“But Daddy I Love Him” by Batool Hasan

I play with the blond tendrils of my Barbie doll’s hair.  They look like silver silk in the shallow moonlight. It’s past my bedtime and I should be asleep in bed, but sleep won’t come and I don’t want to make daddy angry.

I hear shouts and doors banging as I drop my Barbie doll. I quickly slip into bed and drape my blanket over me.

Don’t come in. Oh please, don’t come in. 

Five minutes pass then ten, but nobody comes into my room. I get out of bed, cautiously trying not to make a sound. I edge closer to the door and quietly turn the doorknob. Hushed tones flow from the hallway, drawing me in. I soundlessly sneak outside and creep into the hallway. The door to the main living room is open, and I hide beside one of the bookshelves lining the hallway. I take a peek at the living room, and find my eldest sister with daddy. Her eyes are rimmed with red, bruises cover the left half of her face, scarlet scratches shine on her chin. Her abaya is a ragged mess of ripped fabric. Her hijab hangs halfway off her head, revealing a series of wild knots in her hair.

She shakes her head in response to whatever daddy is whispering to her. I catch words that sound like “divorce” and “hell”. Whispers turn to hisses, daddy’s face turns redder with each one.

“B-but daddy, I love him!” my sister’s cracking voice lets out, like glass shattering on concrete. If mommy wasn’t awake before, she would be now.

“If he loves you, then why did he hit you?” daddy’s calm voice surprises me.

“No man that loves you would hurt you like this.”

My sister’s tears stream down her cheeks. I accidently bump into mommy as turn to leave. She doesn’t say anything, doesn’t ask why I’m not in bed, but I can see tears pooling in her eyes.

I run into my room, shut the door with a bang, and grab my Barbie doll from where I dropped it.

I climb into bed and whisper to her, “Don’t ever fall in love.”

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