Later that night Manaf had excused himself to go catch up on some studying and Zeina was finding herself extremely bored. She hated when Mr. X went to il shalaih, she missed him a lot. She enjoyed Manaf's attention to a certain degree but she longed for the comfort and the familiarity that was Mr. X. He had asked to see her and they'd set up a date for tomorrow after he came back; Zeina's dad owned several houses that he rented out to families and the newest one he had built was empty...he was reserving it for a friend who would need a house to rent soon. She knew nobody would be near it for months to come, and considering the fact that she had the keys to it ...it was the perfect place to meet.
She nervously considered what to wear; Mr. X hadn't seen her in a long time and she looked much different than the last time she remembered seeing him...better different she smiled smugly to herself. Going through her closet she considered several different outfits as she began dialing Sara's number to ask her if she could come over.
The phone pressed against her ear she began to make her way downstairs to find her mother.
"Aloo.." Sara picked up
"Hey babe..busy?" Zeina asked reaching the last step.
"La raj3a il bait, what's up?" Zeina could hear the signal sound of Sara's car beeping.
"awal shay reb6ay 7zamich.. o thany shay, ta3alay baitna instead"
Sara agreed and Zeina hung up; "Yoummaaa..." she yelled then lowered her voice, her mother was right in front of her in the living room,
"Sara yayatna tara.."
"7ayaha allah.." her mother replied smiling. Sara was Zeina's best friend and she spent too much time at her place to consider her a visitor anymore. Zeina was dying to find out more about Manaf and she knew that the only person she could trust to find more out for her would be her mother and so she decided to ease into a conversation in a delicate way. She chose not to tell her mom yet that they were on text/call-basis and that she was finding herself interested in him.
"Youma..tathkireen lama sa2altich 3an 3yal M7ammad Al Flani?"
"Mmmhhmm.." her mother replied, she was lying on the sofa in almost the same position Zeina had been earlier that day, throw covering her lower body and a plate of food on her lap. She was flipping through a magazine.
"6ala3 le9gheer bedish il jam3a weyana.." Zeina tried to sound as casual as possible.
"min9ija hatha" her mom looked up, her tone of voice changed drastically, and not in a good way.
"Laish shfeeha?" Zeina almost gave herself a stroke trying to act non-chalant..not wanting her mom to sense her interest and close the subject.
"Hatha cham sina 9arla yadris? O cham jam3a 7awal? La tadri om
Jassem wala etmoot min il 7ara!" ..
Om Jassem was one of Zeina's mom's friends..her daughter Dalal was a few months younger than Zeina and went to the same university. She was a nice girl, very pretty in Zeina's opinion.
"Haaw..Om Jassem esh3alaiha?" Zeina asked. The curiosity was too much by now. Her mother muttered to herself for a bit before putting down the magazine and turning to Zeina, "entay met2akda?" she asked.
"Ee.." Zeina responded sitting at her mother's feet on the sofa. "Laish eshdakhal Om Jassem bil salfa?"
"Salfa qadeema shwaya o il 9ara7a ma el mafrooth a7ad yadri 3anha.." Her mother said giving Zeina a look that said 'I shouldn't be telling you this.." Zeina paused to let her mom go on.
"Dalal kanat et7iba.. o ihwa ba3ad 3ala golat'hom 7abha. O 6awelaw wayed ma3a ba3ath.Ba3dain yaw nas yetqadamoon 7ag Dalal, o walad'hom sheno khosh wa7d eth'haba .. el kel yetmanah 7ag bentah. Gam hatha le7mar weld Al Flani wegoolaha laa ana abeech latwafqeen. Galat 7ag omha o 6ab3an om Jassem mu ghabiya galatlaha abi thaman ba3ad mako om betgi6 mustaqbal bint'ha kela 3ala 7ob yahal. O Dalal etmoot 3alaih kanat! Gam o dag 3ala om Dalal o galaha ina ana ma waray wayed bakhali9 derasti o ana abi bintich o a7ibha. Om Jassem lail7ean
ma kan wed'ha bint'ha etrid ili yayha bes Dalal 9gheera o et7iba ma kanat tegdar etfaker 3adil. Galat matabi o inha ib tan6era...shagoolich ba3ad, ghabiya! shahrain kamelaw 3egobha o gam 7agarha o mesha. Etdigla mayrid o min yoomha ma esma3at mina! Matat qahar Om Jassem, bes mu kethir Dalool maskeena! Eg3adat course kamel bil bait mata7arak min kither ma et3abat..kharebat 3ala nafsa o derasat'ha"
Zeina's face registered shock as she tried to take in what her mother had just told her. If her mom had told her that the story had happened to someone else she wouldn't have believed it, but Om Jassem and her mom were very close and she was sure that it was true. She also believed it because she was around when Dalal took a course off and she had in fact looked tired and sick, and Zeina herself had assumed she was going through a rough break up. But who would have guessed, the man who broke Dalal's heart once before, was now the man slowly stealing Zeina's!
Just then the front door opened and in walked Sara carrying a box of what Zeina assumed would be some kind of dessert. Sara kissed Zeina's mom hello and set the box on the table leaning in to give Zeina a small hug. Sara and Zeina's mom exchanged pleasantries while Zeina sat quietly trying to make sense of everything she had found out. A few minutes later Sara and Zeina excused themselves and headed up to Zeina's room...Zeina was dying to hear Sara's opinion about all of this, she decided to tell her about Mr. X's return as well.
Half an hour later Sara was completely up to date and was staring at the wall deep in thought.
"Tabeen el 9ij Zeina..wakhray 3ana. El salfa akeed its true fa you have an idea of what kind of a guy he is! Bacher ewahgich ba3ad ma teswa 3alaich.."
Sara was right and Zeina knew that this was the right way to think but she couldn't help
wish that someone would defend Manaf, and give her a glimmer of hope that he might not
be the complete villain in the story.
"Bess Sara.." Zeina began, deciding to defend Manaf herself, "what if Dalal had done something
to deserve what happened to her? Maybe they broke up and her mom 3a9ibat o blamed it on him."
"C'mon Zeina, that's stupid. El rayal ga6 kalam mu gada o tewahag o he took the coward's way
out of it."
Zeina knew her friend was right, but Sara wasn't done talking.
"Zayoon.." She began, taking Zeina's hand into her own.."sem3eeni..imbayen already inich
bedaitay ita3alagain ib hal walad..kafi inich tabeen etrag3eenla 3igub hal salfa ili sema3teeha
o hal shay emkhawefni. O ba3dain 7atan law 9ar shay i7na manadri 3ana o 6ala3 mathloom..Manaf mu 9gheer o lail7ean ga3d yadris. Bacher law eyeech wa7d o ten7a6ain ib nafs situation Dalool..7azat'ha shino betsaween? O etkooneen met3alga feeh o 7altich 7ala. O ba3dain Mr. X wain ra7 ib hal salfa kelha..ma reja3lich ela akeed walah 3alaich o ta7asaf 3ala ili sawah! Hal mara 3ad le3beeha 9a7..telgaina he's desperate for you to stay yama .. fa 3a6eeh ultimatum, ihwa emkhali9 derasta o gader 3al zawaj. Goleela intay you'll only be in it for zawaj wela yegdar iroo7 edawerla wa7da thanya etjabla. Shoofay rada yemkin ya9dimich."
Zeina took in all the information and thought about it for a long time; Sara was more than right. She needed to get out before she got too attached. She also decided to take her advice on the ultimatum tomorrow during her "rendezvous" tomorrow. As if on cue Zeina's phone beeped with a message, her heart twisted and turned in her chest as she leaned to read the name..It was Mr. X ..
"Enshallah ga3da etfakreen feeni this weekend kether ma ana ga3d afaker feech.." It said. Her stomach began to turn even more and she tried to think of why her heart had freaked out the way it did when she got the message and then she slowly realized that she had hoped it was Manaf and was a bit disappointed that it wasn't.
Eventually Sara left and Zeina got ready for bed. She texted the usual goodnight message to Mr. X and began playing with her phone waiting for his reply. In truth she was fighting the urge to send Manaf a text and talk to him before she slept. Just as she opened a new message and began thinking of what to say to him her mobile vibrated with a message from Mr. X. She quickly deleted the blank message and read what Mr. X had sent her:
"Goodnight 7abeebti Zayoon.. I can't wait for tomorrow tara, I really missed seeing you o hal esboo3 kela bas ga3d an6er hal yoom eyey!"
Zeina found herself deep in thought over Manaf to be too happy at what Mr. X had said. It didn't
take long for her to fall asleep.