The taxi rank is heaving with queues of excited people going home for the holiday.
"I wish you were coming with me Baby!" says Precious, squeezing my arm.
"Listen," she says quietly, "I know it's been a tough year for you, but I just wanted to say that the highlight of my year was meeting you and having you as my friend!"
"Thanks Presh. And I don't know how I would have done without you this year."
"Oh come on Baby. You would have been fine. You're so nice, you never miss school, you always work hard, and you always do well in exams. You've got your head screwed on right. You'll do fine wherever you go and whoever you're with."
I have a lump in my throat and I'm trying to think of what to say in reply to that when the taxi pulls up. It's chaos as everyone pushes forward, piling in with all their stuff. And then the door slams shut and the taxi is speeding away, hooter beeping, with Precious waving out the window as it disappears from sight.
I feel an ache in my chest, standing there alone amongst all the crowds going home to their families. I try not to think of my mother but I can't help hearing her voice in my head saying, "You're someone special, Baby. Hold on to your dreams and your hope."
The dark thoughts crowd in again. That hollow feeling of having nobody who really loves me. That sick feeling of having time stretch ahead of me with no mother, no friend and no money.
An sms comes through from Precious before I've even turned to walk away. "I ms u alrdy" I want to tell her how much I miss her too, but I have zero airtime to send an sms.
"Xm." I say out loud to myself. "Stop being such a baby, Baby."
I take a deep breath and start walking back to the party.
Being on your own on special days can really make you feel vulnerable. When last did you have that feeling?
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