,br> This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. Read today's installment of "Good Works" by Lynda Simmons, a serialized novella.
I turned around slowly, told myself to take a breath, be patient, or at least non-violent.
“Aisha, your brother is probably driving around right now looking for you. He may even have called in other people to join the hunt. You can’t disappear into a cab or even the subway because of video cameras, so we’re stuck walking. It is therefore essential that we blend into the background, draw no attention to ourselves whatsoever. And you cannot do that in a pink hijab.”
Her face remained impassive. “I don’t have a choice.”
“You always have a choice. You can hang onto a pink hijab that not only stands out, but screams ‘hey look at me,’ and risk being found. Or you can take it off so you don’t stand out, and hope your brother won’t notice you.” I took a step closer. “It’s not like I want you to never wear it again. Just for a little while.”
“I know it sounds simple enough, but my faith is my life. It’s who I am, and what I am. The hijab isn’t just a piece of clothing, it’s my commitment to that faith and a way of life.”
“Let me guess. A life of female modesty, the goal of religions everywhere. Right up there with no access to birth control or abortion or anything else that lets a woman control her own fertility and therefore her own future.”
I could feel the soapbox taking shape under my feet, the lectures lining up inside my head, stacking one on top of the other like building blocks. Bang: Defeating the Rape Culture. Bang: Wage Equity, Still a Cruel Joke. Bang. Keep Government Out of Our Uteruses. Bang, bang, bang.
Whatever she was going to say next, I already had the opposing point ready, complete with amusing anecdote. But the expression on her face told me that no amount of discussion would do either of us any good. Just as each of my girls had a deeply imbedded social conscience, this one had a deeply imbedded religion, and there was no easy cure for either. I could talk till I was blue and nothing would change. Babble on Mrs. Sandhurst.
So I took a step back both physically and philosophically. “Let’s look at this another way.”
“No need,” she said. “Because you’re absolutely right. Finn told me a while back that once I set out on this journey, I’d need to blend in, draw no attention to myself, just like you said. So I came prepared.”
She shrugged off the backpack and set it on the ground. Unzipped the top, grabbed hold of a piece of black cloth and started pulling. The thing went on forever, like a flag, or perhaps a parachute.
“What is it?” I asked.
“A full length chador with a matching niqab.” She rose and held them out to me. “No one will recognize us in these.”
I backed up another step. “Us?”
“I have two,” she said with such obvious glee I might have said, “good for you,” if I’d been able to form words.
“I probably only needed one,” she continued. “But Finn had given me a nice budget and I kept hearing my mother’s advice about wardrobe essentials. One in the closet, one on your back and one in the wash. So I ordered three, but I could only fit two in the backpack.” She thrust it at me again. “I’ll show you how to put it on. Takes a bit of practice, but honestly we can go anywhere in one of these. Zara won’t be able to point you out, and I could probably walk right up to Hassan and he wouldn’t have a clue it was me.”
She had me there. Zara would recognize me on sight. But in Aisha’s outfits, we’d be unidentifiable, indistinguishable from each other. Just two black ghosts floating down the street. But still.
“I couldn’t possibly,” I said.
She tilted her head to the side. “Is it against your religion?”
“It’s against everything I believe in.”
“Like asking me to take off the hijab.” She lowered her hands. “So what do we do?”
Now I was the one with a choice to make. Suck it up and bend. Or leave her to her own devices. Perhaps she’d be okay on her own. A lone black ghost searching for a banquet hall. But she was so young and I was already here, and as Nathan used to say, in for a nickel, in for a dime.
Plus it would give me something else to put in a column. Take My Chador, Please.
“Fine,” I said. “Show me how to do this.”
Minutes later, I was draped and muzzled and starting to panic inside six meters of the finest Japanese crepe. “I can’t breathe,” I said, clutching at the front of the niqab, tugging it down past my chin. Gulping mouthfuls of air and wiping sweat from my upper lip. “It’s too hot, I’ll pass out.”
“You’ll get used to it,” she said, her voice barely making it through the niqab. The rest of her was completely gone, swallowed up into the endless folds of the chador. Only her eyes, hands and the toes of her sneakers were visible. “Now that I think of it,” she said. “I probably should have ordered the gloves too.”
“Aisha, its June. Gloves would kill me.”
“You’re right.” She bent to zip up the backpack. “Just try to keep your hands inside the chador. Looks more authentic.” She straightened, holding the backpack at her side. That was when I noticed the logo. Cupped hands, a sapling. Bringing Back Eden, the same one I’d seen on Finn’s backpack earlier. Maybe it was code for his underground railroad.
“No other way to carry this thing,” she said, shortening the straps so the bag wouldn’t drag on the ground. She took a few steps to make sure she had the right length then nodded at the street. “Shall we go?”
Fast-paced, funny and incurably romantic
Rachel Banks has never believed in magic or moonlight, but if she’d thought that putting a piece of wedding cake under her pillow would conjure up a nightmare in the form of blue-eyed charmer Mark Robison, she’d have stuffed that cake into her mouth instead! Mark is only in Madeira Beach for some much needed R&R and his new neighbour is not the kind of woman made for vacation memories. But there’s something about the incurable romantic that just keeps drawing him back.
Jennifer Crusie. Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Lynda Simmons? Oh, yeah!
About the Author:
With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman.
When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her - like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lynda-Simmons/e/B001KI3Z4O
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