Zoey sped up as she neared the house at the end of Makoro Drive just as she did every day on her way home from school. When they’d first moved to Gaborone from Bulawayo, Reggie told her all about the house and she’d never forgotten. A man, a police officer, had killed his wife and daughter in the house five years before. Since then it was left to slowly fall apart. It was now doorless, and only had shards of glass in the holes where windows once kept out the weather. She noticed a few of the zinc roofing sheets were gone now too. Zoey wondered why someone didn’t just tear the house down and build another, but then thought maybe the plot of land itself had been tainted by the horrible event.

She slowed her bike at the next corner after and turned left onto their street. Her little brother, Tendai, waited at the gate with their dog, Mickey, just like every day when she came home from school. She stopped and pushed her bike in through the gate.

“Zoey, Mma Dinky gave me a gold star today for writing my B correctly,” Tendai said, as they walked together to the back door of the house. ‘Look!”

She looked down and saw the gold star sticker still pasted in the middle of his forehead. “That’s good, T. So, you finally remembered to face it the right way?’

“Yep.”

Zoey locked her bike on the back pole of the car shade and picked up Mickey. “Hey my man,” she said, letting the miniature Dachshund lick her face. “Where’s your gold star?’

Inside Lesego, their maid, was just finishing up and getting ready to catch a combi to Block 8 where she lived. “Zoey, so listen, I’ve cut the veggies for dinner. They’re in the fridge. Just warm up the stew and rice in the microwave. Your mum phoned and said she’d be home at 6:30, she’s got gall bladder surgery at 5 and she doesn’t see any problem.”

Their mother was a doctor, a surgeon, at Princess Marina Hospital, the big government hospital in the city. They’d moved to Gaborone two years before for her to take the job, though Zoey knew the real reason had more to do with her hoping she could leave the sadness of losing her husband back in Bulawayo, but it didn’t work like that. Still, they managed and she was busy enough being an overworked doctor and a single parent to two kids that she almost looked like she was happy, though Zoey knew she wasn’t.

“I got it,” Zoey said to Lesego.

Lesego got her bag and started to leave but stopped. “Did you see anything at that house on Makoro when you came?”

“See anything? No, why?”

“They say they let him out.”

“The police officer?”

Lesego nodded. “He was at the mental hospital in Lobatse. They say he’s fixed.”

Zoey couldn’t believe it. Fixed from killing his wife and kid? “I doubt he’ll move back into that house. It must have bad memories for him. And everyone knows about what he did.”

“They say he’s going to.” Lesego shook her head. “I’m changing my route to the combi stop. I don’t even want to pass there. The whole thing gives me the creeps.”

Later at dinner, her mother handed her the juice and asked, “So how was school then, Zoey?”

“It was alright. So did Lesego tell you that that police officer who killed his family is getting released?”

“I don’t know why you and Lesego are so fixated on that gruesome story.”

“But do you think he’s really sorted? I mean can he be?”

Her mother thought about it a bit. “If he had some sort of psychotic break, then yes, I think he can. There are chemical problems that can go wrong that can be corrected with the right medication. I don’t know enough about the psychology to have an opinion, but I think if they let him out, people should give him a chance.”

***

Tell us: Do you think the police officer could have been ‘fixed’ at the mental hospital?