It was raining really hard and the streets were deserted, but the city was definitely full of life. Indoors, on the strip, every single club and restaurant was buzzing with smoky hot life. The bars were packed and drinks were flying around, couples were intimately chatting, dangerously close to one another. Fancy dinner plates were meticulously arranged and being served by slick waiters who slithered their ways through the crowds. Music was pumping loud with chill out and house tunes that kept everybody on their feet and grooving. Thus was the usual atmosphere of the Ne’ama Bay strip during holidays.

But, away from the buzz of that particular part of Sharm El Sheikh, in one of the fancy hotels of the city, through the luxurious lobby, up the elevator to the third floor, were a few more subtle celebrations taking place, all behind closed doors, each in the privacy of the four walls that surrounded them. Halfway down the hall, on the left, in room 307, Farida was on the bed, naked, huddled and on the verge of tears. Sherif was in the shower, singing a song of triumph as he celebrated his victorious encounter with Farida a few minutes ago. It’s funny how two people who are, supposedly, on the same side can feel so differently about the same thing. Sherif’s glorious victory was Farida’s disgraceful defeat.

They’ve been married for a year and were “celebrating” their first anniversary. As she sat there, fighting the tears, Farida wondered for the millionth time what she was going to do. She loved Sherif very much but communicating with him was so damn hard. He didn’t believe in speech and undermined her opinions and feelings mercilessly. So what on earth was she going to do? How was she to tell him that she was unhappy? How was she supposed to communicate to him that she has not once, since the day they were married, felt any kind of pleasure during their lovemaking?

The mere fact that he didn’t even care was hurtful enough. She was starting to doubt that she knew him at all. Was this the same Sherif she fell in love with 2 years ago? Or was she so blinded with her love that she unconsciously ignored all the warning signs? Why did she listen when everybody told her that it was a woman’s duty to sacrifice her happiness for that of her spouse? Why did she, against all logic, agree to marry a man she could not communicate with? Almost all their conversations moved in one direction; from him to her. She was not entitled to an opinion or to disagree. She was a woman after all.

Farida knew all to well that, if she tried to talk to Sherif about how unhappy she was with their sex life, her words and feelings would be thwarted and she would be mercilessly accused of being shameless or of even having past sexual experiences that she hid from him. As two tears finally managed to escape, she decided to do what she had always done. She wiped the tears away, got out of bed and took a deep breath. As Sherif came out of the shower, whistling and drying his hair, she put on a bright shining smile and looked at him.

“Honey, should I wear the black dress or the purple skirt and top?” she asked.

“Neither,” he replied. “They both look sluty. Wear jeans on a top or something. You really need to do something about your wardrobe, you know.”

Farida smiled a bittersweet smile as she nodded her head and went into the bathroom to take a shower. Under the steaming hot water, her thoughts drifted and she wondered, if she knew back then what she knew now, would she have still married Sherif?

Little did Sherif know that, as he got ready to go out, and further down the hall from his room, in room 309, was his mistress. Her name was Sally and she was with her 3 best friends; Yasmin, Engy and Sherine. The 4 girls had been best friends since they were 13 and have managed to stay that way for 10 years now. They were all the eccentric type and always managed to give everybody a hard time; that’s why they got along so well and for so long.

The room was a complete mess. There were clothes and shoes on the floor, jewelry and scarves on the bed, make up and hairspray on the bed stands, stuff everywhere. But the only neat area in the room was the coffee table. It was perfectly arranged with 3 bottles of vodka, a large jug of fresh orange juice, a bucket of ice, glasses and 4 lines of coke on a small hand mirror.

The TV was on, loud and pumping with the tunes of one of the music channels, and the four girls were hopping and jumping around the room to the rhythms. After the song was over, all four girls laughed and laughed till they spilled their drinks and fell on the floor. Sally was the first to jump to her feet and run to the coffee table. She took a long sniff of the coke lined on the hand mirror and sat on her knees as it made its way through her system. Engy was next, lining up more coke for the other girls and making sure there was enough to go around.

Taking turns, the girls drank, got high and laughed while helping each other decide what to wear for their wild night out. Outrageous outfits in loud colors and chunky accessories decorated the four skinny bodies that were miraculously balanced on extremely high heals. Little did each girl know that behind every façade and makeup layer was a looming thought that translated itself into rebellion with no cause. Each of them was so engrossed in her own efforts to hide her feelings that she failed to see all four of them were on the same wagon. Best friends indeed.

Sherine was wondering if her mother was ok. She had shoved her against the wall and hurt her elbow when her mother refused to give her money for the trip. She left her crouched on the floor, in pain and sobbing, and coldly took money out of her father’s closet and left to catch her plane.

Yasmin was speculating over the fact that her parents didn’t know where she was, and seemingly didn’t even care. They sent her enough money every month to shut her up and never asked her about how she was doing. She saw them once, maybe twice a year and that was it.

Engy was cynically smiling at how little anyone knew about what she was planning to do later that night. She had the sleeping pills safely tucked away with her underwear so no one could find them. She was sick of all of this and had finally decided to put it all to an end.

Sally was fighting a war with herself over the fetus that now grew in her womb. No one had a clue that she was pregnant, not even Sherif. She knew that what she was doing was killing the baby and it made her want to skin herself alive, but that was the only way she knew how to deal with problems; drink until they go away.

Together, the four girls got dressed and ready to start their night of wild barhopping, each harboring her secret and licking her wounds in the most twisted ways.

In the balcony of room 311 Tarek was leaning against the railing, smoking a cigarette, enjoying the cold wind and rain on his face and thinking about Sherine. He knew she was here, in the next room. She told him about the trip last week when she was crying over yet another breakup with one of her countless boyfriends. He never liked listening to her sob stories but he had no choice. He loved her so much. That’s why he decided to gather his friends and come here, so he could watch over her. But he was hoping she wouldn’t see him. He just wanted to know she was ok.

He stepped into the room as Mostafa was getting out of the shower and Ahmed was preparing coffee for the 3 of them. Settled in the living area, each with his cup of hot coffee, the three friends began to talk about Barak Obama and what each of them expected him to accomplish as his time to rule the world came closer.

“He’s going to get killed,” said Ahmed. “Just like Kennedy. They won’t give him a chance to do anything. Poor bastard.”

The three young men went on and on about their speculations for the future and, in the back of their minds, each had his own secret thoughts. Ahmed was hoping to get lucky that night. He had already bought the condoms and put them in his wallet. That’s why he loved Sharm El Sheikh so much; he always got lucky in Sharm El Sheikh.

Mostafa was thinking about his wife. The poor thing. She was with her parents in Cairo and she thinks he’s on a business trip. She begged him to take her along but he wouldn’t hear of it. After all how could he bring her along when he was actually here to cheat on her. A pang of guilt tugged at his heart. He loved her, but he loved sex too. He could never get enough of it and he didn’t care who or what it was with. He had heard of something called sex addiction and had wondered if maybe he was a sex addict. But how could he ever know? There was no way he was going to tell anybody about this. No way! Not even a doctor, not that he could trust any doctor with such a matter anyway.

Tarek was of course thinking about Sherine and trying to imagine the scenario that would take place when they got back to Cairo. She’ll come over looking like a mess with her makeup smeared and her tears falling. She’ll ask him to hold her, then he’ll fix her a strong drink and settle her down. Tarek didn’t drink but he always kept the alcohol around for Sherine. After she’d cool down she’ll start telling him how her boyfriend hurt her and how she hated her parents and wanted to move out. She’ll go on and on until she was exhausted and she’ll fall asleep on the couch. Then, she’ll wake up, give him a despicable look and leave, just as suddenly as she came.

At exactly midnight, the doors to rooms 307, 309 and 311 opened and their inhabitants stepped into the hall. None of the small groups noticed the other at first, until they all stopped in front of the elevator. The chatters of each individual group eventually stopped as they politely speculated one another while they waited for the elevator to arrive. The silence grew heavy as awkward glances were passed around between supposed strangers.

Sherif: What the hell is Sally doing here?! That bitch told me she was staying in Cairo during the vacation!

Farida: Why is Sherif looking at that girl that way? Does he know her? Is she his ex?

Sally: Oh my God! He’s gonna kill me! He thinks I’m in Cairo. I’m gonna get sick! I need to throw up!

Sherine: Oh no! Not Tarek! Is this guy stalking me or something? I fly all the way across the country and I still run into him? This is ridiculous!

Tarek: She’s been doing coke again. I can tell. She’s high as a kite. Whose arms is she going to end up in tonight? And how long is she going to cry on my shoulder this time?

Mostafa: (Thinking about Sherine) That is one hot chick! Good thing I know which room she’s staying in.

The elevator arrives. All 9 people step in. The trip down to the lobby seems to stretch endlessly, but they finally make it to their destination. They all step out, each giving a little sigh of relief. Each group heads to the hotel’s entrance and they step out into the rain, each in a different direction, each to different party.