Z A R AI push through the crowded hallway, trying to reach my locker in one piece. The halls are buzzing with students who are excited to leave school for their summer break. For some, like myself, it's their last year of high school.Adulthood doesn't sound fun but high school wasn't that much fun either."Are you meeting Alejandro today?" Yasmeen asks as she leans against the locker beside mine.I nod, "He asked me to meet him at the coffee shop across the school.""He seemed a bit distant in class today. Barely spoke to me," she mumbles.It's not unusual for Alejandro to not converse with people but he can hold a conversation with Yasmeen and me pretty well."Maybe our senior year finally made him crack," Yasmeen jokes."With his grades, I wouldn't care if I cracked because at least my report card would be glowing," I sigh."Ugh, don't remind me. If my parents realize my average is 89% this year and not 95%, they might actually disown me," she groans."I swear, if I hear you compla
- Four Years Later -Z A R A"Amma! I'm leaving!" I call out to her. "My interview starts at 1:30 PM but I heard they process everything by the end of the day so I'll probably be there for most of the day.""Good luck, dear!" She kisses my forehead."Insha'Allah, things will go well for you.""Insha'Allah!" I reply."Do you have that ring on you?" She asks out of curiosity.I pull out the chain that's hidden under my cardigan to flash the black ring at her."I'm glad you stopped wearing that on your wedding ring finger. People in our community kept asking if you got married." She laughs."Amma! I stopped wearing it on my finger three years ago! We don't need to keep bringing it up." I whine."I know, I know. I'm glad you made it into a necklace." She smiles. "Yasmeen really chose a ring that matches your color palette." She comments."Mhm." I agree, nervously.Obviously, there was no way I was going to tell her the man I was in love with for three years gave it to me before he ditched
Z A R A Conversations.I can hear conversations but I can't piece together the words. I can't understand what they're conversing about.I'm trying to open my eyes but they feel like they've been glued shut. My eyelids feel so heavy, so tired, it feels like when I take those drowsy cough medicine.Was I drugged?Wait, where am I? What happened to me?As I try to force my eyes open, a sudden burst of pain shoots through my head. It hurt so much that I thought I was going to pass out again from the intensity of it.I think they hit the back of my head...They?Oh my God! I was taken by those masked group of men! But for what reason? How do I get out? What do they want from me?Wait, is my hijab still on my head?As I finally open my eyes, the room around me turns out to be dimly lit. I blink a couple of times, trying to adjust to the darkness while my eyes familiarize themselves with the surroundings.The room's empty, from what I can tell. It's just blank, windowless walls, a door, and
Z A R A His name is foreign on my tongue. I haven't said it out loud in so long, I don't even know if I said it right. I couldn't believe my eyes or my ears, this is the man I've been thinking about for years... he's always been at the back of my mind.My hands are trembling as it reaches out slowly to touch his face to confirm that he's real. His face hasn't changed yet he's completely different. I should've recognized him but I also wouldn't. His steel-grey eyes are colder than I've ever seen them. There's no life in them. He's looking at me as if he's never seen me in his life, yet knows me somehow.Though his facial features haven't changed, he looks like he's been through Hell. He looks tired and worn out yet even more handsome than I remember him. Of course, he looks older too. His physique looks stronger, definitely much more bulked than I remember.Something about the energy around him is steady and stable yet chaotic and anarchic. I feel comfortable around him yet I want to s
Z A R A He's right, my math skills are... nonexistent.Wait. Was that a joke? Was he teasing me?It doesn't matter, I can't get swayed by anything right now. I need to stay focused on trying to survive if that's possible. I didn't reply to his rhetorical question, though. I stay silent, hoping he won't say anything that will make my hair rise on its ends again.He didn't say anything. Neither did Frank.I take my time eating the food so I can enjoy every bit because only God knows when I'll be fed again or if I'll even be fed again. I'm sure an hour passed by because Frank opens the door to, I assume, fetch me. "Get up," he orders. I stand up, feeling much more nourished and hydrated."Follow me," he says as he starts walking.The moment I step into the light, my eye sockets feel like they're being burned to ashes. There are literally tears coming out because of my sensitivity to the light from being in the darkroom for so long."Ow..." I mumble as I rub my eyes.I see Frank give me
Z A R A Frank radios a caretaker to clean up my mess. I apologize profoundly to the caretaker, who assures me that he has seen the worst and he's glad that it was just vomiting and not a dead body, which is apparently rare [not the dead bodies]. Frank hurries me back to the room I was in."Grab your things," he orders. "My things? What things?" I ask, confused. My things were taken away when they hit me on the head.He points at my purse that's sitting in the corner of the room. It definitely wasn't there before. I quickly grab my bag to see if my phone is still inside and obviously it's not. Why would it be?"Where are we going?" I'm more afraid than curious."You're going to be given a room, as per the request of the boss," he says."A room where?""At his home," he answers. I raise a brow, "Where are we now?" "You ask too many questions for someone who is not in the position to be asking questions," Frank rolls his eyes. "And? Why can't I ask questions?" I die either way, no? He le
Z A R A "Frank, are you sure about this?" I can't close my mouth. The theme of the room is dark tones, but the view... let me tell you, if someone shot me right this very second in front of this window, I'd die a happy death."Yes," he answers. "Boss had someone fill up the closet for ya. There's food in the fridge or call the front desk if you need anything specific."Clothes? Food? What exactly is Alejandro thinking? That he can buy me? If he keeps this up, he might, the humorous side of my brain tries to cope with the messed-up situation."Boss will have a set of separate rules for you, he will explain on his own time." Suddenly, Frank's expression darkens, "A note of advice, for everyone's good, do not disobey Boss' orders, neither should you stray from his rules. And I mean it when I say that this is for everyone's good."I gulp. There wasn't a single hint of comfort in those words. He stated them as a threat and nothing more."I'll be on my way, lady. See ya around," he leaves
A L E J A N D R O I craved her touch for years, waiting for the right moment to take her for myself. She was the one person who had naively befriended me all those years ago, her first mistake. She refused to fall under the first impression everyone else had given me and wanted to understand the real me. The innocence and smile that she wore, which I treasured, has been violently ripped away from her. She looks completely lost without it.I'm seeing her after so long—too long, that seeing her even in such simple silk nightwear has left me in a trance. Even though she's trying her best to push me away, I'm much stronger. I can overpower her as easily as I can press a trigger. My heart aches to see her in so much pain but it no longer matters because I've changed, I'm no longer who I used to be.I'm no longer the man who was weakened by such complex emotions. I'm no longer the man who cares for the comfort of others. I'm no longer the man who will hold back from something that's mine.