Tonight it was worse than ever. They wouldn't shut up, and throughout dinner they found the pettiest things to argue about. But I'm used to it. They've been arguing for years.
My parents can't be in a room together without finding some reason to criticize the other. The only reason they are still married is because a divorce would ruin our family's image.' That's the way they look at things: if you have a problem, deal with it yourself, on your own time, in private. They like to think they're perfect and- even though they're not- they like the public to think so too.
Exams were next week so I had plenty of homework to do. I escaped to my room and got to work on my math. Trig sucks.
The next time I looked up from my desk, I found it was midnight. That might have explained why it was so quiet. I stood quickly and left the room, walking just down the hall to my brother's room. At the age of seven, my brother had grown up with parents who only cared for him in public, and he adjusted to having me read him to sleep every night. It seemed I was late.
Ryan peeked his head up from under his covers.
Sorry, squirt, I was studying. You should be asleep. It's way past midnight and you have a big day tomorrow, remember? You're first End of Grade tests. You're almost through with first grade. I sat beside him on the bed.
He frowned. Does this mean you won't read to me?
I glared at him as he stared up at me as if I'd kicked him. I hate that look. Just one chapter. It's late. I reached for the book we'd been reading, The Last Battle, the final book in the Narnia chronicles by C. S. Lewis. Opening to the marked page, I tucked him down in his blankets and continued from where we'd left off.
Thirty minutes later, I closed the book and smiled down at him. He'd fallen asleep, but I knew from experience that if I had stopped reading he would've woken up. I ruffled his hair and turned off the light.
Back in my own room, I was greeted by my mother's refined glare.
Alanna Rosalind Mays, it is far too late for you to be filling Ryan's head with such nonsense. You know he has tests tomorrow and he must do well for the sake of our family. She stood, hands still folded politely in her lap. If I ever find out you kept him up this late again, much less that you continue to read that trash to him, you will be severely punished. Is that understood? Her voice never wavered, nor rose in volume or pitch.
I'd rather she yelled.
My mother closed the door behind her.
Stupid parents. Stupid politics. Stupid, stupid, stupid stupid. I muttered to myself, preparing for bed.
I crawled into bed, turned off my lights and before my head hit the pillow, I was asleep. Of course, hitting the pillow woke me up again, but only briefly.
* * * * *
Now, I like warm weather. I like being warm and I hate being cold. Simple, right? Normally I would definitely say so. But for some reason- can't imagine why- waking up in scorchingly hot, coarse sand, which gets everywhere, was not fun. Not at all. Especially not with a very sharp-looking spear pointed at your throat. And, of course, the big guy holding the spear, wearing only a loincloth.
HOLY SH- I didn't get to finish though, because I suddenly realized that the spear was nearly slicing my throat. That and the fact that the inside of my mouth was coated in sand. There was sand in my hair, sand in my clothes, sand in my eyes, nose, mouth, ears and everywhere else. My throat was dry, and burned when I swallowed.
He said something in a language I didn't understand. But I got the message when he jerked my arm. Nice guy, really polite. I decided that he was so kind, I would oblige. Well, that and the really-sharp-and-close-to-my-neck spear was still present. I can't argue with that.
Apparently I wasn't fast enough. The guy jerked me to my feet and dragged me through the sand for several miles. And let me tell you- it hurt! By the time we got to a place resembling civilization, my arm felt like it would fall off. The city stretched out before us, looking at little too much like ancient Egypt. Which is my excuse for what I did then: I fainted.
I woke slowly, my mind groggy and confused. I reached out to turn my alarm clock off, before it could ring, only to find that it wasn't there. Instead, a gentle hand gripped mine.
Be careful. You've been asleep for a long time. Now that was a language I understood, English. I opened my eyes and came face-to-face with a young man. His eyes were light brown and warm, though they looked at me with understanding and concern. Dark brown hair curled about his head and he smiled at me, a crocked grin that was charming and full of life. My name is Rashidi.
Who are you? An original question, I know, but it was the only thing I could think of. Where on earth was I?
I told you my name is Rashidi, I am an artisan here in Egypt. I can understand how you feel; I felt the same way too, long ago. What is your name? Rashidid said. He put his arm behind me and helped prop me up against the wall behind me.
Alanna. Well, that name isn't very Egyptian so we'll have to think of one for you. And there's nothing we can do about that hair, you'll just have to get used to standing out. Rashidi paused, How about Nefertari? Do you like that? It's the name of Ramses II's Great Wife. I figured it would be okay for you to use it seeing as the real Nefertari hasn't been born yet.
Whoa, wait a minute. What are you talking about? I kinda need to go home. I don't need an Egyptian name and I don't need to get used to anything cause I'm not staying. I said. It was a bit more forceful than I would have liked, because Rashidi had been very kind to me. It's just, I wasn't planing on adjusting to life in Egypt of all places. I had no idea how I had even gotten there but I sure as hell wasn't staying.
And what was wrong with my hair? It might be red but surely people have seen red hair before. It wasn't that uncommon.
That's when it hit me. He had said that the wife of Ramses II, a queen from thousands of years ago, wasn't born yet.
Rashidi looked at me kindly, sadness in his eyes. Sanura, I'm sorry. I can't explain it to you because I myself don't understand. But I do know that you won't be going home anytime soon.