Thirty-SixMature

Izdihar was staring at her reflection, dressed in a beautiful wedding dress, feeling completely empty. She had cried and cried and cried over the past month, until it felt like she had no more tears left in her. She knew what was about to happen, but she could hardly believe it. Each day since she’d been in the new royal tower had seemed to drag on forever. She’d wander around or sit in her room for hours on end, nothing to do but dread. At mealtimes she’s have to go to Sayyid’s dining room and sit opposite him. Sometimes he’d try to talk to her, but she had given one-word answers if any. He didn’t seem to mind all too much and often kept up smug little monologues throughout dinner, informing her of new laws he’d passed, what was going on in the city. Other times he wasn’t there and she was allowed to eat in peace, or he had Mazin with him or some of the rich people who’d supported him and had been given important positions. But although it had been so boring, at the same time a month had passed unbelievably quickly. And now the day she’d been dreading was suddenly here.

Mazin came to collect her and she followed him numbly down to the ground floor and out into a crowded street. Guards were keeping a path clear for them through all the people filling the street. Some people were cheering or shouting but she barely heard them. Others were talking to their neighbours, keeping their eyes on her curiously. She met one woman’s pitying stare and quickly looked away. They made their way slowly towards Central Square, followed by as many of the spectators as could fit into the crowded square. A space in the middle was cleared. There was a band playing but Izdihar barely noticed it. She couldn’t seem to take her eyes off Sayyid, in his finest clothes, looking right at her as they approached with that gaze that made her skin crawl.

Izdihar wondered for a second if she could really go through with this. But there had never been any choice. She couldn’t let anything happen to Faruq, she knew that more certainly than she had ever known anything.

The End

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