Listen to: Blueneck – Lilitu
For Part 4 (previous part), click here.
“Give me your wallet,” Lynn ordered.
“No, I won’t do this. I don’t care if I had to tell my mother everything,” I protested.
“Shut up. It’s the only way,” she scolded.
“Do you realize what you’re suggesting? For God’s sake, listen to yourself.” I questioned.
“Ohooo, come on already. We don’t have much time. Your mom will be here any minute,” she said as she looked at her watch.
“No,” I said and clutched firmly onto my bag.
“Dammit it, give me that bag,” she screamed.
“Stop it, I won’t let this happen. No. No.”
“It’s happening whether you accept it or not,” she smirked.
“Lynn, I can’t afford losing you too, please…” I begged.
“Do you still trust me?”
“I do. But not this.”
“Then punch me, and make it look good. We need to sell this.”
“No. I won’t hit you.”
“If you won’t, I will,” she said.
Lynn closed her eyes and slapped me so hard that my teeth shook. I’ve never been hit with such mighty force before. My hands froze and the bag fell open onto the ground. Lynn kept her eyes shut. Her hand was trembling.
“Come on,” she shouted, “what are you waiting for. Hit me.”
I couldn’t move but away from her. I was shocked to say the least. She ran after me and roughly grabbed my elbow. “Do you want your family to kill you? to beat you every night? Do you want to give your life away? Tell me, do you?” she said.
“No,” I uttered but continued to walk.
“Then hit me. Do it. Hit me. Come on. Do it,” she urged.
“No,” I screamed and pushed her away. My force wasn’t strong enough, but Lynn tripped and fell on her back. She let out a piercing scream, loud enough that two teachers heard it and came running to the yard. I leaned down to give her a hand, but one of the teachers pulled me back and ordered us to go to the principal’s office. Even though I fought it, Lynn’s plan worked and we were both in trouble. She winked at me and began cursing. “I didn’t steal your wallet, you idiot,” she screamed while the teachers were walking us to the principal’s office. “No talking,” one of the teachers said, “we’ll resolve this at Mrs. Ayyat’s office.”
Mrs. Ayyat was your typical Arab principal. She wasn’t religious, but very strict. Visiting her office meant booking a one-way ticket to high school hell. In morning assemblies, she would walk with her long stick across rows of terrified female students. Though hitting students was not allowed by the ministry, beatings were a regular thing at our public school. If it was not reported, it didn’t happen. Parents wouldn’t bother reporting it because they believed their children deserved the beatings, and even if they wanted to, the ministry was good for nothing. Mrs. Ayyat once beat a girl over red nailpolish so bad that she broke her hand. Her parents thought it would teach her well. It didn’t. That girl went on to becoming the number one cigarettes supplier in our school bathrooms.
Mrs. Ayyat already had a thing against Lynn. Although it was never clearly stated, Lynn was sure Mrs. Ayyat treated her awfully because of the village she came from. Discrimination was practiced in broad daylight at our school. Our school was a mirror image of the society we lived in, but worse given the fact that all the girls were going through the hormonal stage of their life. The fact that Lynn was in so much trouble before meant that one more time and this was it, she’d be expelled and banned from completing her exams.
“Ya elahy!” screamed Mrs. Ayyat. “Shu had! What is this? Lynn, what did you do to her!” She immediately assumed Lynn was at fault, which meant Lynn’s plan was going great. “I didn’t do anything,” she scolded back. “Why do you always think it’s me!” “Look at her poor face,” Mrs. Ayyat screamed, “Your hand left a mark on her cheek you savage!” “No,” I said. “It’s not her fault,” I countered. Lynn stepped on my foot and hushed me. “Not a single word, I’d expect more from a girl like you,” Mrs. Ayyat said. “I always warned you from people like her,” while pointing at Lynn in disgust. I felt bad, terribly bad. Lynn knew this would happen, but did it anyway to protect me.
The principal looked at me waiting for a response. I said nothing. I couldn’t help but cry. The waterworks that day seemed to be of an endless supplier that won’t let me go. Lynn took lead and began screaming at me, “I don’t care who you think you are or where you come from, but I didn’t steal your wallet.”
“Shut up!” scolded Mrs. Ayyat. I glimpsed at her and immediately looked away. “I’m calling both your parents,” she said. I was amazed that she didn’t use her ruler yet, more so terrified that she kept it untouched on the table. “Don’t bother calling mine,” Lynn taunted, “she’s sick of your unfair accusations against me.”
“Do you even have a phone?” Mrs. Ayyat retaliated. I looked at Lynn and could see that she hit a nerve. “At least we have dignity,” Lynn said with a straight face. I was shocked by Lynn’s replies; I felt great respect towards her for standing up against that witch, but ever so guilty for putting her in that situation.
“Watch your mouth, you filth. O betrody 3aly kaman? Kemlit!” said Mrs. Ayyat. “Your parents didn’t raise you, you foul mouthed girl,” continued the principal. I couldn’t believe such obscene things could come out of the mouth of our well esteemed principal. “At least they had a child to raise,” raged Lynn. Just as she said that, my mother walked in to Mrs. Ayyat’s office and heard her. Never in my life have I seen my mother with a jaw drop bigger than that.
Mrs. Ayyat was clearly hurt; it wasn’t her fault she couldn’t have kids. When news of her husband’s impotence came out, it was the talk of the halls. Everyone knew not to speak of it in front of the teachers. After all, we were all young girls with no experience in that field, or so they thought. Anything involving intercourse was a taboo in our culture. Lynn crossed the line and she knew it.
“Um Walid,” Mrs. Ayyat said welcomingly, “please sit down.” My mother gave Lynn and I the look. Mom was the quiet type; never screams or shouts unless it’s something big, and this was big. “Keefo Walid? Is he still in Armenia?” asked Mrs Ayyat in the worst possible situation ever. Mom nodded and smiled at her.
Mom noticed my almost-blue left cheek and asked for an ice bag. She looked at Lynn and asked if she was hurt. Lynn moved her elbow in pain to show my mother an open wound. They called the nurse in to clean it. Over 10 minutes passed and my mother did not ask what had happened. Mrs Ayyat was startled by her calmness, but wore her angelic mask well.
“Tell me, inshallah my daughter hasn’t been troubling you?” my mother finally asked.
“I don’t know what to tell you ya Um Walid,” sighed Mrs. Ayyat in a tone so calm and loving. I could see her hypocrisy shimmering through, but mother didn’t. “Mom,” I protested. “Shush,” she immediately replied. “Your principal is speaking.” I retreated and apologized. “Your daughter seems to be accusing her friend of stealing her wallet,” said Mrs. Ayyat. “When I asked Lynn if that was true, she gave me the replies I was expecting,” she continued like a broken little lamb. “That’s not true!” I interrupted. “I said don’t speak,” mother said. “It’s natural of your daughter to be rebellious,” uttered Mrs. Ayyat, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who are you.”
The office was filled with silence. I looked at Lynn and she smiled at me. I could tell that smile of hers wasn’t that her plan worked, but one to cover up the pain she’s feeling.
“Um Walid, your daughter has two options,” said Mrs. Ayyat while looking at me. “One,” she said and looked at my mother again, “tell us what happened and get a warning or be expelled along with her friend.” “Expelled? What for! It’s the end of the year, Mrs Ayyat!” protested my mother. “I’m afraid she won’t be allowed to finish her exams and will have to repeat the year,” said Mrs. Ayyat. “I’m sure there has been a misunderstanding here,” my mother tried to reason with her.
My mother always had a problem with Lynn. We were a middle class family, but even then Lynn’s family wasn’t respected. I never cared for such nonsense, but our society seemed to be steered by it. I didn’t know how would my mother react to this, but so far, she seemed rather calm. For her to be calm was either a really good thing or a deadly sin. I was praying for a miracle I knew won’t happen.
“You’ve seen how your daughter talks back! I can’t have that sort of attitude running in my school. I run a tight ship you know.”
“I understand, but the academic year is just about to end, expelling either one of them is unfair.”
“Are you calling me unjust Um Walid? I am doing what is best for my school and these two girls,” frowned Mrs. Ayyat.
“None of that, I assure you. We keep our daughter here because we trust in you,” said my mother trying to calm her down.
Mrs. Ayyat lifted an eyebrow, “well, the situation your daughter put herself in is very bad, I can’t spare her. What will they say about me? That I’ve grown soft?”
“Oh, my dear Ayyat,” said mother with a fixed smile, “I know you are kind and you will do go by us. Spare the girls this time, kermali. Come on, Walid is bringing those persian tablecloths you asked for! This shouldn’t be a problem, should it?”
Mrs. Ayyat grabbed a tissue and blew her nose. She hummed. Lynn and I were staring in silence. “Very well,” she said. “but that Lynn girl will get a warning and lose grades in code of conduct.”
“You’ve always been fair and kind. If only all principals in our district were like you!” praised my mother. “Go wait for me in the car,” my mother said. “And say goodbye to your friend, you are never to speak with her again. Understood?”
“Understood,” I nodded and walked out.
I hugged Lynn and kept apologizing, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t want this to happen. Lynn I owe you so much. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” “Shut up,” she pinched me, “you’ll ruin our plan. You think your mother bought it?” “I think she’s going to be very angry,” I whispered. “Good, that’ll keep her occupied. Call me when you reach home,” said Lynn and waved goodbye.
Mom was silent throughout the entire ride home. She didn’t even ask how the exam went. “Don’t sleep before your father comes back,” she said as we reached home. “He’ll want to have a word with you.” I was scared from dad’s reaction, but happy that she didn’t ask me about earlier. I knew it was a matter of time before she brought it up, but at least I had more time to think.
I took my phone out to call Lynn and there it was.
You have 1 missed call from Salma.
Salma was the pseudonym I stored Ibrahim’s number under. My heart fluttered in excitement and I instantly called back.
Modern Romance will be an attempt for me to start a strain of thought long enough to contain all parts of a novel. It is not a novel, but an attempt at writing long short stories cut into different posts. This is part 5; chapter 4: The Plan.