THE DEATH TRIALS│10

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"MUST YOU MAKE ME ANGRY every time I see you?"

Zaina lazily opened her eyes, wondering who had spoken mere seconds after the gong had been hit. The sight of a fuming Lilith caused her to sit up quickly, falling out of the bed in the process.

Rolling her eyes and sighing in frustration, Lilith walked into the bathroom. Naima and Khadijah helped her off the floor and into the bathroom. They stripped her and Zaina was led into the bathtub. After they had finished, Zaina was dressed in a simple linen dress.

"Next time, I do not want to come and see you asleep in the dress that you wore to the banquet," Lilith warned her, waving a finger in her direction.

When she was gone, Zaina rolled her eyes and sighed as she got ready to go and eat. Maybe she should have told Anubis about Lilith. She went for breakfast alone when she could not find her hasida. It was a lonely affair; she sat at the end of a table filled with strangers. And when she was done, Anubis was not there to take her back.

"Do you require my assistance?" Mido's gentle voice hissed as he peeked into the tent.

Zaina was about to dismiss him when she remembered her conversation with Anubis. "As a matter of fact, I do."

Mido looked as though he wanted to do anything else but enter the tent but he did anyway. Stepping through, he glanced everywhere but at the young woman sitting on the bed.

"Have you been avoiding me?" Zaina asked, her voice soft.

"Why would I do that when I have been assigned to you?" he asked, his head turned downwards towards the carpet beneath his feet.

"Well, you're not even looking at me right now," Zaina answered as she sat up.

He laughed, a bitter sound escaping his lips. "I do not need to look at you to answer your questions."

"Mido─," she begun as she stood up only to be interrupted by him.

"Don't! I already told you, I have no identity here," he hissed sharply, the sound jarring her eardrums.

"So what should I call you then?" Zaina asked softly, taking a step forward with an outstretched hand.

"Nothing, for that is what I am," he answered as he lifted his head.

The tent grew quiet as they both stood still, silenced by his words.

"Is that all?" he asked tersely.

Zaina nodded, knowing he would not be accommodating if she were to ask him about the cat.

"Words," he whispered and with a quick bow, he exited the tent, leaving Zaina confused and alone once more.

With a sigh, Zaina got onto the bed, her thoughts trained on her family. She thought of Jabari, her older no-nonsense brother and her older sister who was the female replica of him. Then, she thought of her twin brothers who came after her and the trouble they always seemed to cause and land themselves in. Her younger sister came into mind, and Zaina smiled, recalling all the times they spent together. When she remembered her youngest brother, she was surprised when it came without annoyance. After all, all he ever did was cry, eat and sleep. She burst into tears at the thought of her parents; even though they weren't the wealthiest of people, they always managed to provide for them all, even if it meant going to bed on empty stomachs.

A tear escaped her left eye and she squeezed them both shut. Maybe she was selfish for doing this, after all, what was she bringing to the table? An extra mouth to feed? Unlike Jabari and Hanna, Zaina did not have a job. But she was too selfish to give up her pursuit of seeing her family again. When she got back, she would get a job and make sure she pulled her weight. She would ensure that her parents' never went to bed hungry again. With her mind made up, Zaina slipped into a slumber.

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