Chapter 7: Unbelievable

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The bell rings and we head out for recess. I feel like a bull in a ring, capable of goring the first person that crosses my path. I feel enraged but, at the same time, so proud of everything Juan said. The dictators come trooping towards him and I hold my breath:

"Why don't you want us to help Fátima?" they ask him.

That's my call to action. I'm tired of them their putting words in other people's mouths. This group of human rights and absent-classmate defenders are experts in twisting the truth.

"Juan never said that," I clarify.

"And what does it matter to you?" Gonzalo snaps back at me.

"I see you're very concerned about women's rights, Gonzalo, I can tell by the way you treat me. You give a pathetic little pep talk about women's rights but girls like me, who don't buy your bullshit, deserve to made fun of, threatened, ignore... You can all go to hell."

They start getting nervous again, it's obvious this wasn't in their script. Then suddenly, silence. A look of "If I could make you disappear right now, I would" crosses their faces. Gonzalo changes to a more peaceful tone and puts on a false voice, explaining:

"Thing is, I was asking Juan."

"Juan's my friend, as you well know, don't give me that bullshit. You also know Fátima is our friend and you have never, in all these years, taken an interest in her whatsoever. And now you come up with this little humanitarian superstars performance..."

"Well if you're such good friends, why are you doing nothing about it?"

"Doing nothing? You know jack shit about her life and what we're doing..." I say, furious.

"So why don't we do something together then?" proposes Sandra. "We can organize a big event with lots of people and tell them about the reality of forced marriages around the world. You can play a video of Fátima or say something more personal at the end."

Juan and I look at each other. It's not a bad idea and, what's more, it paves the way for our plan. Or serves it up on a plate, more like.

"Alright, it's not a bad idea and for once in our lives we can do something together."

"Okay, we'll organize the whole event and you just add Fátima's video at the end. We were thinking of doing it next month. Do you think Fátima can record something by then?"

Without hesitating, Juan and I say in unison:


They walk away and we catch a few words:

"Those losers... What else could we do? This way it'll be cooler, anyway."

That night, we head to Menorca. We tell Diego and Marina about what happened back at school and Fátima joins us online. My mom makes a great gazpacho as a refreshment. She stays with us for a while after she puts my little brother to bed.

She's really impressed by what I said to the monarchy.

"Really, Judith? You said all that to them?"

"I sure did, Mom. I was so angry at the hypocrisy of it all that I couldn't hold it in any longer. I was always too scared to say anything before, but something's changed."

Fátima joins in:

"I would never have thought my life or situation would matter so much to them.

Turns out they were my best friends all along."

We all laugh.

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