Prologue: Picture Perfect

I can still remember the first time I saw her. I can remember the feel of the grass beneath me and the deep blue hue of the sky. I can remember the laughter of the children around me as they enjoyed playing on the jungle gym. I can remember gazing around in boredom at all those around me and that’s when I caught sight of her.

The first thing that drew me in was her care free nature. She seemed to be in her own world, lying on her back somewhere in the middle of the playground. She was unbothered by all the noise around her. She lay there in the middle of the playground, fast asleep. I was glad she was asleep as it gave me free rein to examine her. I envied that smile on her face wondering how someone could be so happy that they actually smiled in their sleep.

For years, I watched her from afar. She was someone special. Her quiet yet effervescent nature, her unassuming confidence and best of all, her genuine smile all drew me in, yet I knew that I never had a chance. Someone special like that will never settle for the likes of me. In fact I didn’t want that. She deserved better and I wanted her to have better. Besides, one of the main things that drew me to her was her modesty. I knew she’ll never agree to a relationship of any sort, even just friendship. Everything about her was perfect. Maybe one day, she would be mine. Even her name suited her perfectly, Haalah. She was the epitome of perfection and the girl of my dreams. Even though, deep down I knew she was unattainable.

Then suddenly, she changed completely. In the space of a week she went from being Haalah, the sweet, modest, straight-A achieving, innocent and quiet girl to Haalah the girl who attended parties, didn’t bother much about anything, least of all her grades, who spoke to everyone and anyone and who didn’t mind flaunting herself. She went from being a loner, to sitting with the ‘it’ clique. Worst of all was seeing her casually chatting to boys. Everytime this happened, it took all I had in me to stop myself from walking over to her and dragging her away by that tuft of hair ‘oh so casually’ sticking out from the front of her hijab. She had no right to do that. The only boy she should be speaking to is me.

Truthfully though, what truly set me of though was seeing her casually flirting with him. That’s when I really felt like hurting her. When she casually touched his arm or giggled at something he said, it was as if an inferno ignited inside me. Sure, he was the most popular guy in the school who all the girls were gaga over and she was on her way to becoming the most popular girl but that didn’t justify it. This was absolutely unacceptable. She was mine and mine only and soon she was going to know, realise and have to accept that. Very, very soon, no matter what it took….


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