I couldn’t sleep that night.
All night long I’ve been up thinking about what I did to Siwar. I told myself it wasn’t a bad thing, but I know it was. I didn’t lie, I just didn’t tell her what I know, but I wanted Saif to know how she really thinks, because he said he needen’t friends who believe stupid things. He said he would no longer be my friend if I did think like that, he needed to know.
It still felt bad.
I didn’t go to school the next morning, I faked a stomach ache and my mother believed it. I didn’t talk much, but nobody sensed that there was something wrong, because at our house we don’t often talk that much. I couldn’t shake the picture of Siwar off my head. How she was standing there, disappointed, feeling as though she’s lost the world. I would feel that way had I been in her place.
I was so consumed in my thoughts that I hardly paid attention to my mother and sister who were arguing. The only thing that disrupted my thoughts was when Noura yelled my name.
“What about Layla? Let her go! You know I hate going to that dump!”
“Your sister is sick” My mother said. Somehow I felt she didn’t believe it, just used it as a pretext to make Noura do what she wanted her to do.
“I’m not going there so that repulsive Abu Ashour Could give me those nauseating looks!”
I shivered when I heard the name.
“Listen” Mother said firmly. “You will go and get the onions because this soup needs to be done before your father gets home, Now go!”
Noura gave her a side-way look and stormed out of the house. When I saw the door slam shut I felt a strong urge to go out too. I got up and ran out. My mother didn’t ask where I was going, maybe she thought I was following Noura. I wasn’t. In fact, I didn’t know where I was going until I reached there.
It probably took me less than two minutes to get to Siwar’s house. I was running so fast that when I stopped I could hear my heart beating inside my chest. I stood for a moment there, trying to bring myself to knock on the big wooden door. I moved two steps forward. I hesitated. I moved again, and then I knocked, still hearing my heartbeat.
I knocked 3 times but there was no answer. I knocked again, and again. No answer. Then a voice came from behind me.
“Don’t bother” it was the voice of an old woman. “There’s no one in there. They left this morning”
“But… why?” I found myself asking involuntarily.
“I don’t know. Nobody knows. These people kept to themselves.”
I walked away without saying anything. I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to go the water spring. I even didn’t want to go to Saif’s house. But, where else would I go?
I kept walking aimlessly. Now I could face it. I’ve done something wrong. If I only waited another day! I realized if I did, I would actually be probably happy, because now Siwar is out of the picture, but now, to think how I made her leave thinking that she lost a friend, that didn’t make me happy. I tried to tell myself that perhaps this is good, because now she can be leave without feeling sorry that she’s leaving behind a friend. I knew this wasn’t true. It’s much easier to be separated from your loved ones thinking that they love you than to part with them knowing that they don’t want to see you again.
I don’t know for how long I walked, but I realized I was walking with my head down all along, and the next time I looked up, it was dark. I panicked. My mother must be worried sick, and my father must be shouting at her for letting me go out without knowing where I was going. I didn’t want to cause a problem because I hated it when they fought. I ran as fast as I could, a million voices ringing in my head, but not a single word I understood.
As I opened the door and rushed into the house, it wasn’t like I expected it to be. There was no fighting, no yelling. No one seemed to even notice me. My mother didn’t start scolding me. Instead, the place looked sober. My mother was sitting with her hand over her mouth, tears in her eyes. Noura was cuddled up in the corner, her head buried between her knees. My father was walking back and forth. His eyes were blood-shot, and he was muttering things under his breath.
“I will kill that pig!” Those were the first words I could work out of what he was saying.
“I couldn’t…” Noura chocked on her tears as she left her head to speak. “I couldn’t push him away; he was pulling me so hard. He put his hand over my mouth and I couldn’t scream.”
My father slammed his fist against the wall, there was blood. No one seemed to notice.
“He said if I told anyone, he would tell them that I was lying. He said no one would believe me because no one believes the girl. He said he’d say that he caught me with the baker’s son, and when he threatened to tell on us, I accused him of…” She couldn’t continue.
I froze in my place. It was coming to me. He did to Noura what he did to me. No, he must have done something worse, because she couldn’t hide it like I did. I wondered if I should’ve told them about it. I wondered if it could’ve spared Noura going through this.
I felt the world crumbling all around me. I was ridden with guilt. Nimrah, Siwar and now Noura. I wanted the earth underneath my feet to open up and swallow me whole.
I wanted to die.
The walls seemed to shake as my father stormed out and slammed the door shut behind him. My mother did little to stop him. She just moved over and sat beside Noura. She left her arms and wrapped them around her and they wept together. For as long as I remember, my mother seemed as though she has a score to settle with Noura, but then, for the first time in her life, she seemed to feel that she owes her.