Busi accepted the sandwich. She took a small bite and thought she had tasted heaven. She hadn’t had a good meal in days. She bit into the sandwich again and knew she would finish it. She had starved herself way too long.

“I know what has been going on here, you were on some kind of a diet and not eating properly.” Thabo said. “So, who’s the lucky boy?”

“What lucky boy? What are you talking about?” Busi looked at him with suspicion. Thabo couldn’t possibly know her secret.

“You tell me. There is only one reason why a girl would starve herself almost to death – for a boy.”

Busi laughed, a sarcastic high-pitched laugh. “Oh, please. You’re talking nonsense. There is no boy. I will never do anything like that for anyone, let alone a boy.”

“I have a sister, she’s two years older than me and goes to Hickory Girls’ High School in town. Last year she also fainted but she wasn’t so lucky like you, she had to spend a few days at the hospital. The doctors discovered she was taking dangerous slimming pills and skipping meals. Turns out there was this boy she was interested in and she thought he wouldn’t like her the way she looked.” Thabo was looking straight at her.

Busi’s eyes were as wide as saucers as she listened to Thabo. “I’m sorry about your sister. Is she okay?”

“Yep, she’s fine now. My parents were really angry with her. They’ve always taught us the importance of self-love and acceptance. I don’t think my sister will ever do something as stupid as that, she’s learned her lesson.”

They both finished their sandwiches in silence.

“I should get back to class, the period is almost over,” Thabo said. “I’ll take you to the teacher’s staffroom first where you can rest some more, I don’t think you will be able to concentrate in class. Are you feeling okay to walk?” Busi nodded. Thabo stood and extended his arm to her. Busi held onto Thabo’s hand and pulled herself up. The dizziness had subsided. She stood still for a few seconds not trusting her body to carry her forward.

“You know what, don’t worry about me, I can walk myself to the teacher’s staffroom.”

“No, I’m walking with you,” Thabo insisted.

“Thank you for helping me today.”

“Just promise me you will stop this self-imposed hunger strike and start eating again.” Busi mumbled something. “Promise,” Thabo said in a serious tone.

“Okay, I promise.”

“By the way,” Thabo said, “Just so you know, you don’t need to change. You’re beautiful just as you are.”

Busi smiled the broadest smile. It was interesting how this chapter was writing itself, she was certain her personal encounter with Thabo Tladi would not be the last.

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