The soft music played in her ears as the bus was taking off, she looked outside the window and watched the city disappeared slowly as they moved out. Her mind so calm and yet thoughtful. She had had the most embarrassing day of her life and she deeply regretted ever making such an advance, following up on the feelings of her heart even when she wasn’t so sure how he would respond.
“Hey, tickets please” the bus conductor interrupted her thoughts she looked up at his face seeing the guy who was checking the bus tickets.
“Oh yeah, here” she sighed removing the ticket from her pocket and handing it to him.
“Monze huh? Any change?” he asked
“no” Grace responded and watched till the man had gone to the back seats before plugging back the headsets and closing her eyes to recall the events back on campus.
She had finished parking her bags when Junior had come to her room.
“Hey!” he greeted standing by the door.
“Hey, still around? I thought you have left already” she smiled standing from her chair and walking to him.
“nope, the driver is yet to pick me, am still waiting for him he said he has some errand to run in town and will only be here after about 2 hours” Junior explained casually and walked inside past Grace finding himself a spot to sit beside the packed bags.
“So? I will miss you my bestie” Junior stated but his statement was followed by silence, he wasn’t sure whether she heard him or was pretending.
“Well” he sighed breaking the silence.
“What? You wanted something?” Grace asked him.
“I just told you I will miss you and you won’t say a thing?” he teased with a laugh.
“Well, I will miss you too Junior, you have made my stay on campus this first semester worth while. I don’t know how I could have managed to adapt so fast as I have done, yeah I know Dingy was here too but seeing she is doing something so parallel to my program, I realise that you helped me a lot with A levels especially math’s. So yeah I will miss you too and thank you”
“Don’t mention it, you are a genius and am sure you will make it through. I envy your passion for school.” he smiled.
For a moment Grace watched Junior, knowing so well how attracted she felt towards him but the fact of being a lady and that she never had any experience of relationships, she didn’t have the courage to tell him that to his face.
Junior stood up and Grace kept her eyes at him without realizing he was watching her silence.
“Hey! Are you okey?” he asked making her heart jump as she startled.
“Yea, um, am okey. Sorry I, I” she stammered feeling stupid, her hands were shaking she dropped the cloth she had in her hands which she had wanted to pack. Junior bent down to pick it up and so did Grace their hands meeting. She slowly rose her eyes on his and for a moment she lost it grabbing him by the neck and kissing him.
Junior was caught unaware so he stood there motionless, he felt her wet lips on his but did nothing to respond to her.
“Am, um… Oh God what am I doing?” she moved away in shame.
“What was that Grace?” Junior asked which made her even more upset with herself.
“Am sorry, I just was caught up in a moment. Please forgive me” she shook her head tears threatening to spill off her eyes as she realized he had no similar feelings as she had.
“It’s okey. I understand. I bet I should be going now” he sighed pushing his hands in his pockets feeling nervous too.
“Yeah probably you should. Will see you next semester” she had responded and watched him move about before heading to the door.
“Grace!” he stopped calling out to her name.
“Hmmm” she responded biting her tongue as she looked at his face.
“Am sorry and safe journey home” he smiled and she nodded in response.
“Yep, see you” he added and walked away leaving Grace so ashamed she hit her face several times to awake from her stupidity.
Breathing heavily, Grace opened her eyes pushing back the memories of Junior and looking at the person seated next to her. She smiled seeing the guy was smiling at her.
“Hey beautiful!” he greeted she could see his white round teeth widely exposed.
“Hey. Am sorry I didn’t know someone is seated next to me. It was empty before we started off.” she giggled shyly with the thought that someone had watched her day dreaming.
“No offense taken, I actually just got in from Kafue” he shrugged
“Oh so we passed Kafue already, my God, I must have been lost in my own mind” she let a laugh.
“My name is Jack or you can call me Bwalya.” he smiled handing his hand to her.
“Grace” she shook it and sighed looking ahead.
The rest of the journey Jack kept bring up topics and the two were engaged in some talk till Grace realized the bus was pulling over the station in Monze.
“Well, nice to meet you Bwalya. Will see you around” she smiled as she picked her back pack.
“Great, see you around.” He smiled and watched her get off the bus.
Grace had leant Bwalya was a student doing his fourth year at Cavendish University. He told her his home was in Lusaka but he was going to Livingstone to see his parents. She had not really paid attention to the rest of his background but she was kind enough to give him her number since he had insisted they become friends.
As she waited for the guys who were getting the heavy bags from the boots, she saw her mother walking towards her.
“Mom” she rushed to hug her.
“I missed you my baby, welcome back” Diana smiled at her daughter.
“You came alone?” Grace asked looking about for any signs of her father.
“Yeah. Your dad is not okey, he is been sick for a while and couldn’t come with Me.” she explained, lifting the bag and getting to the car Grace following her behind.
“So, how was school?” Diana asked as they settled down in the car.
“Good” she responded bluntly.
“Good? That is it?” Diana laughed placing the keys in the ignition.
“Yeah mom, it was good, learning a whole lot of new things was great” she looked away giving up her sad face. Diana turned her face to look at her daughter and shook her head knowing there was something she was not telling her. She however didn’t want to go into pestering her to tell her everything especially if it brought sadness to Grace.
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At home Grace was taken aback to find her father lying down looking so slim and sick. The time her mother had told her he was sick, she had thought it was just some minor sickness like headache, seeing him lying there his eyes pale made her rush to him with worry.
“Daddy, what is wrong? For how long have you been sick?” she asked worried. Mr. Mwape coughed trying to sit upright wearing a weak smile.
“Hey my little doctor welcome back home” he smiled trying to hide his weakness.
“Daddy I asked you a question, what is going on here?” Grace insisted.
“Am going to be okey Grace, it’s just I have lost some blood. Am now on medication and am sure soon I will stand on my feet” he smiled
“Am sorry dad I didn’t know you have been sick all this time”
“It’s just over a week my dear don’t worry we didn’t want to tell you so as not to disturb your studies” her mother interrupted.
Grace spent most of the day’s home. Going through the farms as she loved to work with the workers helping on little things. She had not contacted Junior for almost two weeks. Not knowing how or what to talk about. Helping her mother nurse her father who unfortunately didn’t seem to be improving. The doctors had diagnosed him, saying he had leukemia. The blood transfusion they gave him helped him improve but at a very slow rate.
One day Grace was in the field working when her brother came to call her.
“What is it Joshua?” she responded placing down the canister she was using to water the small seedlings for vegetables.
“Daddy is calling for you” the boy responded and Grace washed her hands rushing back to the house.
“You called for me daddy, anything the matter?” she asked sitting down next to his bed.
“Am very sick my daughter and am afraid I might not live long enough. There is something I need to tell you though. Something that will forever change your life because it has an effect with regards to where you come from” Kent coughed.
“Daddy, what do you mean? You will get well soon. Please stop talking like that” she shook her head feeling the heaviness around her eyes she swallowed hard to push down the tears.
“And what is that about where I come from? I know almost everything about my family what else is there to know?” she asked holding his hand.
“Yeah I know that but…,” he started making Grace sit up paying attention.