A year later
The girl ran through the bushes, branches snatching at her clothing, her face and legs covered in little lines of red. She panted as she continued, bare feet slapping against the stones and sand.
Yet she wouldn't stop. It had been too long. She needed to know what had happened to her. She had to see her, even if it was from a distance. She craved her smile and warmth and familiarity.
She burst through the dense foliage and stopped, her knees weak.
There was a row of two-story houses, all quite similar and modest. She didn't know which house it would be, but she would search for the rest of the day if she had too. The rest of the night, week, month...the rest of her life even.
And so she spent the rest of the day knocking at people's doors, showing them the picture of who she was searching for. But all she got was disgusted stares, curses, doors slammed on her face.
She knew she looked like a woman possessed. She knew what they saw. A scarred and bruised face behind a mop of long greasy hair. Tattered and torn clothes. She wished she could take a break, stop for a while. Find a motel, take a shower, wear clean clothes, have a good night's sleep.
But that's all that it was... a wish. A wish she couldn't fulfill. Wishes were wants, and wants were always a rank beneath needs.
And right now... she needed to find her.*______*
”How’s my little princess doing?” he asked as he tickled her.
She giggled and hid her face in the crook of his neck, her dark curls tumbling over her blue eyes.
”I’m doing fine, thanks for asking.” I quipped, giving Isa a wink as I placed the roast on the table.
”Ah yes... My queen!” Isa exclaimed in a fake English accent and pulled me into an embrace.
Maryam giggled as I wrapped my arms around the two of them.
We stayed like that for a few seconds. Happy. Content.
Until Isa’s stomach began to growl.
He laughed and unwrapped his arms from around me then put Maryam in her feeding chair.
As I served supper, seeing to Maryam in the process- she was currently obsessed with doing just about anything to her food except eating it- my heart swelled with pride and joy.
It seems impossible... that I could ever be happier
“She’s asleep,” I whispered as I joined Isa in the kitchen where he was wiping the counters and table.
“Ah, that’s a relief,” he chuckled.
I punched his arm playfully. “Rude.”
“Hey! You know what I mean. I love my sweet little angel more than anything in the world... but all that energy! Where does it come from?!”
I laughed. “Yeah, I understand,”
Isa smiled at me and took my hand, his fingers interlacing with mine.
“You know...” he began, “I remember asking you once about how many kids you’d like to have,” he lifted my hand to his mouth and placed tiny kisses all over.
“Hmmm...” I raised an eyebrow.
“And I clearly remember you saying-“
I cut him off, “A mini army would be perfect.” I smiled goofily.
“Yeah.” He stated, then sat, just staring deeply into my eyes.
“What?” I whispered after a few seconds.
Isa’s eyes shifted from mine and he ran a hand through his permanently messy dark hair. “Well, we can’t exactly fit an army in this house...?” He asked, somewhat nervously.
I sat up straight. “What are you proposing?”
“Well, Joseth offered me a new business deal.”
“What sort of business deal?”
Isa got up and placed his hands on the table, leaning down on them.
“You’re not gonna like it, I think.”
“Right, right.” He shook his head. “We have to move house.”
“What?” I asked, standing up. “Isa... I’m- actually we’re-not ready for that. I mean, I’m teaching here at home and Maryam just turned a year, do you know how difficult that will be? Packing and moving with a one-year-old kid? And your job, I mean... “ I sighed. “We’re perfect just the way we are, Isa.”
“Look, I know. I know it will be hard but- just listen to what I have to say Haniyyah, please?”
I shook my head and walked to our room, Isa following behind. I turned as I entered, facing him.
“Why do you want to do this? Is he going to give you a raise or... or a promotion or something? Because you and I both know that we don’t need that, Isa.”
“What? No, no that’s not it Haniyyah, just hear me out. Okay?” He pleaded.
I sighed and sat down on the bed. “Fine.”
"A few months back Archivictus started a new project. There are so many intelligent and artistic people in rural areas who are unable to pursue their dreams because of financial constraints. So Archivictus built another building filled with offices near the rural area a few hours outside the city. What Joseth has offered is for us to move into one of the houses they've built near the office building. It's a big, two-story house which we're getting for free. Archivictus is also going to pay for whatever work we do in the house, whether it is to renovate or paint jobs, whatever we want.”
I listened carefully as Isa spoke, warming up slightly to the idea of it.
”How does it help the people living there?” I asked.
”Well, we're going to visit them and look for potential architects and maybe even other occupations.”
”That’s amazing. Really. But I’m sure there are other colleagues of yours who would love to take up the position?”
Isa nodded, ”There are, I’m sure. But Joseth handpicked a few of us himself. And I was one of them.”
I sighed and lay down on the bed, gazing at the ceiling. ”I don't know Isa. I can't give you a proper answer right now. How about we talk about it tomorrow again at supper?” I suggested.
”Sure. I'm just happy that you're considering it.”
I smiled and pulled him down next to me, snuggling into his warmth.
”I just want you to be happy, sweetheart. Wherever makes you happy.” he whispered.
As he fell asleep, still in his work clothes, I pondered what he had said. I lightly traced the outline of his face, eyes, nose.
You've always done what makes me happy. Maybe it's time for me to do this huge step and make you happy. I wondered, as I closed my eyes.