Jasira means bold, courageous.
He watched the sunlight disappear in her raven hair and smiled at the memory. She’d told him that when he’d first met her. Her brother had slapped her, of course, for speaking. But Charles had enjoyed the defiance in her black-almond eyes moments before she bowed her head and trailed after her sibling.
It was impossible to get her alone. So he’d wait until school let out to water his garden—any excuse to watch her pretty face. She would even wave to him sometimes. Just barely lift her hand to flex her perfect fingers—on the sly—always so careful not to get caught.
He knew she was a Muslim girl, though she and her brother dressed as American teens. Charles ran a hand over his sweaty cheeks. The sun was a killer in the afternoon. The water sprayed loudly over the drowned rose bush. He watched Jasira step closer and closer to his house.
Her prim pink skirt went below her knees. Little white socks seemed ridiculous on the blossoming 17 year old. He smiled broadly as she approached the edge of his yard. “Where’s your jailer, Jasira?”
She paused, unsure of what to do. “M-my brother is with Father looking at colleges.” Charles nodded and switched off the garden hose. He walked up to her, just a mild mannered older man. “I’m sure he’ll get into a good school.” She nodded and began to skirt away from him—ever wary. Her petal pink lips curled slightly at the corners. She was a sheltered child. He grinned broadly, “It’s awfully hot today, would you like a drink of lemonade?”
She was nearly to the other side of his lawn now. “Oh…no, thank you though. I must get home…” Charles felt frustration ball in his gut. So many months of waiting and watching for her flashed before his eyes. Before he knew what he was doing he grabbed her small wrist. He dragged her across the yard and into his house. He slammed her against the wall. She screamed and fought—clawed at his face. Tears welled in her beautiful eyes. He kissed her rose petal mouth and cheeks. He pushed her hair aside and kissed her neck.
She kneed him in the groin. He grunted and his lust became rage. He hit her across the corner of her eye and cheekbone. He yanked her skirt up to her waist. “Stop fighting! You probably give it to every boy. It’s my turn, damn it!” He wedged himself inside her tight body and bit hard on her breast. She pulled huge clumps of his hair out of his scalp. He roared in agony and punched her hard in the mouth. It knocked her out.
It was dark when Jasira awoke. The concrete sidewalk was cool and painfully hard beneath her. She sat up and tried to orient herself. Her book bag lay in disarray beside her. Her skirt was stained with her virgin blood. She touched trembling fingers to her swollen, cut lips and moaned. Pain stabbed at her as she gathered her books and shoved them in her book bag. Memory flooded her brain—right up until it all went black.
She walked on wobbly legs to her house. Dread curled a tight fist in her belly and she almost turned and ran for the police instead. What would her father do when he saw her? She was late coming home. Surely he was back with her brother by now? She took a steadying breath. Her parents loved her. It would be okay. She was their daughter. It would be okay. The words became a chant, a prayer in her head. Only her tears belied the truth.
The light to her house flickered yellow in the darkness. Her father’s car was not yet in the drive. She rushed the steps, eager for her Mother’s arms. She flung the door open, “Momma?!”
“Jasira, where have—“ her mother stopped dead, stumbled back against the kitchen doorway. Then she rushed the girl, dragged her into the bathroom. “Your father must not know. Do you hear me, daughter? He must never know.” Her mother stripped the clothes from her body and she cleansed her with a cool rag. “Your indiscretion must be borne in silent shame.” She tilted Jasira’s face upward, “Do you understand Jasira?” Jasira swallowed hard. “Yes, Momma.”
She was so weak, so terrified. Tears swelled once more. Her mother wiped them away. She held her daughter close and wept, too. “I fought him, Momma.” Her mother screamed a primal wounded mother's scream. Then she sucked air hotly into her burning chest. “I know, Daughter. It makes no difference. Papa cannot know.” Her mother redressed her in a nightgown and started to rub concealer over the cuts and bruises. “You will go straight to bed. I will tell him you are sick. Pray to Allah that he believes us.”
She hugged Jasira and opened the door to the bathroom. Jamal stood in the hallway. “Why was the front door left open?” His wife pulled Jasira behind her. She laughed nervously. “Oh, sorry, I wanted some air.” She strode further down the hall intending to lead her husband to the supper table. “How was the trip? You must be famished?” Jamal narrowed his eyes on her face. “What’s wrong?” She smiled sweetly at him, “Nothing, nothing. I have our meal waiting.”
Jamal grew very quiet. He was a shrewd man. He looked from his wife to the closing door of Jasira’s room. He pushed past his wife and opened Jasira’s door. His wife fell to her knees and began to pray. His bellow sent her face down on the floor. He dragged Jasira into the living room. He wiped the concealer from his daughter’s face. “Deceiver!” He threw the daughter next to the wife. He dragged his wife up by her throat. “What happened?”
She trembled, her heart breaking with each beat. “Jasira was raped.” He dropped her as if she’d burned him. He fell backward onto the couch. A warring of emotion flickered in his even features. His strong, tan jaw clenched. His mouth worked, but uttered no sound. Kamal sat quietly next to his father. His head fell into his hands, “She is…impure.” The words fell from his horrified lips. His mother closed her eyes. “Impure” rang in her head—a bell of doom. She looked at her beautiful daughter, so young, so bright…
Jasira paled and scrambled to her feet. She ran to the bathroom. Wild thoughts chasing their tails inside her brain, I should have gone to the police. This can’t be real. I should have gone to the police!
Jamal stood quietly. He walked calmly to the kitchen. When he returned he handed Kamal a sharp knife. “She has dishonored our family. Restore us.” Kamal stood with shaking knees. His young face grim, “Yes, Father.”
Jamal’s wife stood. She threw herself at her husband. Her fists embedded in his shirt. “No! No! Please! Jamal, she is our daughter, no!” He wrapped his arms around her. He held her tightly so she could not break away. His chest ached, tears fell from his lashes. “She was dead when her purity was stolen.”