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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2255070-OUR-LITTLE-SECRET
by Liz
Rated: 18+ · Novel · Romance/Love · #2255070
Our little secret C 9-12
OUR LITTLE SECRET
IN THE NEIGHBOURHOODS OF CAIRO

Liz



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Warning: this book is intended for adults and contains sexual situations, violence, and sexism.
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CHAPTER IX



Blue sky, sunny day, and hot weather. Crowds of people were waiting in two very long lines, one for men and one for women. A few guys were constantly passing by the lines, trying to sell face masks while not wearing ones. Malik passed by, skipping to two small brown doors. One was closed and the other was wide open. He entered, looking for the counter behind the glass where a man sits with all the ID cards. He stepped up with a small paper in his hand. He gave it to him through a hole in the glass, the shape of a circle with enough space for one hand. The old man took it and looked at it, then he started looking for Malik's ID.
"You changed your religion, right?" Asked the old man.
"Yea," Malik answered, trying to avoid the conversation as he took his new ID.
As he turned around to leave, the old man shouted, "You've made the right choice, son."
Malik slightly turned his head back, nodding it, then he kept walking out.

The speaker was still on the table, a notebook, and an ashtray. The ashes were everywhere on the floor. The couch pillows were down the floor next to, in front of, and all around the couch. Malik put everything back in its place, picked the cigarette buds on the floor, and threw them in the trash, ignoring the rest of the cleaning.
He walked to the balcony with his phone in his hand. A chair was laid on the wall of it, as its back was half broken. He sat down and turned his phone on. It was three p.m. He hit his parents up, hesitated. God, where do I start, he thought.
"Hello, Malik. I missed you, and your dad missed you."
"I miss you too, mom."
"How is everything? Are you doing fine?"
"Yea, I am fine. I wanted to talk—"
"We all do. You'll come and see us after this term, right?"
"Yea, I will. I just wanted—"
"Wait, your dad wants to talk..."
"Hey, Malik. How is life without us?"
"Bad, can't wait to see you both."
"We can't wait too. Is there anything you want to talk about?"
"I... no. I just wanted to know how are you both doing."
"We're fine, son. You're doing fine too, right?"
"Yea, I am. I have to hang up now. I'm about to get off the bus."
"But I can't hear—"
"Bye," Malik hung up, hit the wall with the back of his head, and lit up a cigarette.

Malik sat down on the couch, sweating. He took out his phone, cigarette pack, and lighter. Put them all on the small table in front of him that had a clean glass ashtray on it. The floor was glossy, white, clean, and there was no dust or ashes at all. He got up to turn on the ceiling fan. He sat down again, laying his body back on the couch pillows, and his head up, facing the ceiling. A notification's sound his phone issued. He bent his back and picked the phone, pressing the power button. It was six p.m. A Whatsapp message from Sara.
"You know what tomorrow is? Yes, Monday. By the way, Amir and Layla will skip as well. Also, we have all day because I told my parents that I'll hang out after college. First, we'll go to the location Amir will send you. We'll have so much fun, Also, why did you skip college today? It was boring without you."
He closed Whatsapp and opened his phone camera. Took his wallet out of his pant's back pocket. He pulled out his ID card and took a picture of it.
He opened Whatsapp again and typed, "Sorry, baby. I was..." he sent the message then the picture.
She replied. "Oh my god. already did that."
"It would be good if you didn't talk to your dad. First, let me prepare my speech about how I found the right path. Also, I will ask my parents if they will come. That would make me look truthful and get better chances for your dad to accept."
"Don't worry. I didn't talk to him. Whenever you are ready tell me to do so."
"Alright, see you tomorrow. I love you."
"I love you too."
Malik turned the phone off and put it on the table. He was feeling lost, not knowing where to start nor how to convenience his parents to come with him. He picked up the cigarette pack. It felt light. He opened it and found one cigarette. He lit it and got up to go buy some.

A small store at the corner of his street. Two fridges outside, facing opened boxes of chips packs. A small counter covering the entrance with too many different cake and biscuit packs on it.
"LM."
"Red?"
"Yeah." Malik gave him the money and took the pack, putting it in his pocket.
As he was walking back home, he noticed the guy that Amir had beaten two days ago. He kept walking, pretending not to see him as he moved to the other side of the street. The guy started walking towards Malik and Malik started to walk faster. The guy ran towards Malik and punched his face hard enough that he fell to the ground. He started kicking his belly with his shoe. People walked out of their stores, moving towards the guy and yelling at him as he let go of Malik and ran away. One walked up to Malik and helped him to get up. He was coughing and pressing on his belly with his arm. Said he was fine and kept walking home.

Standing in front of his opened closet. Clothes, books, white paper, a couple of pencils and pens. He took out a paper, a book, and a pencil. Closed the closet and sat down on his bed. He laid the white paper on the book, putting it on his knees. He held the pencil with his right hand, it was shaking. Drew four vertical lines next to each other and connected them from the top. Drew a fifth line next to the last one and connected it. It looked awful. He pulled a cigarette out of his pack and lit it. Kept trying all over the page to draw a fist till he got it. He put the pencil next to him on the bed. Stared at the fist, and the cigarette was still in his left hand. It was almost burnt all the way down. He lost his attention staring at the drawing. The ashes fell off on the paper, bringing back his attention. He took the last hit and threw the cigarette away in the corner of his room next to his bed. Held the pencil and drew a couple of x marks all over the page. He flipped the paper to start again. Drew one vertical line and moved the pencil to the top of it, then he drew four petals around the end of the line.

He walked inside the kitchen and turned the light on. Walked towards the fridge, slowly and hesitated. Took out a one-liter vodka bottle that was unopened and a one-liter sprite bottle. He put them both on the food table with a glass mug. Sat down on a chair that was next to the table. He opened the vodka bottle and poured a little in the mug. Held the sprite bottle then he changed his mind and let go of it. Drank the little amount in the mug then held the vodka bottle and drank half of it as if it was water. His throat was hurt as he was coughing. His eyes were burning so was his stomach. He poured a little more in the mug and stared at it. Drank it and got out of the kitchen.

He sat down on his bed, waiting with no patience for his brain to go away. Kept moving his fingers and toes in random patterns as he was smoking cigarette after cigarette. He started to feel a little dizzy and the alcohol started to affect him, but not in the way he wished for. How come a chicken like me thinks that it can fight for a loved one when it can't even fight for itself? He thought. Kept smoking, taking hits after hits with no breaks as if it was oxygen. As more time was passing, he realized that the alcohol was making it worse. No escape was left but sleeping. He laid his body down, rested his head on the pillow, and closed his eyes, trying to shut down the voices in his head.

"If God allows, we will meet you soon again," said Hassan's dad.
"Hope so," Layla's dad replied.
They all stood up, walking to the door. Exchanging farewells a couple of times and shaking hands then they left. Layla's dad closed the door and sat down on the couch in front of her as her brother walked away.
"So, what do you think," he asked.
"Very expensive." A dessert box was on the table among the couches. She was looking at it, wondering where did she see that brand before.
"What?"
"He seems like a good person," she looked at her dad.
"Yea, he is. That's my friend's son," he stood up. "Soon you'll put on the rings, okay?"
"Yea, sure."



CHAPTER X



stairs were covered with grass carpet. they were walking them down to an underground cafe. Two black doors were opened wide. A counter was facing them. Two coffee machines were on the edge of the counter. Many shelves up, some had empty mugs and cups on them, and some had glass bottles filled with different liquids. A sink behind the counter and two fridges next to it. A nice-looking man, thin, and tall. Fully dressed in black with a black cap behind the counter. He smiled at them, "Welcome to our cafe. Please, choose a table."
The floor was all covered with grass carpets. Every table was next to a wall, and a lamp was next to every table hung on the wall. All the walls were black, and every lamp had a different light color. "Let's sit there," Sara suggested.
"Okay."
Two black couches facing each other, each had four black pillows. Sara and Malik sat down next to each other, facing Amir and Layla. Wooden table painted with black with a glass top, the width of the couches. Two glass ashtrays between the middle and the edges, and a big mug in the middle that was filled with white and brown sugar packets.
"But why here?" Layla asked.
"The blue light. I love blue."
"Why's that?" Malik asked.
"The sky and the sea. That's what you would see if you sat down on beach's sand."
"You never told me you went to a beach before."
"I did not, but I want to. One day, Maybe."
"One day, I'll take you to Alexandria, Promise."
"I can't wait," Sara smiled at him.
The waiter walked up to them with a small notepad and a pen, "What would you like to order?"
Amir looked at him, "A coffee." He looked at them. They all nodded their heads. "Four coffees," he looked back at the waiter.
"A hookah, blueberry flavor," Layla added.
"I'm very sorry, but covid," the waiter looked around. He looked back at them, "I'll ask the manager. You're alone here, and no one comes this early." He walked away.
"I keep forgetting that this is a thing," said Amir.
Layla took her phone out. As soon as she pressed the power button, everyone looked at her, saying in one voice, "Layla."
"Okay," she laughed and let go of her phone, putting it on the table.
"I can't believe we could be listening to that Doctor, talking about everything no one cares to know," Sara sighed.
"What a relief to skip this day," said Layla
"Why all the music they play is viral?" Amir took out his cigarette pack. He gave one to Malik and one to Sara, then lit one for himself.
"It isn't bad." Malik pulled out his lighter and lit Sara's cigarette then his.
"Yea, but viral songs are played everywhere, and it gets boring," said Layla.
Four Steaming coffees in four white cups with two black horizontal lines on each, one at the top and one at the bottom. Each on a dish, all on a flat plate. The waiter walked up, carrying the plate with one hand. He bent his back, putting a cup in front of each one with the other hand. "I'll bring the hookah."
"Take your time," said Layla as the waiter walked away.
"I love music with calm beats," said Sara.
"I love it loud and noisy," said Amir.
"Honestly, I love all music, but it's more about vibing with friends for me," said Malik.
A golden metal body with a glass water bowl down and a small bowl for tobacco up. A small glass plate on the tobacco plate with heated coal on it. The waiter carried it with one hand, walking towards them as the hose was in his mouth, taking hits to heat the coal a bit more. As soon as too much smoke started coming out of his mouth, he put the hookah on the ground. A black mouthpiece of rubber was in his other hand. He put it in the hose and gave it to Layla. "Let me know if you need anything," he smiled and walked away.
"Look at this." Layla put the tip of the mouthpiece on her lips and inhaled through it, then exhaled in the lamp's direction. "Blue smoke," she said, then they all chuckled.

"My butts hurt," said Amir.
"What now?" Layla asked.
"What about we all go to Malik's home?" Sara suggested.
"Oh, by the way, I have weed in my home," said Malik. Layla and Sara smiled at each other. "What? You never smoked weed before?"
"No," said Sara and Layla in one voice. Sara continued, "How many girls get the chance to try things like that."
"Excuse Malik. Sometimes his mind is in his own Utopia," said Amir.
"That's kinda cute," Sara smiled at Malik. "Go with Amir and wait for us. We have a little thing to do."
"We do?"
"Yes, we do."
Amir looked at Malik, coughing, "Let's go." Malik nodded his head then they both stood up and walked out.
"So?"
"I want to buy a gift for Malik before we go, but I don't have any idea what to buy."
"Well, get him a golden ring or a sweater, expensive one. I know places where one sweater costs thousands—"
"Layla," Sara sighed. "Come on."
"Okay," she chuckled. "Buy anything. It does not matter because the gift is not supposed to be about what it is, right?"

"I understand that you want to try, but what's the point of going so far for someone that doesn't want you?" Malik asked.
"She likes me. She loves me as well. I can see it—"
"Like a friend. You know that, right?"
"Man, do I need a reason to love someone this much?"
"Of course you do," said Malik and put his key in his door's lock. He unlocked it and walked in.
"Can we stop talking about it?"
"Sure, dude."
Amir walked in and looked everywhere around. "Huh"
"What?"
"The last time I saw this place clean, my dad was still slapping my face," said Amir then they both laughed.

They walked into the kitchen. Amir walked up to the fridge and opened it to take the vodka out. It was more than half empty. He turned around, looking at Malik, "What the fuck?"
"Sorry, I'll buy another one."
"Buy? Are you retarded?"
"No. What's wrong with you. I'll buy another—"
"Man, fuck the money. The last time I was here was two days ago, and it was full. You came today sober to the cafe. So you drank," Amir turned around again and took out the bottle, looking at it. "You drank about a bit less than a litre yesterday. Just in one day."
"I mean, I am alive."
"What happened?"
"I was worried about Sara."
"What else?"
"Nothing."
"You can't lie to me. You know that, don't you."
"So, you mean that Sara is not that important for—"
"No, but you would draw something first, text her, or even call me."

"Do you think he'll like it?" Sara asked, walking on the pavement next to Layla.
"He better likes it." A customized plastic bag was in Layla's hand. A canvas painting board was on a stand that Sara was carrying with both hands.
"Layla, you didn't tell me anything about the groom since then."
"His name is Hassan, and... um."
"You don't know anything about him, right?"
"I mean, we still didn't engage."
"Do you really want this?"
"I do. Also, he doesn't seem like a bad person. Even if he is, he can't be worse than my dad, and for sure, he makes much more than my dad does."
"I mean, it's okay as long as it's your decision and you're happy with it."
"It is, and I'm happy with it." Layla smiled at her.

"Hey," A store owner, standing behind a shelf stopped Amir as he was walking out. "Don't think of doing something stupid. These people are not our kind."
Amir smirked at him. "Don't worry," he said as he walked out.

Malik opened the door asking, "So?"
"I've known what I've needed." Amir walked in.
"Is it really necessary?" He asked as he closed the door.
"For your sake, yes." Amir walked towards the bedroom. "I'll set the speakers."

Non-stop knocks and bell rings. "Is it the police?" Malik asked.
"Maybe," Amir shrugged and got off the bed, walking to the door. He opened it to find Sara and Layla carrying stuff. Layla kept ringing the bell as Sara walked in.
"Why?" Amir asked.
"Because it's funny," Layla laughed as she stopped hitting the bell. She walked in then Amir closed the door.
"Sara," Malik called her name as he walked out of the room, looking at the painting board. He fell silent, staring at it.
"You love it?" Sara mumbled as she let go of the stand, putting it on the floor.
"Yea, I love it, and I love you more."
Sara blushed as she looked at Layla and moved her hand towards her to take the plastic bag. Layla gave it to her, smiling. Sara walked few steps towards the table. She dropped all the stuff in the bag on the table as Malik walked up next to her. Paint brushes, an artist palette, and a lot of acrylic paints with too many different colors. As she tried to talk, Malik pulled her closer and kissed her. Sara fell silent, looking into his eyes. She slowly hugged him, resting her head on his chest as he moved his arms around her. Layla and Amir were watching from few meters away, she was smiling, and he was frowning.

Four of them were sitting on the bed in a circle. Sara's and Layla's long black hair was moving sideways, as the ceiling fan was spinning, and their bodies were shaking so hard. They were all non-stop chuckling as the speaker on the drawer chest next to the bed was playing pop music. They were taking a hit then passing it to the next.
The more someone chuckled and giggled, the more the other three did. The more time passed, the harder and louder they laughed. As soon as everyone would fall silent, and one would try to talk, they would all go back to hysterically laughing.
Sara stood up, shaking. She gave a hand to Malik. He held it as he stood up. They started dancing slowly. Two shaking hands were on two shaking hips, and two shaking hands were around a shaking neck. Layla stood up as well and moved her hand towards Amir. He slightly moved his head down, looking at her. She nodded her head as he held her hand and stood up.
Every second, four feet had been making four steps. Every two eyes had been looking in two other eyes. Every minute, the feelings had been reaching further limits before the downfall.
They all sat down, feeling exhausted. As they started laughing again, Amir stood up and walked to the room's door.
"Where are you going?" Malik asked
"Water," Amir opened the door and walked out.

He stood still in the kitchen in front of the fridge with the lights off. He opened the fridge as its light got turned on. He pulled out a bottle of water and opened it. He drank some and closed it, then put it back in. As he pushed the fridge door and it got dark again, two hands touched his hips, and a body was touching his back.
"Layla, please, don't."
"Don't you want this?" Layla moved her arms up all over his chest.
"I do, but..." he took her hands off his chest and moved a step away. "But when you want it, not when you're high." It fell silent for seconds. Amir gave her a hand and continued, "Let's go and sit down with them."
She nodded her head, smiling, then took his hand an, walking back to the room with him.



CHAPTER XI



Stood in front of her door, taking a deep breath and trying to act sober. She hit the bell two times and took another deep breath. The voice of the steps towards the door was scaring her. As the door opened, she saw Ahmed, her brother, standing in front of her. As she walked in, she saw her parents sitting down on the couch, looking at her. One's eyes were scared, One's eyes were full of anger.
"Ten and a half, and you didn't even answer the phone," said her dad.
"Oh," Layla pulled out her phone and turned it on, looking at it. She looked back at her dad, "I'm sorry. I didn't notice."
"Why do you have to make us worry?" Her dad shouted.
"I'm really sorry. It won't happen again."
"This is the last time."
"Yea, the last time. I promise."
She turned in her room direction, walking as Ahmed stopped her, grabbing her arm. "She is shaking."
Layla swallowed and her eyes were more focused. "She was scared because she was late," said her mom.
Her dad stood up, walking towards her. "Layla?" He got closer to her mouth. "Open it."
"What—"
"Open it."
Layla slowly opened her mouth wide as her dad sniffed through it a couple of times. He looked into her scared eyes in silence, then he slapped her face hard enough that everyone heard the sound of it loud.
"This is not the way—"
"Shut up, Woman," he shouted at her mom. He kept slapping Layla as she started crying. "What boy were you with?"
"I wasn't with a boy—"
He slapped her face again. "Then how did you get weed?"
"From a girl," she was tearing up.
"And I'm supposed to believe that. "He slapped her again as she started crying louder.
"I wasn't with a boy," she screamed.
"He slapped her one more time. "Girl, keep your voice down." He took her phone from her hand. "Only a virginity test will solve this, and the weed problem is for another time." He slapped her hard enough that she fell to the ground.
"No, this is not the way." Her mom stood up.
"I told you to shut up," he looked at her. "And you," he looked back at Layla. "Are you trying to shame us?" He yelled at her.
Thrown on the floor with her tears falling down, crying a river, and sobbing like a toddler. The hurt look in her eyes, looking at her mom, and the feeling of being helpless in her mom's eyes. That was everything left as her dad and brother walked away.

A small street, twenty meters long, and three meters between the buildings that were facing each other. It was all dark. Three guys were standing by a small gate. Each had a cigarette in a hand between two fingers. Amir walked towards them as one of them pointed at him. The same guy with the face-scars. One of his two friends ran into Amir as Amir kicked his belly to fall back few steps. Amir pulled out a switchblade, so did they. One ran into him, trying to get to his face. Amir grabbed his wrist, squeezing it as twisting his arm that his switchblade fell to the ground. Amir put his switchblade on his neck, still twisting his arm.
"Get out of it." He twisted his arm harder, then pushed him towards the other one. They both fell silent and ran away. Amir stepped up to the one with the face-scars as he was begging for forgiveness.
"I can add to the scars." He moved his switchblade in circles in front of his face. "Or I can take a word from you."
"Never again."
"And if you break your word."
"Do what you want with me."
Amir put his switchblade back between his back and pants as he was looking at him. He slowly walked away, not turning his head back this time.

Laying down on her bed, hugging a pillow. Her eyes were dry, but the pillow was wet as a washed piece of cloth. She got the shakes, as she heard the creak of her bedroom door. She closed her eyes, pretending to be asleep. She heard the steps towards her as if it was the hell approaching her.
"Layla."
It was her mom's voice. She slowly opened her eyes, moving them up at her as she started crying again. Her mom sat down on the bed, turning her head towards Layla, and patting her head.
"They are wrong, and God will punish them, in our life or the next. Did you forget to think of God too?"
"I didn't go anywhere with boys," she murmured as she was crying.
"I believe you, Dear, but you smoked weed. God doesn't want—"
"Stop it. What God exactly? The one who got you married with this man, or—"
"Layla—"
"The one you've been praying to for decades to get this man away from you."
"No. It doesn't work like that."
"Mom, please, leave me alone."
"Layla—"
"Please."
She turned her head away, sighing, "Okay." She stood up and left the room, closing its door.
The sound of Layla's loud crying disappeared, as she buried her face in the pillow that only she could hear herself.

The sound of water drips through the faucet into the sink. A shelf above the sink and a mirror above the shelf. A towel in Malik's hands, he wiped off his face, then looked in the mirror, losing his attention. He hung it on the towel bar behind him, then turned around, looking at his picture again.
"I love her, she loves me, and... I mean, who the fuck gave you the right to prevent her being with whom she wants? Man, fuck the law and who came up with it," he said, looking at the mirror.

A white floor, A white ceiling, white walls, and white doors. A door opened as a man walked out, dressed in white and blue.
"Reassure me, Doctor."
"All good."
"Thank god," he sighed in relief.
Layla walked out, passing by them. Glowing eyes and fast steps. The doctor looked at her dad, shrugging as her dad walked after her.

A lit cigarette was in his mouth, A plastic bag was in his hand, and a canvas painting board was in his other hand. He pushed his bedroom door with his knee as he walked in. Threw the plastic bag on the bed and put the stand on the floor next to the drawer chest, facing a side of the bed. A mirror was facing the other side of the bed. He walked up to it and sat down on the bed's edge, looking in the mirror.
"I couldn't turn my eyes away... this is the right path, I can feel it. A friend of mine showed me the truth... it took time, but here I am on the right path," he sighed. Laid down, staring at the ceiling and getting lost in his thoughts.

Sitting down on her bed, laying her back, bending her knees with her arms around them, and a hand was holding the other. The door of the room opened as her dad walked in, taking his breath.
"Layla, grow up," he yelled.
"Leave me alone."
"Stop acting as if it was my fault," he got a bit calm. Walked up in front of her and pulled her phone out of his pocket. He tried to give it to her, but she didn't take it off his hand, so he threw it on the bed next to her. "Do you feel bad for what has just happened, but not for what you have—"
"Stop acting as if you never caught Ahmed high."
"Are you comparing a boy with you? At least people won't be talking about us if they know what boy does what, but you—"
"I don't care about people or—"
"I care," he shouted, then blew out a breath, trying to keep calm.
"You're mentally fucked," Layla thought.
"Layla, listen," he smiled at her. He put his hand softly on the top of her head as she crawled away to the other side of the bed. "Okay," he walked towards the door. "I'll give you time to get over your drama," he turned his head at her. "Everything will be the same. I'll trust you, and you better not break this," he walked out, closing the door.
The silence took over the room again, but for only seconds before she started crying. Held a pillow and hugged it. Her eyes were looking at her phone with a blurry vision as the tears were falling down. She held her phone and unlocked it, then she put it away and kept crying. She held it again with both arms. The phone started ringing as she put it on her ear.
"Sara..."

The glass of the parked cars was reflecting the sunlight. The street cats, some were running around looking for food in trash bags as some others were running away from kids, throwing stones at them. The people walking the streets for different reasons. The store owners, some were opening their stores and some had already opened, pouring water to the ground through long and thin hoses. Amir pulled up a roll door and walked in with two men. Each was carrying a blue tools bag in a hand. The place was all clean and empty. As he started explaining and pointing his finger at random spots, his phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at it. He walked out, asking them to give him a moment as they nodded their heads.
"Hello."
"Amir, everything I say sounds so fake."
"What about you do some researches first, then you can practice your speech?"
"What about you put me on the road of wisdom and haven?"
"No," he chuckled. "Use the internet. All those people you know are halfway of understanding the basics."
"The basics of what they claim that they believe in?"
"Hey, I'm the one with a Muslim family. You can ask Sara or Layla if you don't believe me."
"Alright, I guess I'll get started. Bye."
"Bye." Amir took the phone off his ear and turned around in the workers' direction. "So, I was saying..."

Sitting down on her bed as her feet were touching the floor. Layla was laying down on it and the side of her face was on Sara's thighs. Sara's head was turned down and her eyes were looking at her. She was wiping off her last tears with a hand and patting her hair with the other.
"Sara, will I wake up every day and remember this? Is there no way I can erase a memory?" She mumbled.
"It's okay. One day, you'll get over it and forget about it."
"But I want to run away and erase every memory of every man that has entered my life, starting with the retard who thinks that his honor is between my thighs."
"You'll leave him soon. You'll get married and you will become rich."
"Just take me back," she turned her head at Sara, looking into her eyes. "Back when money wasn't within my sight, back when I would listen to my heart over my mind. Just take me back when I wasn't scared of love, back before this world ruined me."
"Hey, you're not ruined. You're beautiful the way you are," she stopped patting her hair. "Give me a moment."
Layla raised her head as Sara stood up. She walked up to her closet that was facing the bedside she had gotten up off. She opened it, looking everywhere, then she closed it. Got down, opening her drawers one after one. "Oh, here it is." She pulled out a card pack, showing it to her as Layla chuckled.
"You're a cute person. You know that, right?"
"Not really. Anyways, there is a problem, which is I don't remember how to play."
"I remember," Layla smiled. "Just get up on the bed."



CHAPTER XII



A grey door next to the stairs. Malik puts his key in the lock as I start to lose my patience. He unlocks it and takes his key out as he pushes the door. I push him inside while kissing him and grabbing his neck with a hand and his shirt with the other. I move my foot back, pushing the door with it to close it. Now, it's only me and him, so I can escape the cruel world and my mindset. I pull his shirt up as he takes it off, then I grab his hips and keep kissing him, touching every piece of his face with my lips. I take my hijab off, throwing it to the floor, then he pulls my dress up as I take it off. I feel two hands grabbing my butts and a tongue touching mine. I keep kissing him as we slowly move towards the couch, then I push him to sit down on it.
One of my legs is next to his right side, and one is next to his left side. My butts are on his thighs, my hands are on his cheeks, and my lips are on his. I feel his arms moving everywhere on my back, his warm breath around my lips, and my heart racing. He lifts me up and puts me down on the couch as he gets down on the floor. He takes my panties off with his teeth. His face is between my thighs, and my hands are grabbing the back of his head. My heart is somewhere far away from this world, somewhere far away from pain. Somewhere where only love exists, somewhere I call home. Home is not Malik's apartment. Home is wherever he is.

In front of me, a white painting board. I wonder what I will see on it when he fills this blank board with colors. He walks into the room as he carries a white flat plate with both hands with two steaming tea mugs on it, a cigarette pack, a lighter, and a clean glass ashtray. He puts the white plate on the chest drawer and sits down on the bed next to me, then picks the cigarette pack and the lighter. He pulls out two cigarettes and gives me one. I put it between my lips as he lights it for me, then lights his one. He holds a mug and gives it to me, then gets the ashtray and puts it between us.
"An ashtray, and no cigarette buds in the corners. New rules?" I chuckle.
He holds his mug and sips his tea. "Not really. I'm just trying to be more responsible. When we get our new home and our new life, we'll do everything together."
"You're making a big deal out of the cleaning thing." I take a hit, then sip my tea.
He inhales in some smoke, but I can't see it coming out. "It's not about cleaning as cleaning. It's about the standards, and I hate the typical pictures."
"You're a lovely person," I smile at him.
He smiles back at me as we both sip our tea, then he frowns a little bit. "Sara, what if I fail you?"
"Fail me?" I take a hit so does he.
"I mean, what if this mad world separates us?"
"This mad world, not you."
"But I started it when I told you how I feel."
"We started it," I smile at him as I touch the back of his head, patting it. He puts his mug on the plate as he takes mine and puts it next to his. We both take the last hit and put the cigarettes in the ashtray.
"For a long time, I was the only one you could open up with, right?" He carries the ashtray and puts it on the plate.
"Yea, but isn't this love?"
He draws a blank for few seconds, then he answers, "I don't really know what love exactly is, but I know that I love you."
"No one knows what love exactly is, but anyone can feel it. That's the best part about it."
"How would you describe it, though?"
"Do you know what hate is?"
"Everyone does."
"Now, imagine it as if it was a town and search for a very far place, the furthest. That's where you find love."
He looks at me, opening his mouth a little bit. "Have you just come up with this?"
I chuckle and push him to fall on the bed. "No, I think about it a lot." I lay next to him, kiss his lips, then put my head on his chest as I caress his cheek.

A couple of black dresses that I don't like. Blue jeans that I haven't worn since my dad has disliked them. Pink pajamas and blue ones. I pick the pink pajamas and close my closet. I throw them on my bed as I turn my phone on. My mom pushes the door and walks in, typically without knocking.
"Sara, clean your bedroom. It looks so messed up."
"Sure, just an hour."
"No, after you change."
"Come on, mom. Just an hour," I look at her as I turn my phone off.
"Now, or I let your dad deal with you."
"Okay, fine," I sigh.
"What a lazy wife you'll be," she says. "God, help her future husband," she continues as she turns around to walk out.
"Mom, you know that you're like an Asian who makes fun of people with small eyes."
"Girl, just clean your room," she turns back at me. "I don't understand what you say anyways," she turns around again and walks out.
Of course, you don't. Your small, washed brain wouldn't.

Under the mirror, A toothpaste and my toothbrush are on the shelf. I feel like this mirror is attacking me on a personal level. I pick them up and put some paste on the toothbrush. I put the toothpaste back on the shelf as I start brushing my teeth and stare at my picture in the mirror. Ugly little bitch, what is it? Your nose shape, your ordinary brown eyes, your weird face, or your crybaby persona? I spit in the sink as I turn on the faucet, then I rinse my mouth as I wash the toothbrush. My face cream is on the shelf. I pick it up. I know that he doesn't see me any ugly, but I do. Also, I know that life is not only about that, but I just... I don't know. I wish I had answers to all my questions. Maybe if I had them, I would have been able to ignore my provoking thoughts. I put the face cream back on the shelf and open the bathroom door. I'm so tired, and all I need is sleep.
I walk out as my mom says, passing by me, "Weird."
"What?" I close the bathroom door.
"Your sudden self-care."
She keeps walking towards her room As I walk towards mine. I'm not even offended at this point.

Another day, but the same sun that blinds my eyes. The same blue sky is above me, but on the same ground that I hate to walk on. The same people, the same students, and the same world.
"I wonder, where is the rest?" Layla asks me as she walks next to me.
"Malik stayed up last night reading, and Amir's probably busy with his new store stu..." I shut my mouth, but it's too late.
"You didn't tell me that."
"I didn't tell you that," I say as she starts to walk faster towards the gate. "Wait. Where are you going?"
She turns her head at me as she keeps walking away. "Got a lot of stuff to do for tomorrow," she shouts, then she slowly disappears among the students.
I want to go to Malik, but I must stop hanging out this much to prevent being suspicious. I'll probably spend only an hour or two with him. A little bit of lovely air can make it easy to go through a whole day, breathing the air of hate.
"Sara," someone calls my name as she walks towards me.
"Nour, right?" I barely remember her. The last time I talked to her was when I met her. Last year.
"Yes, Noura. Can we have a little talk?"
"Sure. Go ahead."
"No. Not here. It's a little private and sensitive, and it's very crowded here."
"That's okay. Let's find another place." She always walks with a couple of friends. I can't understand why she wants to talk to me, but I feel sad as I look into her eyes. I know this look in her eyes good. I always see it when I look in the mirror.

I would like to change the world. The childish innocence still lives somewhere inside of me. I usually would lose my attention to the cars, the people, or the street cat that has been walking around me as I sit on this street seat, but I can't digest the words that go through my ears.
"Sooner or later, I'll get over it, but I can't as I see him every day in college, and I don't want to give away my life among my friends in college."
"I'm sorry. I really don't know what to say." I don't know what hurts more. Is it feeling her pain or feeling helpless? "Noura, I don't want you to get me wrong, but—"
"Why am I telling you?"
"Yes."
"Your father is a cop, right?"
"Why would you need a connection?"
"Because I don't want my parents to find out. I will not stand the way they'll look at me."
"Noura..." I want to tell her how awful her parents must be to give her this impression. I want to tell her that she shouldn't care about them at this point, but the way she feels is more important. This is not the perfect world I dream about, where people attempt to change the way they see things. This is the real world.
"Sara, keep this between us and only show my identity to your father if he will not tell my parents."
"Don't worry. I will try my best."
"Do you think he wouldn't tell them?" She mumbles.
"Probably." I know. I know lying is bad, but I can't help it. My heart hurts as I listen to her.

"Dad, can I have a minute?" I ask as I walk towards him, and he walks towards his room.
"Another time. I'm so tired, and I'm not in the mood for your topics." He pushes his room door and enters.
As if I'm in the mood to have a talk with you. I keep walking and get inside.
"Just say it." He pulls out his gun and his wallet as he stands in front of his opened closet, then puts them inside.
"If a girl gets raped and you handle the case, will you tell her parents?"
"Of course," he answers, then takes out an undershirt and shorts. He throws them on the bed behind him and closes his closet. He turns around, looking at me.
"What if she doesn't want them to know? You know how some parents would—"
"Sara, nowadays, people don't go as far as you think over this. Her parents must know for some reasons, not because that's just how it is."
"What reasons?" I try to keep my cool as he falls silent. Probably he is thinking, trying to memorize what he was taught.
"To be aware that she's not a virgin, so they can talk with her future husband to prevent any problems in the first night after marr—"
"Why do you think that everyone wants to marry?"
"Stop with your childish ways of thinking and grow up. Also, they have to know, so they can care more about the way she wears and behaves."
"You didn't just say that. You didn't just excuse rapists, did you?"
"Of course I didn't, but a girl would be at risk of things like this if she behaved badly."
I keep calm, but inside of me, I start to break down. "If this was the only way a girl would talk about it, would you do it without telling her parents?"
"I would promise her, but I would break it."
"I thought a promise is a holy thing."
"It is, but making sure to put a rapist behind the bars is more important than keeping a promise I would've had to make for the sake of justice."
I'm about to break down. I have to leave, so I turn around, attempting to walk out, but he calls my name. "What?" I ask him as I turn back at him.
"This isn't a joke."
"A joke?"
"Tell me who's this girl you've been talking about."
"Oh, you got it wrong. I just saw this topic on the internet, and I wanted to know what you think." He doesn't reply as he takes his eyes off me and starts taking his white angel uniform off. I turn around and walk out.

I walk into my room and close the door as I feel lost and confused. I don't mind feeling helpless and useless, but I can't just let go and pretend like that's okay. I don't care who and how, but someone must do something. I want to cry, but I feel so numb at this very moment. I hate it when I feel so much pain, but I hate it more when I don't feel anything at all. I sit down on my bed, facing my closet as my old friend, the sharp piece of glass inside of it is on my mind. I turn my phone on to call Layla because I need a talk before I break down. I know she will relate, and I hope we somehow find a way to do anything about it.

Random feelings and random thoughts keep flowing inside. A Lonely bed I lay on, and sad music in my ears, going to my head through my earphones. With this ceiling fan, my eyes keep moving in circles. With these joyful daydreams and depressing thoughts in my head, my mood constantly changes. I don't understand how my mind non-stop keeps on changing what I think of. I don't even realize when it changes, and I never memorize what the last thing was. Everything always keeps repeating itself in my head but with a different scenario every time. I want to do too many things, but I can't, so I satisfy myself by turning them into images in my head, and my mind starts the daydreams. Sadly, the ending was never pleasant. Although it's my mind, I can't say no to it. Although it's mine, I don't have control over it.
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