Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Seven

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Chapter Seven

She wanted to get married. His twenty year old granddaughter wanted to get married. It was absurd! She was barely more than a child, for pity’s sake. Marriage at her age…

Ibrahim conveniently overlooked the fact that his wife had been nineteen on their wedding day. Iman was too young. She wasn’t ready. He wasn’t ready.

They would find another way.

Six days of frantic searching later, Ibrahim had run out of time. But he refused to admit defeat.

His granddaughter watched him with an indulgent look on her face, waiting for him to bring forth yet another outlandish plan that she’d patiently shred to pieces.

He didn’t have one.

Iman’s eyes glittered with triumph and Ibrahim tried a last-ditch attempt to make her see sense. “Iman, this is foolish,” he began patiently.

I know!” she shouted.

Ibrahim jerked in surprise at the unexpected noise.

I know,” she repeated softly. “I know it’s foolish.”

Then why do you persist in doing it?” Ibrahim snapped, his own temper beginning to fray.

Because there’s no other choice!” Iman cried, springing to her feet. “I don’t have any other choices.”

Yes, you do.” Why didn’t she see it? Ibrahim huffed out an exasperated breath. “Sit down.”

Iman ignored him. “What choices?” she challenged.

Patience,” Ibrahim suggested. If she could just wait a little longer…

Iman looked disappointed. “That’s not a choice,” she whispered. “Not any more. Why don’t you see that?”

Why? Why are you in such a rush?”

Because I want at least a little bit of a choice!” Tears began to spill down Iman’s cheeks.

What?” Ibrahim reached out a hand and tugged her down to sit with him, the way she had when she’d been little.

That doesn’t make any sense, Iman.”

She sniffed hard and turned away from him. Ibrahim began to rub her back, falling back into the familiar routine. “Explain it to me,” he offered, trying to calm her.

Iman sent a watery glare up at him. “You’re pandering to me.”

No,” Ibrahim denied. He wasn’t pandering. He was distracting.

Iman frowned at him for a few moments longer before visibly giving in. “I told you,” she whispered at her lap, so softly that Ibrahim had to strain to hear her. “My mother is trying to get me married.”

Yes,” Ibrahim agreed. “You also told me that you’ve made sure nothing could go ahead.”

Iman nodded. “It’s getting harder.” She shuddered, “Some of them, they way they look at me. It’s disgusting.”

Ibrahim tightened his arms around her protectively. “Have you told your mother?”

Iman laughed mirthlessly. “It doesn’t matter to her. She told me I should be flattered.”

I’m sorry that it’s been hard, sweetheart. But it will die down soon enough.”

Iman pulled away. “No, it won’t,” she said miserably. “She’ll keep trying until she finds someone who doesn’t care.”

Then you’ll need to say no.” Ibrahim fixed his granddaughter with a serious look. “I know your mother is hard to live with but you just need to be firm with her.”

Iman looked incredulously at him. “What?”

I know it’s hard but you need to stand up to her. Shying away and letting her walk all over you is not going to help things,” Ibrahim lectured.

Iman yanked out of his hold, backing away until she hit the wall. “You – how could you say something like that?”

Dread washed over him. He’d seen reactions like this in the past. “Iman,” he said, fighting to keep his voice level. “What did she do to you?”

Some of the betrayal faded from his granddaughter’s expression. “You know what she’s done. You’re the one who made her stop when I was little.”

Ibrahim’s veins filled with ice. The day he’d discovered Aasia slapping her tiny daughter was still one of the worst of his life. “When you were little?” he repeated tightly.

Iman nodded silently.

But not now.” What hell had he sent his little girl into?

Iman shook her head. “You didn’t know? I thought… I mean, not the worst of it, I knew you wouldn’t let her do anything that awful to me… But you really didn’t know about any of it?”

Of course not.” Ibrahim reached out for his granddaughter before thinking better of it and dropping his hand.

Oh,” Iman whispered. “I-” Her face crumpled.

Ibrahim stood and crossed the distance between them, stopping just short of actually hugging Iman. “If I had known,” he told her, his voice thick with emotion. “I would have done whatever I had to to get you back. I am so sorry.”

Iman laid her head against his chest. “I should have told you,” she said dully. “I didn’t think it would make any difference but I should have done it anyway.”

Ibrahim flinched like he’d been struck. Iman looked up at him contritely. “I’m sorry.”

I am sorry. I should have seen it.” He’d always prided himself on his perceptiveness. It had aided him for decades, being able to see people’s secrets. But this one secret, more important than all the rest combined… This secret had evaded him.

Iman yawned unexpectedly, belatedly bringing her hand up to cover her mouth and Ibrahim was shaken out of his miserable thoughts. “You need a nap,” he told Iman, the sight of her blinking and rubbing at her eyes with the sleeves of her sweater almost too precious to bear.

Who was he going to help his little girl? For he knew now that he needed to get her out immediately. But who could he trust with her?

Iman tilted her head at him curiously. “Are you plotting to murder my parents?” she asked lightly.

I hadn’t even thought about it,” Ibrahim admitted. Surely she didn’t want him to? Iman had always been so soft-hearted…

But abuse victims – and even thinking it about his little girl made his heart ache – often abandoned their morals when it came to their abusers. And understandably so.

Iman’s eyes widened at the question. “I -”

Ibrahim was about to assure her that she didn’t need to answer him immediately when she spoke again.

No,” she said firmly. “I don’t want you to kill them.”

Just like his son, Ibrahim thought fondly. Stronger than he ever could be. “If you change your mind,” he reminded her.

Iman nodded slowly, a little smile beginning to tug at her lips. “You’ll take care of it for me,” she finished.

And he would, if she asked.

4 thoughts on “Fiction: The Art of Mutual Destruction Chapter Seven

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