Short Story Excerpt: Cloth of Discrimination

18 Mar

Driving downVerdugo Lane, the main drag in Oakwood city, Abdellah kept shifting around in the driver’s seat of his Lexus SUV. Today was Meriem’s first day at Oakwood High Schoolas a tenth grader. It was also the first day the entire school population would see her as a Muslim.

Abdellah glanced at his daughter. “Meriem, I’d wish you wouldn’t wear that scarf.” His Egyptian accent flavored his words.

She rolled her eyes. “Dad, how many times do we have to have this conversation?”

Abdellah parked a half a block away from the main entrance. “Meriem, do you know what you’re getting yourself into?”

“Dad. I can handle this. Really.”

The fifteen-year-old girl with springy black hair and earthy brown eyes decided it was time to stand up for her religion—and herself.

Less than a week ago, she went public with her faith. Meriem began wearing the hijab, a head covering that orthodox Muslim women wear. She knew that wearing it would be controversial in her town. Unfortunately, the closest mosque and Muslim community was 25 miles away from home.

“Meriem”, Abdellah pleaded. “Please, it’s not too late. You can remove it now. Before you get out of the car.”

Meriem shook her head.

Abdellah drove up to the drop off area at the main entrance.

Meriem’s scalp itched from sweat, but chose to ignore it. She gathered her backpack then kissed her dad on the cheek. “See you later Dad.”

He started to release the door lock but she beat him to it. Abdellah reached for Meriem’s wrist to stop her. “Habiba, please be careful.”

“I will.”

***

She made her way into the main hallway with no problem. She received several furtive looks, shocked faces and a few chilling stares.

Meriem felt someone breathing on her covered neck.

A male adolescent voice roared, “Terrorist Alert! That girl wearing the table cloth is armed!”

Meriem felt a sharp tug on her backpack jerking her downwards.

“Hand over that backpack,” said Rob McPherson. His large knuckled hand rammed into her back .

Everyone in the hallway turned to check out the scuffle.

“Leave me alone!” Meriem shouted.

She tried to pull herself away, but Rob McPherson’s strength was no match for Meriem’s.

He released his grip from the backpack. Meriem plummeted to the floor.

Rob looked around caressing his shaved head. “Look you religious freak. Give me your backpack and nobody’s going to get hurt.”

She picked herself up, clutching on to her backpack. “You stop harassing me or I’ll . . .”

His upper lip curled. “Or you’ll what? Turn me in? You can’t do anything to me. My dad’s a cop.” He slithered his pierced tongue across his lips. “That scarf’s causing you brain damage.”

Meriem crossed her arms. “Leave me alone, or I’ll report you.”

Seconds too late, a stout man scratching his flaky red-gray scalp waddled to the scene. In a gruff voice, the school principal said, “Okay. What’s all the commotion here?” He dug his hands into his sweater pockets.

Meriem looked at Mr. Leaferton.

Mr. Leaferton did a double take at Meriem.

“He called me a terrorist,” said Meriem pointing at Rob.

“I did not. I said, ‘Terrorist Alert!’” Rob faced Mr. Leaferton. He fingered a couple of piercings by his eyebrow. “Look Mr. Leaferton, with all this terrorism going on, you can’t be too careful. I was only trying to protect the student body.”

“That’s a lie,” said Meriem. “He was harassing me. He grabbed my backpack and tried to make me give it to him.”

Rob put his nose close to her face and growled, “I didn’t try to make you do anything.”

Mr. Leaferton sandwiched his way between Rob and Meriem. “Okay. Okay. Both of you. Stop arguing.” He looked around. Most of the kids were still there.

The Principal grumbled, “Everyone go to class. Now.”

When the hallway emptied, Mr. Leaferton said, “Miss Lahrichi. Mr. McPherson. I don’t want to have any problems from either one of you. If you can’t respect each other’s differences, then you’ll need ignore each other. Is that clear?”

Both Meriem and Rob acknolwedged Mr. Leafterton’s request.

Mr. Leafterton continued. “As of today, you two are on my watch list.”

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4 Responses to “Short Story Excerpt: Cloth of Discrimination”

  1. Kirsten March 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    This is so cool.
    Sometimes world affairs does seem like we’re in a scuffle with a bunch of high schoolers doesn’t it? Kudos to Meriem for expressing her faith. I’d love to read more about this courageous teen!

  2. Kirsten March 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I tagged you on my blog today. (A Scenic Route, that is) Stop on by if you want to join the fun!
    A short excerpt awaits!

    • never2late2write March 23, 2012 at 6:09 am #

      Thanks Kirsten :),I’ll check it out.

    • never2late2write March 26, 2012 at 5:37 am #

      I did it. Thanks for tagging me Kirsten. By the way, I’m impressed with your other writings too :).

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