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Episodes X: Courtyard Fate – Samir Tabarem

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

The great thing about conversation is that it leads one to see through a veil of masks into the other’s inner self. I mean, you get to divulge who one truly is, what the other is thinking, how thoughts – no matter how different they are – complement each other. We all perceive things differently but that does not entail that we should be on opposing sides of the spectrum. The flow of words, the meaning that one word could provide – making or breaking one’s barriers, the sentences that ride the waves of intimacy and connection; these attributes make the art of conversing one that is unfortunately lost to the common, and revered by the most devoted. I believe that conversation is vital; it is the key to successful relationships, whether romantic or friendships. Words have the ultimate power of making or breaking bonds. They affect us all on levels we could have not perceived as existent.

The flow of words, the meaning that one word could provide – making or breaking one’s barriers…

With Salma, conversation came swiftly as if I knew a long time before. I was sharing a lot: about how I love music even though I didn’t play any instruments, about how I believe that instrumentals can truly affect the soul on a level most people don’t even notice, about how the tunes and melodies of a favorite song can actually resonate with one’s spirit and emotions. Conversing with her is just so…relieving; a heart-opener, sooth-bringer, and a cheer delight.  

“…and this is my story with Santana” I finish, with a big smile on face, my eyes wide with the passion I just poured out.

“That’s an impressive story,” Salma chuckles, as she runs her fingers through her black ebony hair. Despite it being almost October, it is still warm. Salma pulls her hair in a bun and places a pencil – my pencil – she takes from the info desk in it, holding the bun in place. I can feel my breath being taken away from me, my heart elating at the sight of the definition of beauty.

The bun, the mystical ‘coiffe d’autrui’, the beauty mark of a woman’s hair…

“I never quite understood how you girls manage to make this,” I gesture, pointing at Salma’s messy, but beautiful bun.

“Well, you can’t, even if you tried. You have to be a girl to get the message,” she replies nonchalantly, as her eyes inadvertently scan the courtyard.

“Well, I always find it attractive,” I say, quickly cutting my gaze and looking away. I could feel my cheeks blaze in the moment.

That’s one thing you need to know about me: I blush.

I blush when I receive a compliment, I blush when someone wishes me a happy birthday, I blush when someone smiles at me; I’m a blusher. And while some of you might see it as odd for a guy; fuck you! I’m that bashful and I’m quite in sync with that.

I look at Salma – more like stare at her whilst creepily smiling – as she observes the courtyard filled with the waves of students going to and fro.

I can’t help but feel elated at the sight of her, just observing her surroundings. I could feel her thoughts swirling around, her gaze scanning every soul that walks around the courtyard, her bun slowly reacting to the soft breeze, her heart longing for something so deep, so intense that it would take every ounce of her being to control and embrace it, her simple yet compelling outfit of dark and violet, speaking volumes about a soul in despair yet still holding on to some colour in life. She is everything a girl ought to be: independent, smart, funny, perceptive and beautiful.

…her bun slowly reacting to the soft breeze, her heart longing for something so deep…

I don’t know her, I haven’t met her before in my life, but my soul was responding to a song only her heart was beating to its rhythm. Her soul was calling out for years, calling out to someone who would get her flame ignited again…and my soul heard it. I’ve only seen her yesterday, but today’s conversation – if it is of any indication – means that there’s a connection, there’s resonance, there’s a bond maybe none of us has come to yet fully grasp its depth, meaning, and significance.

And this is the part where I ask her out for a cup of coffee. That’s right, you pump up your courage, you water down the dryness that’s building up in your throat, you calm that wretched, anxious, beating heart of yours, and you ask her out. What’s the worst that could happen, huh? She’d say no? So what? That’s the thing about asking someone out: 50/50 you’ll get a yes or a no.

I can feel beads of sweat building up on my forehead, my chest heaving up and down, my hands growing cold, and my stomach turning into knots. Asking someone out; now fighting a lion would be way easier than that. But doing as my conscience says I should, I tune out all these feelings, numb the nerves, and just shoot the question.

“Salma, would you care to join me for a cup of coffee or something?”

Silence. Utter and complete silence.

Now that’s new…I heard of rejections and acceptances, but this totally blows them out of the water!

Salma kept staring at the sea of students; her eyes suddenly widening.

“Salma?” I ask, my face turning a brighter red.

She breaks away from her trance long enough to stare blankly at my face then quickly replies, “I’ll get back to you on that, excuse me,” as she darts, making her way through the crowd towards someone I can’t see.

Maybe she didn’t hear you, or maybe…

“…she’s not that interested…” I complete my thought as I turn away from the crowd, sighing heavily. I drop in my chair at the info desk and wanting to write down some more, realize Salma took my pen to hold her beautiful coiffe in. Did she really not hear what I asked her? Or maybe she’s just not that into me like I am? I mean…yeah, maybe it’s the latter. I mean, who falls for someone from just that one day with only a few words spoken between them?

You’re thinking too much about this! Come on, it’s probably nothing…Yeah, yeah, nothing…

Like a sight for sore eyes, I notice Adam walking towards the info desk.

I really need to talk to him; he might give me some pointers or advice on how to deal with this.

Adam was the guy you would call “the celebrity on campus”. His black shades glinting in the sun, his charming smile flashing here and there, the “heys” and “hellos” bombard him as he makes his way through the crowd. Everyone loved Adam, everyone laughed with Adam, everyone joked with him, everyone liked to be around him, to have a small piece of his aura shower them, hopefully making them tenth as popular as he is. The thing people like about him is how much of a presence he commands wherever he goes; his smooth talk, his jokes, his aura, and his sense of humor. However, I know he only hides behind his “Mick Jagger” persona that somehow overtakes his true self; the one, I, again, know hides deep beneath the mask he parades around.

But for me, Adam was more than just your average stud/popular kid on the block. I always feel that we’re similar in more ways than one. Adam is the kind of friend I connect with on an unspoken level…literally. We don’t talk a lot, we don’t engage in meaningful conversations, we don’t swap secrets or gossip. Most of our time, we’re either watching a movie/series together in silence, or I watch him play a game on his computer in silence, or we just engage together in absolute harmony and silent sync when we’re out with friends. According to him, I have to accept the silent, no-conversation side of him. I don’t mind that; most of the times, I really don’t, but today I want him to break that rule of his. I want to talk with my best friend and get his opinion and have him more involved in my life. I need that to happen because in the rarest of moments when we got to converse, I felt good about our friendship.

“Hey bro! Where have you been all morning? I tried calling you,” I ask, my hands shielding my face against the sun.

“Was at home. The usual.” Adam mutters, placing his clipboard next to me and turning to his vice manager, Pumpkinhead Wael, asking him about the list of interviews they have lined up for this week.

“Well, I really need to talk to you…” I say.

Adam doesn’t answer, his face as stiff as can be, looking through the list of interviews lined up for the week, taking note of the ones related to PR.

“Adam!”

“Yeah, yeah. I gotta go.” He drags his clipboard from in front of me, then takes his leave and dives through the sea of students, signaling to Wael that he’ll be in the interview room, Room 22.

I sigh.

He’s in his usual dark place, I can tell. But still, that doesn’t justify him not talking to me! I mean, come on!

My eyes follow Adam who makes his way towards the faculty entrance and starts addressing Salma. They stand there for a while before Adam makes his way inside the building. Salma looks back at someone I don’t see, then follows Adam inside. I can feel my head pounding under the pressure of frustration.

I hate it when Adam clearly ignores me like that! I mean, come on! I know he doesn’t like to talk when crisis has hit home, but this is ridiculous. True, it’s rare that we talk or share or whatever, but come on! Ugh, why is this bothering me so much? Adam has never been the talking type, but still…Or is it the fact that Salma might have probably blew me off the reason I’m like this?

I shake my head at the continued bombardment of thoughts and annoyance that seem to have breached my mental barriers and realize that I have a class to get to. Shaking my head and cursing under my breath, I pack up my things and close my eyes for a bit. I take in a few deep breaths, focus on calming my nerves and re-open my eyes, taking in the ever-expanding sea of students in front of me. I signal to a friend that I’m headed for class and take my leave, hoping against hope that the building frustration would subside, and my head would clear.

***    

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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