In Safaa Baig’s debut novel, sixteen-year old Katie Anderson thinks she is living the perfect teenage life, with a hilarious and fun family, average grades, a subscription to OK! Magazine, exclusive invitations to all the high-end parties and enough popularity at college to make every other girl want to be like her… that is, until her sensational, divorced father makes a decision that changes her life completely; he accepts Islam. Just a week before college is set to re-open, Katie finds her entire world shifting from beneath her. Engulfed with a mixture of confused feelings, a sudden change in lifestyle and a desire to battle her way back to normalcy, she begins a monumental search for guidance that will change her life forever…
“Dad! Where have you been? You were supposed to call the minute you got back. You promised,” I scolded him over the phone, only seconds after answering it.
He chuckled, “Hey pumpkin, I missed you. I was going to call but… I got caught up with a few things.”
“You’ll know in due time.”
“What,” I asked with exaggerated annoyance, “is up with all this secrecy? First Mark, then mum and now you —”
“Guess what? I’ve got a surprise for you.”
“You know that’s not gonna work, Dad. I’m not a child anymore, so stop —”
“Look outside your window.”
“I said look outside —”
“Why?” I interrupted him, turning my body so that I was now facing my bedroom window. I peered at it cautiously, wondering if he’d planted some sort of prank there.
“It’s a surprise,” he sang softly, obviously incredibly amused by the scenario.
“No,” I replied, folding my arms defiantly as if he was actually there, watching me.
“All right, well then…” he drew out his words, sounding surprised, “you’re missing out. Big time. I mean, who knows what could be lurking behind that window —”
“Dad, I am so not falling for —”
“I mean, do I know? Yeah. But do you? Nah, not so much.”
“But then again, that’s just the choice you’ve made. And I’ve got to respect that, even if it means you’re missing out on something irrefutably astounding and unquestionably phenomenal —”
“Oh, come on! Dad, don’t pull out the vocabulary card. That’s not fair —”
“It saddens me to inform you of this, but Katie, my dear, you are a bromide.”
I gasped, “I am not!” Mentally, I was wondering if he’d made up that word or if it actually existed. “I am not a bromide,” I said again with more vehemence, “I am the farthest thing from a bromide,” I continued, pulling a dictionary out from my bookshelf and flipping through it speedily, “if ever there was a person who was a bromide, it would not be me, for I am not a —”
My dad laughed at the other end, “You won’t find it in the dictionary.”
I scowled, “Fine, well then —” and stopped mid-sentence as I heard a loud honk outside. Furrowing my brow, I opened my mouth again, only to be stopped short again by another honk, this time sounding suspiciously as if it was coming from outside my window. Standing up slowly, I moved curiously towards my window, and pulled back the curtain in one swift move.
“You were saying?” he asked, as I suddenly caught sight of a very familiar red Honda Accord Euro, with my dad seated inside, grinning broadly.
I burst out laughing as I watched him wave at me comically. “Nice surprise, huh, Katie?”
“Best surprise,” I giggled, “Give me five minutes and I’ll be down.”
“No need, I’m coming in. I have to talk to your mum about a few things. Take your time,” he replied, stepping out of the car.
“A few things? What?” I asked, impatiently.
“Just need a few words with your mum. Okay, I’m gonna hang up now… because I’m here for goodness sake,” he laughed loudly and then hung up.
I smiled to myself and skipped downstairs to welcome him. I reached the bottom of the staircase just as Mark opened the door and my smile slowly crept away as I saw Mark’s face turn livid.
“What are you doing here?” I heard Mark demand, and I instantly slowed my steps.
“I came to get Katie… look, Mark, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s… I… I miss you,” my dad said gently, his cheerless eyes resting upon Mark’s.
“This is the only way, Dad… Jack. Katie’ll be down in a few minutes. You can wait outside,” he remarked gloomily, as he began to close the door.
“Wait! Mark, what do you think you’re doing?” I asked angrily as I ran up to the front door, pushing Mark out of the way to allow my dad in.
Mark glowered at my dad as he coldly replied, “Don’t let him get to you, Katie,” and stomped out of the room.
“Now, see, that’s someone I’d call a bromide,” I winked, “Don’t let him get to you, okay?”
He laughed as he pulled me in for a tight hug, “I missed you so much, Kay.”
“It was your own fault for staying in Morocco for six months,” I joked, my voice muffled against his shirt.
“Architect Extraordinaire on the job,” he grinned, holding me back to look at me. “You’ve grown.”
“You say that every time you see me,” I rolled my eyes.
“No, I mean it —”
“What’s going on? I just saw Mark fuming in the living room,” my mum inquired as she suddenly walked into the room, a look of surprise on her face as she noticed my dad.
“Oh, you’re here early,” she said, seating herself on the sofa.
“Drama, drama, drama. Dad needs to talk to you.”
“Yeah, there are a few things I need to discuss with you,” he added, then taking in my inquisitive eyes, chuckled, “privately.”
“Oh sure, that’s nice. Get rid of me already. I’ll be in the living room,” I sighed as I went off to question Mark on his strange behaviour.
Safaa Baig is an Islamic writer, blogger and motivational speaker, writing in the hopes of touching people’s hearts and inspiring change. Soul of a Butterfly is her first novel, completed at the age of 17. She aims to leave Islam’s mark as far as she can reach – and beyond. Soul of a Butterfly is available in UK, US and AU bookstores, as well as Amazon and online stores. For more info and updates, book excerpts and sneak peeks, you can keep up to date at www.safaabaig.com or follow the facebook page: www.facebook.com/soulofabutterfly.2010.