Sûrah LX
"Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."


Her spine reinforcing the barricade, Zahra leans against the door, its insulated thickness stifling outcries she 'imagines' rage within; a vicious temper, lodged in a tight spot, lashes out. The prop, dismembered no doubt, might be lending limbs to bludgeon everything in sight. Despite the total lack of sound—no thuds of flailing desperation—Zahra pictures Ahmed battering walls with disjoint arms and legs, her plaster replica mauled and fractured, torn asunder.

1. Did I win?

She feels triumphant.

2. Is my ordeal truly ended?

Sweet relief allows euphoria to relax her tangled nerves, as she slumps worn-out, drained, and weak-kneed, to the floor.

3. Or just reprieved?

The walls seem sturdy, yet the fury they assuredly contain is too resourceful; overconfidence is unwarranted.

4. Is it he?

A crack of doubt appears to widen Zahra's latent insecurity. She heard footsteps: heavy, masculine, though unhurried.

5. Why not rushed?

His pace was casual, come to think of it, inconsistent with its animus; almost tentative was his progress into the studio—though direct; he did not waver when the tape-recorded voice gave reassurance that a visit was expected.

6. Who, but Ahmed, would invade?

Her roommates knew to use the signal. And a stranger would have called, announced his presence from the stairwell. No, Allah hath heard her plea, thus Ahmed's capture is a sign of absolution.

7. Oh, my things!

With sinking spirits, Zahra recollects her bags are still inside: replete with passport, clothes, depleted cash, and Homa's perfumed letter—a memento, above all else, she is loathe to leave behind.