'I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you,' the words rang through my head, like a needle through my heart, sealing it shut with an overwhelming flow of blood.
I saw flashes of light, purple, blue, black. I put the phone down gently, and wavered oddly in that hotel room in Mutrah.
I was hyperventilating, choking and sobbing. Audrey later recalls I was trying to sip water but my hands were shaking so bad it was spilling all down the front of me. She went downstairs to let me absorb the shock.
How could he?! I wanted to pick up the phone and yell back into the reciever "it is my life too! Don't try and protect me! I am not a child! This isn't what I want?!!!!!" But I couldn't. Mohamed couldn't tell me anything more. That is all that they let my husba---
I had no husband! I was all alone, I'd lost my family, my friends...
"Allah don't take him too!" I begged, "don't take him to!" I collapsed on top of the bed. I wanted to die. I rolled and writhed and wanted to tear my heart out from my chest as it beat.
"Don't take away my choice!" I swore angrily at Faisal. "Let me wait! Let me hope! There is no perfect Ummah either, no Islamic country? Should I just STOP hoping? Should I stop caring?! Should I stop believing because of that?! Don't take away my choice!
Oh Allah! Ya Rub, don't take away my choice!" Somehow I was switching between speaking to my ex-Saudi husband and the Creator of mankind. "Ya Rubb [my Lord]! It hurts, it hurts so bad. Please take me, please take me now, before I commit a sin. I can't, I can't-"
I was rolling around, in my abaya with its sleeves cut up, hair wild and eyes wide and sore. I buried my head in my knees and did not know for a long time that there was a hand upon my back, and a hand cupping the water bottle to my mouth.
"It is not fair!" I choked, "not fair!"
I looked up hoping to see Allah or the Angel of Death beside me, comforting me, but instead I saw Khaleel, but was the child instead of the woman, that knew him all those years ago.
I buried my head in his hand, the little girl who'd been bitten by a scorpian. This time the scorpian was my mother, but...
He was there, Khaleel, until my madness subsided. Audrey was downstairs with Masoud and they were driving around the Corniche and Old Muscat, Masoud trying to comfort Audrey. Our world's were so bleak.
We had lost our homes so many times over that we were losing ourselves.
"You are my home," I had told Faisal, the first time I had realized I truly loved him.
"I'm not your home. I am a dark dirty place," his voice echoed back at me accusingly from the jail cell, haunted. "And it's all your fault. Because of you I'm here. You're a demon."
He'd once called me his angel. "I love him!" I loved Faisal. The love would rip me apart.
I trembled in Khaleel's arms, and he brought my head under his chin. I clung on for dear life.
I had caused Faisal to lose everything. His country, his family, and now his freedom. I was a demon. I just wanted to save someone. I couldn't save my mother, I couldn't save Sheikha, I couldn't save Audrey, and I couldn't save Faisal. I couldn't even save myself.
Khaleel combed his hands through my hair and somehow he did not hurt me, even though I have an amazingly sensitive scalp. I guess one could have tortured me that night though, and I'd have welcomed it, anything to distract me from the pain of my withering heart.
I swear the heart can break. The blood comes in gulps and gasps between laboured breathing, as if seized in twisting itself into knots while it pulls itself in different directions to break free of the weak body that houses it, the powerless body, the helpless soul...
"It's not your fault," Khaleel was saying as I stared up at him in wonder, wanting to be a baby again, wanting to be reborn, or to have never have been born, or to die. "You have to get up. We'll get something to eat." He patted my head and stood.
Reality flooded back and I realized I was not wearing my head scarf. I dove under the covers of the bed and used the sheets as a garment. I glared up at him out from the stiff sheet accusitorily.
"How did you get in here?!" I demanded, but the force of my own voice made me fall back onto the bed weakly.
Khaleel wanted to go help me but restrained himself.
"We wanted to go get groceries. Audrey gave me the key to come get you. I heard you crying through the door..."
And he'd come in. Because Khaleel couldn't take me crying.
"Faisal... He's in jail... They threw him in [the Saudis]... And he divorced me... He doesn't want me to wait and... says it's my fault, and..."
Khaleel's eyes flashed with anger, he pulled me up, reached for an abaya of mine slung over a chair, threw it over my shoulders and tucked my arms into it. I played helpless rag doll in my devastation, words echoeing in my head, me blaming myself for what happened to Faisal, and hating him too for blaming me too, because I....
"We're going for a drive. And to forget. And you'll eat." His hands were on both my shoulders and my knees gave out but he held me up. Khaleel held me, and I could tell that he wanted to kiss me, as I was detached and floating away from myself looking down on him, and he was living in a different reality than the one we both occupied. We both were. Khaleel shook us both back. "We don't have enough time for that," he said, as much to me as to himself.
He went outside the hotel room and waited at the door while I put on my scarf and with a trembling hand applied my lipstick evenly. My death mask. My war paint.
Khaleel waited at the door for me and we went down the hallway and the elevator together. The men at the front desk regarded us 'man and woman' with suspicion, but in this one instance, Khaleel figured our reputations didn't matter. There were worse things in the world tonight, and we were going to outrun them.
Masoud and Audrey met us, and Masoud got out from the driver's seat to let Khaleel in. Audrey was already buckled in, in the back. I shook as I climbed in, lifting the folds of my abaya as if I were a parcel. Masoud looked magnanimously piteously back at me, and I reached for the seatbelt, ashamed.
Khaleel started to pull out, but noting my attempt to put the seatbelt on while struggling with the folds of the butterfly winged chiffon of my Dubai designer abaya, he stopped suddenly, and Audrey and I, our bodies lurched forward and our heads slammed into the boys' seats.
"No seatbelts tonight," he warned me. He paused one moment to turn up the MP3 player, music bled our ears, pounding worse than my heartbeat, so that I forgot I had a heartbeat. Audrey and I glanced over at eachother, until I slowly, bravely, met Khaleel's reckless gaze. We could only make out the gleam of eachother's eyes in the dappled streetlamps of the Corniche, but we met eachother with the tips of our dead smiles invertered to the corners of our eyes, so that no one could read our gazes but us. We recognized the others' likeness.
He did not pull forward until I let the belt slip back into its nest.
With a whiz, and then a zip, it 'click'ed.
And then we were gone out into the night.