Not many people get a chance to literally save the world, so I suppose I should be grateful that Daemon Godwin came into my life and fucked it up like he did. He was my blessing and my curse. He was someone who would die for me.
Oh, and he was hot.
Now, Daemon Godwin wasn’t beautiful in the celebrity way that some guys are. You didn’t look at him and immediately think, Oh, he’s so hot, he must be self-centered; he’s sure to break my heart. He wasn’t a slick beauty like that, although he did have sculpted cheekbones to die for.
Neither was he a wounded beauty, although that’s a closer description. He was wounded—scarred so badly on the inside it was impossible to get close to him, but you wouldn’t know that right away. You wouldn’t see it in his dark brown eyes because all you saw there was exactly what he wanted you to see and nothing more.
Daemon was just matter-of-fact tough. From the beginning, he scared me a little. I sensed he was dangerous, and somehow magical, too.
Case in point: When he touched me, I sizzled.
Literally: Hand on arm. Sizzle.
Meet Tamila Soroush ...
As I walk past the playground on my way to downtown Tucson, I overhear two girls teasing a third: Jake and Ella sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage!
Curious, I stop mid-stride and turn my attention to Ella, the redheaded girl getting teased. She looks forward to falling in love; I can see it by the coyness in the smile on her freckled nine-year-old face. I shake my head in wonder, in open-mouthed awe. I think, as I so often do: This would never happen in Iran.
None of it. Nine-year-old girls in Iran do not shout gleefully on playgrounds, in public view of passersby. They do not draw attention to themselves; they do not go to school with boys. They do not swing their long red hair and expect with Ella’s certainty that romantic love is in their future. And they do not, not, not sing of sitting in trees with boys, kissing and producing babies. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is nothing innocent about a moment such as this.
And so I quickly lift the Pentax K-1000 that hangs from my neck and snap a series of pictures. This is what I hope to capture with my long-range lens: Front teeth only half-grown in. Ponytails. Bony knees. Plaid skirts, short plaid skirts. That neon-pink Band-aid on Ella’s bare arm. I blur out the boys in the background and keep my focus only on these girls and the way their white socks fold down to their ankles. The easiness of their smiles. They are so unburdened, these girls, so fortunate as to take their good fortune for granted.
The Sequel to Veil of Roses
My mother wouldn’t let me cling to her; she made me stand tall. My world—the only one I knew, the only one I remembered—stood still for that last moment at Mehrabad Airport while she brushed away my tears and told me, Go, my daughter. Go, and wake up your luck.
At her urging, I did.
All by myself, I flew halfway around the world, more than twelve thousand kilometers, from Tehran, Iran, to Tucson, U.S.A., worrying the entire time …
Oh, how much has changed in three short months!
This time when I fly into Tucson, I’m not alone. I’m with Ike—my beautiful Ike, with his easy smile and ocean-blue eyes. He’s my husband now! We got married yesterday in Las Vegas. Everything has happened so fast there has hardly been time to think. I’ve been too excited to eat and far too excited to sleep, and this time, when things get bumpy during the plane’s descent, Ike is here to take my hand.
“Scared, Persian Girl?” He asks this with a tease in his voice. While I’m Tamila Soroush to everyone else, to Ike I am and always will be his Persian Girl. “You’re not scared of a little turbulence, are you?”
I rest my hand on his warm, sure skin. He’s been quiet on the flight back, studying me closely when he thinks I’m unaware, probably wondering just who this is, this woman he’s married, and I’m glad now for his light tone and gentle joking.
“I’m not afraid of anything anymore,” I say.
But Ike knows me better. “Oh, yeah?” He grins at me, a sweet, naughty-boy smile. “Kiss me, then,” he says. “Kiss me right here, right now.”