Faith watches helplessly as Klaas's parents surround him, yet keep a significant metre or so distant. She wipes a tear roughly away as his body is wracked with another severe bout of coughs before jerking on the single bed and then lying eerily still.
No. This can't be happening. Why's he suddenly gone so still? Her brown eyes are wide and terrified, yet hooked to the scene as his Dad turns away. She doesn't care as to why he's turning away. She just knows that Klaas isn't dead. Not yet anyway.
His Mum, Mrs. Callum, is holding his dark brown hand now and stroking it, as if crooning him to sleep. Faith pads further into the room and sits down on the chair next to the bed. Klaas's Mum doesn't acknowledge her presence, but continues to stroke the limp hand in hers, and murmurs the words which Faith can't understand. She is different from them. She is not one of them.
Klaas's eyes are closed, yet they flicker slightly open once in a while. He's still alive. He's just sleeping; Faith consoles herself, and unconsciously starts shivering in agitation. The room is so cold. Or perhaps it's just me, she thinks and shudders again.
After what seems like an hour, Mrs. Callum heaves her large body off the bed and finally realises Faith is there. Her face is weary and haggard and her eyes are worried, always worried. But when her gaze lands on Faith, her jaw hardens, and her voice is cold.
"Go home Faith. You have no business here."
Faith pursues her pale blue lips with controlled fury. She doesn't want an argument with Mrs. Callum, especially not now.
"I said go home girl. There's nothing you can do anyway."
There's a pause as they contemplate each other.
"Maybe not Mrs. Callum, but Klaas is my boyfriend and I love him, and I will not leave him," Faith replies, her eyes fixed on Klaas's thin face.
Mrs. Callum heaves a sigh and shakes her head almost regretfully, her eyes softening ever so slightly, "You are in for a lot of trouble Faith."
She turns and walks out of the room slowly, muttering under her breath, "A white girl going for a black boy. Whatever next? That girl is going to be in for a lot of heart ache."
Faith hears the muttered words, but doesn't care. She is finally alone with Klaas. It was a shame that the privacy they had sought during the six months they were dating was found only when Klaas was very much near death. Tuberculosis had destroyed him. It's odd, she thinks to herself, her eyes filling with tears as she strokes his dark hair back over his forehead. She knows he will die, and probably very soon, but she can't accept it.
Klaas stirs slightly under her touch and opens his lovely dark eyes.
"Faith?" he says, his breath coming with difficulty.
"I'm here Klaas," she says and kisses him on his forehead, trying to hide her tears. She can't bear to see him in so much pain.
"I love you Faith," he whispers, his eyes fixed on hers intently.
"I love you too Klaas," she says and can't hold back any longer. The tears pour down her face and she starts sobbing.
"Hey. Hey Faith," he says gently after another deep breath, gasping for air. She looks away, absolutely ashamed of herself. His brown hand grasps her wrist and he waits for her to calm down slightly before joking, "I love your copper curls darling…"
Faith laughs through her tears and then says those familiar words which they said to each other the first time they met, "And I love your chocolate eyes…"
He grins weakly before sighing and taking regular, deep breaths. Somewhere inside her, Faith knows Klaas is near the end of his life, and her instincts insist she stay by his side, but then he looks at her and murmurs, "Please go Faith. I don't want you to see me like this."
Even before he's finished his sentence, she's shaking her head in defiance. "No Klaas, I won't leave you. I love you and I don't care how-"
"Go," he insists and coughs, his eyes pleading with her.
"Go Faith," Mrs. Callum says from behind her, but her voice is gentle.
Faith feels torn. She must not leave him, yet her body disobeys her instincts. Leaning forward slightly, she kisses his forehead again, and looks at him, but he's looking away, and as she watches, a pearly tear runs down his dark cheek.
As she passes Mrs. Callum on her way out, she says, "Please call me when…"
And for once, the woman doesn't pass a snide remark on Faith's race or comment on her dress. Instead, she nods and her eyes are full of understanding and grief.
Three hours later, as Faith lies on her bed back home, her mobile rings and as she answers, she knows.
"Klaas has died," says Mrs. Callum in a defeated voice.
"He's… he's gone?" Faith repeats faintly after a pause.
"Yes. He has left this world," she replies in a softer voice. "He has left us all."