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I could see his eyes begging me to approve. This must be the seventh or eighth apartment we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks. The other apartments were either too small or had problems with one of the utilities, and I was not going to be spending any money on fixing something that should have been installed properly to begin with. 

My heals tapped on the hardwood floors as I stepped in to have another look at the spacious bedrooms. I checked the lights in the walk-in closet, and made sure the bathrooms were in pristine condition. I found my way back to the main hall, the crystal chandelier bathing me with its white light.

“What’s the catch?” I crossed my arms and searched his eyes for answers.

“Catch?” Ali shrugged.

“I’m surprised a place like this would be within our budget,” I told him as he went to  have a look in the kitchen, I followed.

“Mounir told me the guy is immigrating to Canada or something, and needs the money as soon as possible,” he replied.

“I don’t know, Ali.” 

He walked up to me, holding me by the shoulders, “listen, we’ve been searching for weeks,” he lifted his index finger, “Amr is driving your mother crazy,” I imagined my 3 year old son causing havoc as he lifted a second finger, “and I don’t think we will find a place like this at the price this guy is offering,” he said as he lifted his third finger. 

“Maha, do you like it?” His charcoal eyes pierced through mine.

“I love it, but…” he placed his finger over my lips before I could voice my doubts.

“When can we call the movers?” A wide smile drew itself across his face as he leaned forward to kiss my forehead.

The movers finally brought up the last of our boxes. Lady, our beloved Golden Retriever, walked between the boxes wagging her tail. I left Amr at Mom’s again, I could only deal with one or the other with the movers around. 

Unpacking is a task done with the tunes of Fairouz in the background. I searched through my phone and selected my favourite playlist. As I hummed and sang out of tune, I began releasing the kitchen items from their cardboard prisons.

The hours passed and the kitchen was all set.

 “Time for some tea, right girl?” Lady gave me an approving bark. I kneeled down to scratch behind her ears before I went over to fill the kettle with water from the sink. 

Golden Retriever 

The phone’s ringtone interrupted the melancholic melodies, I swiped to answer the call on speaker.

“Hey babe, how’s the unpacking?” Ali’s joyful voice seeped through the speaker.

“A bit slow, I need your help here,” my finger traced the lines on the marble counter.

“I’m on my way. Want me to grab us something to eat?” My stomach growled at the mention of food.

“That sounds amazing!”

“Anything in particular?” he asked.

“I’m good with whatever, just not chicken or pizza.”

“I’ll figure it out. See you soon.”

“Ok, bye.” 

The melancholic tunes resumed. Lady sat in front of me with her puppy dog eyes.

“You must be hungry too, huh?” Lady gave me another joyful bark. I walked over to the cabinet and pulled out her treats. Lady jumped with joy.

A rapid knock on the door made my heart leap. 

Who could it be? Probably one of the neighbors. As I made my way to the front door, Lady kept getting in my way.

“Lady, stay!” 

By the time I reached the door, she snatched my pant leg and began to pull me away from the door, nearly tripping me over. I straightened and glared at her.

“Lady, no! Bad dog!” 

She let go and whimpered; another rapid knock startled me and made Lady growl. 

“I’m coming,” I called as I reached for the door knob and opened the door. 

No one was there.

Kids these days have no respect.

I slammed the door shut and turned around to find Lady backing up slowly towards the far end of the hall, her tail tucked between her legs. 

What’s wrong with her?

The whistling of the kettle announced that my drink would be ready in moments. I went to the kitchen and poured the scorching hot water into my favorite mug, I pulled down the sugar and tea from the cabinet. 

Tea

As I lowered the tea bag into the hot water, I felt a cold breath down my neck, sending a chill down my spine. I glanced back at Lady, her eyes were wide and filled with fear, she stared at the space behind me.

“Lady, come here girl,” Lady whimpered.

That’s odd! She always comes when I call her.

At that moment, I felt a hand clasp my shoulder, I spun around to find nothing behind me. My heartbeat pulsed in my ears. My hand released the mug, shattering it. I snatched my phone and fumbled with the touch screen to call Ali.

My heart quivered with the tone of each beep.

Pick up, Please!

No answer.

Damn it!

Seconds later, I felt a frigid finger run up my spine, I screamed and dashed outside to the kitchen, Lady followed me to the master bedroom. I huddled myself into a corner, and wrapped my arms tightly around Lady. My hand still clenched to my phone, I tried calling Ali again as tears welled in my eyes.

“Hey,” his usual joyful tone.

“Ali, Thank God!” tears rolled down my cheeks.

“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” His voice soothed my racing heart.

“N-no, no I’m fine,” I wiped the tears off my face, “It’s just … there is something w-weird in this ap-p-partment.”

“What do you mean?” I heard footsteps inching closer to the room, my blood ran cold in my veins.

“I … I don’t know, b-but there is something here,” I kept my eyes fixed on the bedroom door.

“Something or someone?”

“I don’t know, I-I can’t see it,” I heard a sigh outside the room, my whole body tensed.

“Ali, we-we’re scared, where are you?” I hugged Lady searching for any source of comfort.

“I’m almost there, just a couple of minutes,” his stern voice reassured me.

“Please hurry.”

I ended the call and waited in the corner, then it dawned on me. I frantically searched for the only thing I knew would be my salvation. One final touch to the screen and an angelic voice filled the room with sacred verses.

I clasped my hands over my ears as I heard an agonizing wail that pierced through my heart. A dark shrouded figure stumbled into the room, it’s neon green eyes searched for the source of its demise. Its eyes locked onto mine, I felt its anger burn through me. Before I could scream, it doubled down on its knees letting out a final cry. 

I opened my eyes to find Ali shaking me. “Maha! Can you hear me?!” his panicked voice pulled me back to consciousness. I placed a trembling hand on his shoulder. 

“Let’s call the movers.”