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I make it home. I am no longer a human being, but a withered flower beaten by a severe and harsh wind. Kalim takes notice of this.
“Will you be making a habit of this I assume?” He brings a bowl of water and food. I sprawl on my bed.
“I would say no, but that would make me a liar.” I say sucking in a deep breath.
“You already are.” Kalim says tossing a towel on my face. I leave it there. Things start to become muffled as I start to think of silly meaningless things. Then silence.
“Wake up!” I hear a voice out of the dark. I ignore it. “Didn’t you hear me? Wake up!” a violent shaking makes me open my eyes.
“What? What Kalim?” I snap.
“It’s almost time for you to go, and you need to go because there is word that Jezab is coming for you today. Stay out today…Maybe the night too.” Those words sparked me to an alert state. I couldn’t help but sit there blankly. After a moment I bring myself back to reality and lock eyes with Kalim. Even such a slight panic in his eyes was unnerving. Kalim is always calm and collected.
“Uhh…” Was all I could manage. “D-do you have my things packed?” I stutter. He nods. We both knew that it would be more than a day and a night before I would come home. Jezab would not go till I was out of reach. He had been waiting long enough as it was. Kalim disappeared for a moment and came back with a satchel in hand. He also gave me a pouch of what I assumed to be gold. I thank him and rush to get my clothes on.
“I’ll see you in a few days.” I silently hope that’s true. “Please be safe, and if you can stay away from him. He will not have mercy on you.” I plead with him. Jezab is a fool but he knows that he will be severely punished if there is proof that he has tried to fraternize with me. However one false move on Kalim’s part and it could mean death. I don’t want that to happen. Kalim barely acknowledges my wish and hands me a tan satchel with yellow and orange thread woven in a Mandela pattern. I give him a weak smile. “I will do my best to be careful… I promise.” I don’t know why but I feel a tugging in my spirit as if I won’t be seeing him for a long time. A strange feeling indeed.
I stand at Vel’s door and take in a deep breath. I’m not really sure what I’ll say to her. I have already managed to make a mistake and now I need to ask a favor. I take in another deep breath and knock on the door. I remember the events of the day before. My muscles ache in sympathy with the anxiety I feel in my head. I take another breath as I feel my stomach swirl and out of an impulse knock on the door. I need to just do it. I think to myself. Vel opens the door in a drowsy state.
“What’s wrong with you?” She says as she ties her hair up in an elaborate hairdo with a wooden pin. I forget how to talk for a moment.
“Uh, I can’t go home.” I accidentally blurt out. I rub my eyebrows. I wanted to ask in an independent manner not blurt out my favor like an uncultured idiot. “I can work while I stay. I mean not like… I can clean.” I pin my eyes to the ground. Vel looks unamused. I feel chills roll down my back when I hear Vel laugh.
“You are a strange one aren’t you.” You she states more than asks.
“I just need to hide for a while.” I heave a sigh.
“How long?” She leans against her door post.
“Just a couple days.”
“Just?” I realize a few days is quite an inconvenience.
“I can do chores and I have some dharat I brought with me to compensate your troubles.” I say pulling out a pouch. She takes it from me and gently tosses her hand around to estimate the amount inside. She pours out about ten or fifteen dharat and tosses me the bag back.
“For food.” She says matter-of-factly and slips them into a hidden pocket in her dress.
“A couple days then.” She says nodding me into her home and I scurry inside. She doesn’t ask any more questions and it makes me uncomfortable.
“You’ll be staying with the Wolah clan.” She says ripping back that same heavy door to the courtyard. I’m always astounded by her unseen strength. I tip toe through the doorway and do my best to wrench the door close. She comes behind be and closes it the rest of the way. She leads me across the still beautiful courtyard to an archway covered in beautiful green vines that have taken it over which is very unusual for our desert climate. Under the doorway there is a small wooden door with a little wooden sign that reads “Wolah” in beautiful calligraphy.
“Well?” Vel says.
“Oh, thank you Vel. I am more grateful than you know.” I quickly dip into a shallow bow. She nods her head and knocks on the door and a strong voice answers “Enter!”,
A large one-room building presents itself with three beds on the left side and four on the right. Each bed sporting a side table, some with various items on it showing ownership.
“Ah Til,” Vel begins. A small girl with long pitch black braided hair stands and dips slightly to recognize Vel. She couldn’t be more than twelve years old. She’s petite, but something tells me she’s just like fireworks. She has large eyes and even larger eye lashes that look like fans adorning her dark black eyes.
“I’m sure you all know…” She nods to me. She still doesn’t know my name. “She will be staying with you for the next few days.” I let my eyes shoot from one girl to the next monitoring their reactions and body language. None seem fazed.
“What bed can she take?” Vel asks Til.
“That one.” She points to the bed on the right side opposite of her. I smile appreciatively, but I feel a little isolated since the right side is completely unclaimed. There seems to be only three girls staying in this place.
I have a feeling this might be a more difficult couple of days than I thought