Mrs Dube turned out to be a lovely woman, small and petite in her dress and traditional shawl. She had a soft word and a gentle smile for everyone.
The town gossips were shamed into silence. Mrs Dube was not Shadrack’s wife. No, she was Shadrack’s mother!
Lucy was beside herself with joy. “I should have just asked him!” she kept saying to me. “When you first told me that nonsense, I should have spoken to him, instead of suffering in silence day after day.”
Well, my friend Lucy was definitely not silent now! Every customer was treated to a long story about how wonderful Shadrack was and how happy Lucy was. The bank manager was in despair. “Ms Molefe, stop talking and do your job for pity’s sake!”
But nothing could get Lucy off her Cloud Nine now! She said, “I’m really in love, girlfriend. This is it, forever!”
“Get real,” I said meanly. “You’re always falling in love. You’re always saying that this is it.” This was true, but I had never been mean to my friend before.
She frowned. “Are you okay, Grace? Maybe you must book an appointment with Dr BK Maphane.”
I wasn’t okay. I was in a turmoil of jealousy and regret and anger at my own stupidity. I should have grabbed Shadrack right from the start, long before Lucy took him. I shouldn’t have tried to play it cool. I had lost my soulmate and it was all my own fault!
It was BK who decided we should all go up the hill for a Sunday picnic.
“The Awesome Foursome together once more!” he said. “Let’s head for the summit, peeps!”
It was a Sunday of agony for me. Shadrack and Lucy walked together up the narrow path in front of us. Hand-in-hand and whispering with their heads close together. I walked beside BK who was talking again about life as a doctor’s wife.
At last we reached the summit and put down the blanket and the picnic baskets. We sat looking across the valley and at our small town.
Then BK walked across to the far end where there was a huge rock and a steep cliff.
Shadrack called across. “Be careful! If you fall, you’ll end up with broken bones. I don’t want to be patching you up at the clinic!”
BK just laughed. “Come on, who’s brave enough to climb up here beside me?” Lucy decided she was brave enough and off she went, laughing, to join BK on the rock. Shadrack and I were left alone together.
Shadrack looked at me. And there was such gentleness in his eyes. Gentleness and sadness too.
Shadrack said, “Grace, I have a feeling there has been some mistake. I don’t quite know how this happened. Things just got out of my control. But I have somehow ended up with the wrong bank teller. What do you think, Grace? Have you ended up with the wrong doctor too? Please, you have to tell me.”
Tell us what you think: What would you do if you realised you were in love with your best friend’s partner? And then they told you they had feelings for you too?