Isla’s room was small and neat as a pin. With everything perfectly in its place, the room was decorated with a bed spread and curtains in a soft pastel green, which made Isla feel sleepy instantly. She flopped onto the bed and noticed a plastic packet at the foot of the bed. Inside were new pyjamas, face wash, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and jeans and a T-shirt, in her size. Shaking her head in disbelief, Isla stood up and went to find Mrs Biggle,

‘Mrs Biggle. Where did the packet come from?’ Isla called, as she came into the kitchen, lured by the delicious smell of food wafting down the passage to her room. Mrs Biggle was standing over the stove. Isla could feel the saliva pour into her mouth as the delicious smells of supper overwhelmed her.

‘Pardon dear?’ asked Mrs Biggle, turning away from the noise of the fan over her head. The kitchen reminded Isla of her mother’s kitchen – large with light brown cupboards and counter tops full of different cooking and baking instruments.

‘I was just asking about all the stuff in the packet, in my room?’ asked Isla again.

‘Oh, Mrs. Mavuso asked if I could pop out and collect those things. Is everything OK? I got the sizes she requested,’ explained Mrs Biggle.

‘They’re perfect,’ sputtered Isla. As the day caught up with her, and without really understanding why, she began to cry.

‘My dear, please don’t cry, I can exchange it for you,’ soothed Mrs Biggle. Isla shook her head and mumbled into her hands. Mrs Biggle hurried over to Isla, wiping her hands on her apron, unsure as to why the poor girl was crying. At that moment, William walked into the kitchen to see what was going on.

‘Isla? What’s happened?’ he asked, looking suspiciously at Mrs Biggle.

‘Poor Karabo… she won’t be able to play provincials… and Anathi is being so nice… And I didn’t even see what happened… and all I was thinking about was Mzi…. And I’m such a bad friend… and Anathi is being so nice to me…’ sobbed Isla, shaking her head in her hands.

Mrs Biggle wrapped her arm around Isla’s shoulders and patted her on the back.

‘There, there dear. It’ll be OK. Let me get your dinner. You’ll feel much better after you get some good food into you,’ clucked the motherly woman, before turning to William.

‘Come here young man. Take this poor girl into the lounge and I’ll call you when dinner is ready. Won’t be more than ten minutes,’ Mrs Biggle said, shuffling Isla over to a wide-eyed William, who took Mrs Biggle’s place. ‘Hey princess. Come,’ he said, his sarcasm hiding the concern in his eyes. He slowly walked her to the lounge, and they sat down on a flower-patterned couch. The lounge was cosy, and the smell of cut flowers filled the room. Thick coffee table books covered the side tables, and a landscape painting of the Karoo adorned the opposite wall. Isla and William sank into the soft couch, surrounded by cushions.

‘Listen Isla, you’re a great friend!’ reassured William, still holding Isla’s shoulder and drawing her close to him as he hugged her. Isla shook her head and whimpered.

‘It won’t seem so bad in the morning. That arrogant doc is performing surgery as we speak, and if Anathi says he’s good, then I suppose he is. That lady knows her stuff. I’m sure Karabz will be on the mend by tomorrow morning,’ said William resolutely. Isla took her hands away from her blotchy, tear- stained face and looked at William, her eyes wide as she noticed his arm still around her shoulders. He looked back at her. ‘What?’ he asked. She blinked. ‘Um, nothing, I think I just need to go to the bathroom,’ said Isla, wiggling herself away from him awkwardly, before making her way to the bathroom to wash her face. William raised his eyebrows, and when Mrs Biggle called he went through to the dining room. Girls, he thought… they were a mystery.


Question: Why do you think Isla became so upset all of a sudden?