Karabo counted down the days until they would visit William’s mother; it felt like forever. She’d managed to procure the address of Jessabelle English a week ago, and was excited to meet her properly. Karabo simply phoned her mother and told her she wanted to meet Jessabelle and plan a surprise birthday for William. Anathi, Karabo’s mother, had gone along with the pretence, but she could hear by the tone of her voice that she was on guard. Karabo knew that her mom — who was also Cedric Khumalo’s lawyer — knew where Jessabelle was living. Both the police and Cedric had been in contact with her after finding out that Edward English had a wife.

Once Anathi had forwarded Jessabelle’s mobile number, Karabo sent her a text message and was both thrilled and surprised when she replied almost instantly:

‘Finally! I’ve been waiting to see you. My address is 5 Canary Close. Just pop in when you get to town and we can talk.’ Karabo looked up the address online and created a mental map of the streets in order to find the house. She knew the town relatively well, but the residential streets less so, as the boarding school kids tended to stick to the shops and main roads when the school took them to town.

Saturday eventually arrived, and Isla found herself once again tying Karabo’s shoelaces. At least they weren’t her school shoes. Isla made a double knot in Karabo’s long sneaker shoelaces, before announcing that they were ready to go. She didn’t want to admit it to Karabo, but she felt incredibly uncomfortable about visiting William’s mother. What if she was crazy, like William’s father? They knew nothing about this woman, and nobody else would know they were going there. She didn’t like it at all, and her stomach knotted and growled at her.

‘Didn’t you eat enough at breakfast?’ asked Karabo. Isla smiled shyly. ‘I did, but maybe my stomach doesn’t think so?’ she lied, hoping Karabo wouldn’t see through her and how worried she was. She rubbed her tummy and then grabbed their day pack. ‘Let’s go, I can hear the bus,’ said Isla, turning her back on Karabo and making her way downstairs.

‘I’m just popping to the loo, I’ll catch up with you!’ shouted Karabo.

As Isla entered the reception area on her way to the bus, she saw Mzi. Things were still uncomfortable between them, and Isla longed for how it used to be last year. She still adored him and didn’t know why he avoided her at all costs. He even ducked into the wrong classroom one morning, to avoid bumping into her in the passage. She was getting the message. She was just supposed to get over Mzi — pretend they had never gone out and move on. But she couldn’t. Not without knowing why.

Mzi was standing in the queue for the bus, ahead of Isla. She watched him scan the room before their eyes met. His face revealed his thoughts, like images flashing across his eyes. He suddenly left the queue and started to look for something in his bag. Isla could hear his friends asking him what was wrong. Seemingly annoyed and flustered, he replied that he couldn’t find his wallet, and was going to his room to try and find it.

As he walked past Isla, she stepped in front of him and grabbed his arm.

‘Isla!’ he said, too loudly, as though he had just seen her. Isla lifted her face to look at him, before dropping her chin down and shaking her head. ‘Whatever Mzi,’ she said, before drawing Mzi closer and whispering to him. ‘Listen, I need you to tell Will that Karabo is making us go and visit his mom in town. Today. She wants to tell her about the dream.’ Mzi pulled his head away to look at her. ‘Will’s mom? Karabo is visiting Will’s mom because of a dream?’ Mzi asked, his one eyebrow raised in surprise. Isla nodded. ‘Oh, and by the way… Your wallet’s in your jeans,’ she said, before letting Mzi’s arm go and walking back to her place in the queue. Mzi shook his arm, as if trying to shake Isla’s words off and then stomped his way back towards the boys’ dormitory at the far end of the school.


Question: Why do you think Mzi pretended to not see Isla?