She made her way through the campus, heading towards the building where her class was going to be held, she had called Manaf and he hadn’t picked up. Entering the classroom, she glanced around at the few girls already taking their seats, she followed suit and picked a seat way in the back. Her phone placed on the table in front of her she waited for it to ring…but it didn’t. Eventually the professor came in and the class began. She had expected to meet up with Manaf before the class and she didn’t understand why he hadn’t made an effort to contact her. Did he think that they didn’t need to see each other at university?
Fifteen minutes into the class her phone buzzed with a message; relieved Zeina read his name flashing across the screen. She hurriedly placed the phone in her lap and opened the message: “you’re in class? I overslept…kent aby ashoofich!” Smiling with relief, Zeina began to nervously count the minutes until the class ended so that she could see him.
“Ee dashait el class…ashoofik lema a6la3?”
“Wain tabeeni an6erich?”
“El gahwa?” She replied, shutting her phone and placing it in her bag as the professor shot her a disapproving look. The last half hour of the class felt like half a century as Zeina drew tiny boxes in her notebook, one for each minute left of class, crossing one out as a minute passed. Finally the professor concluded her lecture and told them they could leave, hurriedly Zeina grabbed her notebook, slung her bag over her shoulder, and began searching for her cell phone in it. Once in her hand she flipped the screen open and found a missed call from Manaf, immediately, heart almost bursting, she called back.
“I’m coming..” She tried to sound casual.
“Eshtishrebeen?” He asked..
“Whatever you’re having..” Zeina didn’t have a preferred drink and she also liked the unexpected.
It took her no more than five minutes to make her way across campus and find the coffee shop, glancing outside she didn’t see him so she decided to head on inside. Once there she glanced at the several tables, some occupied, and others empty. There was a table of three girls, one of a group of guys and girls, and a table with two professors sharing a newspaper; she spotted Manaf sitting at one of the tables on the side, her knees began to wobble with nervousness as she made her way towards him. Seeing her he began beaming, and stood up to say hello to her.
“Hala wala..” He smiled, his black eyes staring at Zeina intensely. They were different this time, not angry nor laughing, instead they were filled with something that looked like determination. Taking the seat opposite of his Zeina noticed her cup of coffee.
“Shlonik..” Zeina smiled at him beginning to run her finger around the top of the cup; she pulled a third chair from the table next to them and threw her bag and notebook on it. Nervously she brushed a hand over her hair to make sure everything was in place, self-consciously she noticed Manaf staring at the exact spots her hands had run over.
“Tamam, 3aash min shafich…” He leaned back as he said this, taking a self-assured sip of his coffee. He oozed confidence as he stared at the tiny lamb in front of him trying to muster up all the courage not to start giggling like an idiot. Zeina took in his white dishdasha, the crisp form of it and the way it hugged his chest and shoulders perfectly; his dark black hair, hint of a beard, and black eyes shockingly standing out from all the white around him.
After exchanging pleasantries, Zeina nervously sipped her drink, it tasted strongly of coffee, one of Zeina’s least favorite tastes; she couldn’t help twisting her face in disgust. Manaf let out a laugh at her reaction and grabbed the cup out of her hand, pushing a bottle of water he had next to him towards her. “Mashkoor” she laughed taking a big gulp to erase the taste.
“Manaf…tell me shay interesting 3anik.” Zeina asked quietly, after a long silence, looking down at the water bottle in her lap sealing and unsealing the lid.
“Awal shay….6al3eeni..” he waited for her to look up, then stared deeply into her eyes, not removing his gaze he continued...”o goleeli eshtabeen et3arfeen 3ani..”
“Madry something interesting..”she shrugged
“Hmm..” he began to think, staring away for a few seconds, rubbing his fingers against his chin, “there’s nothing in this world I haven’t done..” he met her eyes challengingly.
“Shlon ya3ni?” Zeina leaned her head in, suddenly very interested.
“Se2leeni o ra7 et3arfeen shloon..” He lifted his right leg and placed it on top of his left, leaning his arm behind his seat and resting it.
“Ya3ni..mathalan…have you ever went sky diving?” Zeina asked.
“Ee na3am…twice ba3ad..” He nodded smiling smugly, he lifted his cup and took a big gulp of the coffee, winking at her as he put it down. Too interested to blush at his wink she continued…
“Bungee jumped? Went to China?” She tried
He nodded at both comments.
“Enzain…ya3ni 7abait..!” Zeina took a risk and stated. Manaf stopped mid-nod and stared at his shoes for a few seconds. When he looked up his smile was gone and a pained expression filled his face. “You said you’ve done everything…” She whispered.
“I’ll answer that question later…” he told her smiling gently. Deciding not to push him Zeina nodded and went back to playing with her water bottle cap.
“Hey..” he said softly..”6al3eeni..”
Zeina lifted her eyes to stare into his and he nodded in approval taking another sip of his coffee. “Enzain doori ana al7ean as2ilich questions?” He raised an eyebrow teasingly.
“Laa .. mabi, akhaf!” Zeina shook her head furiously, her hair falling across her face. Manaf laughed at her statement,
“Latkhafeen, mara7 as2al etha 7abaitay..” He smiled knowingly and Zeina’s heart fluttered in her stomach. Did that mean that he assumed she already has? She wondered to herself.
“La mu khayfa min hal so2al, eshda3wa…” she laughed nervously. “Bes ra7 a36eek one question o one question only!” She tried to sound confident but she knew she was failing miserably, he nodded and went back to thinking deeply.
“Yala..” She coaxed him, panicking the longer she waited.
“Sheno?” He asked her confused.
“El so2al…” she reminded him..
“Ah….la bakhesha 7ag yoom thany.” He told her sipping his coffee.
“Ya3ni ma3indik wela so2al 7agy?” She was a bit disappointed, how could he be so uninterested in her? She was dying to ask him a million questions and he couldn’t even think of one for her?
“Embala…bes entay gelteeli so2al wa7d o hal so2al taw enas 3alaih..” He smiled and glanced at his phone.
A million thoughts raced through Zeina’s head as she wondered what this question was.
“Enzain was bungee jumping scary?” She asked him changing the topic.
“La2.” He replied matter of factly, “you never tried it?”
“Entay kelshay etkhafeen mina!” He asked her laughing, “lazim in3alej hal shay feech! Starting min bacher!”
“Min bacher shino! Eshbitsawee feeni!!” She mocked fear, opening her eyes wide and hugging the bottle to her chest as if scared.
“Baklich, eshbasawii feech ya3ni” he joked, “bacher lebsay jeans…” He informed her pointing at her dress, “ba3almich shay yedeed..”
“Sheno?” She asked him, this time her eyes truly wide with curiosity.
“Ba3almich ishlon lama etkoneen ma3ay mate7tajain etkhafeen min ay shay…”