And then, just forty kays out of town, the bus swerved wildly. It came to a stop with a sickening thud. I was thrown forward, banging my head on a metal bar. Everything went black.
When I regained consciousness, I was in the hospital ward of our clinic. In beds around me, other people seemed to be groaning. Two white-coated doctors moved amongst them. Shadrack and BK? Or perhaps one of them was old Dr Autlwetse? I couldn’t see well. Everything was behind a mist.
And then one of the white coats bent over me. Close. So very close!
The mist cleared. Shadrack! It was Shadrack! In that moment, all I wanted in the whole world was for him to bend a little further and kiss me. I wanted it so badly, that I didn’t care about anything else. Not even my dearest friend.
But the moment passed. Shadrack shone a small torch into my eyes. “Are you in pain, Ms Katse?” he asked, sounding very professional and doctor-like.
“My head hurts, Dr Dube. Terribly,” I answered, just like any other patient would. “And the other people from the bus?”
He was checking my pulse now. “No fatalities, thank the good Lord. A few broken bones. And one other concussion like yours. Dr Maphane is examining her.”
Shadrack bent closer. He whispered, “You were shouting while you were unconscious.”
“Shouting my name, Grace. Over and over. And in my medical opinion, the sub-conscious doesn’t lie. No need to pretend any longer. No need to get on buses and run away from the truth.”
More than anything, I wanted to hold out my arms to him, IV drip and all. Instead I said, “It doesn’t matter what the truth is, Shadrack. Lucy loves you. And I cannot betray her.”
Shadrack nodded sadly. “I know, Grace. That is the problem. If you were the kind of person who betrayed her friend, I wouldn’t be in love with you.”
I was alone when Lucy came to visit. Quietly she asked how I was. And I could hear in her voice that she had been crying. I could see in her eyes how worried she was about me.
I put my arms around her. “I’m fine, Luce. Truly.” My dearest, dearest friend. No! I could never do anything to hurt her. No matter what it cost me.
Lucy cheered up and went back to being her usual noisy self.
“See, girlfriend! You can’t get away from me that easily. Admit it, you belong here. And just as well you are back. Wait till you hear the latest news! I heard it from Mrs Cloete, you know, the legal secretary at Thebe and Masons?”
Here we go again, I thought. “What news, Luce?” I asked, even though my head was pounding.
“Two new hotshot intern lawyers, that’s what. Young and single. Definitely single, Mrs Cloete assures me. Tshepo and Dixon. So which one do you want? You get first choice, since you’re sick.”
I couldn’t believe this! “What about Shadrack?”
Lucy shrugged. I’ve seen that shrug often before. “You know how it is, girlfriend. The spark just isn’t there any more. He’s too serious.” I’ve heard that often before too: the spark has gone out. That’s how her romances usually ended. “Yes, I must get up the nerve to tell him.”
I waited until Lucy was gone and then I begged a nurse to get Dr Dube. As fast as possible.
Shadrack rushed in, looking worried. “What is it? Has the pain got worse?”
I shook my head. “I think the pain has gone for good, Doctor,” I said. And I held out my arms to him, IV drip and all.
Tell us what you think: What does the future hold for Lucy and Grace?