Fiction: Masquerade Chapter Twenty Two

Chapter Twenty Two


Saami’ah had been prevented from venturing onto a bus by her father calling her in a panic and demanding to know where she’d gone. They’d forgotten Adnaan had been the one to drop her off in the morning, and according to her father, Adnaan was sick and sleeping. Saami’ah wondered what was wrong with him that had managed to get so bad so fast, and felt a little concerned. Her father seemed to think that everything would be fine though, and having no reason to distrust him, she let the matter drop.

She spent the rest of the ride home with him answering his questions about her classes. He seemed very concerned that she not find them too challenging, which Saami’ah could understand even though it stung her pride. She’d managed to convince him that she was doing fine, as she took him through the detailed study schedule she’d made up.

He hadn’t seemed too thrilled though, and kept asking about the time she’d allocated for sleeping. Saami’ah didn’t know whether he thought she was overreaching or being lazy, but she’d defended herself (internally, at least) with the knowledge that she knew her own limits. She was determined to do this now, and while attending lectures and meeting with Laiqah had shown her just how big the gaps in her knowledge were, she’d actually covered a lot of the first term’s content less than a year ago for her final exams. This meant that she wasn’t as behind as she could have been.

Adnaan was awake when they got home, but even Saami’ah could see immediately that something was wrong. He was pale and sat quietly while his mother fussed over him, trying to coax him to put more food on his plate.

Saami’ah found herself feeling sorry for him. He clearly just wanted some peace and quiet but neither parent was ready to let him leave the table. Finally, he just stopped trying and spent the rest of the meal staring into space with his hands folded in his lap. Saami’ah was so preoccupied with watching him that she nearly forgot to eat her own meal which had Haseena turning her mothering energies onto Saami’ah and asking if something was wrong with the food.

Saami’ah tried not to feel irritated when Adnaan egged his mother on by asking if she’d gotten lost very much, and whether she’d been stranded for lunch since no one had come to pick her up. She didn’t know where the uncharacteristic hovering had come from, but she didn’t enjoy it. She hadn’t been lying when she’d told Haseena that the food was good and she managed to put away a decent amount of it quickly enough to satisfy the woman that all was well with her.

Perhaps Haseena just became this way when people were ill around her. She’d gotten very upset when Saami’ah was ill and locking doors after all. Though if that was the case, shouldn’t Adnaan be used to it since he’d been mothered by her for over two decades now?

Apparently not, by the way he’d seemed completely unprepared to deal with it. Whatever it was, Saami’ah was glad that her stepmother still held back with her in a way that she didn’t with Adnaan. She’d only just begun to get used to Haseena’s insistence on mandatory family time and while it was sweet that Haseena cared, she was still irritated by the need to keep reassuring the older woman that she didn’t need medicine or a doctor.

She’d never been hovered over like this even when she was little. Her grandmother hadn’t been able to spare the time or the energy for it. When Saami’ah needed something, she was upfront about it, and if she didn’t ask it was assumed that she was alright and she was left to amuse herself.

She tried to imagine her grandmother asking her three separate times whether she was sure that she liked her food and nearly started giggling. It was an absurd image. Maybe if Saami’ah had refused to eat for a few days, there would have been concern. But a single meal? Never.

They were acting like he was about to shatter into a million pieces and Adnaan was trying very hard to not overreact about it. He knew his emotions were all over the place, and his parents had a reason to be worried about him, but he just really wanted them to stop staring at him as though he was about to rotate his head 180 degrees. He’d been sleep deprived and frustrated and he’d lost control of his emotions a bit, but he was feeling better now.

Even he didn’t quite know where the sudden overload of emotion had come from, though he felt bad that it had worried his father so much. Dad had gone from trying to lay down the law to treating him like he was sick and his Mom had done the same. The subject hadn’t been dropped so much as they’d decided to leave it be for the time being, and Adnaan was too tired to try and push it. He just wanted to sleep until his headache went away – if it ever did.

It felt like the pain was draining away his energy, and even sleeping most of the day hadn’t done much to fix it. He hadn’t wanted to get up at all, but it had been better than lying in bed and having his mother pop her head in every fifteen minutes like clockwork wanting to know if he was sure he didn’t want to eat something.

Saami’ah was the first to leave, as she always was. Today, he would have been right on her heels if he could have helped it, but moving fast was definitely not going to do him any favours. He did manage to extract a promise that no one would wake him unless there was a natural disaster of some kind, and returning to his bed was made even better by the fact that his sheets had stayed cool and comfortable. He curled up in the makeshift nest and fell asleep immediately.

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