His fingers wrapped round the alien paper in his pocket. He drew it out and looked at her pregnancy result one more time. His stomach knotted, his head spun, and his breath came in short painful rasps; a few more loose teardrops smudged the blue ink. He wiped a shaking hand across his perspiring brow, and blinked.
It wasn’t his baby. Not yet. They had wanted it to be perfect. A religious festival – his conversion - a new beginning. Aisha had sobbed – broken down, beyond consolation. A glass of forbidden wine, missed telephone calls – his business meeting had overrun - a few more glasses, an unloved suitor chosen by her parents; but it was a futile moment of anger, frustration and loneliness – and her limbs succumbed to a lifetime of deceit and shame.
After, he had held her close - soft, salty tears intermingling – their eyes locked, and searched each other’s souls – she, a child of Allah, he an Infidel - finally made a pact.
His balcony on the thirteenth floor overlooked a city panorama that was Tangiers. At past midnight, a kaleidoscope of lights and shapes, bazaar music muted, laughter subdued. Not shared – not that night.
...It was time.
A cool breeze brushed his face, ruffled his jacket. He gripped the paper – would it explain? A couple bickering in an eleventh floor apartment, TV movie casting curtained shadows on the eighth. He looked out and down. Wasteland dogs, their noses upturned – a black one emitted a low keening noise – watching, waiting...
He could see her white-powdered face now, looking so peaceful; loose-fitting jilbab covering her legs, her modesty intact. He could almost feel her empty arms reaching up to embrace him – the dog howled – and then they were togeth...