She was hesitant to leave her camel with strangers at the hotel, she was saying she never been separated from her Camel, Atiya. But it isn’t like we could bring it up here, so I asked her in Arabic “what’s your name”, She smiled and answered “my name is Layali Sahar Hanania but I am called Shadiyah ” her nick name meant singer in Arabic, a perfect match, I told all the other girls her name, while handing her some of my long sleeved pajamas, while we all changed.
“ Do you know any English?” I asked her and she nodded, “ Ja, I know a lot, my mother taught me some, “she said heavily accented
“ Do you want to speak in English?” She said Okay
“ How long have you been dancing?” I asked her
“ As long as I been walking,” she replied smiling softly.
I waited another second then asked her
“ What about your family, your fathers brother how come you haven’t seen him in so long” she had a painful look.
Her face had a dazed of face as she told us all the her story in her accented English
“ They were killed by bandits who didn’t steal anything but their lives and my family”, tears welled up in her eyes as she stopped, seeing if she could continue, we nodded our heads, “I was lost in the desert for weeks only with Atiya, we lived off of desert water and fruit, we were captured one night in our sleep, we were sold together in a slave market” she looked pain by the memory.
“ I escaped a couple months later, before something truly horrible happened, although I have the scars and their not beautiful, they tell my story to me” she lifted her sleeve all the way up and traced her scars that were jagged scars on her beautiful skin, she had some tattoos. I pointed to the tattoos “oh these are the markings of my family, I were them, because my father and mother had them” she said.
She started to continue the story still tracing her scars, “once I escaped, I saw everything differently, I should use my life for something more than being depressed, so I face reality and I finally understood what had happened, so I learned to grow up, I faced the past and walked towards the future, I followed the stars, which led me to a new city and at every city I danced in my family’s memory, keeping them in my heart” she smiled at the memory, I gave her a big hug and smiled softly
We started trying to imagine that suffering and pain, but I couldn’t, she returned the hug with lots of emotion.
“Group Hug” Yelled one of the girls and, then bodies tackled our hug, She laughed softly, Her face turned into a shocked look “ Oh, I am sorry I didn’t expect to tell you my whole life, but I haven’t told anyone that since they passed, and it felt so good to just let it go” she laughed and stood up, “ can you not tell my life story, I do not like pity” we all said yes, “our secret” said Eliza.
“ So I don’t know anyone’s names”, said Layali, all five of us sat in a circle.
“ you already know, but I am Claire Taylor, and this is Meagan Balaon and her cousin Eliza Balaon, and last of all is Amy Dayton” The Balaon girls looked like twins with dirty blond hair and dark brown eyes, I looked like my brother Luke with but blue eyes and the same blond hair, but Amy’s family from Scotland, she’s a redhead with green eyes.
Layali got my attention again “ what are you doing in this vast land” waving her arms toward the window.
Boy wasn’t that a story to tell.
“ Branson High, my school does a trip to somewhere exotic or somewhere unexpected for the juniors and this was unexpected when they told us, everyone was upset, but I liked the idea of it, but it isn’t like movies and books to say it is a beautiful place, it…uh”
“Holds a hidden beauty almost” she answered for me and I nodded, she smiled “ have you seen a sunset here” once again pointing towards the window she asked us all and the other girls all said “no”. She laughed “you haven’t seen the Sahara’s true beauty if you haven’t seen this”.
She opened the window and jumped out, like seriously jumped out of the 4 story building, and we were on the fourth floor!
“ Layali!” we all screamed and looked out she was not anywhere in sight, With our scream, they all ran in the room, everyone came in all the girls and boys, they all saw us in our pj’s, And Dylan, the boy I like a little (okay a lot) and I was wearing my most un modest pj’s. Just great, kill me now.
I looked out, dragging most of my body out calling her name, while people below looked at me weird , my brother pulled me and we landed on the floor back and Swoop!
She was hanging upside down, and some of her black curls fell out, her eye cover also fell off “ look!” she pointed to the sun it was beautiful.
The sun reflected off the sand and it shined, it was absolutely breathtaking.
Taking out our phones and cameras we took many pictures.
Once she came down and everyone left, she took of her headscarf.
Her hair fell out like water, it was pitch black but a silver curl stood out, like seeing the moon in the black sky.
Her eyes were amazing they looked like you saw an ocean and not your reflection. “Your hair did you Dye it?” asked Meagan, “ Na, my mother and her mother and on and on had one single silver lock” as she gently pulled on her silver lock of hair.
“ What about your eyes where did you get them” I asked “ my mother isn’t from here she is from the Netherlands”. All the girls they nodded “ how did they meet” Cindy asked. We sat down while she talked “ I may be really direct I haven’t talked to people in a while so here I go” she said “ my mother wasn’t originally from the Netherlands, she was from a distant land but her parents were found dead in Netherlands, they were in a car accident, but she was taken in by wicked people”.
She paused “she was treated horribly so at 14 and ran away, to a place where she couldn’t be found, she boarded a plane which held animals as cargo she had snuck on and ended up in Africa where she traveled the desert until someone found her, my father, who was an orphan, when his parents got buried in quick sand”.
“He was taken in by my uncles family at 14 years old they meet when they were both 15, they got married when both of them were they turned 16 and had me at 16”
It sounded like a true Cinderella tale, and Romeo and Juliet.
Layali stood up and said in broken English“ Want to dance”, we nodded.
She took our hands and started to dance, and show us how too.
Her knee length hair flowing and her smile shining along with our laughs, we danced until we were so tired and we fell asleep, on the cushiony bed, I shared with Layali.