A/N - Hello there! First of all, a thousand and one apologies for the delay! Busy...blah blah...you've heard it before! Anyhoo, the wait is nearly over! Scarfy in the Middle TWO is upon us! The countdown to "Steps to Paradise"...

Below is a teaser for chapter one...to get you all hyped and to give me time to perfect it whilst maintaining a semblance of getting a good university degree...full chapter to be posted next weekend! (yay!)

enjoy...and REVIEW! (I love 'em)

1

All The Parts of a Body.

So imagine you're standing in a long concrete tunnel and in front of you can see a huge vat of sharp, smelly and ugly objects ranging from scissors to a giant movable cut out of Freddy Kruger. Now imagine a great big fan on one end, pulling all those things you see towards it via you! This tunnel is 'life' and in 'life' all you end up doing is dodging various hurtful paraphernalia and trying to avoid the crap coming straight for your forehead while trying to retain your dignity.

It's not all doom and gloom, sure the Tunnel of Life is grey from start to finish but it's got a few magical windows! Windows that show you green fields and blooming flowers, windows that fill you up with joy and contentment. The magic of these windows is not only their transporting powers, their ability to help you escape the monotony by letting you see, feel and be anything but a person in a tunnel dodging butchers knife and flying lions. The magic is that they only work when you get close enough. Almost like a short-sightedness, you can only see true happiness if you let something guide you to it. Everybody finds strength in different things, different people, but for me there is no better guide than the all-knowing, all-seeing, omnipresent God.

I am Khalila Saqr, 27 year old Syrian-Egyptian, London born and bred, elder sister of four fabulous guys; the nifty nineteen year old, Sami. The serious seventeen-ager, Karim, Ahmed was the forgetful fifteen year old but the family genius and lastly Jalal, the youngest at thirteen...but more about them later...have no doubt about that. Having them and the oddest but most loving couple I've ever known as my parents, I grew up to be a happy woman and wife to my gorgeous Adam. You see they were all the windows of my tunnel, pulling me to my journeys into happiness and keeping me there.

That isn't to say that I haven't had the smell of sewage linger on me after being unable to dodge it on its way to the fan...just like everybody else. I made mistakes, I still do. Sometimes I get away with them having quietly learned the lesson and sometimes I don't and instead of peering into a window and galloping away in beautiful La La land, I'm stuck with scrubbing out the strains from my Hijab. That is my Islamic Headscarf, the Scarf that made me a 'Scarfy' and damn proud!

"See? She does this all the time! Off in her own little world and probably imagining riding on a unicorn or something!"

Ok, not a unicorn per se but a very pretty magical horse.

"I'm sorry for wanting to escape your repetitive whinging," I replied hurtfully but only because I was offended. I was a scriptwriter damn it, I had to be dreamy!

"Guys, this is a marriage counselling session. I want you to both be honest but please refrain from attacking."

Marriage counselling! I shook my head sadly. Never thought I'd be here. I mean Adam and I have only been married for just over two and a half years! I let out a sigh, wondering where the years went. How quickly they flew by! Over three years since I got engaged to Adam, two years and a half since we'd gotten married. Damn. Where did the time go?

"Sorry," I apologised knowing my comment was uncalled for. It was just I'd been teased about being a daydreamer one too many times and it just grated on my nerves.

"Thank you Khalila, that is very mature behaviour and exactly what feeds a marriage. After all you are in love with each other, you have just let the problems that every couple goes through get bigger than they actually are!"

That much was true. Adam and I did not have one disagreement during our engagement but I was scared about it rather than pleased. I thought he was harbouring secrets and simply pretending to be the person I saw everyday and that the 'true' him would come out after marriage when it would be too late to change my mind or escape. Luckily for me, he was as honest as the day is long and the fights that resulted after marriage were not due to a personality clash but rather a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Poe-tay-toe, Poe-tah-toe, you know?

That isn't to say it's been rose petals and hazy romance, I mean those fights were bad. I was acerbic, he was incommunicable and all good sense left the both of us. I discovered parts of him I didn't know existed and he did me. It was the rough learning process all couples go through and all newlyweds suffer from after convincing themselves that it would be a honeymoon forever. It wasn't horrible, it was just realistic and it made the good moments we had that much more satisfying.

"I'm not being unreasonable and telling her to stay at home and spend all hours of the day thinking up ways on how best to serve me. All I want is to come home from work and find her here. Is that too much to ask?"

"But you knew I had a demanding job before you married me. I try and come home on time as much as I can!" I defended myself. Adam never, hardly ever, complained when I worked late. In fact he encouraged Eden's Paradise, which took up most of my evenings, to no end, so why was I hearing these comments?

"People are supposed to change, we're supposed to grow together but we're not. We're glorified roommates, isn't that right Doc?"

"Well, a lot of happily married couples lead separate conjugal lives-"

"Yeah but I'm not talking about other couples. I'm talking about me and Khalila and the fact we've been at the same stage since we met! She can't seem to get passed it."

"Excuse me for wanting to keep things as beautiful as they were then!" Honestly! I'd never heard such self-deprecating nonsense in all my life. How was this going to help anybody?

"Guys, please remain calm. We will not get anything sorted if we get hysterical."

Was hysterical really the right choice of word? I mean, I wasn't hysterical...but being called it, I was tempted to be.

"How can I be calm when she's packing her things!"

"Come on, you can't use that!" I argued, still packing. Yes I was packing but it wasn't because of any argument. "I have to be at my parents' in a bit."

"Oh, your parents! I'm always having to deal with your parents and your brothers! A marriage is between two people not two families!"

"No, it's not." I turned to the marriage counsellor. "Adam and I had this talk before we got married and we both agreed that marriage was more than the union of a man and woman, that it was the merge of both our families. This is an unfounded comment."

"Fine, discard it but it's a Thursday! Hardly the right time to pack up and leave!"

Normally on a Thursday evening we'd stay at home, Adam would prepare for whatever site trip he had to make the next day and I would prepare for work at Rewind.

You see, my script, Eden's Paradise, had been picked up by them shortly after completing my first film Ode to New Mexico. It'd been more than two years since and we were still in pre-production. Granted two films were being made, one in Arabic and the other in English, which meant there had to be two perfect scripts, which meant I couldn't do it alone, which meant hiring an Arabic scriptwriter to work with me, which meant getting to know each other and our working habits, shakily at first and then eventual friendship. Which still didn't help us get out of preproduction any quicker but that's another story.

This whole situation reminded me of the scene in the middle of the film when Eden and her fiancé Raj have an argument and decide to separate...amicably. Man, Eden could handle situation much better than I could.

A jangle of keys could be heard from downstairs and then the shutting of the front door. Light footsteps sounded from each step and my smile grew in anticipation.

"I want a divorce. She has another lover."

"Oh shush!" Nancy giggled, no longer 'the counsellor' but back to her normal self just as Adam swung the door open, smiling at the three of us.

"Hello ladies!" He greeted his sister and Jess, crossed legged on our bed and red-faced from her role as my disgruntled husband. Adam held my hand and pulled it up to his lips, kissing the back of it. "Hello my lady."

"You see Nancy? I told you to get someone else to play my wife. She's too loved up to pretend to be in a counselling session!" Jess muttered loud enough for both Adam and I to hear, breaking our little greeting. "She's not that great an actor!"

to be continued...

Follow the journey in Steps to Paradise.

(chapter one now posted...go see!)

PS - I've just started a blog (and I mean just)...for anyone interested...links on my profile. It has character pictures up there and will have a whole lot more soon! Leave a comment onthe cbox with any suggestions or questions you're always wondered about! Even you anonymous people out there!