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The veil that covers even our eyes

el Mar Nov 20, 2018 9:14 pm

Monday evening.
She dedicated around two minutes to organize her memories of the previous day’s afternoon and prepare a detailed answer to his question, as he had asked her to do. She took a deep breath to get ready to start talking and then proceeded.
–I was wearing the crop top my boyfriend got me. It is a stripped top cut right above the belly button, and one of those shorts so short that they look like panties. I just sat there quietly listening to them every now and then. I’ve always been one to listen, not very talkative.

–What were they talking about?– He asked, looking straight into her eyes and holding his head with both of his hands.

–About hijabs and burkas, I suppose. Although they were calling them “the normal veils” and “the creepy ones that cover even their eyes”. They were discussing their opinions about them–. She then looked down to the doctor’s keys on the table. He had a small Eiffel Tower keyring.

He leaned on the back of his chair, crossing his arms. –Do you have your own opinion?

She grinned, the way people grin when they are fed up with life, and accidentally shed a tear, which consequently made her open her eyes widely in shame. She dried it quickly with her thumb and sat straight and tensed. She looked at him. He was checking the time on his watch, perhaps he hadn’t seen it. –I think everyone is stupid–. she managed to say doing her best to hide the lump in her throat and looking at him with a serious face.
He frowned and sighed, looking back at her. –I’ve only had two sessions with you and I already know what the matter is and how to help you. Don’t worry, I get many kids with your same kind of anxiety–. He said, as if she was just a flat tire and he was more than used to changing them. –Will I see you on Wednesday?

–Sure, have a good day.– She said as she stood up, thinking he was not going to see her on Wednesday or ever

Sunday afternoon.
–You look so pretty today!– said Cynthia looking at her daughter from bottom to top. –Did Liam get you that outfit?

–Yes, he did… but I don’t feel completely comf…– Riley began to answer until Gary interrupted her to comment how much thinner she was since she started doing that diet. Her father found it amazing how only by replacing big dinners with a salad and a yogurt one could actually lose so much weight.

Those were the only few words Riley allowed herself to pronounce during the lunch. They talked about her grades in high school, without Riley’s participation in the conversation, and about politics and other polemic topics.  She decided to disconnect after a while, and she started to mentally manage her following actions. She could devore the whole burger and all the fries, and then she could say she had a lot to study and go home right away. Her parents would probably go have tea or a coffee, and she would have plenty of time for herself in the bathroom without worrying about being heard. Should she take the risk? What if she didn’t get the chance to be alone before her body digested all those calories? Perhaps it was better to be strong and say she wasn’t hungry.

–I just think that if they force our women to wear veils when we go to their countries, they should take them off when they come to ours. Someone has to help those women get free.– Riley heard her father say, and stopped staring at her food for a moment to look at him and check if he had that I-am-a-white-American-man-and-I-will-confidently-share-my-opinion-even-though-I-don’t-even-know-what-I’m-talking-about expression in his face. He did.

Saturday night.
Liam walked her home after the party, but Riley was absent, like always.
–So are you going out for lunch with your parents tomorrow?– he asked in a desperate attempt to make conversation. It was always extremely awkward when they were left alone.

–huh? oh, yes.– She answered while typing on her phone. –Tomorrow’s sunday, already?

–Yeah, the weekend’s ending and you still didn’t start studying for Tuesday’s test.– Liam smirked at her but she was still texting so he looked away. –It was fun tonight, I think my friends and yours get along quite nicely. I bet the Vodka also helped with that, haha.– He said poking her in the ribs with his finger. Riley felt a very uncomfortable pain in her bones when he did that.
She put her phone in her pocket and held his hand. –Yes, your friends are funny.– she replied.

Before she got in the house, Liam took a plastic bag from his backpack and handed it to her. –This is so you look stunning tomorrow.

–Good night.– said Riley, giving him a tired smile of gratitude.
She closed the door behind her and went upstairs, to the furthest bathroom to her parents room. She tried on the new clothes and looked at herself in the mirror, from all perspectives possible. She took a razor and shaved the hair on her uncovered stomach. She looked again, pressing it in, holding her breath, getting her back straight, turning around, pulling the top down and the shorts up. She took the same razor and grabbed it by the part of the blade, she kneeled down in front of the toilet and she put the stick inside her throat.

Friday evening.
It was finally Friday. Gary and Cynthia had planned to have a family barbecue in the countryside, but Riley decided to stay at home with the excuse that her classmate couldn’t meet another time for the presentation they were supposed to prepare in pairs. Riley’s parents had never seen or heard of Adila, because she had never mentioned her. So, as far as they knew, Adila was a very busy incognito student in Riley’s class. Just thirty minutes after Gary and Cynthia were gone, Adila was ringing the doorbell.

–What is your darkest secret?– She asked breaking the silence that had been prevailing for ten minutes.  Riley gave a sideways look at Adila next to her. –I thought you came to work– She answered with a twinkle in her eye.

–Ok, I will go first.– Adila turned her chair 90 degrees to face Riley. –I recently got self-aware about a part of who I am that my family will never accept, and if they ever find out, my life will burst into little pieces. Riley closed her laptop and turned her chair as well. –And what is it?

–That’s two questions I'd be answering in a row, milady, I think it’s your turn. What is your darkest secret, Riley?– Asked Adila in a playful tone. Riley gave a look to the weight scale under her bed, she got up and walked towards the mirror on her bedroom wall as her friend followed her with her eyes. She contemplated her reflection and touched her stomach under her shirt.

Adila’s face turned thoughtful for a moment. She took off her hijab, approached her and blindfolded her from behind with it. Riley turned around to hold Adila’s hips and blindly kiss her lips. –If you could make us disappear, Adila, where would we go?

–To Paris.
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