Written by Alaa (aka Lols)
“Where have you been? It’s been weeks since we last spoke” said Nevine. She had her cellphone pressed against her ears with one hand and putting on lipstick with the other.
“I’ve been a bit busy, work and all. How are you?” Samir’s voice resounded from the other side, low and unfocused. Nevine paused for a moment, sensing that not all was well with her friend.
“Why would anything be wrong? I’m just super tired and I’ll probably sleep in the office with the amount of work I have to do” said Samir, “anyway, what’s up? I hear you’re going out with Ibrahim tonight. Must be quite a change from all the wedding preparations”
“Oh was that what he told you?” replied Nevine sarcastically as she checked that her hair was perfectly wavy one last time.
“Trouble in paradise, I assume?”
“He’s been distant, Samir and I don’t know why. We’ve been having constant fights now. I mean for us, it’s normal to have the occasional bicker and teasing and normally, we settle things shortly after but now,” she sighed, “it’s like the wedding made us grow apart instead of closer”
“Maybe he’s pressured or something. When I talked to him right before you called, he was tense. Our call didn’t even last for longer than a few minutes because he had a report to hand in, balance sheets to review and all that banking shit that I hate to discuss. Maybe he’s just tense” said Samir, suppressing a yawn.
“As if he’s the only one having a lot to do! I have a wedding to plan which is happening in two months or so, my boss is preparing for this high profile case against one of the major telecommunications firms and I’m his second. HIS SECOND!! Do you know what that means Samir?
“It means that if he dies in a duel, you get to take his place?” said Samir casually. He always admired his way of relating everything to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. It means that with everything going on in my life, it is very much likely that I ask witnesses on the stand whether they’d prefer chicken brioches or salmon kebab for dinner at the wedding! In the meantime, Ibrahim hasn’t lifted a single finger to help me with any of the preparations ever since we went out to choose the utensils for the kitchen” Nevine took in a deep breath, closed her eyes and tried to calm herself down.
“Why don’t you tell Ibrahim all of this? Surely you guys talk during the week, right?” asked Samir, coolly.
“Tonight is the first night we get to spend just the two of us in over two weeks. Phone calls are no longer an option anymore. We barely text; just the occasional “morning”, “night” and “sweet dreams” and that is, if he’s in the mood! God! Samir, I feel like I’m losing him”
“Here we go with the melodrama!”
“And I’m serious too! Stop torturing yourself! There’s nothing to worry about. It’s normal that he’d be like this” said Samir, calmly.
“No it’s not! None of this is normal and of course, you won’t get it because you’re not in my shoes, Samir. I love you and everything but this is not something minimal. Something is wrong with him; my gut doesn’t lie. Same goes with you” remarked Nevine, as she grabbed a glass of water.
“I told you I’m fine. Just busy with everything at the university and classes; midterms are coming up so…”
“Yeah, yeah pin it on the students! I know you! Listen, I got to go. Ibrahim is here. Lunch, you and me, tomorrow! No excuses.”
“I’ll see ya.”
The atmosphere at Osmanly Restaurant was electric. The ambiance, a mixture of oriental and modern tastes, was soothing, elegant and quite different from the day-to-day pubs and restaurants scattered across Cairo. Located in Garden City, “Osmanly Restaurant” was the new hit in the cuisine world and the lucky ones are those who could be able to get reservations, sometimes weeks in advance.
“It’s amazing that we were able to get reservations. This place is packed” remarked Nevine, turning her head around to take in the buzzing atmosphere. Ibrahim simply nodded, as he flipped through the menu, his eyes darting between the entrées and appetizers.
“So, how was your day dear?” asked Nevine, attempting to hide her frustration at the lack of animation that seemed to have plagued her once vibrant fiancé.
“Oh, the usual; work, work and work” smiled Ibrahim before once again, diving inside the pages of the menu. Nevine pursed her lips then took a sip from the water that the waitress just poured in her glass.
“Are you ready to order?” said the waitress.
“Just a little while longer, if you don’t mind” replied Nevine.
The clinks and clanks of glass, forks and knives against plates were vibrating across the restaurant with oriental tunes softly playing in the background. People were laughing and speaking loudly as if they were on a high. They seemed to be enjoying themselves unlike Nevine and Ibrahim’s table which could only be referred to as the “buzz kill” table. Nevine was folding her arms, her menu closed up on the table, her lips pursed to almost being a small dot on her face. Ibrahim’s face was buried behind his menu, humming to the tunes of the music playing in the background.
“What’s wrong?” asked Nevine, leaning in so close to Ibrahim she almost knocked her chair back.
“What?” started Ibrahim, his face immerging from behind the menu.
“You’ve been reading the menu for almost 25 minutes now. Something has to be wrong with you!” snapped Nevine, unable to contain herself any longer.
“Nothing’s wrong. There are a lot of options here and I don’t want to miss anything”
“Seriously!? It’s not like you’re going to die tomorrow and won’t have another go at this restaurant!”
“Who knows? Everything could change in a sec – “
“Don’t bullshit your way through this, Ibrahim Romad! Don’t!” responded Nevine through gritted teeth. She felt her face radiate heat and her heart pump faster than before, “Why are you being like this?”
“Like what!? I’m not being anything! Nevine,” Ibrahim lowered his voice into almost a whisper and beckoned his fiancée to come closer, “is it that time of the month? That’s why you’re being irrational?”
“Oh! Oh you did not just say that to me” Nevine gaped at him, took her coat and her bag. “Call me when you’re done being such an ass!” She then left the restaurant to a few stares from the neighboring tables.