It has been five days since the family went away. There’s been no call, no WhatsApp, nothing for Luhle. She knows she mustn’t think they hate her or anything, but she can’t ignore the fact that they never care enough to send an SMS at least. She tries to comfort herself by thinking about yesterday’s service. Sunday services are always a blast in her church. Everything is extreme, the outpouring of the word, the Love and the fellowship as a whole. It’s always amazing.

On top of it all, today’s life orientation lesson required they say something emotionally enthralling as part of their academically-emotional well-being exam. During her speech, she included Tabitha’s words about gratitude, and people’s treatment towards other people.

But today something is not well, as much as the past days were a lot better, there’s just something about today. Something heavy. As usual, she takes out her school uniform, and packs it nicely accordingly. She takes out from her wardrobe a black mini dress, and white fur jacket, a bit worn out, but it has been her favorite since. She glances at the mirror, she looks perfect. Her tiny waist, big bottoms and thighs makes her look exactly like those TV models, which seem unreal.

It’s Four thirty already, she has a session at 5:30 in the library with her group, as they’re working on a physical science research project. During her long walk, she tries to keep normal, but she realizes that she has suddenly became worse than at first. She’s more down and she can’t swallow down the stone that’s stuck in her throat.

She makes it to the library. During the research she keeps quiet, not knowing how to act normal, and at the same time worried that her friends might notice that she isn’t OK. Why is she not OK, she also doesn’t know. Luckily her phone vibrates, it’s Tabitha, May she ask her to come home please she begs silently, desperate for an excuse to leave.

“Tabitha, hi…”

“Luhle you’ve got to rush home, immediately!” Tabitha says over the phone, “I’m sorry to disturb whatever you’re doing. You’ve got to come” She’s panting heavily. Luhle fails to say anything more, she tucks her phone in her schoolbag, and she rushes out. The idea of taking a walk has been ideal earlier, but now she knows she’s got to take a taxi back home.

When she arrives she flings the door open, she storms in, there’s no one. She rushes around searching, in the kitchen, the dining room, the lounge, her parent’s bedroom; No one! Unexpectedly Her phone vibrates in her hand.

“I tried waiting for you, come to the Netcare Healing Bliss Hospital”

Out again, she slams the door and locks, no time to wait for the taxi, or buses. She requests. The car stands in front of her in two minutes. She tucks herself in.

In the Hospital, the corridors are long and the same, she doesn’t know where to go and where to start. Tabitha comes to the entrance to fetch her after she’s texted her.

“Tabitha!” Luhle calls out, running to Tabitha, “what’s going on? What happened to you?”

“It’s not me baby. It’s your dad!”, Tabitha says, holding Luhle’s hand, “come on,” they rush through the corridors. There’s a stretcher bed being rushed past them, Luhle panics at the sight of blood covering everything in the bed, then a woman who looks long in the tooth is being pushed in a wheelchair, her mouth is pouted and her eyes are white only. Luhle gasps.

“Stop it Luhle, this is a hospital, you don’t look around at everything!” Tabitha shouts in a wisper.

They rush past two more wards then they get to Dad’s ward. Before they get inside they are blocked by a nurse

“Oh sorry you can’t get in now, what…”

“Nurse Chino no time to explain anything now, we need to get started” the doctor says, pulling the nurse towards her, suddenly there is a rush in the ward, the doctors and nurses are coming in, and out, then the stretcher bed is pulled out and rushed somewhere else, covered by the crowd of white and blue and navy uniforms of nurses and doctors. They run after them. They get to the theatre, but before they could enter, the blue curtain is being slid close in their faces.

One nurse remains with Luhle and Tabitha outside.

“Mrs Sokhulu, I have to beg you to please don’t lose heart. Bear with us.”

“I want to know what suddenly happened. He was OK a minute ago when I went to fetch Luhle”

“I understand that Mrs Sokhulu…” She can’t finish the sentence as the mini phone in her hand rings, she picks it up and without a word, and she rushes inside the theatre.

“Mom…” Luhle doesn’t finish her sentence, Tabitha abruptly envelopes her. Tabitha’s heartbeat keeps Luhle more on edge. Could Dad’s death be in the pipeline? She hates herself for even thinking about that, she quickly rubs it off.

Another nurse comes out. They jump to her. “What is it? How is he?” Asks Tabitha

“Come” the nurse leads them to the benches, “you will sit here while you wait. It’s not ideal for you to stand at the door; the operation may take more than two hours, starting in five minutes from now. I’m sorry to say this, but it seems like your husband’s appendix has raptured”

Tabitha gasps, and covers her mouth with both hands. Luhle’s heart hammers her chest brutally! If vomiting it up was on the cards, she would.

“Will he be OK?” Luhle asks, her voice is under a cloud of confusion and sudden pain.

“Mrs Sokhulu” the nurse says, ignoring Luhle’s question, “if you are a praying woman, I suggest you start praying. We need any grace from God at this point” then she rushes back inside. Tabitha slides down to the bench powerlessly. Luhle stands still. Hoping for a different wave of miracle. Someone to say ‘ta-daa! It’s a joke’. She glances around, trying to make sense of everything. How could someone be okay this morning and drop her at school, then the next thing he is in the surgery room, in thin line between life and death?