After dinner, I stayed up and read the diary. It was one of those fancy ones that have the calligraphy and whatnot. It opened with the Carl Sagan quote, “Even through your hardest days, remember we are all made of stardust.“
I always liked that quote, too.
It was a beautiful diary. Lots of sketches and quotes, some in English, more in Arabic. Fatima was an artsy girl.
On one page was a fairly decent sketch of Ezekiel. Underneath was written, “L’amor che move ‘l sole e l’altre.” A love that moves the sun and stars. Dante. I wondered how an ultra conservative Muslim girl knew Dante.
I looked up as a shadow passed by me. Gwen had gone to bed a long while ago. “You were complicated, weren’t you, Fatima?”
I turned off the light and headed for bed.
That night the dream changed.
I woke up to the sound of running water. The bathroom light was on. I got up to turn it off. “Gwen?”
The girl stood by the tub, watching it fill up.
“Fatima?” I asked, even though I knew the answer.
She glanced at me; the handprint bruises standing out on her pale skin like a morbid necklace. “I can’t see the stars.”
“Why can’t you see the stars, Fatima?”
She breezed past me. I followed in that weird dream way where you’re in one room and then another.
Fatima and I stood stood side by side on the patio, looking up at the sky. “That’s Orion,” she said, pointing. “The Big Dipper… and there, there’s the Little Dipper.”
“Even through your hardest day,” I murmured, “remember we are all made of stardust.”
She glanced at me and smiled. “Carl Sagan. I always liked that quote.”
“Me, too.” I wanted to take her hand, but I didn’t know if I should. “I’m going to find you, Fatima. It’s what I do.”
She reached for my arm…
I’m back in the bathroom. My brother pushes me into the tub. I’m being held down. I’m not me…
I’m her. I’m Fatima.
I’m screaming… thrashing… my lungs are exploding.
Tariq is holding me down. His face is a mask of hatred.
“Dirty girl.” My mother spits on me as I sink to the bottom. “Better you never have been born.”
“Don’t prepare the body,” my father says as Tariq pulls me out of the tub. “She’s not worthy.”
My brother drops me into a box. My head is turned up. I see the stars… then nothing. A wall of black washes over me.
I sit up in bed, clutching my throat, gasping for breath.
I had enough evidence. Time to tear up the patio.