Zeke woke only a moment later but the town had changed. Gone was the smell of maize over a fire and the line for the ATM. Instead his parents were with him in a tiny room. Doctors Without Borders read the wall behind them. Zeke’s parents were so relieved to see him well again.
Later at home Zeke lay in bed listening to his parents talk in the kitchen.
“We’ve made a mistake.”
“Zeke is lonely. He’s depressed. But they told us if we give him attention and time to recover he will be just fine.”
“James. We need to go home.”
They went home. Zeke watched Frozen 2 on the plane and he remembered every detail. Everything before and after that flight was a blur.
He and his family rented an apartment in a strange city in a strange country. Zeke was lonely. His cousins came to visit and they were scared because he was silent and carried Africa with him. He was afraid too.
Doctor after doctor said Zeke would be fine. They tried medication. They tried talking. Zeke thought of Thando every day. He forgot where he was.
One night Zeke went home in a dream. He was back at the compound with bare feet. Thando was there. Boarding school was finished; they were together. Zeke and Thando played football till sundown.