“Hey, you okay?” Hadi asked, reaching me.

Fear had taken over my body, hugging my throat with all the power in the world. It was as if it had gotten colder all of a sudden. Shivering all over, I pointed towards where those daunting, bloodshot eyes were a moment ago. There was nothing but sheer darkness there now.

“Tell me what I am supposed to see at least. Wait. Let me guess. A ghost?” He let out a laugh which he quickly stifled when he realized I didn’t find his attempt at humour funny at all. I couldn’t care less about what he had to say at the moment, my mind all too occupied with the image of those eyes. They were real! They must have been.

“Listen, I’m gonna go in that direction.” I pointed towards the road to the left of the haunted house. “and you may go back to the others or to hell for all I care. Just don’t follow me.”

“Are you always this rude or-” I walked away from him before he could finish.

“If that’s what you want then be careful! It’s really dark out there.” He shouted from the back.

“Do you ever shut your pretty mouth, blouche?” I shouted back, annoyance clearly lacing my tone.

“What in the world is a blouche?” I heard him yell but I ignored.

I walked, accompanied only by the sound of dried fallen leaves crushing beneath my feet and my shaky breathing. I already regretted walking here alone. But then I reminded myself that’s its just a dream. It’s not real. It’s just a dream. It’ll disappear as soon as I wake up.

That’s it! I just needed to wake myself up. I remembered people biting or pinching themselves in movies to wake up from a deep sleep. And so I did. A bit too hard. I yelped in pain as the bite mark on my hand turned into a bright shade of red. But nothing happened. I felt stupid enough knowing I had just done that. The reality of the situation only got worse when I heard an entire crowd of people laughing at me. Great.

“Nice try kiddo but I’m afraid it’s not that easy.” Barked Badass Guy, his sentence interrupted by his own loud laughter.

I wanted nothing more than to punch him square in the face. But the memory of getting punched in the stomach earlier was still sharp in my mind so I decided not to take the risk. I just turned around and started walking away without another word. I didn’t make it far before I found Hadi standing in front of me with a grin plastered on his face.

“I thought I told you not to follow me? I’m seriously considering mass homicide.” I put as much vileness in my words as I could manage.

“Yeah right! Ever killed an ant, little one?” I heard the sucker-face say from the back.

And so I snapped. So I turned around to face him and shouted, “Listen up douche-face! Don’t ever call me that or I’ll show you what I can do.”

Apparently my threat seemed to amuse him for he smiled and started calmly, “First off my name is Yusha. And secondly I think we’d all love to see what you can do to me. We really enjoyed what happened last time.”

Unable to answer, I closed my eyes out of anger.

“Amal, honey did you sleep late again? Wake up, you’re getting late.” I heard mum’s familiar voice and realized I was home. I’d been home at night too, my mind snapped at me.

“Morning, mum” I said a little too enthusiastically, jumping up to wrap my arms around her. She smiled warmly at me.

“You’ve got 10 minutes sleepy-head.” She said as she threw a towel at my face and directed me towards the bathroom to get ready. I brushed my teeth and washed my face hurriedly.

Oh great! A bruise, a cut and now a bite. And a bite had given myself. I got pulled out of my thoughts when Adan opened the door of my room with a force I never thought a creature as small as herself could possess.

“Hurry up, blouche. ” she bawled out and ran back downstairs. I started running after her without thinking.

“Why aren’t you ready yet Amal? Look at you.” Mum yelled at me.

“No particular reason, Mum. Just stressed out because of the burden of studies.” Hassan answered in a high-pitched imitation of me which was followed by a roar of laughter from both of the tiny devils. The frown on mum’s face, however, hadn’t changed.

“Now eat your breakfast properly, at least.” She told me. I wolfed down the slice as quickly as i could and ran back upstairs. I tied my hair quickly into a ponytail without looking in the mirror. Grabbing my blazer and my bag, I rushed towards the others who had already got in the car, nearly tripping on the stairs. Getting in right next to Adan, I stared at her.

“Who taught you that?” I whispered as low as i could.

“Taught me what?”

“Blouche. You called me it when you came to get me.”

“Oh that. You.” She said as loud as she could, giggling afterwards. I let out a sigh and gestured her to lower her voice. This 5 year old was driving me crazy.

“How many times do I need to tell you not to be so loud when I’m driving? It distracts me. Don’t you know that?” Mum said. “Amal you shouldn’t be acting so childlike.”

“It wasn’t me! Why am I always blamed for everything these two do?”

“Chill, Amal, Chill.” said Hassan, making sure he said something in every situation.

“Shut up, you-”

“Blouche.” Adan finished for me.

“Stop saying that.” I hissed at her.

“Blou-what?” Asked mum, pulling over.

“Err nothing. Love ya. Bye.” I jumped out of the car and entered the school.

I found my clique in the corridors, seemingly waiting for me. “Hi losers.” I chirped. Despite my annoying siblings, I was happy today. It was oddly satisfying knowing I wasn’t stuck in a dream being tormented by annoying guys.

“Hey.” They said in unison.

“Why aren’t you guys in the class? ” I asked.

“We were waiting for you. We’ve been asked to be at the gymnasium at 8:00 sharp. Let’s go.” Said Sarah, a rather small girl with black-brown hair and a pretty face. We entered the gym. There was something about the gym which made me feel at home. It smelled of freedom, power and, sometimes, sweaty socks. It was my favourite place in the whole school. There was a large basket-ball court in the middle. To the left was a tiny room where you could find the sport supplies and to the right were neat badminton and tennis courts. For sports like cricket and football, you’d need grounds,of course. It smelled freshly cleaned today, much to the relief of my nostrils. Miss Nida was standing opposite to the entrance at the upper most portion where there were seats for the spectators. Most of the seats were already filled.

“Oh look, there’s the Grey Witch.” Said Ziley pointing at a senior teacher standing right next to Miss Nida. We called her that because she was old. With her greying hair and white facial hair sprouting like whiskers, she was a total witch. If she could, she would make this school in to a prison and never let us escape. I clearly remembered how one time we were bunking a class. We were talking and walking and without realizing we entered the corridor that took you to her office, only to find out we were at one end of it and she was at the other. “COME HERE YOU LOT.” She screamed at the top of her lungs. She couldn’t see our faces clearly. Old and all. At least we thought she couldn’t. We had two options. Number 1: We go to her and face the worst. Number 2: We run and don’t look back. Our choice was obvious as Miss Nida’s voice echoed in the corridor. “WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING? COME BACK HERE RIGHT NOW OR-” We heard her yell as we took a right turn and took refuge in an empty class.

So there it was. The announcement we’d been called here for was made by the grey witch, of course. There was going to be a huge sports competition between our school and a few other schools. What excited me the most was this that it was going to be a boys vs girls match. I’d never been too fond of them but the guys in my dream have made me hate them with burning passion.
“All of you who are willing to participate in basketball, cricket, badminton, football, snooker and swimming are supposed to go through a trial today. So we can form the teams and practice further. Also there will be no classes in the first half today.” She announced with her trademark face. I wondered how would she look if she ever smiled. Then I realized everyone looks beautiful when they smile. As mainstream as it may sound but everyone is in fact beautiful. It’s just our actions and sometimes consequences of life which make us look or feel otherwise.

Sarah and I decided to go for cricket. The others weren’t that interested in sports. We had so many interests in common that we’d always been in the same competitions since childhood, even against each other in a few.

“It’s gonna be fun.” I said. We had to wait for an hour for our turns. The cricket tryouts were held in the school ground. Sarah went first. I had to wait for 15 more minutes. “Amal, you’re up next.” I got up with mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness and walked towards the field.

“Time to announce the name of those who made it to the cricket team. First up, it’s…


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Saja Ali & Zoha Hidayat For Beyond Sanity Publishing

  1. Micah Le Lann™ says:

    I love the dialogue! Very vividly written – almost screenplay-like 👍👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

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