Zeina sucked in a breath of air as the magnitude of his question sunk in; Mr. X’s eyes watching her expectantly. It was as if the world had stopped turning and all was still, the only noise she could hear were the heavy beats of her heart. Then like a siren that could fill a city, Mr. X’s mobile rang filling the room. Zeina snapped back into to it and stared at Mr. X, and then at his pocket…he was looking at her with an expression of bewilderment. She wondered what kind of expression her face was giving off at that very moment. Mr. X stuck his hand into his pocket and pulled out his mobile silencing it immediately, then taking a second glance at the caller her stood up “Zayoon dgeega warja3lich ok” he said and walked out of the room to answer the call.
Without a seconds notice she grabbed her phone out of her bag and texted Sara, “In exactly 2 minutes call me, pretend your mama, and ask me to come home!” She texted as quickly as she could. Within a minute Mr. X was back in front of her, “Sorry about that that was the office I had to take it…” He took his seat again and Zeina forced a smile. Just then her mobile rang and she looked at the screen, “It’s my mom” she told him before picking up, “Hala youma..ana 3ind Sara laish? Eee 9a7 nesait! Ubay wala asfa yala ana al7ean raj3a I promise mara7 a6awel” Zeina immediately stood up and Mr. X followed suit.
“3asa ma shar?” He asked her taking a hold of her arm with worry.
“La ma shar, nesait ilyom 3indina yam3a o im late! Omy ibtethba7ni..!!” She pretended to be as panicked as she could to avoid the topic they had just been discussing.
“Enzain Zayoon mawthoo3na?” He said as he began walking next to her towards the exit.
“7abeebi I promise I’ll call you tonight awal ma akhali9 o we’ll discuss it, lazim adig 3ala Sara al7ean agoolaha etgool 7ag omy ini kent 3indaha akhaf et6ee7 3alay” and with that Zeina immediately set her phone to silent and pretended to dial Sara’s number. Mr. X was obviously displeased and unconvinced by her acting but went along with it nonetheless. Most of the ride back to Mr. X’s car was spent with Zeina pretending to beg Sara to tell her mom that she had spent the evening with her. When they got to his car he waited patiently for her to hang up and Zeina, not knowing what else to do wrapped up her fake conversation with Sara.
“meta betkalmeeni?” He asked her, not planning on budging anytime soon. He was obviously insulted by her reaction and at the same time confused, as anyone would be in his situation. But if there was anyone who was more confused than he was at that second it was Zeina, she wanted out in any way possible.
“7abeebi please hurry up my mom is going to kill me, awal ma akhali9 minha I’ll call you!” She threw her arms up in exasperation.
“Enzain enzain..” he muttered angrily unbuckling his seat belt and pushing himself out the door, he slammed it with anger, not waiting for him to get into his car Zeina pulled out and sped away. She fought the tears that were forming behind her eyes…she didn’t know what had just happened to her. Holding down the hysteria that was mounting inside her she punched in Sara’s number and with a shaky voice told her that she was coming over.
Ten minutes later she was pulling up in front of Sara’s house; she got out of the car and made her way up to her friend’s bedroom not bothering to see who was gathered in the living room. She was in no state to be seen anyway. Sara was waiting for her in her bedroom worry overcoming her usually calm and cheerful face, “What happened?” She asked closing the door behind Zeina.
“He proposed…” Zeina said sitting on the corner of the bed and staring at the wall not meeting Sara’s eye.
“That’s a good thing …what’s wrong with you. Are you happy? Is this happiness?” She asked pointing at Zeina’s face in confusion.
“I don’t know…” Zeina answered. That was the complete truth. She didn’t know. Sara gave her friend a few minutes and began pacing in front of her.
“You know what… I don’t think I want to talk about it” Zeina said looking up at Sara for the first time.
“Agool…ib kaif ibooch wana madry! Spill! What the hell happened between you guys?” Sara threw aside Zeina’s bag and sat next to her putting her hand on her shoulder. Remembering her phone for the first time Zeina leaned back behind her friend and retrieved it from the bag before returning to her original position.
“Sara madry eshga3d e9eer feeni…I’m just really confused. I thought a proposal would be the best thing I’d ever hear, especially coming from Mr. X, but when he said it, madry, it sounded wrong.”
Sara kept quiet for a few minutes and Zeina began to play with her phone, on the top of the screen a tiny picture of a letter blinked, she had a message. Slowly clicking her way to her inbox she opened it, it was from Manaf.
“My days here ib ma9r kanat a93ab o the loneliest days of my life, bas akher cham yoom ma 7asait feehom o it’s because you’ve been around…”
A sudden wave of emotions hit her and Zeina realized what she needed to do, she needed to stop talking and to stop thinking before she exploded.
“Sara im so sorry 7abeebti rasi ibyinfijir please please please let me go. Aw3idich I’ll call you with the details, but I really need to sleep on it shwaya..” She kissed her friends head hoping she wouldn’t be too upset with her.
“Ok 3ala ra7tich I guess, you sure you’re okay though?” Sara asked walking her friend out.
“Ee I am bes I’m overwhelmed. I’ll see you soon I promise!” and with a wave she was out the door, Sara’s confused expression staring after her as she went.
With the message left open and the mobile in her lap she made her way quickly back to her house; just before she was able to park her car Mr. X called her, putting the gear on Park, Zeina continued to leave the phone to ring as she took out the key and grabbed her bag. After it had went to Missed Call, she flipped her phone shut and made her way into the house. Saying a quick hello to her mom she told her that she wasn’t feeling well and that she needed to take a nap.
“la7ad yaz3ijni please” she said as she climbed the stairs, her mom told her to call if she needed anything and Zeina promised she would. When she got to her room she quickly shut the door behind her and began dialing Manaf’s number. He picked up on the third ring.
“Aloo…” his voice was deep and husky and Zeina’s heart began to flutter. Her throat immediately went dry.
“Hala Manaf…” she managed throwing her bag onto the couch next to her bed and opening her closet door looking for her PJs.
“Hala feech, ha shaklich mashqoola elyoom…” He was obviously referring to how long it had taken her to get back to him. Everything was such a blur to her right now that she couldn’t remember when she had received the message and how long she had been with Mr. X and what time she had made it to Sara’s.
“La kent 3ind refeejti o tawni rada il bait..” Her words came out in emotionless slabs. Finding her PJ’s she began throwing off her clothes piece by piece and creating a pile on the floor.
“Kelshay tamam? 9ootich metghayer” Manaf told her.
“Bad day…” she sighed crawling under the covers, it was warm beneath them and Zeina stretched her legs finally relaxing.
“Ah…” Manaf replied, he was fidgeting with something in front of him, and he didn’t ask any more questions.
“Eshkint ga3d etsawee lama I called?” Zeina asked him turning to her side facing her night table, on top of it was a turned on lamp, a few scattered items, and her laptop.
“Anagi filim to watch…ha eshrayech lech khelg?” His voice turned cheerful and suggestive and Zeina knew that by saying yes she’d still be able to chat with him, so what if there’d be a movie playing in the background.
“Yala laish la2, bes enshoofa on the phone mu messagat..” She clarified, the last thing she wanted to do was to stop hearing his voice.
“Ee 6ab3an..ana a9lan mabi asakra” He told her, and she could hear a pile of DVDS crash to the floor.
“3ad latkaser’hom …” She joked and he laughed.
“Yala pick one…” he told her Zeina reached for the plastic bag on the opposite table, she flipped through them and picked a comedy, reading out its title for Manaf.
“Tamam…” he said shuffling through some things then getting up from his place, “yala…khaleeni adiglich..”
“laish?” she asked him, it was a reflex more than an intended question.
“Mabi elmokalama et9eer 3ala e7sabich…” He told her
“La 3adi I don’t mind ..” she assured him…
“Well I do, yala hang up o ne6reeni.”
Smiling Zeina did as she was told and waited for her phone to ring, within seconds his name was shining brightly on her screen. She answered it, cuddled up to her pillow, turned the lamp off and began to watch the movie. She laughed at Manaf when he laughed at the silly parts, she listened to his breath when he concentrated on the serious parts, and she asked him questions about his life and his family during the boring parts.