The school’s sick bay was a cool, dark room with two stiff beds that were perfectly wrapped in ice-white sheets. As they reached the first bed, Karabo flopped down and began to shake. ‘Lie down Karabz,’ said Isla gently, moving the pillow aside to ease Karabo down slowly so she could rest her arm on the bed. Mr Venter came in. ‘What’s this I hear about Karabo being injured?’ he bellowed as he walked in, his deep voice echoing in the sparsely furnished room. As his gaze landed on Karabo’s arm, Mr Venter — six foot and pure muscle — did a double take and his eyes widened in horror. The man was the school’s rugby coach, and he had definitely seen some hideous accidents. His reaction was not a good sign.
‘Okay Karabo,’ said Mr Venter, carefully walking over to her. ‘How you feeling my girl?’ he asked. Karabo gritted her teeth. ‘It’s really sore Mr Venter, I…d…don’t feel g…good,’ she stuttered, shaking even more as she tried to sit up. Mr Venter placed his hand on her shoulder, and gently eased her back down. ‘We need to get you to the hospital urgently Karabo. Let me go to the front office and see who can take you,’ explained Mr Venter, turning to leave the cold sick room.
Just as he was about to reach for the door handle, the door crashed open. ‘I’ll take her,’ announced William.
Mr Venter raised his eyebrows, looking the boy up and down. ‘William English, you want to drive Karabo to the hospital? You know it’s over an hour’s drive away?’ asked Mr Venter, watching William’s face and waiting for him to change his mind.
William flicked his dark hair out of his eyes and looked directly into Mr Venter’s eyes. ‘Yes Sir. I have a licence and a car, and I’m finished my classes. We don’t have time to waste Sir,’ explained William, looking past Mr Venter and flinching as he spotted Karabo’s twisted arm.
Mr Venter flared his nostrils, ‘Karabo, are you happy to go with William, or would you prefer a teacher?’ he asked her. Karabo nodded. ‘It’s fine, Will can take me. My mom, please call my mom,’ begged Karabo.
‘Isla, you go with William and Karabo. I’ll contact Karabo’s mother, and make sure the hospital is aware that you’re on the way. I’ll also send through all the school permission forms,’ said Mr Venter, before turning to William. ‘Drive carefully William. I know you are post matric at Dayeton College, but you are still under 20. No speeding!’ warned Venter, bringing his face close to the boy’s. William stared back at him, his cool green eyes unblinking.
‘Yes Mr Venter,’ responded Isla, breaking up the staring contest between William and Mr Venter.
‘Come Karabo, let’s get going,’ said Isla, helping Karabo to sit up. William moved to hold her but was stopped by Isla’s protective glare over her friend. Thinking better of it, he swiftly moved out of the way and opened the door for Isla to walk through with Karabo. As they made their way to William’s car, a swaying Karabo moaned gently. Hunched in pain and shuffling forward, she was sweating so profusely that it poured down her face and dripped from her chin.
It was Mzi. He came running up behind them as they neared the school entrance, where William’s car was waiting for them. ‘I just heard!’ he said, flinching as he came closer and saw Karabo’s arm. He swore softly under his breath.
‘Do you want me to come along?’ he asked. Isla stopped and looked up at him, Karabo swaying unsteadily at her side. Mzi had been avoiding Isla since they started school, and now here he was wanting to come to the hospital to help Karabo? His big eyes were watching her, waiting for a response. His genuine, earnest concern only fuelled Isla’s anger even more.
‘We’re fine,’ she said curtly, raising her eyebrows and distorting her pretty face in irritation. Slowly she urged Karabo onwards towards the car. Karabo whimpered again and stumbled. Being slightly taller than Isla, Karabo very nearly fell on Isla before they steadied their pace. After a quick glance back over her shoulder at Mzi, Isla continued to help her friend to the car.
Question: What did you think of Mr Venter’s response to seeing Karabo’s broken arm?