One Hundred and Thirty Four

As narrated by Dee:

“Why are you so smart?” I grumble.

“So I am right?” asks Amz, grinning.

“How did you even figure?” I ask, ignoring her question.

“Well you have chats with every one you usually do, except for Zee,” she points out.

“Sometimes I hate that you’re so smart,” I mutter, burying my face into my pillow.

“Right, now what were you two discussing?” demands Amz.

“Nothing that you should be worried about,” I say, keeping my face hidden.

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“I can’t tell you,” I say sheepishly, after a while.

“Why not?”

“Because…”

“Because??”

“Dee!” she says, poking me. “You’ve sparked my curiosity. If you don’t tell me, I’ll phone Zee and ask him.”

“Don’t you dare!!” I yell, springing up, reaching for my phone.

Swiftly Amz moves her hand away, out of my reach.

Laughing, she eyes me curiously.

What is going on?” she asks, giving me a ‘spill it’ look.

Just then, Amz’s phone rings.

She gets up quickly to fetch it from her room, returning a couple seconds later with it at her ear.

“Nope, not in bed yet,” she says to the caller, grinning at me mischievously. “In fact, I was just about to call you.”

I look at her in horror, scrambling off my bed to chase after her as she sticks out her tongue at me and runs out to her room.

“I was just going through Dee’s phone…” starts Amz.

She taps her screen and I hear Zee’s voice come through.

“Yeah??”

“And her chat with you is deleted,” says Amz. “Wanna tell me why? Dee sure doesn’t want to.”

I expect to hear him laugh next, and then proceed to tell Amz how I made a tragic typo which he took full opportunity to make me feel awkward about, but he doesn’t.

“Hmm.. are you sure you want me to tell you?” he asks.

Oh no, what is he playing at? 

“Yeah,” replies Amz, suddenly not sounding too sure.

“But you might get upset..”

“Why would I get upset?”

“Because it might not be something you want to hear..”

Amz raises her eyebrow at me inquiringly.

I shrug, trying to hide my grin.

“Just tell me, oh my gosh. You’re making me nervous!”

“But it might.. you know, like, ruin things between… us.”

“What?” asks Amz, totally confused.

I hide my face in the pillow, unable to contain my laughter.

“Amz, my battery is almost dead. I’ll call you from the landline,” he says, cutting the call.

Still looking stumped, Amz ends the call.

“Dee, -” she starts, looking up at me.

“Need to pee,” I lie, racing out of the room.

Closing the bathroom door, stifling my laughter, I text Zee.

ME: Are you doing what I think you doing?

ZEE: What do you think I’m doing?

ME: Pranking her?

ZEE: Aha!

ZEE: I’m calling her now

ZEE: Don’t sit by her coz you might ruin it

ME: I’m in my bathroom rn I couldn’t hold my laughter but I want to hear

ZEE: I’ll record

ZEE: Stay online in case I need help

I hear Amz’s phone ring again.

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I quietly sneak out of my bathroom and tiptoe towards Amz’s room. I stop when I can hear her clearly, staying hidden in case she comes out.

Amz: I am so confused. Why would what you and Dee were talking about ruin our friendship??

Zee: I don’t know how to say it… (Pause) It’s been going on for some time now..

Amz: What is??

I grin.

Zee: Why don’t you just ask Dee..

Amz: (cutting him off) Dee won’t tell me!

Zee: (sighing heavily) Promise you won’t be mad?

Amz: I won’t be mad. Promise.

Zee: I.. (pause) urgh I can’t!!

Amz: (yelling) Oh for goodness sake, Zee! Just –

Zee: I love you.

Silence..

I bite my lip, willing myself not to start laughing.

Amz: What?

Zee: I.. I love you, Amz.

Silence.

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One Hundred and Thirty Three

As narrated by Sumayya:

Oh my god, he is sooo hot!

Faraaz accepted my Instagram follower request, and, turns out, he’s Mr. Handsome, Hamza’s friend, who was here last week.

I accept his follower request, but not before checking through my own pictures for any cringe-worthy ones.

The other dude, Imtiaz, declined my request and I followed suit, not really interested after having just went through Faraaz’s pictures!

Feeling slightly giddy with happiness, I shove my phone in my pocket and head to the kitchen for supper.

“Sumayya, can you just put this on the table, please,” says mummy, handing me a plate of rolls.

“The table isn’t set yet,” I say, having walked passed the bare dining room table just a few seconds ago.

Mummy turns around with a frown.

“It is,” says Tayyibah, walking into the kitchen.

I shoot her an annoyed look.

Why do smaller sisters think they know everything, little twats! 

“Abba said we should start eating on the floor again now that my foot is fine,” she says, grinning as she takes the plate of rolls. “He said that we have no excuse to miss out on a Sunnah.”

“Oh,” I say, slightly irritated that she is actually correct.

I hear the front door opening then closing.

That must be Hamza back from madrassah. 

A short while later, we all sit down to eat.

“How is Moulana?” Abba asks Hamza.

“He’s well, Alhamdulillah,” replies Hamza.

“Did you know your sabaq?” asks Mummy.

“Jee, I think so,” he replies.

Having passed matric with 7 distinctions, I was quite surprised when Hamza announced that he would like to start Hifdh this year, and not pursue some fancy degree.

In fact, I was a tad bit disappointed..

Nevertheless, he seems to be enjoying it quite a bit.

After supper I help to clear up for a little bit before heading back to my room.

I complete my mountain-pile of homework, change into my pj’s and then get into bed, feeling only a tiny amount of guilt for leaving out my Easha prayer.

My phone vibrates just as I’m dozing off, but, too drowsy to check it, I ignore it.

With a contented sigh, I turn over and fall into a deep sleep.


As narrated by Dee:

“I’m thinking of going to the gym tomorrow,” I say to Amz as we wash up the supper dishes.

“Really?” she asks, surprised. “That’s great!”

“Well, actually, Meez asked me to join him. Said he wants to work on his reflex and someone tipped him off that I’m a good ‘trainer’,” I say, quoting the word in the air with my fingers.

“No guessing who that was,” laughs Amaani.

I roll my eyes, thinking back to the time Zee would keep me company, often holding the defense pads while I would train.

Martial Arts was my favourite extracurricular activity, and still, more often than not, my hands yearn to be covered in padded gloves, my feet long to feel the gust of wind as they slice through the air, and my heart craves the rush of blood pumping through as it pounds vigorously.

I think of Dayyanah, picturing her poised, ready to strike. I remember how light she was on her feet, always sending a perfect kick; strong, precise. Not so much with her hands though; boxing was my forte.

“Hellooo!”

I snap out of my daze, as Amz splashes some water from the sink onto me.

“Huh?”

“I asked, what time are you going?” says Amz, splashing me again.

“Ohh. Meez said- Oh my God, did you splash me with water from there?” I ask in revulsion, pointing at the sink with washing water.

“It doesn’t make a difference,” Amz says nonchalantly, trying to hide her grin.

“Urgh that’s disgusting!” I exclaim, opening the tap and washing my face.

“Not in the rinsing water!!” shouts Amz, moving the tap to the other side.

“You just said it doesn’t make a difference!” I say, smirking.

We wash up the remaining dishes, and I pack them away whilst Amz locks up and sets the alarm.

Switching off the lights, we head upstairs together.

“So, when are you -”

“We’re not discussing that,” I say, cutting Amz off, knowing exactly what she is about to ask.

She sighs heavily.

“C’mon, you -”

“Amz!” I warn her sharply. “No.”

“Please?” she begs, kicking off her shoes and getting comfortable on my bed.

“No!” I say again, taking out a set of pajamas.

“Fine,” she huffs, reaching for my phone on my pedestal.

“Wait!” I command, lunging forward and grabbing my phone from her hand.

She raises an eyebrow and I feel my face heat up slightly as I delete my last chat.

“There, you can use it now,” I say, grinning sheepishly as I hand her my phone.

“What are you hiding?” she asks seriously.

“Nothing,” I reply, much too quickly.

She laughs.

“Are you sure? It doesn’t seem like,” she says, looking at me questioningly.

“No,” I say immediately. “I mean, yes. Yes, I’m sure.”

Blimey, I can’t even lie to Amz smoothly!

It’s quiet for a while; I change into my pajamas whilst Amz uses my phone.

“Aha!” exclaims Amz.

“I thought you do know that you can’t hide anything from me,” says Amz.

“I’m not hiding anything,” I say, smiling innocently.

I leave the room to throw my clothes into the washing basket.

“You don’t have to pretend,” says Amz, rolling her eyes as I walk back into the room and flop down next to her.

A moment of silence passes.

“So,” she says, finally. “Are you going to tell me what was so confidential about your chat with Zee that you had to delete it?”


Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 

Possibility that I might stop writing at the end of this season, which will end after 7 posts. Still deciding though so let’s hope I find some inspiration to continue.. 

Apologies for the long wait..

Much Love, 

Troubled Illusioner. ❤

One Hundred and Thirty Two

*Emerald, this one’s for you. ❤


A peek into the past – Rameez:

I stare silently at the spot we’d been standing on just few seconds ago, now a raging blaze.

I can still feel the heat on my back as the bomb went off and the shack ignited.

A shiver runs down my spine.

Sitting up fully, every bone in my body begging for mercy, I gently move dad off me.

I sigh. He’s out again..

The crackling sound of the hungry flames greedily swallowing the shack is the only noise in the quiet night.

I look at dad, a piercing pain stabbing at my heart, as I gently trace my shaking fingers over his bruised face.

I look back at the fire; a beautiful destruction, glowing brightly in the dark night.

My gaze moves back and forth between dad and the fire.

Dad is in a terrible condition. No doubt he needs urgent medical help..

The fire will begin spreading soon..

My mind is at the edge of insanity, my body, entirely exhausted.

I close my eyes tightly, swallowing the lump in my throat.

Blinking back tears, I reach into my pocket..

My fingers feel them, the small round pills inside my pocket.

I withdraw my hand and reach into my other pocket, the energy bar wrapper crinkling as I pull at it.

Sighing heavily, I stare at the energy bar for a mere few seconds, before shoving it back into my pocket.

I glance at my father, hating the guilt that surges through me, knowing well that he would not approve; at all.

Fighting the conflicting emotions within me, I swallow one, and then another.

A few seconds later, as I stare helplessly into the distance, I swallow one more, comforting myself with the fact that I have nothing to lose.

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 *****

“Dad.”

I shake his shoulder gently, trying to wake him up.

“Dad, let’s go.”

He stirs, his eyes opening briefly before closing again.

I sigh.

“Dad,” I say, louder this time.

He opens his eyes.

“We have to go. The fire is spreading.”

A look of confusion appears on his face.

Gently I help him into a sitting position.

“Here, eat this,” I say, unwrapping the energy bar and handing it to him. “We need to start moving.”

Seeing food, after what must be much too long, he hungrily reaches for it. With slow, weak movements, he consumes the energy bar.

“Do you have another?” he asks.

“No,” I reply, regretfully. “I left water stashed on the way though.”

“The faster we get home, the faster you can eat,” I say, trying to motivate him.

He sighs, closing his eyes.

“Mummy is waiting for us,” I add quietly.

His eyes shoot open, his gaze connecting with mine; penetrating, searching.

“She’ll be really worried if we’re not back before dawn,” I say.

My mention of mummy seems to have roused something within him. His eyes are suddenly alight, a blazing fire, as fierce as the one raging in front of us.

The truth is, I myself have not seen my mother for 3 days. Since the day they sent me away with the parcel of drugs to sell, I haven’t been home.

Trying to encourage myself with my own words, I let them flow, despite them probably being untrue.

“She’ll probably come herself looking for us. We can’t drag her into danger. We have to go.”

I stand up slowly, trying to ignore the pain encapsulating my body.

But dad makes no attempt to move. He simply watches me, his eyes still seemingly searching mine.

“What is it, dad?” I ask, a slight feeling of uneasiness pricking me.

A heavy silence settles in the air.

Dad takes a deep breath. He closes his eyes, drops his head.

Then, his voice a hoarse whisper, he speaks three words.

“They killed her.”

My breath hitches. My heart… my heart seems to stop.

I blink.

“What?!”

My ears plead to have heard wrong, but dad doesn’t repeat himself.

The anger inside me rises again. It’s a sudden feeling that I’ve still not grown accustomed to. Despite it happening so often, the molten lava that seems to rush to the tip of every point in my body still sets my entire being alight.

“No they didn’t!” I scream.

“Dad, they didn’t!!!” I yell, louder this time.

But I can’t even believe my own words; they sound more like a plea than a confirmation.

Calm down, Rameez. You need to keep sane. 

I take a deep breath, swearing in my mind.

“Dad,” I say, trying to keep my voice collected. “Mummy is fine. I seen her just before I came. They didn’t kill her. She’s okay. Dad, she’s okay. Come on, I’ll show you.”

I hate the way my voice shakes.

Forcing the thought of what would happen if I’m actually not correct out of my mind, I offer my father my hand.

We’ll deal with that when it comes. Now, concentrate on getting home. Just get home. Deep breaths, come on. Just get home. Dad’s going to be alright. Mummy is alive and well. You’re going to be okay. Everything is going to be fine. Just get home. 

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Slowly I help dad up. He leans against the tunnel wall for a couple of seconds.

“Try to keep a positive thought in your head. It’ll help you to keep going,” I say.

It feels strange offering my father advice..

We begin walking.

“Like, I have water kept a little bit from here. So if we keep walking, we get the water. If we stop, we don’t.”

I glance at dad from the corner of my eye. His lips are moving inaudibly. He doesn’t quite seem to be listening.

I swallow a sigh, concentrating on moving one foot in front of the other without pause, whilst at the same time, trying not to move too fast, lest it become burdensome for dad.

Occasionally I glance back.

Slowly, a single step at a time, we make progress, until, finally, I see the road on the horizon.

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One Hundred and Thirty One

M.A. this post is specially for you, cousin. ❤ Plus it’s Dayy’s narrative. Don’t you just love me? 😊 (Btw, I still can’t believe you read my blog! 😂🙈) 

NOTE: Story is back in the present.


As narrated by Dayyanah:

Pulling my leather jacket a little tighter, I survey my outfit in front of the mirror.

I wrinkle my noes at the creases on my T-shirt.

‘Not a good idea for first impressions,’ I muse.

“Well, it’s going to have to do,” I say aloud to myself, sighing heavily.

Having such a sparse variety of clothing items is becoming an every day problem..

Knowing that if I don’t stop my thoughts right there, they will only drift to a worse place, I grab a cap from my unmade bed, set it atop my head, and walk out of my room.

“You’re going?” asks Nuwaylah, as I walk past the kitchen.

“Yeah. Let’s hope I don’t get fired before I can even get hired,” I joke, trying to keep my nerves at bay.

“They can’t not hire someone who can carry four plates at one time!” she replies, grinning at me encouragingly.

Despite already being at the door, I turn around and head back to the kitchen.

Grabbing a glass from the drying rack, I fill it with water and gulp it down.

“I’m starting to doubt if this is such a good idea after all..” I say warily.

“Why’s that?” asks Nuwaylah, closing the textbook she’d been studying and turning to face me.

“I don’t know,” I shrug. “Like, it’s all good, I’m excited about it and shit, but it’s too.. like, public. Does that make sense? ”

“Well, yeah. Going from hibernating in your room to working as a waitress, obviously you’ll feel quite exposed. But it’s about time you go out and see the big blue Earth.”

I roll my eyes at her.

“I’m out of here,” I say, dropping the glass in the sink and walking out.

“Good luck,” Nuwaylah calls out behind me.

“Shot,” I call back, closing the door behind me.

Pocketing my keys, I pull my cap a little lower, bracing myself for what could possibly be an entire new chapter in my book called life.

A-simple-white-tshirt-really-makes-the-black-leather-jacket-stand-out

*****

“You’re hired,” the middle aged man sitting across me finally says.

I breathe a sigh of relief, wiping my clammy hands against my jeans.

“But..”

My hearts skips a beat.

Oh shit.. 

“Not as a waitress.”

I stare at him, confused, and slightly annoyed.

“You will work as a dish washer.”

What??

“Excuse me?” I say, unsure if I heard him correctly.

“You will work as a dish washer,” he repeats himself. “That’s what I can offer you, but it’s ultimately your choice.”

“But,” I begin.. then, unable to put my thoughts into words, I stop.

“I’ll leave you to think about it,” he says as he gets up and turns to walk out.

A dish washer?? But I want to work as a waitress! Hell, I don’t even know how to wash dishes! 

I drop my head down onto the wooden table, trying to organize my thoughts.

I analyze the pros and cons, remembering what the man told me regarding working hours, salary, dress code, etc.

You need a job, Dayy. Beggars can’t be chooses. Just take the opportunity. 

Sighing, I make my decision.

*****

The man, Shuaib, not much older than 40, was wise.

The moment he seen her walk in, he knew that she was no ordinary girl.

He seen it in the way she carried herself; confident, yet insecure.

And his assumption was confirmed the moment she flinched when he lifted his hand in way of indication.

He knew he could not make her work as a waitress, despite that being what she wished.

Even though her eyes held a maturity far beyond her years, she was young; much too young.

To the sinister, tangled-thinking men who frequented the tables of the restaurant, she would be enticing prey.

Among the waitresses, who were all a good few years older than her, she would attract absolute attention quickly.

And the last thing she looked like she wanted, was exposure.

He knew she might not like it, but working as a dish washer would leave her much better off.

What he didn’t know, was why he silently prayed that she would accept his proposal.

Perhaps he was simply intrigued by the secrets her bright blue eyes held..

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As narrated by Deeyanah:

“Amaaaani!!” I yell. “Where is my charger?!”

“Stop yelling!” she says, walking into my room.

“Where’s my charger?” I ask, frantically searching in my untidy pedestal drawer.

Amz!!” I yell in annoyance as she watches me with a grin.

“It’s on 1%!” I say, shaking my phone in front of her face. “I need a charger!!”

“You only need a charger when it goes to 0%,” she says, pushing my buttons.

My phone screen switches off in my hand.

“Well there! It’s at 0%!” I grumble. “Now where’s my charger?!”

“How must I know?” she asks, shrugging.

“You always steal it!” I reply.

“No, I do not!” she says indignantly, but a sheepish smile creeps onto her face.

“I knew it!” I exclaim.

I head to Amz’s room, and sure enough, her phone is charging… with my charger!

“You can’t take it out until it’s fully charged!” she says, coming up behind me.

“I’m going to start charging you!” I say, groaning as I see her battery percentage is only on 35.

Amz explodes into a fit of laughter.

“What?” I ask, confused.

“You’re going to charge me!” she says, slapping her thigh.

I frown, puzzled as to what is so funny.

“You said you’re going to charge me! Hun, only thing you need to charge is your phone!” she says, laughing harder.

“Huh? .. Ohhhh!” I say in realization.

So funny!” I add sarcastically.

“Wait, that actually is funny!” I say after a couple seconds.

We look at each other and crack up.

“I have an even funnier joke,” Amz says, when we finally calm down.

“That one wasn’t even funny,” I say, rolling my eyes.

“I’m pretty sure you were laughing like a dying walrus few seconds ago.”

“Get out!” I laugh, throwing a pillow at her.

“So what’s the funnier joke?” I ask.

“You’re preparing supper,” Amz says with a straight face.

“Now that, is one hell of a joke,” I reply, grinning.

“Come on. You can fill the water jug.”

Rolling my eyes, I get up and follow Amz to the kitchen.

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Hey. Hi. Hello. Salaam. Bonjour. Salut. Ciao. Ahoj. Bog. Marhaba. Ola. 😀

Hope everyone is doing well. 

It felt so strange not writing Meez’s narrative. I guess it’ll take me a few posts to get the feel of my other characters again. Don’t look at me like that! You’ll understand what I mean if you’re a blogger! 

Hope you’ll enjoyed the post.

Much love,

Troubled Illusioner. ❤

One Hundred and Thirty

A peek into the past – Rameez:

Covered in bruises and fresh wounds, it takes me a few seconds to recognize him.

He’s tied to a chair, thick, strong rope disallowing him to move.

His head lolls to the side, almost resting on his shoulder.

His eyes are closed.

My heart stops, my blood turns to slush.

Time seems to stand still.

“Dad,” I breathe.

Hesitantly, I take a step forward.

Scar’s firearm turns to face me, but I don’t see it.

My gaze is fixated on my father’s swollen face.

“Dad,” I say again, my shock-filled voice echoing loudly in the small room.

My feet slowly step in front of one another, until I’m standing right in front of him.

He looks even worse up close.

I touch my hand to his bare chest, feeling his visible ribs.

‘Please,’ I beg silently. ‘Please, let him be alive.’

It seems like forever, but then, finally, I feel a faint thump; slow and dull against my fingertips.

I feel the tears streaming down my face as a feeling of relief overtakes me… a relief so overwhelming, so strong, so brief..

The soft click of a pistol being cocked causes me to whirl on my heels.

They’re watching me; all three of them, but their expressions show no emotion.

Deep inside me, the hate my heart holds against these men begins to rise.

It happens terribly fast… and I wish it didn’t have to.

I’d like to have felt the moment my weight connected with Fang’s, as I lunged across the room and landed atop his chest, for a little longer.

I’d like to have seen the look of shock on his face for a little longer; so that my mind could have memorized it.

I’d like to have heard the sound of his nose bone breaking a little louder; so that I could replay it.

I’d like to have basked in the satisfaction of seeing his grin gone; knowing that it was I who took it away; for much, much longer.

But it ends as quickly as it started.

All it takes is a single finger to pull the trigger.

*****

The entire room seems to shake as a deafening blast pierces the silent night.

A burning sensation, boiling hot even through my jeans, hits my shin as the bullet swooshes past, missing me but a millimeter.

My ears ring ceaselessly, the explosion so loud, that I don’t even hear myself screaming.

Fear engulfs me, perforating any hope of survival.

I open my tightly clenched eyes and find myself staring into stormy green orbs.

Cold metal presses hard against the skin on my forehead.

My entire body is shaking.

I watch, paralyzed with torturous emotions, as Venom’s finger curls around the trigger.

The angry eyes are suddenly replaced with a slideshow of memories as my life flashes in front of me.

“Don’t.”

His voice is like a singing nightingale to my ears, his word choice the only song I want to hear.

I turn my gaze, forgetting the barrel destining my death.

His eyes are open now, but just about.

“Dad.”

My voice is hoarse, a mere whisper, barely audible.

He doesn’t look at me, his gaze unwavering as he stares Venom in the eye.

“Don’t,” he repeats.

Just saying that one word seems to use every ounce of energy he has left, but a blazing fire dances in his eyes.

“Shut up,” says Venom, looking irritated.

He turns his gaze back to me.

“What the f*** was that?” he demands, his voice cold.

I open my mouth to reply, but the words refuse to come out.

“ANSWER ME!” he yells.

I flinch, his sudden loud voice causing my heart to speed up even more.

“Rameez.”

I glance at dad.

“I said shut the f*** up!” commands Venom.

Dad looks at me, trying to get his message across through his eyes.

Don’t fight. 

I read him, and even though fight is exactly what I want to do, I don’t.

“I’ve brought the money,” I say to Venom.

*****

My fingers work feverishly on the thick rope.

I need to calm down. I need to calm down so that my hands stop shaking. I need to calm down so that I can untie dad. I need to calm down so that we can get out of here. I need to calm down!

‘You have 7 minutes to get out before this building blows up.’

Venom’s menacing voice plays in my head.

7 minutes.

I swear loudly in frustration.

Every part of me wants to collapse to the floor, lay there, and just forget everything.

Rivers of tears flow from my eyes, blurring my vision, as I struggle with the knotted rope.

‘Why? Why me? Why us? Why???’

My mind, completely exhausted, is at the brink of giving up.

I glance at my watch, and swear again, thrice this time.

The burning feeling of hate is better than the feeling of slowly consuming helplessness, because hate fuels you, whereas helplessness drains you.

“Son.”

I look up, wiping my eyes with my stinging hands so that I may see my father’s face clearly.

“Go,” he whispers.

It takes me longer than it should to register what he said, to understand what he’s implying.

“NO!!” I yell in shock. “No! I’m not leaving you here! We’re going together or I’m not going!”

My words encourage me, and I try not to think about the seconds ticking away, lessening the time left for us to get out.

I breathe deeply.

Concentrate! Think, Meez, come on!!

I close my eyes briefly, willing myself to devise a plan.

But it is as if my mind has suddenly switched off.

Frustrated and terrified, I open my eyes and stare out into the dark night through the glass of the window.

The glass of the window..

Glass..

THE WINDOW!!!

I almost laugh out aloud; it’s been there the whole damn time!

I charge forward, gathering all my strength.

But, at the last second, afraid of the impact, I lose momentum.

I hit the window hard enough to feel a shooting pain run up my arm, but not hard enough to break it.

It takes me 4 tries before the window gives away, the glass slicing my skin as my arm smashes through.

The pain is easy to bear, because the stress of getting out before the shack explodes overpowers it.

Working quickly now, a newfound hope keeping me going, I use the sharp glass to cut at the rope trapping dad.

But it’s slow progress; the rope is thick, my hand unsteady.

Finally, after an endless eternity, the rope comes free.

“Dad,” I say, standing up, dropping the glass.

He’s out again, f***!

“Dad!” I say urgently, my voice louder this time.

Nothing.

“DAD!” I plead. “Get up, please! We have to go!”

I shake him slightly, but still he doesn’t respond.

I glance at my watch.

1 minute.

“F***!”

“Dad! Get up!” I beg, trying to wake him.

Inside my head, I count the seconds.

55… 54.. 53..

Unable to stop them, the tears begin to flow from my eyes once again.

We’re so close… so close.

I look at the smashed window, the cut rope, the bloody gash on my arm.

All that effort… for nothing?!

49.. 48.. 47..

My brain is in overdrive, trying to think of a plan.

46.. 45.. 44..

Dad woke up when the gun went off…

Loud noise..

He woke up with the deafening sound!

I begin to scream at the top of my lungs; it feels strangely good.

40.. 39.. 38..

Dad’s eyes open.

“YES!” I yell.

“Dad! Come! We have to go!” I say to him urgently.

35.. 34.. 33..

“I can’t, Rameez,” he says softly.

“What?! I yell. “You have to!!”

He tries to stand up, but fails, his drained body, unable to do it.

Oh god no… please.

Repeatedly he makes an effort to lift himself up, but each time, his face contorts in pain, and he sits back down heavily.

25.. 24.. 23..

“Rameez.. p- pu- pull.. the.. ch- ch-chair- .. to..”

I understand immediately.

I grab the chair from behind and pull with all strength.

My wounded arm screams in pain, but I keep going, adrenaline pumping through me.

19.. 18.. 17..

I kick the door with my leg and move again.

But the chair doesn’t fit through.

I swear angrily, gritting my teeth.

14.. 13.. 12..

Quickly I turn the the chair around.

“Dad,” I say, shaking him.

He looks at me through his barely-open eyes, acknowledging that he is listening.

“Help me. I’m going to have to carry you.”

He nods slightly and leans a little forward.

I lift him with my good arm, and almost throw him right over.

He doesn’t weigh as much as I expected, his body having clearly taken a terrible change in the last few days.

But my own body is in not much better a state, and I’ve only walked a couple feet before the weight begins to seemingly increase.

9.. 8.. 7..

Clenching my jaw, I force my feet in front of one another.

Suddenly, breaking through the silent night, a loud ticking noise sounds.

“NO!” I yell in horror.

My timing didn’t correlate!!

I dive forward, falling onto my back to take most of the impact.

In front of me, I watch in sheer horror as the shack goes up in a burst of bright flames.