Twisted Fate – Part I


August 2015

Layla looks visibly nervous. Her left hazel eye twitches lightly but the fan of her dark black eyelashes stops the nervous tick from becoming more obvious. Sweat beads on her large forehead that doesn’t have a single hair lingering like a lost child. All her hair are tightly tied in a braid that is oiled to keep each strand in place. The few hair that frame her forehead are held back by black pins.

Sand lounges in Layla’s throat, making her feel thirsty but she hasn’t moved since she has arrived. She stands at the front gate amidst a steady stream of girls in white uniforms moving in her vicinity. Some of them accidentally bump into her, others pretend to be looking busy but steal glimpses of the new girl. Layla, on the other hand, remains ignorant of all the stares tossed her way. She remains frozen.

The vastness of the school ground overwhelms her. She can’t decide which muscle to move but that thought remains in the background. Primarily, her eyes capture the magnitude of the place she stands in front of. The intensity of what the past years had unfolded for her and what the present moment was holding for her enveloped her whole.

Her brain lost her mind, unbelieving all that was happening. Despite the bumps against her shoulders, she kept wishing for someone to pinch her awake or just jolt her back to life. A large building with faded off-white skin stood fearlessly in front of her. Layla wondered if she was ready for all this.

December 1998
A crisp morning greets the kids. With their small heads that bob with sleep, the children scream a “present, ma’am” when the teacher calls out their roll number for marking attendance. Weak sunshine breaks through the white sky and steams through the large window panes to warm the children.

The morning breeze slaps dryness on their faces. One face, however, beams brightly, as though she is in the middle of a summer afternoon dedicated to the games on the streets. Her hair are tied in a neat braid, and she is ever eager to learn a new lesson.

Even as the rest of the class, packed with small green benches, shuffles through their bags, trying to find pencils and notebooks, Layla sits with her science book open in front of her. It’s already open to the chapter that is to be discussed today. A pencil sits fully sharpened in the middle of the book. A plain page in her notebook occupies the rest of her bench, already eager to feel the pencil glide over it and note the questions that the teacher gives for homework.

Most of the green desks are marked with dirty stains of crayons. Most of the kids also write stuff on their bench, uncaring of the school’s property. Despite the teachers’ warning and pleas, the kids continue doing that. Layla is different however. She never writes on her desk, which leaves her table top the cleanest. In fact, she is one of the brightest and most obedient students that the school has. In fact, the school sees this young girl as its asset that wins almost all competitions for it, respects the teachers, and loves making friends too. Most of her classmates love her too. After all, she offers a lot of help with classwork as well as homework.