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Episode X – Courtyard Fate – Sarah Al-Korayem

Previously on “Decisions in a Halo – Episode IX: Sagittarius”

K. I’ll entertain the idea of Macho Guy, Orange Dude and myself walking in the same direction…

I notice the Macho Guy in the white shirt parading around like a peacock engaged in a sort of “impress-the-significant-other” ritual, flaunting his feathers. His orange-haired friend desperately tried to mimic him in his charm only to miserably fail. After talking to the two girls earlier, they walk around the front of the faculty building a bit, eyeing this group of girls or that group of other girls. Not once did they point out guys or even a mixed group.

I mean, come on! What kind of student activity depends on just girls!? That’s the thing with Egyptian guys; they think life is all about football, women, sex, smoking, doing everything that’s taboo. It’s just…disgusting really! They’re like pigs!

I usually don’t judge and I usually don’t stereotype, but certainly, what I’ve heard from family and older female cousins is that Egyptian guys are the worst, and that there is nothing that can prepare a woman for such a drastic storm to sweep her off her feet and dunk her head in the mud.

But seriously, we can’t say that all guys are bad. I know it’s hard, but I know that once it happens to me, that will be it. I will have the simplest, most straightforward, and relaxed relationship because otherwise, hit the road mister! I fly solo…

From where I stand by the side of the gates, after a few attempts here and there to reenact their first encounter with the two girls earlier, Macho Guy and Orange Dude walk away with the former talking lively about how to impress girls and become someone with presence and character. Still walking in the same direction, I decide to drag my feet a bit, keeping them in my field of vision so as to not lose their tail. We walk a short distance yet it does not feel short in any sense of the way.

Every meter meets us with a sudden stop, so Macho Man can greet this group of people or that infatuated girl who clearly has wandering eyes.

A misfact in our society is that only guys check girls out in the most obscene of ways. Trust me, girls are worst…I mean, come on, dudette! Eyes up on the face not down under…Jeez!

Macho Man impresses; he laughs here, chats there, jokes around and leaves an unforgettable whiff of a persona hanging in the air. Orange Dude transcribes; he quite literally takes notes of everything Macho Man does, says, and acts out. Once the duo leaves, I can hear the people whom they just met talk gloriously about how funny, charming, commanding and downright awesome Macho Man really is.

This spikes my intrigue even more, as well as my concern…You’ll understand later, I promise.

As usual, Macho Man impresses and Orange Dude transcribes. Finally, after what felt like an hour, we round the corner into the back courtyard of my school. I call it the Waterhole. Everyone of all different walks of life, schools, mentalities, personalities, interests, and orientations gather in this particular spot of the university campus. A lot of motion can be felt; the sheer static and energy that seem to emanate from this particular spot on campus is overwhelming. Information desks are lined up in an almost perfect circle with a few parasols planted above the desks, giving out shade to the sea of students below, against the unusually hot September sun. Banners of different writing, colors and slogans hang against the desks in an unspoken sparring match of popularity, and a show of which student activity got the better funding.

It’s all political, really…

A few benches are scattered here and there with a kiosk established at the far end of the yard, serving a seemingly endless line of students and teachers rushing to grab a quick bite or a quick coffee. Students pose for pictures. Others chat and laugh out loud, not a care given to the world around them. A few talk to a group of first-years, advertising their plan for the year, the range of activities they offer, and what value added they can give them.

For a second, I lose track of Macho Man and his sidekick, mesmerized by how able these people are to withstand such energy, such flow of thoughts and emotions. But my eyes quickly refocus on my target who apparently is the King of the Waterhole. Just like the last fifteen minutes that passed, Macho Man says hi to this guy, winks at that girl, and engages in a ritual of impressing and fist bumping with others. I try and make my way through the sea of students that expanded in front of me, as to not lose sight of Macho Man. But unable to proceed, I decide to stand under a tree that was planted on the edge of the Waterhole a long time ago before I even knew what the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences was.

“What are you doing here?” Out of the blue, Salma appears, her eyes wide and surprised.

“Well, I’m talking to you now,” I answer, trying hard to keep my gaze fixed on Adam who finally managed, after a lot of hellos and heys, to reach the info desk of the student activity he’s enrolled in.

“Don’t get smart with me! ” Salma hisses, her voice tuning down to almost a  whisper.

“It’s him, isn’t it? That Adam guy? ” I ask with a hint of disgust and undermining in my tone. I look at my friend, scanning her eyes, feeling the tension spreading through her muscles and resonating with the heat rising in her face.

Salma is more than just a girl with whom I became friends. Salma is my person, my rock, my family, and the most precious person I know in this life. Not knowing what she’s thinking or what she’s feeling would automatically dismiss the friendship we have. Our relationship is one that would describe as simple. Chaotic was never the adjective I would use. Sure, we have our downs, but I focus more on the ups. We were in the same middle and high school, grew up together, lived happy and sad moments together,  formed a bond I hold encircled around my heart. I would give my all for that girl, even if it meant stepping on my own toes and causing myself heartache.

“Yeah, it’s him but-”

“Interesting…” I break away and look back at Adam, still standing by the info desk.

“So? What do you think?” Salma asks, nervously.

My opinion matters to her just as much as hers matter to me. We share everything, we discuss everything; nothing is off limits between us. Any subject is viable to be discussed. But this – whatever this is –  I know it’s going to remorph our friendship, but I don’t know how yet…I hate that!

“When is your interview again?” I ask, my gaze still planted on Adam.

“In three days time, I guess”

“I think you’ll have it now” I answer, adjusting my glasses.

“What!? How do you…”

“He’s coming your way! You tell me everything that happens during that interview. I’ll follow you upstairs,” I say as I dart away quickly and hide behind the tree.

“Salma Al-Maleb, is it?” I hear him ask my friend. Cautious not to expose myself, I take a peek from behind the tree. I notice how rigid he seems and how tall he is relative to Salma. He has a wide chest that seems wider in his bright white t-shirt. His black hair was military cut; a look that seems to accentuate his dominating yet intriguing stature. His biceps are prominent from underneath the sleeves; he looks like a guy who loves to work out. But his most unusual feature is his eyes. They, no longer hidden behind dark shades, appear sullen and uninterested; however, I can almost hear Macho Man’s eyes nitpicking at every detail of Salma.

“Yep, that’s me!” Salma answers, in her most annoying, perky voice ever.

Oh, she already hates herself for doing so!

Macho Man does not smile back; instead, he just turns around and enters the building. Salma looks back at me, looking for my approval or some comfort in knowing that I would be there with her. I give her a thumbs up and gesture her to move on and follow him. She does, and as Salma disappears up the stairs, I take a deep breath and follow the couple; all the while wondering if what I am about to embark on won’t sink like a Titanic.

Follow your heart, they say…

***

About Alaa Rahman

I’m one of the In-Betweeners. I hover between reality and fiction worlds (of my own creation or currently existent). However, my 28 year old Economic Analyst alter ego at the Egyptian Ministry of Finance keeps me grounded in real life (unfortunately!). I am a big freak when it comes to Harry Potter related basically anything. I love writing; I draw and paint as well as cook and play the violin (still an amateur though!) Kingdom Hearts is – in my opinion – the best fantasy game out there and music is life! I’ll be writing Decisions in a Halo and editing fiction pieces to whoever feels like venturing in the world of myth.

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