Fiction: Masquerade Chapter Thirteen

New content alert! Last chapter was the last chapter that I’d put up before the old site closed itself. From here on in, everything’s brand new.

Chapter Thirteen

She was so strange, this new little sister of his. And sister she was, no matter what Saami’ah herself seemed to think about it. Adnaan had been too young to remember the drama that arrived along with Saami’ah’s entrance into the world. All he’d learned about the whole sticky situation had been gleaned from tidbits dropped by his grandmothers and their gossipy friends over the years. His mother’s friends, of course, had never mentioned Saami’ah even indirectly. Everyone had pretended she didn’t exist for so long that even now, they were uncertain of how to treat her.

Which was probably why Saami’ah so often escaped to her bedroom the three or four times a week they had company over.

It was all such a mess.

Saami’ah herself didn’t help. Adnaan could count on one hand the number of times she’d asked either of his parents for anything. She seemed to want to just hole up in her space or disappear somewhere else where she didn’t have to deal with them. Mom kept reminding him that she probably just wasn’t used to the new environment and felt uncomfortable but Adnaan didn’t buy it.

Who needed nine months to adjust? Who needed six months to remember someone’s name? He was still offended about that.

And now she’d barricaded herself in her bedroom or something and his mother was freaking out. He could hear the commotion clearly from his own bed – Mom had darted in a while ago and shoved his door wide open and she’d been coming in and out with random things since.

He knew she was pushing her worry over Saami’ah over onto him and kept his temper despite the noise and disruption.

I’m calling a locksmith,” Mom announced to the house at large.

Adnaan looked up from his laptop and listened expectantly for the sound of Saami’ah’s door opening.

Nothing. He had to admire her stubbornness. Privately, he also thought she was insane. What was the big deal about keeping the dumb door unlocked? No one was going to steal her in the middle of the night.

Wait, was that it? Saami’ah’d had the weirdest ideas about SA right at the beginning when she’d just come to stay. He’d stopped hearing them from her and the family had all assumed that she’d begun to figure things out.

Maybe she did believe all the rubbish about SA being so crazy dangerous and that was why she was being neurotic.

He pulled off his headphones and set them to the side then went to share this possible revelation with Mom. Maybe it would help calm her down. Saami’ah was gonna get into a ton of trouble either way but if she was actually scared and not just being insane, someone would have to explain that she wasn’t gonna die so she wouldn’t keep freaking out.

Not now, Adnaan,” Mom told him, covering the speaker of her phone with a hand. “I’m giving the locksmith directions. Go tell your father.”

He trooped down the stairs to his father’s office and gave a cursory knock on the door. “Dad? Busy?”

Yes, son, we are. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but your sister hasn’t been heard from all day.” Dad sighed. “I cannot understand that child.”

Well, that was the perfect opening. “Do you think… maybe she thinks it isn’t safe here?”

Of course it’s safe, Adnaan, don’t be stupid.”

I know,” Adnaan snapped. “Maybe she doesn’t. You remember how odd she found everything when she got here.”

When she got here, not months later. Adnaan, just… Go upstairs and play a video game please. Don’t get underfoot.”

Fine. Whatever.” He didn’t know why he bothered sometimes.

Adnaan was deep into editing his latest project when his mother barged in. “You had better never put me through something like this,” she warned. “If you do, I’ll take off this entire door and you can live without one.”

What did I do?”

Keep this door open,” Mom instructed. “Do not close it.”

Adnaan thought she was overreacting but to say so while she was in this mood was to take his life into his own hands.

Why did Saami’ah lock herself up?” he dared to ask.

Mom threw her hands up in frustration. “I don’t know. And she’s gone and done it again now.”

Oh.”

Oh,” Mom repeated, fixing him with an unimpressed look.

That was terrible and horrible and not a good idea,” Adnaan hurried to add. “But, um, she has probably does have a reason why.”

Do not take her side,” Mom warned. “I am all out of patience for today. Come and help me look for the spare keys.”

Adnaan wanted to groan. “Mom, I’m busy.”

His mother’s hands went to rest on her hips. “With work?”

If Adnaan had his way, it would be work – and soon. “No, not work.”

Then you can help me look. Come on, let’s go. And when we’re done, you can pick up some food. I haven’t gone near the kitchen yet.”

Do I get to pick what I want?” The whole family had been eating cardboard ever since his father’s doctor had ordered a diet change for him. Adnaan didn’t get why he had to suffer at twenty one when Dad had gotten to enjoy himself until forty four but Mom had insisted, spouting off something about solidarity every time he complained.

Yes, but get your father something healthy.”

That was worth pawing through the junk drawers. “Deal.”

His mother kissed his cheek. “Thank you, baby.”

Ten minutes later, he deposited Saami’ah’s spare key into his mother’s hand and gestured at the unlocked door. “Ta da. I’m going to get pizza.”

He had the distinct feeling that his mother was about to lose it with Saami’ah and getting sucked into that drama was by far not something he wanted to get involved in.

He’d be buying a ton of junk on top of the pizza. His mother owed him after the unpleasant day they’d all had.

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