Fiction: Masquerade Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

Knowing she owed an apology was one thing. Making it was quite another. Shame pooled like acid in her belly when she thought about every time she’d snubbed or snapped at Haseena and the anger that she’d had the audacity to feel against the older woman had evaporated, replaced by the shame of the realization that Haseena was well within her rights to criticize Saami’ah.

Worse was the painful knowledge in the back of Saami’ah’s mind that reminding her step-mother of her own wrongdoings was likely to make her own life exceedingly difficult. There would be some kind of punishment for her actions. That there hadn’t already been was something that had confused her more the longer she’d thought about it.

Originally, she’d believed that her behaviour was ignored and tolerated because of a fact everyone in the house knew to be true – Haseena had wronged Saami’ah’s mother. But now that she knew this to be false, she couldn’t understand why no one had taken her to task long ago.

Saami’ah knew from experience that owning up to a wrong only reignited anger. The wiser thing to do would be to remain silent and pretend obliviousness.

But her honour wouldn’t let her leave it, the annoying thing.

Saami’ah flopped back onto her bed, flipping over onto her stomach.

Maybe she could just write Haseena a letter?

A year ago the cowardly act would have been abhorrent. But a year ago Saami’ah had been a very different person. She’d been proud and opinionated, had had big ideas for how she was going to change the world just as soon as she’d found a way to make people listen.

Somewhere between burying her grandmother and giving in to her father, Saami’ah had lost the courage she’d worked so hard to find. And plucking it up again was far, far beyond her. She’d found a way to make her peace with that.

But fragments of the old Saami’ah still shone through sometimes resilient as stubborn as she had once been.

She went to her desk and began rifling through the drawers. She had no proper stationery any more – hadn’t bothered purchasing anything to replace what she’d needed to leave behind. Notepad paper would simply have to do. She tore off a sheet carefully then sat at the desk and lifted her pen.

It took five attempts before she found something that was passable. The letter was formal and stilted – awkward, if she was being honest with herself – but it was the product of over an hour’s wrestling and Saami’ah knew it was the best she’d get.

Now to deliver it.

And then disappear before Haseena could open it and actually start reading.

Saami’ah?” a woman’s voice called. “Could you open the door please?”

Saami’ah lifted her head with a frown. She hadn’t locked the door. She said as much and watched the handle turn as Haseena tested her words.

Instead of entering however, the older woman remained outside while she asked, “Do you mind if I come in? We need to talk.”

N-no,” Saami’ah stuttered out, feeling her stomach flip. She’d known this was going to happen, despite hoping that Haseena would simply ignore the letter. If she was being honest, she hadn’t written it for the other woman’s peace of mind but rather for her own.

Haseena took a seat at the desk in the corner of the room. Saami’ah’s letter was clutched in her hands and her face was pinched. “Saami’ah,” she began. “I’m honestly not quite sure what to say to you right now. We have a lot to talk about but I need to ask you something first – would you be comfortable letting me share this letter with your father?”

No, was Saami’ah’s knee jerk response. She would not be comfortable letting Haseena share the letter.

Don’t rock the boat! a voice hissed in her mind. You’re already on thin ice.

It’s fine,” she whispered.

Are you sure? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable but I think it’s important that your father see this.”

Then why are you bothering to ask me? Saami’ah wanted to snap. Just do what you want!

It’s fine,” she repeated, keeping her eyes on the bedspread in front of her.

Thank you,” Haseena smiled. “I appreciate the trust. Now, I’d like you to join us for brunch, please.”

It wasn’t a request. Saami’ah dutifully unfolded herself from the crouch she’d been in and put her feet in the closest pair of shoes she could find.

Don’t rock the boat. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t rock the boat.

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