“Nice shot!”’ Mercy shouted. It was Monday afternoon and the two girls were practising for the netball match.

“You’re not bad yourself,” teased Candice, as Mercy’s shot too dropped into the net.

“I’m happy that everything turned out okay for you on Saturday. I was worried – Mary would introduce anyone to you, just to keep Majozi happy.”

“Oh Mercy!” Candice chided. “She’s not that bad. I had a great time.”

“You look as if you did.” Mercy was finding her friend’s new dreamy look unsettling.

Someone called Candice’s name. It was William.

“Hello William. This is my friend, Mercy,” she greeted him, pleased. Candice’s heart was pounding.

“I play a bit of basketball. Maybe I can give you some tips,” offered William. When they had finished practising, William went to get them all some water.

“What do you think, Mercy?” Candice asked as soon as William was out of earshot.
“About what?” teased Mercy.

“About William, silly!”

“Well, he’s a really nice-seeming guy. But why did he leave Port Elizabeth at this time of the school year? Is he in trouble?’

“I don’t know,” Candice fretted. “We talked and talked on Saturday, and have been SMSing since then, but I get the feeling he doesn’t want to talk about it.”

When William returned with the water, Mercy drank hers quickly. “I’d better go. I’ve got a ton of homework.”

“There’s something I must talk to you about, Candice,” said William, as soon as she was out of earshot.

“Is it to do with moving here?” she replied, Mercy’s comment still fresh in her mind.

“Yes, and some other stuff.”

“So, shoot!” she teased.

“Well, my father was one of the reasons. He wouldn’t accept that I wanted to make some decisions by myself.”

“Oh, I know what you mean,” Candice sympathised. “Parents tell us to be responsible – but when we want to do something, they come down on us like a ton of bricks.”

“Then on the other hand they tell us to behave like adults.”

“Did you fall out with your father?”

“Sort of, but…” He stopped. Someone was coming.

“So here you are,” called Majozi. “Relay practice started ten minutes ago!”

“I’ll call you later, OK?” William said to Candice, squeezing her hand.

* * * * *

Later that afternoon Mercy was getting ready to shower when she noticed that the precious chain she wore around her neck was gone. Her parents had given it to her – they would be so upset if it was lost! She always took it off when she played and quickly decided she must have forgotten it in the changing rooms. She ran out of the house and all the way back to school.

As she arrived at the gates Mr Mokaba, the sports coach, came rushing towards her. “Something has happened to William! Do you think you could stay with him? I need to get my car. Majozi is not coping.”

“Yes, of course, Sir,” Mercy assured him. This was much more important than looking for her chain.

Mercy ran to where William was lying on the grass. He was very hot, the sweat running down his face. “It’s okay, William,” she reassured him. Majozi could hardly look at him.

“Could I have some water please?” William, said, struggling to sit up.

Majozi, who was pacing up and down anxiously, ran off exclaiming “I’ll get it!”

“Do you faint often?” Mercy asked.

“I used not to,” William said. “But lately I seem to be getting fevers and stomach problems.”

“Are you sick, William?”

“Sort of,” he said softly. “But I thought I had things under control.”

“Have you told Candice about your sickness?” Mercy asked.

“No, not yet. We have only just met… but I will…”

Mercy burst out: “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I must warn you that Candice has deep-rooted fears about hospitals and sick people.”

“Fears? What do you mean?”

Mercy told him the story, then added: “I don’t want you to think I’m talking behind my friend’s back. I just don’t want her – or you – to get hurt.”


What do you think? What do you think William wants to tell Candice? What do you think Candice will do when she hears this news?