Excluding the 35-minute rides to college on the mornings of Layla’s exams, it has been over a month since she and I have last spent time together. It was the end of the school year and we were both busy studying hard in order to do well in our finals. Layla, especially, was putting an extra effort since it was her senior year and she wanted to raise her GPA.
On the day of her last exam, I dropped her off to college then went to Dunkin’ Donuts where I waited until she called and said she was done. When I went to get her, I found out that her friend, Rana, was coming along with us. I looked at Layla with questioning eyes and she said that we are all going to Ruby Tuesday since we have not tried it yet and that the rest of the guys and girls are already there. Layla sensed my slight discomfort at this. I had missed Layla so much and I would rather spend the day just her and me. She smiled apologetically and promised that we would not stay long and that she would make it up to me.
Everyone at the table was done with their exams except for me and my friend Abdurrahman. Festive moods are contagious, however, since I left feeling more cheerful after the small celebration we had in the place. Abdurrahman had spilled his entire Pepsi by mistake on his shirt and jeans and we could not stop laughing. The manager had to come and ask us to lower our voices twice since we were annoying the other customers. We stayed there for over an hour before we excused ourselves and left. I asked Layla if she wanted go somewhere particular but she said let us just stay in the car and drive around. I did not mind that at all.
During the course of our relationship, we had spent countless hours in my car. It felt like our own small moving haven. True there were always people and cars around us but still we felt like it was just the two of us. No one could hear us speak. No one could see our fingers entwined together. No one can make us separate. I always wondered if one day I would have enough courage to sell it and get a new car after all the memories it had witnessed.
“So, how does it feel like to be a graduate?” I asked. “Well, technically, I still didn’t graduate and I want to see my grades first before I start celebrating properly. Overall, it feels good but a little bit scary I guess. It’s like soon I’d have to worry about a job and a career. Not that you’d know anything about that anytime soon,” she said jokingly. It felt weird that Layla has already graduated when I still had two more years to go, not to mention the internship year in which you are not a student anymore yet you are not an employed doctor. That is the problem with med school. Everyone seems to graduate before you and get a head start on life. Everyone seems to get a job before you, travel abroad for post graduation studies before you, be engaged and have children before you, and you cannot help feeling cheated sometimes. “But you know what the positive side about your graduation is?” I asked then continued not waiting for an answer, “Is that you’ll be getting a job soon and so for the next couple of years until I graduate you’ll be spending most of the money you’ll earn on me! I, naturally, expect more expensive gifts from now on!” I laughed. “Oh what a wild fantasy that is! Keep dreaming mister! That money is mine! But I would loan you some from time to time,” she said and laughed.
About an hour later, we were still driving aimlessly around. We were in Obhor not too far from my house when I felt Layla’s hand brushing softly on my inner thigh and making its way up slowly. I grinned but gently removed her hand. “Layla, we can’t. You’ll get us in an accident this way.” She ignored me and put her hand where it was again then brought herself closer to me. “Don’t you want to touch me?” she whispered into my ears seductively. I felt my entire body shiver with desire. The truth was that I longed to touch her and every part of my body ached for hers. It has been a while. We could not go to either my house or hers since her sister and my brother were done with their exams and were staying home now.
“We never did it in the car before,” Layla whispered again. I was finding it increasingly hard to control myself and my resistance was getting weaker. “We can’t. What if we get caught?” I said. “We won’t. Look around. There’s no one in sight and not even cars are passing by and the possibility of getting caught will make it even more thrilling. Come on. Let’s do something wild. It’ll be amazing.” She then kissed me and said, “I miss you.”
“OK. Just let me find a good place to park,” I said. My heart felt like it was going to burst any moment from all the adrenaline and desire. I parked my car behind a big tree. Layla took off her Abaya and brought down the passenger seat to the lowest position. I made my way on top of her and we started kissing. We were so lost in our own world of pleasure that we did not pay attention to anything outside the margins of the car. I froze dead in my place when I heard the distinctive horn of a police car.
“Shit! Shit! This can’t be happening,” I said as I returned to my seat quickly. I was having flashbacks from the time my dad caught us in my room a long time ago. Fate is indeed ironic. I was not sure we would get away with it as we did then. The police car stopped a few meters behind mine. I thanked god for the black sunscreen I had blocking up the back window and I hoped the police officer could not see what was going on inside clearly. Layla covered herself with her Abaya and I hid her bra under my seat. “What are we going to do?” Layla asked panicky. “Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine. Just no matter what, don’t get out of the car and never say your real name. Play along if I said anything.”
I straightened my shirt and got out of the car just as the officer was getting out of his. “Hello, officer,” I said trying to hide the fear in my voice. He did not bother to greet me back. “We got a call that a car was parked here, obviously yours, and that something suspicious was taking place inside of it, you and the woman.” I was amazed by their quick response if what he said was true. I do not think someone reporting a murder would have had a similar fast response. I also got livid at the clear disrespect in his tone when he said, “The woman.” I swallowed my anger then I cursed myself silently. How was I foolish enough to do such a stupid thing? Of course, someone would spot us and evidently report us. No one in this country will leave you alone. “I’m afraid that would be a mistake, officer. Me and my cousin here were just having a conversation,” I said and the second the words came out of my mouth, I regretted saying them. I was not thinking clearly and in my head that sounded like the smartest thing I could say but when I heard the words out loud I realized how stupid and fake they really sounded. “Your cousin you say?” the officer said in a sarcastic tone then said, “Then why were you in a parked car behind a tree in a deserted place? I guess you’ll have to explain that to the religious police.” He headed to his car. “Wait. Wait,” I called after him. “It doesn’t need to get that far, officer,” I said. “Son, you think you can lie to me? I know what was going on here. This is not the first time I encounter such a thing and to tell you the truth, what bothers me the most is that you stand there and think you can lie to me about it,” he said.
“Ok. I’m sorry. I apologize. I panicked and I didn’t know what to say. She’s not my cousin. She’s my fiancée,” I said. “And that would be the truth?” he asked doubtingly looking into my eyes. “Yes. I swear. We’re both wearing our engagement rings. We’ve been engaged for a couple of months now. This is my mobile. Here. You can call my father or mother and they’ll confirm this to you. You can call my fiancée’s parents too if you don’t believe me,” I said it with as much conviction as I could muster. I knew it was a big risk to take but I hoped it works out. The officer stood there silently for a minute contemplating what to do.
“And we weren’t doing anything. We were just talking I assure you. We just came here because we’re not supposed to see each other before the wedding. You understand how it is. We just wanted to see each other and talk. I apologize for not telling you this from the start.” I do not remember what I also said but I sensed that he was inclining towards letting us go. Just then, however, Layla got out of the car and approached us. “Please officer let us go. Nothing happened,” she said. “Maryam, get back in the car now, please,” I almost yelled at her intentionally using another name. She turned around and got back in the car.
“Officer, I’m wiling to take full responsibility here. I’m sure both of our parents will tell you the same things I just told you but I’d prefer if she wasn’t involved. Where would I hide my face from her parents then? Please spare her and her family the embarrassment. Do whatever you see fit,” I said. “Give me your ID, your driving license and car registration papers.” I gave him my ID and went to get the rest from the car. When I opened the door, Layla asked me. “What’s going on? I’m afraid” “I don’t know. Just wait. And didn’t I tell you not to get out of the car?” I raised my voice at her. I got what he asked for and gave it to him. He went inside the patrol car and started writing things on a notebook. A couple of minutes later, he emerged and gave me back my papers. “What’s your mobile number?” he asked me. I was surprised but I gave it to him nonetheless and he wrote it with the rest of the information.
“I have all your information here. I’ll let you go this time but you have to come down to the station and sign a statement regarding this incident so this way we’d know if you ever were involved in another similar one again. I’ll call you some time in the next couple of days. The girl’s name will not be mentioned. Don’t worry. Now go before I change my mind.” I could not believe my ears. I uttered a thank you and got back to the car. “What? What?” Layla asked me. “He’s letting us go free,” I said. “Just like that?” “No. I’ll have to sign a statement about this in the police station but don’t worry you’re not going to be involved in anyway,” I said. I was feeling relief that this somehow passed over but I was slightly mad at Layla and myself for putting us in this situation to begin with. “I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s ok. I’m sorry too. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Don’t think about it anymore. It passed.” “Take me home please,” she said. She had tears in her eyes from the moment she got out of the car to speak to the officer and she could not stop crying silently all the way to her house. I tried comforting her but to no avail.
When we finally reached her house, I kissed her forehead. “Enough already, dear. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Nothing happened,” I said. She did not say anything and got out of the car but as she was closing the door, she stopped for a second then said, “I’m sorry but I don’t think we should keep seeing each other anymore. I’m sorry.” She closed the door and ran inside the house.