header for Layla Fiske
Layla Fiske at her desk

In this scene, Nisrina Huniah, the main character, has just been married to Jabran Yusef, a man she has never met. She has entered her new home, her husband's home, for the first time. It is their wedding night . . .

Entering the darkened room, the sounds from the courtyard faded to a dim, hazy hue. The vinegary odor of women’s sweat mixed with spiced, garlic charms quickly dissipated as the soft, sweet smell of jasmine greeted her senses. Nisrina’s head swooned, the heady aroma engulfing her, softening her. But her languor was short-lived. She heard a thud as the large wooden door closed solidly behind her, the click of the latch speaking final and firm.

Her heart raced. She sensed his presence. He was close. Looming. Her head jerked slightly to the side, away from where he stood. Her body shivering beneath her elaborate gown. Nisrina had left her father’s house and had entered her husband’s abode. No longer the daughter of Isa Huniah, she was now the wife of Jabran Yusef. A stranger in his home, she kept her eyes averted. She passed through the darkened space feeling the heat from his body so near, hearing the pulsing rhythm of his breath—heavy and labored. He moved to the side allowing her to pass. Afraid to meet the gaze of the man to whom she now belonged, her eyes searched around the room, taking in her new surroundings.

The room was filled with flickering shadows cast by a single candle perched lonely on the stone mantel. Her eyes were drawn to a second light fluttering softly from a separate room at the far end of the house. A separate room? What a grand home this must be! Her thoughts struggled to wrap around its meaning. Through the low, narrow doorway she saw the foot of a bed, and her heart beat wildly. She heard her husband’s body shift quietly in the dark, and then his soft, deep voice echoed within the hollows of her ears. “Marhaba,” he welcomed her in, motioning for her to enter his bedroom.

THE FIG ORCHARD, © copyright 2013