah into a hug again.
"But remember, come on the weekend after my birthday. I need to lay low."
"Why don't you just open a case against them?" Sylvia grabbed the plates and dished up.
"And what would be the charges?"
"Oh, I don't know", Sylvia replied sarcastically. "Maybe neglect, abuse or swindling! Should I add some more?"
Rilah grabbed her plate and went into her room. "Drop it Sylvia, it's not happening." Firstly, there was no evidence and truthfully, she was scared that it would be a chance for the Daniels to catch her.
After they had finished eating, Rilah escorted Sylvia out. They both had a hard time saying goodbye but they knew it had to be done.
The week dragged on and each day she went to the café to check whether she'd gotten any calls about a job but it was in vain. Each day she used more of her money buying bits and essentials, and when she bought her phone, she noticed that the money was dwindling towards the ten thousands. Her stress levels were increasing as she still didn't get any positive feedback about a job. She set up her phone at the store, went to the bank and had her contact info added to her account and gave her number to Sipho, the guy at the internet café.
Sylvia was ecstatic when she texted her and immediately, Mr and Mrs Cunning video called her. She talked at length with them and profusely apologized for giving them the impression that she and Charlie were more than friends. Mrs Cunning could be seen releasing a relieved sigh but then the disappointment was visible in her face. They said their good-byes along with promises of seeing her in a few days. Soon after saying goodbye, Rilah received a message from Sylvia telling her that she'd sold the textbooks. Then she received an alert telling her that R2000 had been deposited into her account. Of course she complained that the money was meant for Sylvia but Sylvia ignored her, reading her messages and not replying.
She and Lihle got along well, and the same could be said for the other tenants. A day before her birthday, on the 13th of December, she received a call from Sipho with good news. None of places she'd applied to had called but Sipho said the café needed an extra hand temporarily - for the whole of December. Rilah was happy to accept, although the pay would be minimum wage. The next day she began working, helping people with the computers, organising the merchandise and attending to customers. The job was easy and each day she got two hundred rand. Things were going back on track. She was looking forward to seeing the Cunnings on her birthday, and they were taking her to a casual restaurant. She spent a lot of time fussing over what she could wear. Finally, she settled on a floaty skirt and a light long sleeve turquoise blouse. It would cover up most of her tummy; it had grown again but not ridiculously big, thank God. All she had to do now was wait.