In the morning at work Leila avoided everyone. She didn’t want to talk about anything. She wanted only to be left alone to nurse her broken heart. If she had only kept her secret, then Alletta and Dikeledi would not have catfished Hardy with Carla De Beer and they would still be happily together. Now it was all ruined.

She’d gone through all of their messages and he was right, they’d never talked about growing up. They started talking about books and then it was just their daily lives. He was right. He hadn’t hidden anything. It just never came up.

In the afternoon, Dikeledi and Alletta arrived at Leila’s desk.

“What do you two want?” Leila said.

“Leila, Hardy messaged us. He thought we were you. We explained the truth. But we think we messed everything up for you two,” Alletta said. “We’re sorry.”

“Yes! You did!” Leila shouted. “Why couldn’t you just leave me alone?”

“We thought we were protecting you. We thought we were helping,” Dikeledi said.

“Well, in the future just remember I don’t need your help.” Leila turned to her computer though her eyes were filled with tears. “You can go now. I’ve got work to do.”

They left and Leila rushed to the bathroom. She went into a stall and cried until there were no tears left in her eyes. She’d loved Hardy, but she had to accept that it was over now.

At her desk she got back to work. Her life would shrink back to how it was before Hardy. It would be work and home. Books and quiet walks alone. It had seemed a good life then, but now it seemed so lonely.

She fetched a stack of new books from the storeroom and sat down at her desk to start entering them in the computer system. Just then she heard her phone ding. She looked down at the screen and her heart stopped for a moment. It was a message from Hardy.

I’m sorry. I was wrong. I accused you
without listening. Your friends told me the
truth. They were trying to protect you
from me. But they don’t need to. I love you.
Will you forgive me, my dear Lea?

Leila looked down at the message. Had she ever, in all her life of reading, read such beautiful words before? She grabbed up her phone and wrote back:

I forgive you. Yes! I forgive you!

Two months later, Leila was gathering up her things to leave work when Alletta poked her head in the office. “So, are you off to the airport then?”

“Yes,” Leila said. “I’m so nervous. But I can’t wait to see Hardy in person.”

“Don’t be nervous. Hardy’s a good guy. You two are going to hit it off in person just like you did online.”

“I hope so.”

Leila rushed outside to the taxi she’d booked to take her to the airport, and to bring them back to her flat once she’d collected him. Despite her nerves, she knew Alletta was right. She knew she and Hardy would be fine. The thing is, unlike Alletta, she’d known it all along.


Tell us: Were the colleagues right to interfere in someone else’s personal life, in this particular case? Why or why not?