Chapter 4.

“Can I ask you to do something for me? Please put your Tarha on when you go out,” I told her a couple of months after we started dating. “Why? You know I don’t cover my hair and you didn’t mind before,” she said. “Well, I just don’t like it when guys look at you. It drives me crazy and I feel my blood is boiling and you’re not even noticing! I know I sound illogically jealous but I can’t help it.” She smiled and said, “No, I actually think it’s sweet that you get jealous over me. You know what? I might start wearing a Tarha from this day.”


[Hanging by a Moment] was still playing from my mobile while its screen kept blinking [Layla is calling] I put my mobile on Silent and threw it on the passenger’s seat. I was not ready to talk to her just yet. I needed to clear my mind for I was still confused. I felt disoriented. I tried thinking of other things such as the Pathology quiz we were having the next day but I could not concentrate on anything. The voice in my head was still asking too many questions. “Probably it’s nothing,” I kept reassuring myself. Maybe I am just making a big deal of it. In the end, it was just a simple Thank You message. In my mind, I knew it was not the message itself that worried me the most, not even the fact that they had talked last night was. It was the things that might follow I was afraid of. I did not want them to have a relationship of any kind. I would not feel comfortable knowing that he could call her anytime he needed to “talk.”          

I took my mobile and looked at its screen. 3 Missed calls and 1 message received. I could not help smiling. Someone else might have not stopped calling and sending messages but she knew better. She knew that I did not like it when people kept on calling. She knew I needed some time alone to figure things out on my own. She also knew that I would call her the minute I find it in me to do so. I turned the volume of the stereo way up high so I could not hear my own thoughts for a while. I kept driving to nowhere in particular.    

When it started getting dark, I came back home. My mom asked me where have I been and why have I not been answering my phone. I apologized and told her I had to stay late in college and that I had forgotten my mobile on Silent. She asked me what is wrong. I knew my mom could read me like an open book and I was never good at concealing the way I feel. I said nothing and asked her if I could take Noor, my sister, out.     

Noor and I went to Gelato, Al-Tahleya branch, which we used to call our “cheer-up place.” We usually went there whenever one of us felt down or upset over something for it offered good Ice Cream and good Mo’assel, hubbly bubbly. The place was rather small but we liked it very much. The setting was nice. We had befriended the manager a long time ago and the waiters knew us well enough by then. We ordered a strawberry milkshake, a plate with five different kinds of ice cream and an apple Mo’assel.


Those who knew me knew about my close relationship with Noor. We kept almost no secrets from each other. We often talked at length about everything that is going on in our lives. She usually was the one offering advice when I was in need while I served as a sympathetic ear whenever she needed one. It is true that she is almost two years younger than I am but she knows about life much more than I do. She understands how relationships work in a way that never fails to amaze me. We were not always this close though. We had a better relationship than most siblings usually have but during the last two years, we grew closer. She was a tremendous help after my first relationship ended rather badly during my second year of college. I was heart-broken and I thought I would never recover. I have no idea what I would have done if she had not been there for me during that difficult period of my life. I owe her more than I could ever repay. I will always be grateful to her. 

“So, what’s wrong?” she asked. I told her about what happened that morning, more or less. She did not ask me what I was doing at Layla’s house. “What should I do?” I pleaded. “Well, I think you should call her the moment we get home and give her a chance to explain things. Don’t make any judgments yet. It doesn’t seem like something you should worry about. Layla loves you. I could tell from the way she looks at you and holds your hand. Even if it wasn’t the first time they talked, I don’t think it meant anything to her. It’s usually hard to ignore the first person you’ve been with. Just ask her to please not talk to him anymore if it bothers you this much and I assure you she would do as you asked. You’re making a big deal out of nothing. I thought you were worried about something more serious. Just talk to her tonight and everything will be ok,” she said.  We stayed for another hour before we left.  

I finally called Layla around midnight. She was still awake with her mobile in her hand or something because she answered even before I heard a single ring in my mine. “Hey,” I said. She said Hey back and we both fell silent. Up until that moment, I had not exactly decided how I am going to discuss the whole thing with her. I had struggled with different scenarios in my mind throughout the day but at the end, I just dialed her number with nothing premeditated to say but “Hey” as I did. “Thank you for putting the alarm on 2 o’clock so I could wake up before Lama comes back home and for folding my clothes too,” she said. “It’s ok. You’re welcome,” I said and we both fell silent again. “Listen, Khalid, I’m sorry.”          

She paused as if to wait for me to say anything but when she saw that I did not respond she continued, “Last night wasn’t the first time Rami called. However, it was the first time I bothered to answer. During the last month he had called me three or four times but I never picked up.” I interrupted her saying, “You should’ve hung up in his face rather than just let it ring.” “Please let me finish. He even sent me a couple of messages, which I deleted without even reading. Anyhow, last night, I think it was around 2 or 3, I woke up to the ringing of my mobile thinking probably it’s you. When I looked at the screen, turned out it was Rami who is calling. His calls were annoying me so I figured I should just answer and ask him to please not to call again. When I said hello, he asked me how I was doing and apologized for calling so late and waking me up. He wanted to make small talk but I cut him off asking him to get to the point why he is calling me. He then told me he was engaged.

Can you believe that? He’s engaged to Halah, the girl I saw him with that day at Java. I used to think I would get upset if such a thing ever happened. The strange thing is that I didn’t. It didn’t stir up any kind of emotions in me. It was like a stranger was telling he is getting married, which I guess in a way is what Rami has become to me. I thought of you and I smiled. I pictured us getting engaged ourselves one day and me calling Rami to tell him the same thing he was telling me then. He gave me the dates for Al-Milka and the wedding day and where they will be held. He asked me if I wanted to attend any. I said, “No, thank you.” I congratulated him and told him I was happy for him, which wasn’t entirely true but I figured what the hell. We talked for a couple of more minutes then he asked me if I had forgiven him. I shrugged and said, “There’s no need for us to bring up that subject ever again.” I congratulated him again and we hung up.

The whole conversation couldn’t have been more than ten minutes. There’s nothing about it that should make you upset. I’m sorry. If I knew you’d leave me to wake up and not find you by my side, I would never have talked to him in the first place.” “Why didn’t you tell me about it in the morning then?” I asked. “Because it was the first time I let you into my house. The first time I let you into my room. I didn’t want to start our day together by mentioning Rami because I thought it might turn you off or upset you. I would have told you later for sure but not when we’re alone in my room. I wouldn’t waste our precious time together on such a small matter.” I apologized for leaving the way I did. I felt rather foolish and embarrassed from myself that moment. We then talked about our lovely morning together and how it was almost perfect if that message had not come.       

“You know what? How about I pretend I’m still sick tomorrow so I can stay home alone again. I promise I would make it up to you.” She was back to her usual playful self, using her seductive voice tone. I could not help smiling and saying, “Well, you know I have a Pathology quiz tomorrow but I’d be more than willing to miss it if you’re going to wear that red dress of yours. Preferably with nothing underneath” I said in the same tone of her voice.

“So, is everything ok between us? I’m looking at the mobile with my cute puppy eyes. I look adorable. Too bad you can’t see me now,” she said. “You know what? I think you might be able to show me those cute puppy eyes of yours. Move your curtain and open up your window.” “No way!” she said giggling. I saw her window slide open and her beautiful face peered out from it. She was wearing the pink PJ I had undressed her from that very same morning. I was standing in front of my car, which I had parked in the empty piece of land opposite her window. I waved to her and she waved back. She was screaming at my ears through the mobile, “You’re crazy! Did you know that? It’s very cold out there! Don’t tell me you’ve been standing there the entire time!” I smiled and said, “Well, No. I’ve been here half an hour before I called you.” She laughed some more at this and said, “I love you.” I told her I loved her too. I stood there while she sat on the edge of her window and we talked until the break of dawn. Then I got into my car and went home to take a shower, change and come back to her house when everyone has left. Four hours later, I was in her room and we had our perfect morning that day.

Chapter 3.

“I’ve been in love once before,” she said.


We were sitting next to each other at Starbucks, Al-Corniche branch, a couple of months ago. At that time, we were only a week short of completing five months together. Her coffee was getting cold as she barely recognized it was even there on the table. She pretended to listen to me but I could tell her mind was somewhere else. She was visibly nervous. It showed in how she kept playing with my fingers in an agitated way rather than the comfortable way I have grown accustomed to and loved. 

She had called me the night before asking me to pick her up from her house the next day around 8:30. “There’s something I need to talk to you about,” she had said. I could not sleep well that night wondering what is so important that she felt she should tell it to me in person rather on the phone. Exactly 8 o’clock, I got up from bed, took a long shower and got dressed. I arrived at her house ten minutes early but she was ready and waiting for me. “Good morning,” she said as she got into the car. She did not say anything else for the rest of the ride to Starbucks except for a mumbled “Nothing” when I asked her, “What’s wrong, dear?” I kept glancing sideways to her while trying to keep my eyes on the road. It was clear she was lost in her own thoughts.        

When we got there, I ordered a Caramel Macchiato for her and a bottle of water for myself. The place was empty to our relief, which meant we could sit without anyone disturbing us. We sat next to each other in one of the stalls. I decided that I would not ask her about what is occupying her mind. I thought it was better if I just kept on talking normally and she would bring it up when she feels comfortable enough.    

I was taking a sip of water when she untangled her fingers from mine. I put the bottle down. She looked up into my eyes and said, “I have a confession to make. You probably wouldn’t like what I’m going to tell you but please don’t get upset over it. It’s something from the past but I feel like you should know it. It’s not going to affect us in anyway. Just please listen to me till the end, ok?” I nodded my head and then she said, “I’ve been in love once before.” For the course of the following three hours, she told me the story of Rami.          

“His name was Rami. We had met in the summer that followed our graduation from high school. Back then, my friends and I were young and wild. We went to many parties to celebrate and have fun. We went out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were just very happy that we were done with school and finally going to college. Well, in some of these outings… and in some of those parties… I regret to tell you that there were guys present. Not most of the times, but on occasions, there will be a couple or more if we’re simply going out to some restaurant or nearly a dozen if it was a party at someone’s place. I met him at a surprise birthday party we had arranged for our friend Dania at her house.” I interrupted her asking, “You mean Dania as in the one that came along with us to Friday’s last week?”
“Yes, that’s her. I’ve never been to a mixed party before because I thought the idea of going to some stranger’s house or even to a friend’s house while guys were present was too much for me. I didn’t mind if guys came along in public places. It was fine by me. The other girls went to these parties. I usually refused to go, well, at least until this one. Dania had met this group of guys that she had become good friends with during the last year of school. She even had a crush on one of them called Ahmad. We had gone out with them before so we knew each other. So when it was time to plan Dania’s birthday party, they had to be included. When the night had come, one of us took Dania out to Jamaloky beauty saloon. We had told her it was an early birthday present.


They were due to come back at 10 so we had almost three hours to get the place ready. A few minutes after they had left, we were in front of her house ringing the doorbell. Fifteen minutes later, we were saying goodbye to her parents whom we managed to convince to leave the house empty for us. They were going to Makkah and weren’t coming back until the day after. Around 8, the doorbell rang. I pressed the intercom button and asked, “Who is it?” “It’s us! We have brought all the good stuff” Ahmad replied. We were nine girls inside the house then, adding Dania and Rana, who took Dania out, would bring us to a total of eleven girls that will be present at the party. We didn’t know how many guys were coming though. Ahmad and three of his friends were coming for sure. We had asked them to bring along a couple of more friends, too. When I got down and opened the door, I counted six.


I recognized five of them including Ahmad but the sixth one wasn’t familiar. I welcomed them in and they started loading stuff off the GMC they came in. A large stereo with two big speakers, a bag filled with CDs, some festive decorations we requested, drinks, chips and many other additional things. We had asked them to come in one car because more than one parked in front of the house would look suspicious. We had started decorating the house by then. They came in and started hooking the stereo and helping around with the decorations. We mostly just sat around and gave orders while they did the rest of the work! While they were putting up this big banner with Happy Birthday Dania written on it, I took Ahmad aside and asked him, “Who’s the new guy?” “Who are you talking about?” he looked puzzled. “The one with the long hair! The one wearing a red t-shirt.” “Ah, you mean Rami?” he said.


He continued, “I forgot you’ve never met him before. We’ve been friends for a long time. He just had to leave last year to study in Madinah after his parents got divorced and he went to live with his dad there. He’s back in Jeddah now. He’ll be studying at Azzoz like the rest of us. Don’t worry. He’s a good guy.” I left and went to check on the birthday cake in the fridge. Rana had sent us an SMS by then telling us to be prepared because they would get back home in five minutes. We turned off the lights of the main saloon where the party was going to happen and took our positions. We heard the keys getting into the lock of the door and turning it. Dania stepped in with Rana behind her, closed the door and the moment she turned on the lights, we all screamed “Surprise!”


What a poor girl! She almost fainted! She came and hugged every one of us all teary eyed. We put on the music and the fun begun. We were having a good time and when it was finally midnight, everyone screamed “Cake!” We turned off the lights again and brought out the cake, which had a picture of Dania when she was five years old drawn on the top. It had eighteen lit candles. We demanded, “Wish! Wish! Wish!” She wished something then blew out the candles while we sang Happy Birthday. We turned on the lights and after we were done with the cake, Ahmad said, “Now it’s time for the presents!” We spent an hour as Dania unwrapped her presents taking pictures with each one and the person who had brought it. I had gotten her the red Gucci sunglasses you saw in the pictures of that birthday, if you remember.” I interrupted her again saying, “Oh yeah right! But there weren’t any guys present in the pictures.” I was confused. “Well, we showed you the parents’ version; the one that didn’t include any of the guys. We had to take pictures to show Dania’s parents and ours that we indeed had a birthday party, so we figured we’d take two sets pf pictures; a private one and a parents’ version.” “Ok, continue please,” I said.


“We decided we’d finish the night with a movie. The guys had brought a big collection of DVDs with them and we settled on Road Trip even though some of us had watched it. Everyone went up to the second floor because the big screen TV and DVD player were upstairs in the living room. I hated to leave the saloon in such a chaos and I knew very well that we’d be too tired at the end of the night to do anything so I stayed behind to clean up a little bit. As Rami was climbing up the stairs, he turned around and asked, “Aren’t you coming?” “I’ll just tidy here a little bit and I’ll be up in a minute,” I replied. To my surprise, he came down and offered his help. The saloon was still a mess when we left it but not as bad as it was a couple of minutes earlier. Upstairs, everyone had taken their place in front of the screen that there wasn’t any space vacant on the sofas or chairs. We ended up sitting on the floor not too far from each other. After the movie ended, we all cleaned up the place then it was time for the guys to leave since us girls we’re going to sleep over. Dania hugged each one of them and thanked them for what they’ve done today and for the presents. We all jammed ourselves in Dania’s room. We kissed her, hugged her, said Happy Birthday, said Goodnight and went to sleep.         

A couple of days later, Dania called all giggly and excited saying, “I was just on the phone with Ahmad and guess what? Somebody likes you.” “Ahmad? He’s obviously interested in you, not me,” I said. “No, you silly! Rami likes you. You know, the one with the red shirt,” she informed me. “I remember him but are you sure? Because I wouldn’t be able to tell” “He just asked Ahmad for your phone number but Ahmad said he’ll have to ask you first. What do you think?” “Why not? Let him have my number,” I said. A week later, he called to say Hi.


It became customary for us to go out with Ahmad and Rami. Sometimes the other guys came along too. Rami and I got used to talking to each other. Slowly, the ten minutes calls increased until they became hours. He was very nice to me. It didn’t take me long to like him more. I wanted to talk to him and be around him all the time. One night, he told me he loved me and I told him I loved him, too. We started going out alone. Sometimes we went out with the others but we preferred to go out just the two of us.


We’ve been together for almost a year when I started hearing rumors he was going out with someone else. Of course, I refused to believe anything I heard. He denied it with fierce conviction when I questioned him about it and I believed him. A month after the rumors started, Rana called me and said, “I’m so sorry to tell you this but Rami just parked his car next to mine and went into Java with some girl. He was holding her hand.” “Are you sure it’s him?” I asked, my voice trembling. “Yes I am,” she said. I was on my way home from college when she called so I asked her to stay there and told the driver to go to Java. My eyes were starting to tear up as I stood in front of Java’s entrance but I still refused to believe until I saw him with my own eyes.


I went in with Rana and found them snuggled in a corner in the second floor. I screamed at him. I cursed him. I tore the necklace I was wearing which he had gotten me as a gift on our three months anniversary and threw it at him. I blew up in tears sobbing and shaking as Rana was taking me outside. He tried to come speak to me and I heard him call my name but Rana slapped him when he came close and ordered him to leave us alone. We got into her car. She told my driver to go home and took me to her house.


I loved Rami. I really did. I honestly thought he was the one. He broke my heart into pieces. I was a complete mess for the rest of the year. I’m going to spare you the details. I was so hurt and so confused. I avoided him for a week and called him the next. I told him I loved him in one call and told him I hated him in the next. I knew he was still going out with that girl but I couldn’t keep myself away from him. If not for my friends, I’d have done more dramatic things. I cried and cried and cried. I begged him way too many times to come back to me but he didn’t want to. He didn’t care. He kept telling me he loved me but that the love we shared had faded away. Have you ever heard something as lame as that? What kind of an excuse is that? Faded away? It was never there in his heart in the first place for it to fade away. I almost failed 2nd year because of that bastard.


Anyhow, one day I woke up and just decided that I won’t call him anymore. I’ve had enough. He kept torturing me, I kept torturing myself and it was all for nothing. In the summer, I went with my family to Spain and then to Egypt which helped me wash away some of the memories and pain. I came back refreshed and a lot stronger. I didn’t hear from him ever since, other than that he’s actually still going out with the same girl until now.


I’m sorry I didn’t tell you any of this sooner but I didn’t want you to get the wrong idea, or think that I’m not a good person. I was stupid and I didn’t know any better. I meant to tell you before but I thought I’d wait for the right moment to come. Yesterday I was cleaning my wardrobe and found a blouse he had given me once, which I must’ve forgotten to throw because I got rid of everything he’d ever gotten me a long time ago. That’s why I called you. I needed to get this part of my past over with. I know I told you I hadn’t fallen in love before. I’m sorry for that. I never meant to lie to you. We had just started going out together and I preferred to void this subject. Therefore, by saying I hadn’t, I prevented any further questions about it. I didn’t want you to know I came with such history and baggage. I didn’t want you to feel like I’m still hung up on him or anything. I also wanted to make sure that I have moved on myself. I swear to you, you’re nothing like him. You’re so much better. You don’t have to believe me now. I’ll prove it to you day by day. I love you”   

I remained silent for a couple of minutes because I did not know what to say. She reached for my hand and held it in between hers. She tried to look into my eyes but I kept looking away. I was trying to comprehend everything that I have heard. I had so many questions to ask. I felt like I needed to ask for more details about him and their relationship. I was confused. Then I thought; I know I love her. She knows I love her. I know she loves me. Why should anything else matter? When that realization came, I took a quick look around the place and saw that it was empty except for us. I gazed into her deep hazel eyes. I rested both of my palms on her soft cheeks holding her beautiful face in my hands. “It doesn’t matter. It’s all in the past now. I love you, Layla,” I said. Then I kissed her lips for the very first time.



I snapped back to reality by the ringing of my own mobile. I was still sitting on the edge of the bed in my underwear clutching her mobile hard in my hand. Its screen was still showing the dreadful message. I took my mobile from the nightstand and saw it was a friend of mine calling, probably wondering why I did not come to college yet. I silenced it and did not bother to answer. I sat frozen looking at the purple-painted wall facing me. I did not know what to think. A million thoughts were running wild inside of my head and were colliding with each other. I felt like I wanted to scream. I bit my lower lip so hard I cut it and tasted blood.


I got up, went to the bathroom, and washed my face. I stared at my reflection in the mirror. I could not tell how I felt. I went back to her room and looked at her peacefully sleeping so unaware of the storm inside of me. “God, she is beautiful,” I could not help thinking. I was surprised by the outward calmness I was portraying. I felt like I was watching myself move around the room but it was not me.


Should I wake her up and ask her about their talk last night? Should I call him and ask him about their talk? Should I just ignore the whole thing and pretend it never happened? Should I scream and shout at her? I needed an explanation I thought. I need to understand before I can judge. But what explanation is there? What reason would there be for them to talk? How long did they talk? Was it ten minutes? Or was it an hour or two? Was it more? What did they talk about? Why did she answer him in the first place? Why was he calling to begin with? Was this the first time they talked? Or wasn’t? What if they were talking on regular basis? What would that mean? Are they getting back together? Where do I fit in the picture? Did she tell him about me? Or did she fail to mention me? Too many questions were on my mind. I did not know where to begin or where to end.


I decided I could not deal with any of this now. I needed to clear my mind first. It was such a task getting dressed. I collected her clothes from the floor, folded them, and put them on the desk. I put the alarm in her mobile on 2 o’clock so she has some time to get dressed before her sister comes home. I also left the message showing on the mobile’s screen and I placed it on the side of the bed that I slept on so when she wakes up, she can know that I had read the message. I inspected the room one last time to make sure I did not leave anything behind. I took one last look at her and fought the urge to kiss her before I leave. It was 1:14 when I was driving away from her house. I could not go to college or home. I did not want to, to be more accurate. I kept driving around Jeddah. The weather was hot but I felt cold inside of my own skin. Just after 2 o’clock, I heard the intro to Lifehouse’s song [Hanging by a Moment] coming from my mobile phone. It was the ring tone I had assigned to her number. I looked at the mobile’s screen. [Layla is calling you] it informed me.

Chapter 2.

“I have a gift for you,” she said and handed me a key chain that had a small purple bear and three keys attached to it. “Thanks. I love it. I needed to replace mine anyway. But what are these for?” I asked holding out the keys. “The first one is for the outer door to our house. The second is for the inner door. And this one’s for my room,” she said.


“So, could you come over or do you have to go to college today?” she said, playfully, expecting my answer to be an enthusiastic Yes. I decided to tease her a little bit so I replied, “I don’t know. Let me check my lectures schedule for the day and get back to you.” She yelled at me between her giggles, “Don’t play with me! You’re coming over whether you like it or not!” I said I would be there in 15 minutes.  

Our lectures did not start before 10 in the morning on Sundays so I was sound asleep in my bed when Layla called and woke me up at 8:30. She told me that she had faked sickness in order to stay home from college that day and that she had waited for everyone to leave the house before she called. “We can have the whole house to ourselves most of the day. Well, at least until 2:30 when my sister comes back from school,” she said in a way that did not leave much room for speculations regarding what we were going to be doing that morning.
I went to the bathroom, took a quick shower and got dressed. I thought of passing by a flowers shop to buy her a bouquet of roses or something but the shops were still closed so I settled for passing by Barnies and getting myself an Ice Strawberry and a cup of Mochachino – 1 sugar, extra caramel – for her. Exactly 15 minutes after we hung up, I was parking my car in front of her house. The moment I got out of the car, I heard the door open and saw her standing behind it. I said good morning and entered.           

She stood there smiling somewhat shyly, which made my heart jump out of its place. She was still in her favorite pink PJ. I knew because she had talked about it lengthily to me before. It consisted of a pink tank top with a big smiling cow in the center of it and matching shorts of which a small similar cow to the one on the top was printed on the right corner of it. She looked so adorable. “I brought coffee for you,” I said and hugged her. She thanked me and led me inside. I have never been into her house before but it felt like I did after all the times that she spent describing it to me. I had a virtual picture of the house saved in my head. We spent half an hour taking a tour of the house. She showed me all the rooms except for hers because as she said, “Let’s save the best for last.”   

It was the first one to the left of the stairs on the second floor. It had purple-painted walls, a bed with purple-colored sheets, a couple of nightstands that carried many framed pictures of her and her family and friends, a large desk that has never been used for studying she told me, a big closet and a window covered with white drapes. I knew every single small detail of this room from our late night chats but seeing it was something very different from imagining it. The first thing I noticed was her characteristic sweet scent that filled the entire room. I looked around admiringly trying to carve every little detail into my memory. After a couple of minutes of standing in silence and looking around, she asked. “So, what do you think?”
“I love it. It’s so cute! It’s the same as you have described it to me but even nicer. And the best thing is, It smells of you. I think I could live here forever.” “I know you could,” she said. I turned around to her and put my hands on her waist. I looked into her eyes. The room was silent but in my head, a symphony was playing. “I love you,” I whispered into her ears even though there was no one around but us. “I love you, too,” she whispered back. 

Faster than we could tell, our lips met and we were kissing. I started to lose sense of everything around us. It was just her and me again. There was no one else. There was nothing else. We had decided to ignore the guilt we felt the first time we made love a couple of days ago. Without even speaking about it, we had agreed that if we did not treat it as an existing feeling, it would eventually just go away. We swept it under a mental carpet away from sight. Nothing could stop us now anyway. Our hands were rediscovering each other’s bodies slowly.


Three hours had passed when we finally put on our under wears again and just lied next to each other on bed. She had her head on my chest and it felt like it belonged there. My heart was dancing in joy. I was here, in her house, in her room, next to her. The world outside did not matter to me. She lifted her head and looked into my eyes. “Khalid, promise me you’ll never leave me. Promise me you’ll always love me,” she said in a faint sound. I kissed her forehead. “I promise. I swear I’ll always love you, Layla. Don’t ever doubt that.” She smiled and rested her head again on my chest. A couple of minutes later, her breathing became steadier. She had fallen asleep. I lied there reminiscing of the wonderful time we just had. Everything that has been said and done kept playing over and over in my mind. I stared at her angelic face while she slept peacefully. She was smiling as a baby does. She was unbelievably beautiful. After a while, I fell asleep smiling, too. 

It was just after 1 o’clock when I woke up to the sound of her mobile phone announcing that a new message has been received. She was still asleep but not on my chest. She had moved her head on to the other pillow on the bed. I reached for the mobile and opened the message by mistake. “Thank you for our talk last night sweetie. I really appreciate it. Take care now :-).” I looked into the message details to see who sent it. It read, Sent by Rami at 1:04pm, Sunday. He was her ex.

Chapter 1.

“There is a woman in your life, my son
Her eyes are so beautiful
Glory to God
Her mouth and her laughter
Are full of roses and melodies
The woman you love
May be your whole world
But your sky will be rain-filled” ~ The Fortuneteller – Nizar Qabbani


We sat in silence next to each other on my bed, not a word spoken. Nothing heard but the faint sound of music coming from the stereo and the rhythmic sounds of our breaths. Shoulder to shoulder I could feel the warmth of her body. Her skin was glowing. Her sweet scent was lingering in the air. It was filling the room, the sheets, the bed cover, the pillows and even me. I reached for her left hand and took it in between both of mine. I caressed it gently with my right thumb trying to install some comfort into her shaken soul at the moment. Her right hand held the white bed sheet up against her chest. Her silky brown hair fell on her back and I wanted to move my fingers through it and stroke it but I did not know if I should.                 


We sat in silence. We were afraid of looking into each other’s eyes. We kept looking around the room inspecting the objects surrounding us. The wooden door locked while the purple bear that served as a key chain, which she had gotten me as a gift a couple of months ago, was dangling below the door handle. The closet, the TV stand, which also bore the stereo that will not stop playing, the book shelves, the desk on top of which lied the bouquet of white lilies I had bought for her that morning before I picked her up from her house. The big window with the curtains slightly opened letting small rays of sunlight into the room and the nightstand with her bra hanging helplessly on its far edge. On the floor, my discarded jeans, my yellow t-shirt, her sky blue blouse and short black skirt were staring at me. I could not see where her bottom underwear was so I guessed it was somewhere within the crumpled bed cover that has been thrown to the floor while we were making love.    


Words would have failed me had I tried to describe what happened between us. It was awkward but it was beautiful. It was pleasure mixed with pain. It was a journey that I didn’t have a map for. There were tears and laughter. There were fears and hopes. We ascended into another world beyond the limited margins of our earthly space. We lost tack of time. Entwined in each other’s bodies I had shown her I loved her. For a few moments then, we were one. Body and soul, we were one.


What we did not anticipate was the enormous amount of guilt that engulfed us not too long after we finished while we were still lying in each other’s arms. It came over like a hurricane that took us by surprise. We broke free. I put on my boxers and she lifted the bed sheet to cover herself.       


We sat in silence. I felt an urge to apologize, to tell her that I was sorry. I yearned to hold her again. I longed to kiss her forehead, her cheeks, her eyelids, the tip of her nose, her ears, her chin, her lips and her entire body all over again. I wanted to put her head on my chest so that she can listen to my heartbeats and hear them pronounce her name. I needed to whisper I Love You into her ears over and over again until it reaches the deepest corner of her being. She must have no doubt about the way I feel about her, about us and about what had happened. It was magical. It was beautiful. It was the most divine experience of my life.

I lifted my head, turned around and held her gaze for a while that seemed like eternity. She was reading my soul through my eyes. She knew every word I wanted to say without me saying it. She understood. I finally said, “Layla…” She put her right index finger on my lips hushing me and letting the bed sheet slide down to her waist. She put her arms around me, brought me closer to her and rested her head on my shoulder. I held her tight as she whispered into my ears, “I know.” I felt her tears falling down on my back and shoulder.