“Dee, what do you think? Isn’t she beautiful?”
I looked up from my book and took Farouk’s phone with a slight smile. I already knew what I was going to see: some slender size 2 beauty with large luminous eyes, and reflective fair skin. Farouk had a type. A slim, light-skinned, large eyed, type; that somehow never liked him as much as he liked her or somehow couldn’t keep his interest as longer than a month.
That I understood. That I was glad about. As long as Farouk didn’t find anyone that kept his attention, as long as it was just a shallow physical attraction I had a chance.
A slim, stunted, gnarled chance but a chance still.
As I looked at the phone I realised that my chance was about to vapourise. I was about to lose Farouk for good unless I did something.
The problem was: I had no idea what to do.
“She is gorgeous.” I heard myself say. And it was true. The lady in the selfie couldn’t be more than 22. She was a dark shade of chocolate, curvy and her small eyes twinkled behind her cute glasses.
On cue my inner alarm rang. This wasn’t gorgeous. This was gorgeous trouble. Farouk was breaking from the mold–that meant he had found something. Something special.
With a wider smile I handed the phone back. “So what’s her name?”
“Her name is Zukaida,” he replied, “I hope to goodness that she is the one.”
The drive back from class was a quiet one. Farouk hummed along to some Yanni playing in the car while I stared into the darkness and tried to imagine life without him.
We had been classmates for just a year but it felt like we had known ourselves for a lifetime. We had so much in common: a love for cats, an interest in chunky novels,an aversion for onions, an addiction to chocolate cake.
Being around him was like being hooked to a giant cylinder of joy but now my tubes were about to be pulled.
I knew he didn’t feel the same way but that didn’t stop me from hoping or at worst enjoying what I had while it lasted.
Now all that was coming to an end.
He drove to my doorstep and waited for me to alight. I stayed in the cat staring into the night then I turned, closed my eyes and kissed him on the lips.
I opened my eyes and I knew I had made a mistake. His eyes were open and in them I saw shock, pain, disbelief and something uglier–pity.
I pulled away and dashed out of the car and into my house. Shame swallowed me whole. I was still sobbing when sleep came.
The next five days passed in a whirl. I avoided Farouk and braced myself for whatever was coming next. An engagement party. A wedding announcement. A baby shower.
A week later I was making my way to the taxi park when someone grabbed my arm.
“Dee, we need to talk.”
My belly flipped and cold sweat trickled down my back. Could it be? Was he going to say he felt the same way? Were the feelings mutual? Was love going to have a chance?
Of course not.
He wanted me to know that he understood how I felt and while he couldn’t consider us being more than friends he still respected me as a friend. Still wanted our friendship to continue. He recounted the great times we’d had together. He was till talking when I walked away.
I couldn’t bear to hear anymore. I was a drift on a sea of needles and all of them pricked at once. I needed to get away, as far
away from him as possible.
I must have walked past the car park and on to the main road but I can’t remember that.
All I remember is the screeching of tyres as the bus driver tried in vain to dodge me and the blissful darkness that followed.