Written by Alaa (aka Lols)

There was only one other person sitting at the bar, a curvy lady, the kind that would grab any man’s attention.

Traffic was at its usual annoying, claustrophobic and nerve wrecking point but Ibrahim took no notice. He didn’t even take notice of the cars finally moving until a horn blast awoke him from his trance like state. Ibrahim thought that telling the truth was going to set him free instead, he found himself swimming in all these new fears and doubts: Will Nevine stick by him now that she knows he’s not as ready as she is? Will she accept these doubts and treat them as nothing other than usual cold feet? Would she phone him and tell him it’s over in the next coming hours. But that’s not her style…or is it?

A storm of new doubts and fears crept on him and suddenly, Ibrahim found himself in front of a small pub, unbeknown to most Egyptians but a few, called “Chopsticks” down on Syria St., Mohandessin. He parked the car (in a spot that he found so miraculously given the usual traffic), and stood in front of the pub for what seemed like forever. He wanted to go in, drown himself in drinks and silence the voices in his head but his legs weren’t budging. For some reason, Ibrahim felt that drowning himself in alcohol won’t solve anything and will only make matters worse. Ibrahim used to be a party drinker when he was younger. He used to be the life and soul of the party, doing keg stands, body shots, drinking games, etc… He renounced the habit after an alleged rape of a girl by him and his friends. Luckily enough, Samir was with him that night before things got out of hands and when matters went to court, he testified that Ibrahim crashed at his place. He was acquitted of all charges and ever since, he’s been sober. But tonight was different.

Let’s face it! I’m an effing coward!”  After a struggle between morality and brain, Ibrahim found himself, in a blink of an eye, sitting at the bar ordering a beer. The place was practically empty except for a few couples, one tonguing it out in the corner and the others dancing their hearts out on the floor.

There was only one other person sitting at the bar, a curvy lady, the kind that would grab any man’s attention. She was wearing a purple short v-neck dress, which accentuated her perfect cleavage, and hugged her hips, with ankle strapped black stilettos and blondish hair thrown over one shoulder. She sat there stirring the small straw in her drink and looking occasionally over her shoulder at the entrance of the pub only to receive disappointment. The place received a few others and started to pack up a little. Ibrahim couldn’t help but stare intensely at the woman who suddenly, turned around and caught his sight. He immediately looked away, feeling heat rise to his cheeks, and pretended he saw someone he recognized.

The woman smiled, took her drink and walked over to Ibrahim, resting her elbow on the bar beside him and looking out at the crowd that started to gather on the dance floor. Ibrahim pretended to enjoy his drink and contemplate the many different bottles of alcohol that lay assorted on the shelves behind the bartender.

“Got stood up as well?” shouted the woman over the music. Ibrahim didn’t answer. “Don’t worry, love. I don’t get paid for jumping into men’s pants” and she laughed. Ibrahim still didn’t answer and gulped the last of his drink. He motioned for another refill. The woman then noticed the ring on Ibrahim’s finger.

“So you’ve got trouble with your ring?” said the woman, as she sipped on her drink. Ibrahim, still not looking at her, replied coldly. “I believe this is none of your business and if you’ll excuse me, I would like to have some peace and quiet for myself” The woman in purple laughed. “Then you’re in the wrong place, sugar. If you want some peace and quiet, you’d better follow me – don’t worry I don’t bite.” She slid out onto the balcony. Ibrahim hesitated for a moment then followed her with his drink in hand, acknowledging the fact that having to listen to “El 3enab” song one more time might give him a brain hemorrhage. He found her resting her arms on the railing, with her drink in hand. Ibrahim took out a cigarette from his pocket and lit it. He then looked at the woman and offered her one, which she enthusiastically accepted.

“Ah! Cigarettes are perhaps the best thing that happened to mankind after…well, I think it’s the only good thing that happened in this shithole we’re living in.” She was clearly annoyed about something. Ibrahim simply nodded and blew some smoke. The stranger was right; smoking is the best thing that could have ever happened to this world…only second to Nevine maybe.

“So what’s your story?” he asked after a few minutes of silence and huffing smoke. “Not until you tell me first” replied the woman. Ibrahim looked at her then looked back at the street where a car just came to bump into another one.

“Well, I’m engaged, as I am sure you noticed back there and yes…I am having troubles related to it” He took a swig from his drink. The woman looked at him. “So? I have two marriages under my belt, one worse than the other and I’m living life to the fullest. Marriage isn’t set in stone you know. We’re always searching for something new, exciting, fresh! Life is an adventure…”

The stranger went on and on, talking about how marriage shouldn’t be a necessity or a norm, that a man and a woman can easily live together in life without having to actually attach to one other and that freedom is a big, big price to pay for such a low quality commodity. With every syllable that she enunciated, with every word that came out of her luscious lips, Ibrahim felt his doubtful side grow stronger, the words he uttered a few hours ago to Nevine, the confession of his un-readiness and fears were confirmed.

“Interesting approach on life”, Ibrahim added as he smiled. “I’m Ibrahim by the way, Ibrahim Romad”

The woman in purple smiled. “And mine is May… May Ramzy.”