When it comes to forbidden books customers are easy to find. There are men who like a touch of the erotic and others who feed on politics. Don’t misunderstand me, for a bookseller such as I, this is a good thing. Human nature is a belligerent beast and the more a regime bans books the stronger the desire to own them. For some obtaining illegal books is a quest. In Iran there are collectors who would die for a book. Tell a man he can’t have something and, of course, he will want it even more. Let’s face it, when you can’t bed the woman with jewels in her eyes you still dream of having her. But believe me when I tell you, selling books is a dangerous occupation and is only for the brave.
It started on a Tuesday. We were happy, Hamid and I, eating Persian shirini, the two of us flicking pastry crumbs at each other like small boys. The bookshop was quiet and while Hamid chased the local cats away I retreated to the cellar. Some consider a cellar to be a dark gloomy little place but ours was lit by the power of imagination and filled with big ideas. In this tiny space we stored illegal and controversial books.
Glad to escape the thick heat of Enqelab Street, I sat on a carved wooden box and began to read. Stacked high like towers were the many Bibles that would be sold to young Iranians, a group of dissidents disillusioned with the regime, their own religion and the old ways of being. In the half-light of the cellar we held our Bible sessions every Saturday, not Sunday, singing hymns, reading aloud. We were anxious on those days. One member of our group had already been imprisoned for abandoning Islam and proclaiming her love for God.
They were difficult times. You could feel it. In the shadows Christians were being born and in the city the mood was dark and quiet. There was unrest, a rising new generation of activists and Hamid and I hoped the day would come when there would be freedom, a democracy, and the regime would be toppled by its own people. ‘Freedom,’ said Hamid, defiantly, ‘Books are our freedom. Young people will read our books and know the truth. First it will be a quiet fight, then we will be heard. You see, my friend, it will happen.’ We were proud. At the centre of it all was our little bookshop and although we never spoke of it, we feared the day when word would spread too far and our secret would be out.
When that day came Hamid went quietly, not telling the militia that I was down below. I will never forget the thud of books slamming on walls and the ringing of the till smashing on the floor. Emerging from the cellar clutching a book by Salman Rushdie, I saw the shop destroyed and my friend was gone. Torn pages floated from the shelves, the corpses of books were strewn on the floor and damaged spines bore the footprints of the militia. Through the dusty streets of Tehran I wept and sobbed for my friend, eventually reaching my uncle’s house where I was given money and sent to a man with a truck.
The journey to England was difficult and long and there were others, women, children and men who lay in lines beneath a plastic sheet, toes touching. Through it all I clung to my book. In my own country a copy of The Satanic Verses is a rare and precious prize and in the dark of the truck I removed a torch from my pocket and read a little.
Elbows knocking, we shared and breathed the same dirty air. They whispered to one another, the families, but then after many hours the whispering ceased because the girl next to me, a skinny child aged six, stopped breathing and her body turned stiff and cold. Freedom became torture and the mother wailed and wondered why they had left at all. Maybe life wasn’t been that bad before, she said, clambering over me to embrace the child with ebony hair. The child’s father didn’t look sad. His face was stripped bare and his voice flat. ‘I spit on a regime that plays God,’ he said.
On a sunny day we found ourselves in London, a civilised city full of lost men. In the blinding light we fell with bloodied knees, heads raised like worshippers at church. Bewildered officials wanted to know about the book. The book, now tatty and worn, had one red corner curled like a tongue. Together I, Sami Banan, and my book had travelled 3,000 miles from Enqelab Street in Tehran, a street name that means revolution in my own language, but if I had been part of a revolution I’m not sure if I had lost or won.
Although my English is fair and I’m the product of a university education I couldn’t make them understand. The border agency breathed impossible questions and put me on a train to a place with an unfamiliar name. On the train I jerked and floated away. The girl opposite was also reading, a book by Marquez. Nice hair and pale skin, a top streaked like grey marble. A chain dangled on her chest and emphasised the length of her beautiful neck. I have always liked a woman’s neck, the way it dips and curves beneath a delicate jaw. I watched her. I dreamed awake and when she smiled my cheeks turned red. In a clumsy effort to hide my thoughts I looked around. So many people were reading and I was suddenly happy to be in a world where books were free as the birds.
Outside it was almost dark and although it wasn’t cold, I shivered. There was something about carriage C, something that made me feel uneasy. I can only describe it as a terrible tension, a looming atmosphere. I considered moving to another carriage, another seat away from the girl. I wanted to be rid of her and to touch her at the same time. There was a sense of heaviness in the air but I dismissed it and pushed the thoughts away. I told myself it was the damned English weather; it can cause depression in the happiest man, and then Hamid was on my mind again. I didn’t know if my friend was dead, or alive. Better to be dead. Better to be dead than tortured. Thank God there was no wife or children for they too would suffer because of a book.
Perhaps the girl sensed something was wrong. A shadow spread across her face and I was considering what I might say when I saw a flash. This was quickly followed by a rattle and a distant boom. Lightning, I told myself. Yellow and orange light flickered and then was gone. The girl saw it too, her face shone bright and her eyes sparked like fireworks. Then came the sound of screeching metal, the train juddered and the lights dimmed. Again the lights glowed and faded out. A fierce crack and I felt the ground rumble beneath like an earthquake. Women screamed. The floor lifted. In the dark something hit my head, a trickle of blood wound round my eye and tipped from my nose. Clinging to my seat I pushed the book beneath my shirt. The train crunched and halted. Clawing in the blackness, I knew the table had vanished and so had the girl.
‘Where are you?’ I called. ‘Where are you?’
‘Here! Here! Help me! God help us!’ Cries came from all directions. I gripped the velvet seat. It was no good because the carriage tilted again and took me with it. Aware that my legs were higher than my body I reached deep inside my trouser pocket and pulled out the little torch. A flying suitcase smacked my jaw, its contents exploding in the air. Books in the aisle, so many books, crystals of glass, tables wrenched from the floor, plastic cups, laptop screens glowed and tinkled in the dark. People were fighting to get through a window at the end. Twisted metal growled and moved as the train carcass turned in on us. Struggling to stand, I pulled a sheet of jagged metal with my bare hands, felt it puncture my skin. Confused, I clambered over the debris and rubbed the grit from my eyes.
Past the metal skeletons of remaining seats, I stumbled. Tables uprooted like trees in a storm; my canvas pumps were torn and shredded, a swollen toe poked through. The smell of diesel was strong and flipped my stomach sick. Blood was smeared on the floor, only then I realised it wasn’t the floor at all. Upside down, I knew the train was upside down. I thought of the moment when the train stopped, how my body had continued to move, thrust forward, my back twisting, my legs flying out until they locked with cramp. I stood still for a few seconds frozen with shock and then carried on. My torch found an arm, but there was no sign of the body it belonged to. This part of the train was folded in and forced to crawl through a tunnel of collapsed walls I could taste metal and blood.
Wrapped around a seat like a sari was the body of a young woman but her eyes were the empty eyes of the dead. I recognised her. The woman with brown tortoiseshell glasses had moved her case to let me pass. She was reading The Da Vinci Code. I remembered it because that was another book hidden underground.
From behind came a voice and I saw the trembling silhouette of a man.
‘You need to get out mate,’ he said. ‘You need to come with us. The whole lot might cave in.’
I moved the torch slowly and watched the tiny ball of light roll around the dark walls like a lazy eye. ‘I have to find someone,’ I stammered.
‘I’ll get help,’ the man called to me, staggering from side to side. ‘I’ll get help.’
I made my way back along carriage C. At the far end the collapsed carriage formed a metal tent and sitting in this horrific triangle was the girl. Blonde hair tangled and soaked with blood, she was crying and her eyes rapidly blinked in the light. ‘I can’t move,’ she said. ‘My leg.’
Unable to stand, I crawled forward on my belly, tiny shards of glass needling my palms. The space was small and the metal creaked and bowed.
‘Go,’ she said, her eyes closing. ‘‘Just leave me.’
Shining the torch over the girl I could see her hand pressed hard on her thigh and a metal pole had entered her leg. Every now and then she winced with the pain.
‘What’s your name?’ I asked, catching my breath. I pulled the light away and tried not to react. It was best the girl didn’t see. The skin on her leg was missing, revealing a well of blood.
Her voice was barely audible. ‘Ayesha.’
‘We need to wait,’ I said, ‘wait for help.’
‘You don’t have to stay.’
Carefully I lodged the torch between the metal debris and attempted to sit up. I could hear the distant cries of people, metal screeching and grinding. By now I felt as though I might be sick. I blocked it out. Crouched down, I remembered the book. It was still under my shirt pressed against my chest. I could feel the hard edges welded to my skin. I pulled and peeled the book free. ‘My name is Sami.’
The air was thick with dust and the girl choked and coughed. Then her head lolled forward as if it weighed too much for her body and her eyes seemed sleepy. Tentatively I prodded her face. Eyes snapped open. We listened to metal clanging and the deafening sound of walls crashing down. ‘I’m a student,’ she said, her voice shaking. It was a strange thing to say but I didn’t mind because we were both crazy with fright. The roof bowed down until it almost touched our heads. Placing one hand on the metal arc I watched the space grow smaller and smaller, metal plates closing in, our bodies shrinking and bent. Realising that no man can bear the weight of a train, only the world, I let my hand fall to my knee, but all the time my eyes were fixed on that metal sheet above. With every sound I was convinced it was the end for me and the girl with the slender neck.
‘You will be fine’ I said, softly, trying to reassure her. ‘People will come for us.’
The girl shuddered. ‘I had a bad feeling about this train today.’
‘Me too. I nearly got off.’
‘Thank God, you didn’t.’
‘Thank God,’ I answered, laughing a little, trying to lift her mood.
Her eyes were full of water, a circle of blue, heavy eyelids drooping milky white.
‘Are we in a tunnel, the train, is it in a tunnel?’
‘I don’t know… I think so.’ I tapped the book with my finger.
‘What’s the book?’ she asked, her eyes fixed on the cover.
‘The Satanic Verses. Not just a book. In my country this is so much more, a symbol, a sign. Freedom.’ I sighed and repeated it again. ‘Freedom is everything.’
With a small look that lasted just seconds I could see she was wary of me and my grand speech. Her expression suggested disbelief and despair. She couldn’t conceal it. I’m not sure she liked me much and I was convinced my words and my honesty annoyed her. But I couldn’t help myself. I’m an open man and have never been shy of saying what I feel. Us Iranians are well known for being romantic, dramatic, prone to exaggerated gestures, and every Iranian I have ever met has always enjoyed the telling of a good story. Not looking at me, realising I was trying to read her, she descended into polite small talk. ‘Where are you from?’
‘Tehran.’ I wondered if she knew anything about geography. ‘You know where it is?’
If she knew the place she didn’t say. ‘How long have you been here?’
‘Five days.’ I laughed hysterically. ‘Five days and someone decides a free life is not for me, after all.’
I shone the torch on her face. Her lips were blue as ink. ‘We should turn this off and save the light. You won’t be afraid, or go to sleep?’
‘No,’ she promised, blinking. ‘I won’t go to sleep.’
‘Let’s talk’ I said, flicking the torch off. She didn’t reply and so I continued on. ‘I have been known to send my own mother to sleep through talking and believe me that is a difficult thing for a man to admit.’
The girl tried to move, adjust her position. She shifted slightly, but the pole fastened her to the body of the train and she returned to the same pose, her head falling on my shoulder. In the dark she fumbled for my arm and from her breathing I knew she was in terrible pain.
‘Do you think we’ll get out?’ she whispered. ’Really, I mean, honestly.’
‘I don’t know.’ I hesitated and then quickly reassured her like it is the duty of men to do. ‘We’ll get you out. You’ll see.’
‘You go,’ she repeated, ‘while you can. I’m not afraid. Please, leave me. Let me go to sleep.’
Exasperated, I shouted: ‘You can’t give up!’ I wanted to tell her about the girl in the truck, but words seemed too small and instead I coughed the dust from my mouth. Every night I dream of the girl in the truck. In my dream she is beside me, cold with death, and her hair keeps growing, trailing down past her feet, over my feet, wrapping around me so tight I can hardly breathe. I know where this dream comes from. I read it somewhere, a story about a girl in a burial crypt. Two hundred years she was there. They dug her out, uncovered a skull with gleaming copper hair. Hair grows one centimetre a month after death. I read that too. The girl in the crypt had hair twenty metres long.
A noticeable silence spread and she withdrew from me, not physically, but I could feel her slipping away there in the quiet. Unable to bear her indifference to me I grew uncomfortable and infuriated. She veiled herself in a way that made her impenetrable and in total despair I screamed out in a voice as jagged as tin: ‘Say something! For God’s sake, say something!’ I shook her hard, wanting a reaction. Whether she responded with hate, contempt, even if she thought I was insane, I didn’t care, as long as her reaction told me we were both still alive. In desperation I clasped her face and her neck with both hands, sliding my fingers over the ridge of her collar bone down to her chest. Touching her lasted just moments for she threw her head back, the wall behind shuddered and the metal howled. ‘Sorry.’ I wailed like a small boy. ‘Sorry. Sorry.’
In the darkness confused sounds erupted from her mouth.
‘Where am I?’ Her body jolted and an arm shot out and struck my chest. ‘Oh my God!’
‘Give me your hand,’ I instructed her. ‘Where’s your hand?’
She grabbed my fingers and gripped so hard I could feel a nail jab my palm. ‘I’m running, running away,’ she said. ‘I have a bag and there is nothing in it except a book, some money and a set of keys to my mother’s house. I didn’t even pack. Not properly.’
‘Who are you running from?’ My words were sliced by a falling piece of metal that rang through the carriage like a death bell. I looked down the aisle and switched on the little torch. Jagged metal swayed and danced. Thick dust particles sparkled like confetti and floated in our stinging eyes. ‘I can’t see,’ I said, ‘even with the light.’
Ayesha’s voice appeared again, as if from nowhere, travelling like waves, in and out.
‘What time is it? What’s the time? I’ve lost my phone.’
Green light tinged the metal walls jade and brown, colours bled. Here the world resembled a slow, dirty puddle, swimming with oil. At the edge of it all was me and the girl looking in, our reflections distorted and trembling. The smell of stagnant water hit my throat and I gagged.
‘My mother will be looking for me. I ran away. I’m running away. She’ll be looking for me.’ She looked up and her mouth was open. The roof of metal touched our heads. ‘We can’t move,’ she announced. ‘We both know we are trapped.’
‘Trapped? Trapped?’ I repeated myself over and over, not believing it. ‘This is a word we use in Iran. We aren’t trapped. No one in England is trapped.’
In that metal tomb we fell silent, not knowing what to say or do. Like a mechanical doll her head rocked forward and back, metal pounding like a drum. Suddenly she stopped. Gripping her stomach tight she said: ‘My baby will die. I know my baby will die.’
Soft and round, a perfect dome of moon white, her belly bulged beneath a torn top.
‘I ran away and now this is my punishment, to die on a train. I never told my mother. Religious, Catholic, you know.’
I stared at her stomach as if she was the virgin herself. ‘I’m a Christian.’ I was relieved to say it. I said it again and again. ‘In my country you don’t tell anyone you are a Christian. ’
The girl didn’t care for religion. She circled her belly with her fingers. ‘I’m not sure any God can hear you down here,’ she blurted.
I couldn’t think straight. My head was polluted with dust and oil, contaminated with muddled thoughts. ‘You need to tell your mother.’
‘I can’t. No one wants their parents to think them evil. Do you tell your mother everything?’
To see my mother, that’s what I wanted at that moment, to go back and explain. I plotted the past out in my head, like a graph of events, highs and lows. Habibeh is my mother’s name. My mother is a short, slight woman with sad eyes, generous in nature, inclined to forgive the worst of men. My mother has always chided me for being a curious child. Once she found me reading a book hidden in the kitchen store. I had expected to find recipes, not poems of love and war. There was no obvious punishment, the book was returned to the same shelf and my mother returned to her work. Jet black hair, thick as rope, she wore a plait down her back and I never once saw her hair loose and free.
When the authorities questioned her she would think about the small boy who read her secret book. And then there were my three brothers, all younger than me. I feared what would happen to them, especially my little brother Navid, a chubby boy of ten, who I often walked to school. He wouldn’t understand. My father, Morteza Banan, a proud and fierce man, would be mourning the loss of a son, talking about the old days in his usual way, asking himself why I had abandoned it all for a book. A famous architect in Tehran, he had spent years constructing the perfect home. He didn’t know he had a Christian for a son.
Curiosity had driven me through life, my mother was right, and now I was curious about the girl.
‘What about the father of your baby?’
‘Married – I don’t know why I’m telling you this. None of it matters now.’
She moved her arm slightly and I think she was afraid of me, afraid she’d be buried alive with a mental man from Iran. Metal sighed and spilled a storm of glitter dust. ‘My back is hurting. Everything is hurting.’
‘Let me read to you,’ I said. ‘Let me read the book.’
‘I don’t know if I want to listen to a book.’ She put a finger to her mouth, sucked it and then bit a crescent of nail.
‘We have to help each other, yes? The main thing is we stay awake.’
Her face rippled with pain. Fists clenched, she contained the agony in her hands until her knuckles popped white. Then she breathed hard and clutched her leg again. ‘Fine, read your damned book.’
I read to her until my voice was weak and there was no sound.
‘You have a strange view of life Sami Banan.’ Her voice echoed and bounced. ‘Your country, is it different to here?’
Metal sang its song of gwa gwa pwa pwa and we listened to the tuneless music. ‘In Iran girls cannot sing and dance in the street.’ Ayesha laughed in disbelief. I continued, offended by her response. She seemed to think I was a madman. ‘Listen to me,’ I announced, above the din of crying metal, ‘Everything I’m telling you is the truth.’
‘Then I never want to go there,’ she declared, looking past me as if I wasn’t there.
I saw her eyes. They were glazed over, almost black. Dragging across my face was a tangled mass of the girl’s hair and my own. I pushed the hair away. Mine was thick with dirt and soot, spiked like the oily feathers of a shiny crow. I continued to read aloud and paused momentarily, distracted by the black thumb prints in my book.
‘If I’m born again I want to be a fish,’ she said, stretching her fingers. ‘Yes, that would be good, to be under the sea where it is calm and blue. What about you, Sami?’
‘Sami Banan, the bookseller from Enqelab Street in Tehran. That’s all I want to be. But I would do things differently.’
‘No,’ she said. ‘That’s no good. Think of something else.’
‘If you are a fish someone may catch you. A bird is free.’ After a while I said: ‘A dove, that’s what I’d be. In my country that bird means something.’
She ignored me and I sensed she hated me for choosing something so predictable. ‘So in the story the jet has crashed. Keep reading. You have a voice like an actor.’
‘I’m a bookseller, not an actor,’ I retorted.
‘What books did you sell?’
‘Every book.’ I hesitated. ‘And illegal books. The authorities took my friend away. We were selling Bibles.’ I paused. ‘It was a little revolution. I suppose it was a quiet revolution.’
‘What about your wife, your family?’
‘I couldn’t marry. If you are against the regime you don’t marry, or your wife, your children will suffer.’ With one hand pressed to her cheek I noticed how young she seemed. Like many people in my country I have seen too much and history is stamped on my face. I look older than my twenty six years.
‘Sami, do you want children one day?’
‘Sure,’ I said, clasping her hand. ‘How is your leg?’
‘I can’t feel it. The pain’s gone. That’s bad, right?’
‘I don’t know.’ I squeezed her hand hard. I was afraid, afraid she’d die and then I would be alone.
‘Don’t close your eyes,’ I begged. ‘First I have to tell you something. I was reading in the cellar when they came for Hamid that day. I ran away. After all our talk of revolution, I ran. Like a traitor, I ran…’
No response. It wasn’t what I expected. She never said a word. She never spoke of forgiving. Instead she coughed blood and dirt and swept a hand across her delicate cheek. Sweat slowly dripped from her chin and she shook so violently, I knew she was having a fit. All I could do was stroke her head and hold her still until the fever passed.
Minutes later she announced, ‘Sami, I do want to keep it. I do want to keep my baby.’ She paused. ‘When my baby is born I will call it Sami, after you. Sami can be for a girl, or a boy. I will say a man called Sami saved me with his ragged book.’
We waited for someone to come and when no one came we waited for death to carry us away. For a moment I thought I saw the faces of Hamid and my mother in the metal sheets that rattled above. The tired torch eye dimmed. ‘This torch won’t last much longer.’
‘I’m frightened, Sami, frightened that I’ll never see my mother again, frightened that I’ll never touch my baby.’
‘I’m afraid too.’
Around us the train seemed to be breathing and moving slow as a rattling old man. Strange noises echoed and glided over us.
‘Tell me the name of the book again, Sami. I’m going to buy this book.’
‘I need to sleep,’ I murmured, placing one hand on the girl’s soft belly and closing my eyes.
‘I will read,’ she insisted, taking the book from my lap, and at first she read dispassionately with no emotion in her words and her eyes were cold. But then her voice became loud and strong. ‘Don’t go to sleep Sami Banan. Stay with me. Don’t go to sleep. Don’t go to sleep.’
‘I won’t,’ I promised. ‘I won’t.’
The light was warm and bright on my face and there were flashes of green and blue. ‘Ayesha?’ I called her name but the voice that returned to me was that of a man. I shouted her name again and this time there was the sound of heavy footsteps.
‘You were very lucky,’ said a voice from above. My eyes opened and closed again.
‘Where am I? Heaven or Hell?’
‘Hospital,’ said the voice.
My bruised body lurched forward until I was sitting. Cold air rushed over my bare chest and I realised I was alive. ‘Where’s Ayesha? I need to find her. Where is she?’
The doctor looked blank and shook his head. ‘You need to rest. In your book it says Sami Banan. Is that your name?’
I nodded. ‘The girl that was with me, did she make it? The girl in carriage C. I remember Ayesha, Ayesha.’
‘You have been calling this name. No one of that name was on the train.’
I lay down and imagined the face of Ayesha.
‘Do you remember what happened, Sami?’
‘I was on the train. A crash. With Ayesha.’
‘Two hours in the rubble,’ said the doctor. ‘No one knows how you survived. Just a scratch on your head and some bruising, a few cuts.’
‘What about the girl?’ I repeated. ‘Where is she? What about the girl?’
‘You hit your head. They only found you in that section of train.’
The doctor reached across the narrow bed. ‘And this book. This book was in your hand and a tiny torch. The newspapers are calling you the book man. Under a ton of rubble they found you and this book.’
For five years I never travelled by train. On the bus I was more nervous than most and often I walked miles to the London bookshop where I worked. While most people spent their lives waiting for something to happen, I was one of few people in life who prayed that nothing would happen. I wanted life to be constant, calm and unchanging.
‘I have tried everything,’ I told my manager, one Tuesday in June. ‘Believe me. Fancy book displays. I built a pyramid of books, even a house of books to attract customers. Today I will build a big bloody castle of books and if no one comes I will quit and save you the job of sacking me.’
Every day was the same. First the manager complained about the lack of sales and then I would tell her I was waiting to be sacked. Although it never happened, I was prepared for the inevitable loss of my job and the manager liked it that way. People want you to be grateful, or desperate, and I was more grateful than most.
‘I need a seascape of blue books,’ said the manager, an elderly woman with a creased face like tissue. ‘Take every blue, green and white book and turn that window into a sea of books, a boat, maybe a fish, anything to do with the sea. Just make sure it stands out.’
Three hours later I completed the display and the window in the Revolution bookshop was dominated by a giant fish standing on a tail of books. At midday there was just one visitor, a girl with a knitted rucksack swinging on her back.
Sipping forgotten cold tea I continued to tidy the counter, not really seeing the girl, wondering what could be done to save the shop.
‘I’ll take this, please.’
One book! That was it. One book sold in a morning. I didn’t look at the girl before me. Why should I? In my head I was calculating profits and numbers.
‘Salman Rushdie. I’ve heard this is good. ‘
That familiar book cover stared up at me. ‘Yes,’ I replied, sliding the novel into a patterned paper bag. ‘The Satanic Verses, I know it well.’
After some time I looked at her but only because she lingered too long. ‘I thought I’d read it on the train,’ she said, slipping the rucksack down her arm. A confused jangle of keys rang out as she pushed the packet inside. She hauled the bag over her shoulder, flashing the round of her stomach. ‘Which way is Kings Cross?’
‘The train station…’ She searched my face and waited for an answer.
‘Where are you going?’
The girl didn’t reply. She seemed puzzled, disorientated.
Yellow hair wound round her ears and her weeping eyes.
‘Where are you going?’ I repeated.
‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘I’m lost. I don’t know. I’m not sure why I came here.’ She glanced away. ‘Your window reminded me of my village, my family.’ She checked her watch. ‘I’m having a bad day. I should go, or I’ll miss my train.’
Something about the girl’s voice disturbed me. I remembered being on a train five years before with a girl the same age, a girl with long yellow hair.
‘Let me get you a drink,’ I pleaded.
The girl couldn’t explain it. She knew nothing of revolutions, big or small. She stayed, pulling her hair up into a tight knot, revealing her long and elegant neck.
© Michelle Flatley 2015