Three weeks into the term, and Karabo found herself back on her way to the orthopaedic surgeon. Today was the day she’d have the cast removed. That’s if Dr Anand was satisfied that everything was in order with her arm. The pins would then be removed the following day. School transport had been arranged and Anathi was going to meet Karabo at the hospital. William hadn’t offered to take her this time, and probably didn’t even know she was going. He hadn’t spoken to her since school started.

Karabo felt content. As she sat alone in the small school bus, she had the opportunity to sit and think. Aside from the fact that the bus had the unmistakable smell of sweaty sports clothes, it was the perfect opportunity to let her mind wander. After sliding the window open to breathe in some fresh air, Karabo slouched down into her seat and thought about the past few weeks. Since coming back to Dayeton College, Karabo had only once seen William. On the second day of school, he’d purposefully walked over to her with a smile on his face.

‘Hey Karabz! How are you doing?’ he asked.

‘Hey Will. I’m good… you know, back to school and all that. Still with the broken arm,’ she’d said, lifting her arm up and showing him the yellowing plaster with pins sticking out of it.

‘That thing is so Frankenstein,’ he said, as he looked at her arm with his nose wrinkled.

‘I know right!’ she agreed. ‘How was your holiday?’

‘It was actually rad. I spent some time at my mom and then went to Cape Town and hung with an old friend of mine there. He is at varsity at UCT, so I stayed with him and his mates at their digs.’

‘Cool,’ said Karabo, secretly dying to know more and whether there had been other girls in the digs.

‘So, we still seeing the sangoma?’ he asked Karabo, shoving his hands into his pockets and drawing his shoulders up towards his ears.

‘Yes! Definitely. Can we go when my cast comes off? Just a few weeks?’ she asked.

‘Ya, ya sure. That’s cool,’ he said, sounding slightly disappointed. Mzi walked up to them, his cool calm manner overshadowing William’s disappointment.

‘Hey Will. Karabz,’ he smiled, before hugging Karabo. ‘How was the rest of your holiday lady? You spend all of it with Buzz?’ asked Mzi casually.

Despite her bravado earlier, about not caring about William, Karabo’s cheeks burned as she mumbled a response. Mzi laughed and patted her shoulder.

‘Whatever Karabz. Seems it was the holiday of romance. Will over here also seemed to have a bit of a thing with a pretty blonde if my sources are correct,’ said Mzi winking at William. For an instant Karabo thought that William glared at Mzi. But before

she could be sure, he flicked his hair out of his eyes and looked straight through him.

‘I have to go. Already late actually. Check you in a few weeks Karabo,’ he said in a cold and crisp voice. Mzi looked surprised at William’s response. ‘What did I say?’ he asked Karabo, who just shook her head. ‘Probably just the truth Mzi. William isn’t always that comfortable with it,’ she replied, before turning away and walking to class. She couldn’t help feeling hurt, knowing that William really and truly didn’t feel anything significant for her. The best she could ever hope for would be William’s vague version of friendship. She was glad she’d spent her holiday with Buzz, instead of pining for him. Yet she still couldn’t shake that sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, when she thought of William with someone else.

The school minibus cruised along the highway and Karabo guessed they’d only reach the hospital in an hour. As she rested her head back on the seat and closed her eyes, a voice filled her head.

‘Karabo. You will visit Makhosi, the sangoma of the hills. You will start your training.’

‘What if I don’t want to,’ she heard her voice say — in a small, weak, and slightly whiney tone.

‘You have been chosen. You must fulfil your purpose, or you will suffer.’

Karabo heard her voice cry out. She could see herself on the floor of the sangoma’s hut, bent over and crying. Karabo wanted to comfort her crying self, but she couldn’t reach her. ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry!’ she wanted to shout, but the words wouldn’t come out. Her crying became louder and louder. Karabo felt the sadness creeping into her with every sob. She wanted to leave the dream, but she couldn’t. There was more.

She saw herself get up — still crying — before turning to face her. Her face had melted to reveal long, empty black eye sockets. The skin of her cheeks hung down past the small black hole of her mouth, and she was still crying.

Karabo sat bolt upright, wide awake and shaking. The vision of her melted face was imprinted in her mind’s eye. Tentatively, she touched her hands to her face, and felt her breathing slow down. Her face had not melted off, but her heart still thudded against her rib cage. It was a warning — she knew it. Her ancestors were threatening her, and telling her that she needed to stop fighting her calling. She knew it was time to accept her training as a sangoma — by one very specific sangoma. She knew she couldn’t push it out any longer. Anathi was right, December would be the best time, but her ancestral spirits didn’t care for her school or holiday timetable. They wanted her to start now and her chest tightened again. They were not going to wait. The sangoma had warned her, and Karabo had read online about how those who didn’t heed their calling were driven to madness, or became violently ill if they didn’t listen to their ancestors’ call. She shivered and looked back out the window.

***

Question: What could Karabo’s dream mean?