the white cab waited – engine running. stooping, he hugged her warmly. at 07:30 in the morning, she smelt of freshly plucked roses. she is seventy-two. he is forty-two. “how is she?” she moved her head from side to side. “resting.” her belgian accent quite strong. she looked into his eyes – warmly. he was returning home for six weeks. “remain positive.” she reminded him. he looked into her eyes and the butterflies fluttered in his heart. “take good care of yourself.” her eyes mirrored his own thoughts and feelings. she stroked his cheek. “bring you back to me as you leave me today.” they hugged again. she kissed him on the neck. he pressed her to him. both of them trembling. she opened the gate, and he stepped through it, ashamed to look back. her heart mirrored his shame. soon as he touched down in gaborone he texted her. “arrived safely. glad i met you.” her response was as if typed the moment he left her. “same here, handsome. my daughter said ‘you’ll love the tall chinaman’ she was right.” he smiled in recollection of the joke about his post-chemo complexion. he shut his eyes – memories of the three days of laughter in her daughter’s guest house for cancer patients came flodding back. “you take care of her.” he tapped on his phone as he waited for her response. “i will. she says to tell you not to forget your medications.” his eyes gave in to his shame – and sweet tears raced down his cheeks.

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