Clang! The hockey ball smacked into the back frame of the metal goals, and the sound reverberated across the astro hockey field.
‘Ha Lara, straight past you, AGAIN!’ shouted Karabo, strutting away from the goals. Lara, the defeated goalkeeper, glared at Karabo through her mask.
‘Stop gloating Karabo, it’s cheap!’ shouted her coach from across the field.
Karabo smiled to herself. How could she not gloat? She’d already put three goals past Lara who played for the province team. With provincial hockey trials coming up at the end of the first term, Karabo was determined to make the team again. Every year it got harder, and Karabo was taking no chances in not making the team. She loved hockey — it kept her rooted to this world, despite the constant pestering of her ancestors. Since discovering she was descended from a long line of sangomas, Karabo was often disturbed by weird visions and odd dreams she couldn’t understand. Playing hockey felt real and it just made sense.
Twirling her hockey stick in a victory loop above her head, Karabo made her way back to the queue of team members trying to shoot past Lara. As she walked towards the rest of her team, she looked up at the main school building. The entrance of Dayeton College lay framed by the large stone building — a solid structure that stood proudly against the clear blue sky. Originally built as a Governor’s residence, it was now a colonial relic amongst the unruly heartland of the wild coast of south- east Africa. For anyone who could afford the fees, the school attracted those who had the physical prowess to maintain the school’s sporting reputation, or the academic aptitude to pass the school’s arduous entrance exams.
Karabo’s gaze up at the school building was interrupted by Isla, her best friend since they’d met at Dayeton College three years ago. All legs and long straight dark hair, Isla jogged up behind Karabo and poked her in the ribs. Isla’s blue-grey eyes sparkled, as an easy smile spread across her face.
‘Don’t look so smug Karabz, I also got past Lara. It’s that ridiculous mammoth we need to get past in trials,’ stated Isla, who knew exactly what Karabo was thinking. Shaking her head and huffing, Karabo responded, ‘I know, but it’s still fun getting past Lara who thinks she is the world’s best hockey goalie. Come on, admit it.’ Isla bit her lip and looked down at her hockey boots, knocking her stick against the scuffed toes. ‘OK fine. I love getting past her too but, like coach said, obvious gloating is cheap. You’re up, one more time for good measure,’ encouraged Isla, as Karabo placed her stick on the ground, and hooked a ball in towards her approach to the goals.
Isla watched Karabo — braids tied in a high pony, her face determined and strong body taut with anticipation, like a cat ready to spring.
Out of the corner of her eye, Isla noticed Mzi in the distance, walking towards the astro. She knew it was him by the way he walked — tall, confident, and moving with effortless ease. Distracted, her stomach flipped over as she turned to take him in.
‘Aaaaarrrggggh!’ A high-pitched, pained scream erupted from the goals. Isla whipped her head around to see what had happened. Karabo was lying on the turf in front of the goals. Lara’s padded foot lay over Karabo’s arm, and the rest of the goalie stretched in a half split along the floor. Isla dropped her hockey stick and raced over to the goals.
‘What happened?’ she asked, as Lara pushed herself up and moved her foot away from Karabo’s arm.
Karabo was writhing on the floor, clutching her wrist.
‘I didn’t mean to Isla, I promise, I didn’t mean to,’ said Lara, stepping away from Karabo, and fumbling with the helmet strap under her chin.
‘Karabz? What’s wrong?’ asked Isla, dropping to her knees next to Karabo.
‘My arm, my wrist, it’s so sore Isla. I think it’s broken,’ whimpered Karabo, sweat pouring down her face as she clutched her arm. The coach ran across the field and was now standing over Karabo and Isla.
‘What on earth happened?’ she demanded. As the girls from the team formed a circle around Karabo and Isla, Lara retreated further into the goals. Isla looked up at the others. ‘I wasn’t watching Coach. I’m sorry. Josie, did you see what happened?’ Isla asked the girl standing behind her. With eyes wide, Josie shook her head.
‘She just came for me!’ moaned Karabo. ‘I didn’t even have a chance to shoot and she was on me. She plays dirty and now she’s broken my arm!’ screamed Karabo, lifting her head to eyeball Lara amongst the girls standing around her. As another wave of pain shot through her arm, she dropped her head back down and started whimpering.
‘Let me see,’ said the coach, as she bent down next to Karabo and gently tried to prise Karabo’s arm out of her uninjured hand. Isla saw her coach’s eyes widen as she swallowed hard. Turning a slightly green colour, the coach shook her head and looked up at the circle of girls.
‘Lara!’ barked the coach, spying the guilty-looking goalie retreating even further into the goals. ‘Come here!’ By this time, Lara had managed to pull her helmet off, revealing a face drained of blood.
‘I didn’t mean to hurt her Coach. I just wanted to show her,’ Lara said, looking at the ground. The coach stood up and stepped away from Karabo, breathing in deeply and slowly.
‘Honestly you girls. Grade 11 and behaving like five-year olds! Pathetic!’ she spat. ‘We’d better get Karabo to the front office and then the clinic. What a mess!’ she cried, flapping her arms in annoyance. Isla leant in to help Karabo up to her feet, as the sweat continued to pour from her brow.
‘Is it very sore Karabz?’ asked Isla, as she held Karabo up by the elbow of her other arm and guided her back to the main school building. Karabo swayed and clenched her jaw. Her face revealed everything. She was clearly in excruciating pain, and Isla had never seen her friend behave like this. As she walked her to the sick bay, she took a sideways glance at Karabo’s injured arm. Seeing her swollen hand hanging from her wrist at an odd angle, Isla felt queasy and stumbled under Karabo’s weight.
‘Let’s hurry Karabz,’ she urged, ‘I think you need to go to the hospital.’
Looking at her hand through pain-pinched eyes, Karabo’s brown face had drained to a dull grey. ‘This is bad Isla,’ Karabo confirmed.
Question: Have you ever broken a bone or broken your arm? What do you think of Karabo’s reaction, does it seem realistic?