The leaves on the mango tree are scattered all over our compound. I wish they had fallen down as a bunch in a particular area, but no, they are singly strewn all over the floor. It is my turn to sweep the yard and I already woke up late, so my mother is giving me the side eye from the kitchen. I don’t look at her but I can feel it, deep within my bones. I know the feeling like man knows the back of his hand, it is the same feeling I felt in class, only to find Paul staring at me. The only difference between them is that, for my mother, my heart drops into my stomach and I feel a cold chill. With Paul, my stomach is filled up with butterflies and my heart flutters.

Right now, as the thoughts of Paul invade my morning, the only thing in my stomach is a rapidly growing monster. My child, but mother calls it monster. Maybe it is. It has brought so much destruction to this world without even being here yet.

I hurriedly finish my chores and go to my room to avoid getting in trouble with mother. These past few months, simply breathing seems to rile her up. I see her point though, my breaths indicate that I am alive. And as long as I live, so shall my child. I can not go into the kitchen to make my breakfast yet, not until everyone is done. I eat just enough that my child doesn’t die. Sometimes I wish it would.

5 months ago, I wished I would die as our family doctor pronounced me pregnant. I thought I heard wrong, pregnant? It can’t be. I used protection. How could this happen? It was fever I had, not pregnancy, I thought. Maybe the doctor got it wrong. But deep down, I knew the doctor was right. It was still very confusing.

The next Monday, I went for my classes like a ghost. Paul was waiting outside my apartment, with a sunflower in between two of his fingers. A flower for a flower, he said. He saw the look on my face and knew something was wrong instantly. He held me tight, opened my door and asked me to talk to him. The shock of the news about my pregnancy had not yet worn off, but I managed to tell him. I was ready to do anything. I just needed him to lead the way, were we getting married? Were we eloping? I’m on board, I just needed to know.

Mother wakes me up, apparently, I had dozed off while reminiscing. My stupid pregnant brain always makes me so tired. I take my antenatal drugs as instructed by mother. I go back to my bed to lie down. I wait. There is nothing else I could do but wait. I had no one on my side. I had gotten pregnant out of wedlock, Paul broke my heart, and left the country as fast as he could. My mother can not bear to look at me. My father is upstairs, paralyzed on one side, the shock of his only child getting knocked up in her second year in school is too much for the poor man to bear. He suffered a stroke and has not recovered since.

My monster child has ruined my life before it is born. I have no one anymore. All I can do is wait.

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