Zeina jumped up at the message, looking down at the half eaten bagel she contemplated taking it with her for a second before deciding to throw it in the nearby trash. She grabbed her cup of hot cocoa, slung her bag over her shoulder, and made her way to the Admissions Office.
What do I do? What do I say? She wondered panicking at how little time she had before she'd reach the office..
Her throat began to dry up and she barely noticed the beep her phone made; it was from Mr. X ..
"ee tukfain.." it read. She had already forgotten what they were talking about, exiting the message inbox she stuffed her phone into the back pocket of her jeans. She was at the turn before the Office and like a million fated moments all gathered together in that one second, Manaf came out of the Office and turned the corner. Zeina took a step back to avoid crashing into him.
"ahlaaaaaan" he said, after taking in a moment to recognize her.
"hala wala .... manaf 9a7?" Zeina smiled. She was glad she knew he'd be coming, if she hadn't she knew the composed Zeina he was seeing now would have been a stuttering mess.
"ee na3am .... ta3alay ma gelteeli ismich!" he leaned his weight to one side, showing Zeina that he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
"Zeina .. Zeina Al Flani.." she answered...
"Zeina...9adeeqti il wa7eeda ib hal jam3a" he laughed extending his hand out to shake hers. She was a bit surprised at the gesture but realizing this was their first formal introduction, she stuck hers out and put it lightly into his.
"affaa..mat3aref a7ad bil jam3a?" she asked him pulling her hand slowly out of his warm one. She wished she could have laced her fingers through his and thrown her entire body against his chest...but she decided it might freak him out a bit. Okay...a lot.
"la wala rab3i kelhom ib ma9r.. manta3amal e7na ma3a 6laab jam3at thanya" he winked as he said that. Zeina was surprised at his unusually cheerful mood. Maybe he was having an off day when she met him?
"3eshtaw..3ayal esh3indik ehnee? mataboona manabeekom.." Zeina teased back.
"la la ana aq9id rab3i mayaboonkom .. ana bil 3aks ma3indi mushkila weya 6laab baji il jam3at.." he said in mock innocence. Zeina laughed a little and began to feel akward, she had nothing else to say. She worried there'd be an akward pause and he'd excuse himself to leave and then she'd really have no way of seeing him again.
"jam3atkom loya..wayed manabi" he said to her relief, glancing around at the several buildings that surrounded the Admissions Office.
"ee adry.. 6awalt ana 3ala ma dalait kelshay.."
"yabeeli tour guide el thaher..." he laughed. She knew where this was leading to..
"tara ana I charge bil dgeega ha .. " Zeina joked.
"rathy yuba rathy .. charge bil thanya ba3ad .. bes la athee3!" he flailed his hand about as he said this and then gestured for her to start walking in front of him.
"Wain taby awal?" she asked beginning to walk ahead of him..She then felt his hand on her arm. Even though he was pulling her with just the tips of his fingers, they were strong and crushed into her top and made nice warm dents in her skin. They lasted a second and he pulled them back.."la7tha la7tha Zeina..laykoon warach shay!" he asked.
"laa laa tawni khal9a..kent barja3 il bait" she assured him, he smiled and they began walking.
Zeina took him from building to building, sometimes standing only at the entrance, other times taking him all the way through. She showed him where the diners were and the several coffee shops..she took him to the bookstore and the library .. "not that I would need it.." he had said about the library. She assured him that he would if he had any essays to write.
He told her he was taking an English class so that he wouldn't have to spend the summer in Egypt taking it there instead. She asked him what he was studying, he said Law, she asked how long he had left until he graduated, he replied with not more than a year!
By the time the tour ended, Zeina found herself at the exit near the parking lot.
"Oo hathy jam3atna.." she concluded smiling broadly. She was finally at ease and felt like she could atleast be a fraction of her normal self around him now.
"laa ana i'm impressed.." he pretended to be overwhelmed by it so much to the point of being speechless. Zeina laughed and playfully hit him on his arm. He looked down at where she had hit him and smiled.
"yala awa9lich sayartich" he said nodding at the parking lot. She was glad now that she hadn't parked so close to the entrance...so the walk could be longer.
"eb-ta5theen 9aifi?" he asked
"umm ee atwaqa3" she replied. Truthfully, she hadn't even thought of it yet, but she was starting to consider it greatly now.
"ana galooli next week el tasjeel o kelshay online..7asafa mafee tour 7ag hal ashya2 ba3ad" he laughed.
Zeina took a moment to look him over properly, he was wearing a white tshirt obviously not feeling the tiniest bit cold in the chilly breeze and grey training pants. Ray-Ban sunglasses flattered his already attractive face the way they do with every guy who wears them. Seriously, Ray-Ban was a gift from the Gods for every single Kuwaiti man (and all the women who liked to observe them).
"mat3aref etsajel?" she asked him..once again knowingly taking the bait he was laying out for her.
"kelish la2..ma3aref shlon adish website it jam3a a9lan.." he stuck his hand into his pocket and took out his now ringing mobile phone. "dgeega...(he said to Zeina before picking up) ... aloo... hala...hala...ee .... eee ..... laish wainich al7ean? ... khala9 mashy, akalmich ana.." and he hung up turning to Zeina once again "ee eshkina ga3d engool?"
"inik mat3aref ishlon etdish website il jam3a.." Zeina reminded him..she noticed him pick up the pace, he was obviously in a hurry. She wondered who the girl on the other end was. If it was his girlfriend would he pick up in front of me? Yeah of course he would why wouldnt he? Min a6la3 ana 3ashan mayrid 3alaiha jedami?
"ee .. gelt ana bayey il jam3a akhaleehom isajloonli.."
"alah y3eenik .. e9eer wayed za7ma fatrat il tasjeel kelman yabi maw3id weya advisors.." she explained taking out her keys from her bag.
"latgoleen! waaih..enzain entay itsajleen wentay bil bait?"
"ee..it's easy tara.."
He pretended to think for a few minutes .."etsa3deeni?" he said stopping in his place and turning to face her. They were a few steps away from Zeina's car.
"Shlon?" she asked him playing dumb.
"madry .. i9eer adig 3alaich gabil la asajel wet3almeeni shlon?"
Zeina paused for a few seconds contemplating his suggestion. She wanted his phone number really badly so why not? She knew this was an excuse to get her number and that he'd probably finding any 3ethir to call her today or tomorrow.
"okay..." she finally agreed.
"mashkoora wayed Zeina .." he took out his phone and waited for her to give him her number.
"998..." she told him and he began punching in the numbers, when he was done they started walking to her car, Zeina hit the OPEN button and her back lights flicked on and off. He took a few steps ahead of her and opened the door for her.
"dagaitlich missed call ok.. sajlay raqmi.." he said.
"inshallah.." Zeina smiled back.
"yala maga9artay" he lifted his hand in a wave and slammed the door behind her. Zeina waved back from the window and turned her car on. She couldnt help feeling upset at how he had become in such a hurry after the phone call.
Brushing it aside she took out her phone and looked at the screen; three unnoticed missed calls and a message. Sara called once, Mr. X, and a new number that belonged to Manaf. She immediately saved Manaf's name onto her phone and checked her inbox...the message was from Mr. X as well.
"Zayoon..kel hatha mu7athara? bakalmich.."
"sorry 6ala3t o al7ean weya refeejti..shfeek?" she texted back quickly ..then dialling Sara's number. Her friend picked up on the first ring and rushed immediately into a story of some professor who was failing her...the phone made a noise telling Zeina she had a message, and she let Sara ramble on as she checked it.
"I really missed you and it made me realize that i'm still in love with you." was the message.