Sûrah LXXXII
THE CLEAVING
"Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Day of Judgement is!"

82
CLEAVING

yet occasioning second thoughts:

1. Do I dare tell him who I am?

2. What I was honor bound to do?

3. My doubts, my fears?

4. Or will he mock my tribulations?

Zahra balks. She breaks away as from a demon. Franchone makes no move to stop her. Zahra circles, views him warily.

5. What reward does this man want, this man who hounded me, who attempted to befriend me, who has acted with... forbearance, in the present instance?

6. Sly! Am I forgetting how he flattered then insulted; how he handled me? How he sought to ease my stress by way of putting me off guard?

7. Like all the false delights of this world, men are serpents sent by Satan to entice the fairer sex into bilking ourselves. Ought we to sacrifice all Eternity for a mere moment's pleasure?

Her psyche railing, turning somersaults, Zahra keeps a wary distance. She expands, in fact, her orbit round the source of her chagrin, round him whose 'make-believe passivity' signals proof of moral turpitude; would he have her be the impetus for her own infernal doom?

Then why this pause, this hesitation? Silhouetted at the threshold, Zahra reaches for the doorknob, pulls; Franchone falls into shadow as the room (even though unlocked) is once more sealed.