After the pins were removed, Karabo ended up staying another night in the hospital. Dr Anand wanted to make sure the wounds were healing, without any possible infection. Finally, on the third day, Karabo was given the all clear and walked out, hoping never to go back. The school’s minibus shuttle was waiting in the parking lot and Anathi walked with her, carrying her daughter’s bag. Her arm was wrapped in a cream-coloured bandage to cover the wounds, and Karabo was grateful she didn’t have to look at her atrophied arm. As she climbed on the bus, Anathi — who had seemed very quiet that morning — began to speak. ‘I went out for dinner with Dr Anand… both nights,’ she said quickly, her voice quiet and rapid. Karabo sat down on the squeaky school bus seat. ‘Okay,’ said Karabo slowly. Dr Anand was so tall and her mother so tiny. Karabo couldn’t even imagine what they looked like walking next to each other. She began to giggle at the idea.

‘What’s so funny?’ asked Anathi, confused.

Karabo continued to giggle, spitting out, ‘but you’re so short!’

‘Don’t be like that! I have great high heels,’ shrieked Anathi, realising why Karabo was laughing.

‘It’s cool mom,’ said Karabo eventually, ‘he seems gentlemanly… and not in Joburg.’

Anathi had a knack for meeting and dating men who lived far away, had very busy jobs or travelled far too much for a relationship. Karabo thought her mother did this on purpose, so she could have the space to live her own life, and to keep men and relationships at arm’s length.

‘Don’t worry, nothing serious, just a bit of a laugh,’ explained Anathi, but Karabo could see that her mother liked him. This doctor who had saved her arm had also managed to get her mother’s attention. How interesting.

Karabo was determined not to fall asleep on the way back to Dayeton College. The last nightmare had gripped her with fear over the past three days, and she didn’t need a repeat or updated version of that hideous dream. Luckily, they had given her something to make her sleep at the hospital, so she’d been far too knocked out to be dreaming sangoma dreams.

As she fixed her eyes on the passing scenery, Karabo felt her mind empty during the return trip to Dayeton College. As the minibus slowly drove up the gravel pathway to the entrance of the school, she felt relieved to be back at school, and sat up to admire the topiaried trees, expansive lawns and sports fields. As they neared the entrance of the grand old building, Karabo saw Isla waiting for her on the steps leading up to the doors. She must have got special permission to leave class and be there. Isla definitely got the friend of the year award.

Karabo waved at Isla through the window and watched Isla wave frantically back at her. ‘Karabz!’ squealed Isla as Karabo climbed out of the minibus. ‘Let me see,’ she said, looking at Karabo’s arm.

‘It’s all wrapped up,’ said Karabo lifting her bandaged arm carefully, ‘but no pins!’

Isla hugged Karabo. ‘I’m so glad it’s all over Karabz. It was so horrible,’ said Isla, her eyes shiny.

‘You’re such a silly Isla. I think you’re just thrilled to not have to be my dresser and shoelace tier anymore!’ said Karabo.

Isla smiled. ‘This is true…but I’m also thrilled for you. How long until you can play hockey again? I’m missing you on the field,’ asked Isla.

Karabo froze, and felt the spine-chilling panic overtaking her again. She shook her head.

‘I… I don’t know…um, when it’s strong again I guess,’ sputtered Karabo, looking at her bandaged arm. Dr Anand said she could start practising again within a week. The x-rays showed that she’d healed perfectly, but every time she thought of going back to the field, her chest felt gripped by fear.

Isla frowned at Karabo but decided to let it slide. She would ask her again later. Karabo seemed a bit spaced out and was probably still on some medication, by the look on her face.

As they made their way to their dorm they bumped into William.

‘Hey,’ he grunted as he walked past. Karabo spun round and shouted at him to get his attention.

‘William, we still going to the sangoma on Saturday? My arm’s done!’ she said, waving her plaster and pin-free arm at him.

William stopped in his tracks. It felt as if minutes ticked by as she waited for him to turn. Eventually, he looked over his shoulder at her with a piercing laser-like stare.

‘Ya, I guess so. Meet in the car park at 10 then,’ he said, his voice flat and devoid of emotion. Then he carried on walking away.

Karabo turned to Isla, whose face was red, and had steam blowing out of her ears.

‘What?’ asked Karabo, even though she felt guilty and could guess why Isla was fuming.

‘Are you really still going to see the sangoma with HIM?’ she hissed. Karabo could see that some spittle was about to come out of Isla’s mouth at any moment, so wisely stepped back.

‘We need to figure out why his family heritage is so important, and the sangoma may know how to get the treasure back,’ explained Karabo, standing up straighter. ‘Besides Isla, who made YOU my gate keeper!’

Puffing out her chest, she stomped towards the dorm leaving Isla with her mouth hanging open, glaring at the back of Karabo. So much for friend of the year, thought  Karabo.

***

Question: Is Karabo being fair in her treatment of Isla?