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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.”

Random Writing: Cake in Roppongi

5 Mar

 Pepper, Snicky and Amber exited the Roppongi subway station. Pepper spotted a coffee house and observed the clientele inside. She announced to Snicky and Amber, “Let’s get these dirty old men to buy us some cake.”

“Count me in. All I ate today was seaweed snacks,” said Snicky.

Amber looked down at herself seeing that her size 4 body bordered on a 6. “I’m dieting.” She grazed her abdomen with her hand. “I can’t.”

“Dip shit! We’re going to puke it out afterwards,” said Pepper.

Amber shook her head. “No thanks.”

“Fine. Freeze your ass outside.” Pepper linked her arm with Snicky’s and the two went inside. Amber caught the closing door.

Pepper saw Amber coming. “Okay Amber. You ask those two men back there if they’ll buy us dessert.”

“I can’t do that,” said Amber. “They’re going to think we’re prostitutes!”

“Who cares,” said Snicky. “We’ll never see them again.”

Pepper jumped in. “Are you chicken?”

“No,” Amber stammered.

“Yes you are.” Pepper shook her head. “You have no balls.”

“I’m leaving.” Amber opened her purse to get some taxi money but realized she had none.

Snicky said, “What’s wrong Amber?”

She quickly closed her purse and quickly said, “Nothing.”

Pepper put her face into Amber’s. “So. Are you going to ask them, or are you going home?”

“Fine. I’ll ask.”

Pepper pushed Amber toward the two businessmen seated at a table.

Amber said, “Konnichiwa. You speak English?”

The bald one wearing square glasses lit up. “Yes we do.”

The obese one donning a quarter size mole on his forehead smiled and said, “Yes. Yes.”

“Will you buy me and my friends dessert?” She pointed at Pepper and Snicky.

“Yes of course,” replied the obese one. He wiped his palms on his lap. He patted the pink and orange chair next to him. “Please ladies. Sit.”

Pepper shoved Amber next to him. Snicky sat next to baldy and Pepper grabbed a chair from another table and straddled her long legs around the table.

All three models ordered decadent slices of cake from the young waitress. Her uniform consisted of a plaid skirt and white oxford blouse–school girl style.

Snicky explained to the two men they were American models and the wanted to meet some nice Japanese men.

Pepper leaned into the table and grinned. She said,  “I was a live sushi platter at Edokko Gardens.”

Amber hid behind a menu.

Snicky huffed. She lost out to Amber for this job. It paid over 2000 US Dollars for the stint.

Baldy lit up. “Ah really?” He started jiggling his legs.

Sweat broke across the obese man’s forehead. He blotted it away with his napkin.

Baldy continued. “How did you like it?”

“It was fun.” Pepper guffawed. “They laid me on this marble platter—naked. And they started putting raw fish all over me . . .”

Snicky kicked Pepper in the shin.

“Ouch,” cried Pepper.

The men looked puzzled. “Did it hurt,” asked the obese one.

“No.” Pepper kicked Snicky back. “Only when some Sony executive pinched my nipple.”

The school girl waitress arrived with their order.

Snicky exaggerated a yawn. “Can we change the subject already?”

Amber peeked over the menu.

The young waitress returned with three generous slices of cake.

“Yeah sure,” said Pepper. She stabbed her cake with a fork.

Credit:tokyoreporter.com

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