by Steve Quilt
Version for “Tales of the Veils” website.
Not for reproduction on other websites or in any other publishing format without author’s permission.
The letter landed with a heavy, almost ominous, thump on the door mat. John Garrand glanced at his wife as if to say, ‘Surely not another bill?’
Martha Garrand’s response was a puzzled shrug. She believed she had paid them all this month. For a moment no one moved in the kitchen of the small semi-detached house until the couple’s 13 year old daughter Leonie leapt to her feet. “I bet it’s for me,” she said, and dashed to the hall to get the letter.
“How come it’s for you?” called out her 15 year old brother Gavin. Then the boy sniggered: “Bet it’s a report from school an’ she’s done badly again.”
“Nonsense. Leonie’s not had any exams,” said Martha, frowning at her son, but there was an element of truth in there as Leonie wasn’t the best student in her school. Gavin smirked as if he knew what his mother was thinking.
John, who had been trying to follow the weather report on breakfast TV before he set off for work, gave up the attempt. “So is it for you?” The man called to his daughter.
“Sort of. Well, not really,” the girl answered.
The three members of the family still sat in the kitchen exchanged looks.
“Leonie,” said Martha, a slight weariness in her voice. “Either it is for you or it isn’t. Bring the letter here.” She indicated she wanted to see it.
“It’s for dad,” said the girl coming back to the kitchen. She held it out not towards her mum, but towards her dad.
“Odd,” said John. He took the offered envelope and stared at it. Then he said: “Really odd,” and lifted his eyes from the seal on the envelope to fix his look on Martha.
“Well?” Asked the mother.
“It’s from the Cultural Equality Commission. What the hell do they want with us?” John replied.
“Nothing, I hope,” said Martha. “Those people just make trouble,” she said and stood up to gather up the breakfast things.
“Probably got the wrong house. You know the postman,” said John, but the address was correct. More, the letter felt bulky as if it contained a lot of paper.
Leonie was grinning, as if she knew what was in it. John saw his daughter’s look and asked her was this anything to do with her.
“I think, maybe sort of,” said the girl, looking sheepish.
“Leonie,” admonished Martha from the sink. “It either is or isn’t.”
John caught on first. “Leonie… is this letter because of that teacher of yours?”
“You mean Miss Adams?” said Leonie, feigning innocence.
“Yeah. The one who wears the veil, right?” said Gavin. He snorted a suppressed laugh, which earned him a glare from his father.
“Yeah, um, well, Miss Adams…” Leonie wiggled her nose as she usually did when trouble appaered. “Our teacher said we should write to the Cultural Equalities people, all of us in the class, and recommend someone for the veil. Sort of an exercise in writing letters. She said they liked getting letters from students.”
“Oh God,” said John, grasping the implication of all this. “Who did you recommend?” It was a pointless question as there was only one person in the house who it could be. The teenage girl was too young to be veiled.
Martha gasped as the same thought finally hit home. “Honey… you didn’t!”
“Didn’t what?” More nose wiggling.
“You gave my name?”
The girl waved her hands as if she couldn’t help it. “I mean, it was only an exercise. Mrs Adams said. Honest. It’s just, you know a whatsit… a recommendation. Probably doesn’t mean anything.”
John tore the letter open and stared at the first sheet.
“What does it say?” Asked the mother from the sink, standing stock still, her voice tense and high.
“Dear Sir and Madame,” began John, reding what was in front of him. “Thank you for your application to have one female member of your family joining the cultural revolution and willing to be veiled. This, as you are probably aware, is to help us all to create a balanced and fair society as defined by the Equality (Clothing) Social Act passed by Parliament recently. We at the Cultural Equalities Commission are therefore pleased to notify you that Mrs Martha Garrand, of 37 Lily Road, has been accepted into the…” The man gulped and trailed off. “They want you to wear a veil,” said the man as he recovered his voice and finished scanning the sheet in his hand.
“What else is in the letter?” Gavin wanted to know. Without asking he grabbed the sheaf of papers that lay on the table. “Oh look it’s how to wear a veil, in pictures, ” he said. He held one sheet up, which had line drawings of how a woman should fasten her veil. It showed a predictably blank outline of a featureless woman’s face, in case anyone might think it was for non-whites only.
Martha moved with remarkable speed across the kitchen. She grabbed the wad of papers from her startled son, snatched the single held up sheet with the diagrams and thrust them all, in one fluid move, into the bin. “No one, least of all me, is going to wear one of those things,” the woman said, her anger bubbling out. “Leonie, go to your room. Now! I will talk to you later.”
“But I’ve got school,” protested the girl.
“I’ll phone and tell them you are ill. Go upstairs now!” The woman growled. Her daughter fled.
Martha snatched the letter from her husband and having screwed it up, thrust that in the waste bin too. “We never got that blasted letter. Never came. Understand?” The woman glared hard at her husband and son. “We deny all knowledge of it. Never got it, okay? So no mentioning it to anyone. No one, do I make myself clear?”
Both the male members of the family nodded. The woman could be a fearsome sight when she got angry, and she was very angry now.
“I don’t know what the girl was thinking,” said Martha, her face hot and cheeks bright red. “She knows I don’t approve of… of these things.”
“The school wants us to, you know, like the veil,” said Gavin.
“You are there to learn useful things. English and Maths and Scirnce and whatever else, but not how to change society. You vote for that, when you are old enough, not do things this way behind people’s backs.” Martha looked close to tears as she turned away and gripped the edge of the sink.
“Don’t worry, darling,” said John getting to his feet. “If anything is said, we’ll appeal. Say it was a mistake. No foul, no harm. We’ll say we are sorry but we can’t help. They’ll understand.” He put an arm round his wife to comfort her.
“Todd Johnson,” said Gavin, talking about his best friend. “His mum’s got to wear one. They appealed but were told it can’t be changed.” Then he wished he hadn’t said anything, judging by the dark looks he got from both parents. “Um… Can I have the day off school too?”
“No,” said both the boy’s parents as one.
“School, now,” said John. Gavin got the message, grabbed his school bag and ran from the house.
“What the hell do we do?” sobbed Martha. “What do I do? I don’t want to have to wear one of those things. It’s not right.”
“It’s the goverenment being silly,” said John, soothingly. “But there are appeal procedures. I saw it on the news. The people at the top are thinking again about it, looking at it all from a fresh angle. I mean, it’s fine for those who want to be covered up, but not for the likes of us though.”
Martha nodded, wiping her tears away. “I feel so foolish, losing my temper with the kids. But… Leonie must have known I don’t like them.”
“I know. Not your fault. It’s that teacher of hers. Adams. She put the kids up to it, and she should know better. I can go and have a word with her, put her straight.”
“That will be no good,” said Martha, sniffing back the tears. “That means we have had the letter. If we do nothing then we can say it never arrived. Reacting to it suggests we know.”
John shook his head, even though his wife had a point. “Maybe, but I can still go and see the head. Say that I hear this Adams woman is pushing social equality nonsense instead of teaching, and it’s disturbing the children. I will say Leonie cam home very upset that she is made to do something behind her parents’ back. I will say we have strict views on such matters. Trust me, the head will know exactly how I feel when I have finished. He will wish—”
The phone in the hall rang. John broke off talking to his wife and went to answer it. Martha could hear him from the kitchen. “Hello… oh hi, Julie…. Yes, we are fine…. Martha’s busy right now… What?…. Um, no, nothing’s come here. I mean, the usual bills, but there’s always those, hey?… Oh, I see… So you have to wear one?… Goodness, that’s, oh I dunno… Her too, wow. That’s really unusual… I see. Well, I suppose that’s how it goes. I am not sure, but I heard not everyone gets accepted for it. I mean, it is a random lottery…. That’s right. Luck of the draw. You know, like jury duty. So, I guess not us… I know, just a stroke of luck… Yes, of course I’ll tell Martha you called. Bye, Julie!”
John came back into the kitchen, looking pale. “That was Jade’s mother, Julie Hobbs. They got a letter like ours. Of course I said we hadn’t. She said her friend Pauline Berry — little Sonya’s mother — got one too. But Julie lives with her sister, and she has to wear one too. Both of them. Looks like their girl nominated both her mum and her aunt.”
“God,” said Martha. She was dismayed: this ReOrdered World stuff depressed her and not even John’s cheerful assertion that all would be well lifted her gloom.
Then she felt worse. Martha glanced at the opened envelope on the table and gave a small, strangled cry. “Oh no! The letter.”
“What about it?” Asked her husband.
Martha forced the words out. “Recorded delivery. They’ll know we received it!”
The figure at the door, visible through the frosted glass, made Martha shrink back towards the kitchen. After John had gone to work (and Leonie settled in her room watching the portable TV) the woman had spent all morning alternating between feeling angry and anxious. She didn’t want to wear a veil but she couldn’t blame her daughter entirely. Leonie might not have been the brightest of young teen girls but she was honest and loveable, and whatever she did she thought usually she was doing the right thing.
Now, in the middle of the afternoon, a black shape was at the front door of number 37. Was this some sort of police or enforcing officer, Martha wondered? She resolved not to answer it but whoever was there was knocking frequently. As it might be an emergency, Martha relented and cautiously opened the door to peer out.
The figure was a woman in a black burqa, standing motionless on the doorstep.
Martha remembered her manners, despite her feeling of disgust. “Hello,” she managed, and then added they didn’t support any charities and nor did they buy anything at the door. “Now if you’ll excuse me,” began Martha but the woman in the burqa spoke.
“Wait. Martha, it’s me. Marianne Johnson.” The woman in the all covering black garment paused. “I’m Todd’s mother. He’s in class 5b, at Woodside Avenue, with your son Gavin.” she added.
“Oh,” said Martha, holding the door half-closed. It certainly sounded like Todd’s mum, recognisable because they had spoken on the phone several times about school matters if not actually met face to face. But in truth it could have been anyone as the visitor’s face was utterly hidden behind a black cloth and a thick gauze panel at eye height. “Um… How can I help you, Mrs Johnson.”
“Please, I am Marianne.”
“Yes, of course, so how can I help you, Marianne?”
“You can let me in and we can talk,” said the woman in the burqa. “I won’t eat you, I promise.”
Martha wanted to slam the door on this creature, but there was no point in being rude. She contemplated several options but finally beckoned Marianne inside. She just hoped the neighbours weren’t being nosy. They all knew what Martha thought of the ReOrdered World and its obession with veils.
“What can I do for you?” Martha wanted to know as they stood in the hallway.
“It’s what I can do to help you,” Marianne responded.
Martha kept her voice cold and unwelcoming. “I doubt that. Why are you here?”
“Do you mind if I take my burqa off before we discuss things?” Asked the woman in black.
Martha felt a wave of relief; she hated talking to these anonymous, masked objects. Serving her in the shops or at the library, or even the ones she met working in offices. Anonymous, shrouded. Not people at all, she argued. Now she would be able to see the person and that made her feel so much better. “Of course, please do.”
That was the next shock. Marianne peeled off the baggy burqa, and revealed underneath another black long outfit, but this time with a niqab. Only the visitor’s blue eyes showed throught the narrow slit. “I only wear the burqa when I’m out on the street. The rest of the time I am in my niqab,” expalined the still-veiled woman. “I hope you don’t mind.”
Martha wanted to say she objected most strongly but thought best to be quiet for now. She gave a non-commital shrug, so she couldn’t be said to be either in favour or against the niqab.
“First of all, Martha, my son called me from school. You know Todd and your son Gavin are best friends, of course. It would appear that Gavin wanted to talk, despite your request to keep your acceptance letter a secret—”
“I haven’t accepted anything,” exploded Martha. Then she lowered her voice, worried that Leonie upstairs would hear her mother having an argument. “I asked Gavin not to say anything to anyone. He didn’t listen, clearly.”
“Don’t be angry. Boys of that age need their friends,” said Marianne, quietly, raising a black gloved hand from under her abaya in a peaceful and calming gesture. “I am sure Gavin didn’t mean any harm. But I think he believed as Todd has seen me in a veil, he thought my son might be able to help.”
“Help who?” Martha bristled. “Not me his mother, that’s for sure.” She was about to tell the woman in the niqab to get out of her house when Leonie came running down the stairs, leaping two at a time as she usually did.
“Mrs Johnson!” Yelled the teenage girl, radiating a smile as she ran. “It is you!” At that Leonie flung her arms round the veiled woman’s waist and hugged her tight.
“How… how do you know this… this woman?” Martha managed to say.
“Mrs Adams invited Mrs Johnson in to talk to us in lessons,” grinned the young girl, who hadn’t let go of the woman in black. “We all loved her. She’s fun. And she makes the best cookies ever!”
“I admit I did take some in with me when I went to talk to Leonie’s class,” said Marianne. With her black gloved hand she stroked Leonie’s head. “It helped show them I wasn’t a monster, whatever some parents say.”
“Like me, I suppose,” said Martha, but she sounded deflated. Leonie’s unexpected intervention had taken all the heat out of the situation.
“We all have to learn about things,” said Marianne. She may have been smiling behind her black face covering, but it was hard to tell.
“Honey, this lady and I have to talk,” said Martha. “You need to say bye and go back upstairs. You’re supposed to be ill, remember?”
“‘Kay, mummy,” said Leonie as she let go of Mrs Johnson. With that the girl waved a quick goodbye and ran back upstairs, leaving the two women alone again.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Martha after they heard the girl’s bedroom door close.
“How about, ‘let’s talk.’ That would be good for a start, agreed?”
“Very well. I suppose you had better come in here and talk to me,” said Martha, indicating they should go in the living room. “I suppose too you better hang your thing… your burqa up on the pegs with our coats.”
“Thanks,” said Marianne, and did so.
In the living room the two women settled on the two large armchairs. It was odd for Martha, seeing a woman in a niqab here in her home. She had vowed this would never happen, yet that promise to herself had been broken. “Would you like to take your niqab off, too,” she asked.
“No thanks. Actually, I never take it off indoors. I wear the burqa when I go out, but at home — and in other people’s homes as well — I stay like this.”
“I see,” said Martha. She wasn’t sure if she saw much to be honest, but she had to accept this was how Marianne Johnson wanted to live. It just wasn’t how she would live, she was sure.
There was a brief, awakward silence until Marianne broke it. “You will have questions, which is why I came to visit you,” said the woman in the niqab. “To be honest, most people do. They want to know all sorts of things, such as how do I cope? What do the family think, that sort of thing.”
“I see,” repeated Martha, still not entirely comfortable with this meeting. “But it isn’t for me.”
“Perhaps,” said Marianne. “But there are other things people want to know. Things that really worry them.”
“I don’t want to be too forward, but people ask how do I have sex, dressed like this.”
“What?” gasped Martha, recoiling in shock.
“Don’t look so surprised, Martha. I bet the idea crossed your mind.”
Martha got the feeling the veiled woman was grinning but she cleared her throat in response. “I hadn’t thought that at all,” said Martha unconvincingly. “I expect your husband is used to it.”
“I don’t have a husband, at least no longer,” said Marianne. “I have a partner, and Yvonne approves fully of me being like this.”
“Ah… Um… I had no idea,” said Martha. Her head was spinning now. A woman in a niqab being a lesbian was almost more than she could take in. Then she said: “Are you trying to shock me?”
“Why would I do that? No, I am trying to show you that all this is normal in every way. I just do not wish to be seen in any other fashion.”
“But you chose to dress like that. You decided that it was the best thing for you. I have to accept that. However it won’t be for me, or my husband,” said Martha, trying to re-establish her moral high ground. “I will of course appeal against this letter. It’s outrageous, and unwarranted.”
“I thought you would say that,” said Marianne with a shake of her veiled head. “I have to tell you Martha it won’t do much good. I had a letter, just like you. Yes, it shocked me at the time. I appealed too, immediately after my letter came. I was like you; I insisted I wanted to be free and make my own choices. Or so I thought. There is however no appeal. I got a good lawyer, I went to opposition group meetings and got good legal and even spiritual advice. None of it worked. Believe me I tried, but I failed. As you will too, sadly.”
Martha opened her mouth to say that couldn’t be right, that she would fight this injustice in the highest court, that the will of normal and non-veiled people would prevail. Yet here was someone who had fought, and here she was. For a second or two Martha was unsure what to say, and then she got a little angry about all this. She swallowed hard and decided: If sex was important to this lesbian, Martha would talk about it the way Marianne had introduced the subject.
“I’m not lesbian, Mrs Johnson. I never have been the least bit interested in being with other women. If I am honest, I do not want my husband turned off me. I enjoy normal sex too much so I don’t want to lose my husband,” she said. “I like to dress in lingerie, tease him and play around in the bedroom, and he likes it too.” This seemed the best answer to Marianne, not least of which was aiming this at a woman who rejected men. The niqab-clad feamle had introduced the idea of sex into this, so she couldn’t complain.
“Good, you can wear whatever you like under your abaya and niqab. I do.”
Marianne inclined her head a little to one side. “I love corsets. I’m wearing one now. I love the support and shape it gives me, even though I keep it hidden from anyone’s view.”
“So your partner, this Yvonne of yours, she likes you that way in bed.” Martha tried not to sound too interested, but despite everything she was. Years ago she ahd read, furtively, some lesbian fiction and the memory of thsoe books had never quite left her.
“Heavens no!” Marianne laughed behind her veil. “Yvonne never sees it. She’s not allowed to see me in anything but this. I told you I wear a niqab all the time. When we make love, she can feel me, of course, but she never sees what I am wearing underneath. Sometimes it drives her mad, but trust me, she loves it and me even more.”
“I… I don’t understand.” A starnge and unexpected little tremor went through Martha. The idea of sexual control was suddenly at the forefront of her mind, and she wasn’t at all sure how she felt about it being there.
“People are attracted to what they can’t have. Basic huamn condition, grass is greener on the other side, etc. Look, if I showed Yvonne what I was wearing, the magic would go from our relationship. She knows I wear a corset, just like she knows I am a fully functioning woman under all this veiling. She doesn’t see it but she doesn’t have to. Take away the mystery about me and there is nothing for her to lust after.” Marianne paused. “Seriously, if you wore a niqab Martha, your husband would desire you even more. He would treasure you. I would even suggest he would adore you.”
“I don’t see how.”
Marianne took a moment before she spoke. “The principle of the veil is to make something more private, less public. You are hidden from the world, away from society’s relentless gaze and criticism and dare it say it, that visual undressing. Every woman faces it, even from her own kind. You say you are not lesbian, well perhaps you are right. I wasn’t until I met Yvonne. I also wasn’t interested in being veiled until I was veiled and I understood what I now had. You see how this works?”
“No, frankly I don’t.” That wasn’t quite true, as that insistent tremor deep in Martha had grown bigger.
“We change, Martha. We all must. We change because at some point we suddenly realise what is missing. We have views and approaches and superstitions and even dictats we cling to, but they are all changeable. I was unveiled and iw asn’t lesbian, and no, the two don’t go together. But in my case I changed twice, and I suspect you will change too.” Marianne paused. “There is a saying: ‘Change or perish.’ All you have to do is decide how much change is necessary to avoid perishing.”
“But I don’t want to be lesbian.”
“Not that! You can see the advantage of being covered up. Of being powerful and remote.”
Martha bit her lip. She wished she didn’t have these strange surges in her belly. “I don’t know. This niqab business… I don’t want to be hidden. I like women seeing what I am wearing, And, yes, men too. I like going out with my husband and feeling good about myself.”
“And can you not feel good about yourself under a veil? You know what you are, but do other people you dont care about matter? I prefer people not look at me and think oh, that doesn’t suit her or she looks dreadful in that or even, I can see her panty line through her dress. I am me, and the veil preserves me.”
“I don’t know. Hiding things… I just bought a new dress,” said Martha. “I don’t want to not wear it. That would be a waste.”
“You can wear it under your abaya. Just as I wear a corset and stockings under mine.”
Martha chewed her lip. She felt suddenly so unsure of herself. Yes, she had changed in the past, she knew. When she met her husband John she hadn’t liked him. She thought him dull and boorish and far too free with his hands. But she had warmed to him and grew to like him and then love him, to the point she couldn’t imagine not being with him all the time. She also wasn’t going to have kids, once. Definite. However that had changed, too.
“If I do try on a veil, what will my family think?” Asked Martha after a minute’s mental gymnastics.
“You are still a wife and mother, still wearing nice things under your abaya if you want. In the important things, nothing changes. Lots of women are discovering the power of the veil, how being hidden and reserved and modest matters most of all because it is still them under it all. Just not a fashion parade for them. Let’s face it: so many fashions have become derogatory for mature women these days. Skinny jeans, short skirts, midriff-revealing blouses. Most women of our age, and please forgive me for putting you in the same category as me, tend not to look great in clothes designed for wafer-thin models.”
Martha swallowed hard. Suddenly, not being stared at in ill-fitting clothes seemed possible. She could wear a veil, if people still liked her. If her family accepted her in a black shroud, if her husband still wanted her in bed, then why did her opposition matter so much about this? “I don’t know how what you wear feels. I’ve never worn what you do,” she said.
“Most women haven’t in our culture, unless they try to find out what it’s like. Or if they get the letter like we both did.”
Martha nodded, deep in thought. Presently she said: “Marianne, I know this is strange, but can I try on your burqa, the one in the hall?”
“Of course,” said the veiled woman. “I’ll get it for you and help you into it.” She stood up.
“Do I have to be in just my underwear under it?”
“Would you like that?” Asked Marianne.
“No, but… Upstairs… I’ve got something I’d like to wear all the time. John doesn’t know because I am scared to show him in case… In case he gets the wrong idea.”
“And what is the wrong idea exactly?”
Martha blushed. “It’s rubber. A rubber dress. I bought it secretly, but I don’t want John to think I want to be a prositute, or that I’m looking for another man.”
“Ah, this is the dress you bought and you wanted to wear, the one you just told me about.”
“Yes,” confessed Martha, still blushing.
“Then you are free under the burqa to wear what you like. No one will see, unless that is what you want.”
“There are rubber burqas and niqabs, if you feel so inclined. Nice ones too. Surprisingly feminine. Now, you go and put on the dress and I will bring the burqa up to your room. Would you like that?”
Martha bit her lip again and nodded once.
The red rubber dress clung like a body stocking, emphasisng every swell and curve of the married woman’s still decent body. She had felt a thrill putting it on and now as she looked at herself in the mirror in her bedroom, she felt wonderful. She also glanced at Marianne who had arrived in the room holding the burqa. “What do you think?” Asked Martha, her voice hoarse with excitement.
“Nice, but what I think doesn’t matter,” said the woman in the niqab as she held the burqa out towards the woman in the red knee-length dress. “This is about you.”
“Yes,” said Martha as she took the offered garment. It felt heavy and with it, somehow fulfilling. Just like the rubber dress had its own weight and feel, this burqa felt it was its own object. It would envelop the woman and hide her, but she could wear as much rubber underneath as she wished. No one would need know about any of it. Rubber bra, rubber pants, rubber stockings. Anything in any outrageous shade. No one would judge her under a veil.
Marianne helped the rubber-clad Martha into the burqa. It was like a sack and it slid over the woman easily, instantly hiding her. As it settled around her, Martha could feel the weight and its unexpected smoothness. It didn’t much to her surprise feel alien, but then neither had the rubber when she squeezed into it. But where the red dress clung to her body, the burqa ignored her shape. She was, effectively, barely human. The small, round ‘hat’ at the top of the burqa sat neatly on her head and of course, Martha’s vision through the gauze eye covering layers was restricted.
A weird, thrill went through Martha. A thrill not quite like the rubber dress had on her; it was more as if wearing a veil was more natural. Rubber clothes were fetishistic, but a veil suddenly seemed something every woman should aspire to.
“You may want more or less eye covering, as you wish. You can have a sheer and light covering that you barely notice or have layers until you are virtually blind. Some women like the latter; they like to have to feel their way round things. Only see the world as dark shapes without any annoying detail.”
Martha felt unsure about that idea, for this to her was near-blindness. She could see her shape in the mirror, but of course no detail. Marianne had been hidden by her niqab earlier but now she was even more of an object when viewed from inside the burqa. “How do I get my hands out of here, to feel anything?” Martha wanted to know.
“Slits at the side, here. You may — if you don’t want to wear gloves as I do — want to have your hands pinned under the burqa. I know, some women secretly want to be restrained, feel their hands trapped and increase a feeling of helplessness. Or some burqas have sort of extendable flaps so you can still grip things but not break the line of the burqa. The idea of the veil is people see nothing of you. On my niqab I can put on eye coverings on so I would be like you.”
“But it’s hard to see,” complained Martha.
“And hard to speak,” said Marianne. “The layers of cloth can effectively gag you, or reduce your speech to little more than a whisper. That, they say, is good for the soul.”
“I suppose my hearing is affected too. So touching, seeing, speaking, hearing… they are all limited.”
“Yes,” said the niqabi. “Some women love that. If that’s not enough they plug their ears and seal their mouths with a gag. It takes all sorts!”
“How about your lover, your Yvonne?”
Marianne gave a small chuckle. “She likes me quiet. Very quiet.”
Martha gulped, uncertrian whether to ask the next question. “Does she tie you up? Do you wear a gag?”
“Yes, of course. Both, though the gag is more common than me being bound.”
“And I hope you don’t mind me asking, but when you two make love, what then?”
“I wear a special burqa in bed. It has a small hole at my crotch. Yvonne wears a strap-on and uses it as a man would use his penis. I like being underneath her, feeling her on me, her penetrating me through the hole in my sleep sack.”
“But you can’t kiss.”
“No, sadly not properly. Yvonne presses her lips to my face, where my lips would be but then if I am gagged she wouldn’t be able to kiss me at all. So no problem. I appreciate her trying. Most of all I like her being a little bit denied if I am honest.”
Martha nodded as she listened and knew she felt very different right now. She could imagine herself in rubber underwear, a gag perhaps in her mouth (though she understood she would have to put one in her own mouth as no man — or woman — would be allowed to lift her veil) and clad in a sleep burqa, being fucked by her husband. He would feel her through her restrictive clothes but not really know what she had on underneath. But then, was this all an illusion?
Life, Martha knew, was about family and not simply sex. So what to do? At that moment, she had her question answered.
“Mummy!” Yelled Leonie from the bedroom door. Martha turned and saw her daughter, or as much as she could make out of the young teen through the eye covering, grinning. The daughter lunged forward and hugged her mother tightly. “I knew it, mum! I knew it! You look great and you feel wonderful. I love you mum! Please say you won’t take it off. Ever.”
As Martha patted her daughter’s head she looked at the woman in the niqab. “I see,” she simply said.
“So you will not be appealing over the letter, I take it,” said Marianne. She sounded as if she was smiling.
“No, it doesn’t look that way,” said Martha and felt a huge sense of relief. Now she could get on with being what she was, who she was, and that was the most liberating sensation she had ever known.
“Mum, can we have a niqab party, please?” Leonie begged, jumping up and down in delight. “All my friends and Mrs Adams and you and Mrs Johnson here.”
“All in the veil?” Asked Martha, smiling at her daughter even though Leonie couldn’t see it.
“Yes! Me especially. I’d love to be veiled in the home. Just like you!”
“Yes,” said Martha, kindly and hugged her child back. “Just like me. But not any rubber.”
“What?” Asked Leonie, puzzled.
“Nothing, honey. I mean, just a niqab. I presume they make them in your size.”
“I hope so,” gurgled the girl. “But I am going to be veiled when I’m old enough, all the time! Just like you and the rest, Mummy.”
Yes, the world just like me, thought Martha happily.