Fiction with Faustine: A Journey Into The World Of Moroccan Soccer: Part 4
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part four below.
I walked up the stairs slowly, on the tip of my toes, hoping my mother wouldn't hear that I had gotten back from school. My father was still at work.
As I reached the landing, I held my breath. I was only a few feet away from our apartment door, and I knew the walls were thin. If my parents found out that I had been snooping around in someone else's business, I would get in serious trouble.
As expected, the door was unlocked. No one had even bothered locking the door after the formal investigation. I slipped in quietly, with ease, as I had done a million times before. The police had barely searched the place because everything seemed to be in the same place as before. Only the box of pills was missing from the coffee table by the couch.
I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for, but I knew I only had a few minutes before I was expected home from school. I headed to the desk facing the wall in the back corner of the apartment. I had seen Monsieur Larbi sitting there many times when I came to bring him food.
I sat down in the chair and ran my fingers across the desk's smooth, wooden surface. I stared at the uneven layers of faded yellow peeling off the wall in front of me, a consequence of the blistering heat that made walls crack and shed coats of paint like snakes stripped of their skin.
There were two small shelves leaning against the wall. One of them contained blank sheets of paper; the other held a neat pile of envelopes. The fountain pen lying on the desk looked obsolete, but it was the only writing instrument I saw. A small bottle of black china ink was still uncapped underneath the shelving, confirming my suspicions.
I picked up the pen and dipped it in the dried-out bottle of ink. I tried imagining what Monsieur Larbi had felt as he composed his farewell letter, knowing it would be the very last time he wrote anything down, surrendering to the tragic fate God had in store for him...
Deep in thought, I almost forgot about the reason for which I had trespassed into his apartment. I scanned the room for clues, but nothing caught my eye. As I got up from the desk, I noticed very thin drawer below the surface of the table, which I had failed to see initially. My heart started to beat rapidly, in anticipation of the findings this secret drawer would unearth.
I pulled out a tightly bound leather notebook, and a large folder, the kind schoolteachers use to carry around students' exams. With the tips of my fingers I felt plastic tabs on the inside of the notebook. I opened it to confirm that I had indeed found Ben Barek's address book. What luck! The folder contained a stack of letters from none other than Hassan. I would surely be able to locate him now that I had all of this information! Content with my findings, I stuck the address book and the folder into my school bag, and left the apartment as silently as I had come in.
The more he thought about it, the more Tarik was thrilled with his idea. It would take some planning, but he was confident it would work. Souad always played with a cap to hide her hair when they were out in the evenings together, in case someone saw them. Many of the boys on the team also played with caps; she would fit right in. Thankfully, tonight was one of the nights Souad was coming over to "study." As Tarik stared out of the dirty windows of the bus, he could clearly picture her face, lighting up with a huge smile, when he shared the news with her. The prospect kept him so entranced that he almost missed his stop.
That evening, as always, Tarik and Souad went out to their secret lot to kick the ball around. He brought the uniform in his backpack, waiting until they had arrived to surprise her.
"Are you sure this will work Tarik?" Souad seemed anxious--not the reaction he had expected from her.
"Of course! You're as tall as my younger brother Karim, and he's still pretty skinny, like you." They both laughed when he said this.
This seemed to reassure Souad, and they resumed their play. That evening they were working on curving the ball in the air. Tarik was especially good at it because he played left wing in the high school games, and often crossed the ball into the box for the forwards to score with a header or a volley.
On their way home, Tarik went over the final details: "Meet at the field behind the school at three o'clock. You'll probably be playing forward. And make sure you respond to Karim!"
As they parted, Souad grabbed his hand and gave it a tight squeeze.
"Thank you, Tarik."
The smile he had been waiting for all evening illuminated her face in the darkness.
Pretending to do my homework, I pulled out the address book and started flipping through the pages. It was organized alphabetically by last name, so I had to go through every individual page in order to find anyone by the name of Hassan.
In fact, there were three individuals named Hassan in the address book. I hadn't thought about that beforehand, but Hassan was a common name in Morocco and it was more than likely to occur several times in anyone's address book. One of the entries was crossed out, indicating that the man had passed away. That made matters a little simpler. With only two people to choose from, I had higher odds of tracking down the correct one.
The first entry, Hassan Choukri, indicated a phone number from Casablanca. Although that would have been convenient, I highly doubted that the Hassan in question lived in Casablanca because he would have paid his friend a visit instead of writing to him.
The second entry was a so-called Hassan Mdaghri, living in Rabat. I opened up the folder and looked for the most recent letter. At the top I read "August 4th 1992, Rabat". I knew I was on the right track. I scribbled down the man's telephone number and address in my notebook and tried focusing on my math homework, but my mind was elsewhere.
Souad still had a big problem to solve. How would she explain her absence to her mother on Friday afternoon? She imagined scenario after scenario, but none of them sounded right. Plus, she hated lying to her mother. It was already hard enough pretending to do schoolwork once a month with Tarik, but at least that story was partially true. She would have to come up with a bigger lie this time, and conceal her true identity from everybody. These thoughts made her so nervous she could feel a huge pit in her stomach growing by the second.
As she was getting ready to go to bed, she heard her mother yelling from the kitchen:
"Souad, Don't forget! Your cousin Malika has invited you to her house on Friday afternoon to drink tea and eat pastillas to celebrate her birthday."
What luck! Her mother had magically solved the problem for her. Malika and Souad didn't get along that well; Malika would not even notice her absence from the big birthday celebration. Maybe God was on her side, after all. Maybe he did want her to play football, just this once? She quickly shoved these thoughts aside as she slipped into bed. It was never a good idea to get God involved in something like this.
She waited patiently until her brothers were sound asleep to get the uniform out from its hiding place under the bed. She admired the red and white stripes that reflected the beams of moonlight shining through the cracks in the wall, turning the jersey over in her hands several times, as if to make sure it were real. That night, she dreamt she was dribbling at speed, breaking away from the defenders, skillfully finding the back of the net, the ball escaping the diving goalkeeper's hands.
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