William yanked on the back-door handle in a huff, bending in to see Karabo curled up in pain, her shirt stuck to her back. She was dishevelled and clammy. Her now-loose braids hung limp around her ashen face, as she cradled her arm against her chest. William carefully reached his hand out to her shoulder.

‘Karabz?’ he nudged. She shrugged him off, moaning softly    to herself. ‘Karabo, we’re here at the hospital. Can you slide over here and I’ll help you get out?’ William asked gently. Disorientated, Karabo looked up before wincing again.

‘It’s so sore,’ she moaned. William could see she was choking back tears of pain. He reached into the car and drew her out, grabbing her under her armpits and pulling her towards him. ‘I’ve got you,’ he whispered, as he lifted her up. Isla watched as the usually cool and aloof William tenderly carried Karabo through the automatic doors. Grabbing her jumper, Isla followed in close pursuit.

Once in the emergency room, the nurses and doctors immediately took over. Isla and William were hustled out of the emergency room, and steered rapidly to the front desk to fill in forms. They also needed to contact the school, for it to grant permission to the hospital to care for Karabo.

Isla used William’s mobile to phone Karabo’s mother Anathi, who was notoriously difficult to get hold of. The high-powered lawyer’s secretary (also known as the “gatekeeper”) was so good at preventing random calls reaching Anathi’s desk, that Isla found it nearly impossible to convince her that she was bringing important news of Karabo.

‘I know who you are Isla Hepworth. Anathi is aware that Karabo is at the hospital, and she is just finishing off a meeting before

she gets on a flight. I cannot interrupt her meeting right now. It’s a very important client and, as you know, Anathi deals with sensitive matters in this firm and cannot just be called upon willy nilly!’

Grinding her teeth, Isla eventually gave up. She asked the secretary to ask Anathi to phone her on William’s mobile, when she was free. Within ten minutes, Anathi called. Before Isla could even say hello, Anathi burst forth with a torrent of questions and instructions, ‘Isla, is everything OK? Did you get to the hospital? What did the doctor say? How’s Karabo? Can I speak to her? Oh my heavens Isla. I’m going to get ona plane as soon as I can. Put the doctor on the line, I need to know what’s going on!’ Isla nodded, ‘Hold on Anathi, I’m going into the emergency room to pass you over to the doctor,’ she said, walking quickly past the curious gaze of the nursing sisters near Karabo’s curtained-off bed.

Peering through the gap in the curtain, she saw Karabo lying peacefully, asleep. The doctor raised his eyebrows at Isla, ‘Yes?’ he asked her. ‘Um, sorry Mr, I mean Doctor. I’m Karabo’s friend, and her mom is on the line. Can you talk to her please?’ asked Isla uncertainly, feeling out of her depth all of a sudden. Things had become complicated. With all the forms and numbers, she was beginning to wonder if she should have asked her mom to drive through from the farm and meet them here. She handed the phone to the doctor, who steeled himself for the call. Panicky parents were always difficult to deal with.

‘Hello? Yes, I am Karabo’s doctor, hm, hm. Yes ma’am, I can understand your concern. I am busy examining Karabo; we’ve given her a heavy sedative for the pain. She has definitely broken her wrist, but we need to x-ray her to determine the best course of action. This may not be a simple surgery, as there are many small bones in the wrist, and I think that the radius may be fractured or broken too.’ The doctor went quiet for a few moments, and

Isla could hear Anathi’s voice rising. ‘Yes, I understand. We will begin the x-rays shortly and I will be in direct communication with you. Yes, ok, my cell number is 083 772 1975. Ok, yes, alright. Goodbye,’ said the doctor, taking the phone away from his ear and looking at the screen. He pursed his lips.

‘What did she say?’ asked Isla, blinking and hoping that Anathi had been nice.

‘She is on her way from Johannesburg and I am to “hurry things up” and “spare no cost” in restoring Karabo’s wrist and arm. ‘Quite a mother!’ finished the doctor, his eyes wide.

‘What’s your name?’ asked the doctor as he continued examining Karabo’s arm.

‘Isla,’ she replied.

‘Hmmm,’ he responded, lost in thought in his examination, and then remembered he was mid conversation. ‘Um, yes Isla, I need you to remain at the hospital until Anathi arrives. Please go with Karabo to x-rays. I’ll ask one of the nurses to take Karabo through on the bed, but I’d like you to accompany her, just in case she comes to,’ he explained.

‘Ok, I’ll just have to let William know. He’s the one who brought us here,’ explained Isla. The doctor nodded vaguely as he walked off. Isla hurried to the waiting area to find William. He looked frozen stiff, sitting on a white plastic chair and staring at nothing in particular in front of him. ‘Will?’ she called softly as she walked towards him. He blinked slowly and then shook his head like a dog. The spell broken, he jumped up and in two lengthy paces stood before Isla, his face serious, ‘What’s happening, is she OK?’

Isla pulled a face that showed that she thought his questions were beyond stupid. ‘Um no, Will. Duh. She probably has a broken wrist and arm,’ she said, shaking her head. William could be so desperately unintelligent.

‘Damnit!’ said William under his breath.

‘You have to wait here. I need to go with her for x-rays. They’ve drugged her, so she is now a zombie,’ explained Isla. ‘I’ll let you know what is going to happen after the x-rays, OK?’

‘OK,’ William mumbled. ‘But, you sure I…’ ‘What?’ asked Isla.

‘Never mind,’ said William, looking over Isla’s shoulder, as     if trying to catch a glimpse of Karabo, before shrugging and shuffling back to the waiting area.

***

Question: Who do they call? What do you think of her?