I needed to teach Rashed a lesson. I remained warm, engaging, just ever so slightly more distant with him.
He finally folds. He rushes down to my office and slams his hand on my desk. I pretend to open a black envelope. He recognizes it immediately. “I see you’re going to the gala.” The envelope was empty. I lie and tell him one of the donors had invited me. “Ya salam. You are coming with me.”
The night of the event, I wear a cream, floor-length Rouland Mouret with an elegant back zipper. Tonight’s the night. Rashed calls to tell me he’s driving his parents and that I should meet him there. “Sama,” I always smile when he says my name. “Noor will be there.” It appears he does not know how to stop saying hers. He hangs up.
At the gala I feel out of place, all the women seem inconvenienced, as if enjoying the evening was somehow beneath them. They look hungry and wear astoundingly similar flowy dresses. I suddenly feel very self-conscious in my form-fitting gown.
I text Rashed to come meet me. He is bleary eyed and callous. He reaches to put his arm around my waist, I push it away, there was something else that needed to be done. I suggest we go say hello to his parents. “Laish?” He snaps. “Because I am your girlfriend.” This seems to bother him. He pauses and then says, “This isn’t going where you’re hoping for it to go, Sama.” I start to answer, but somewhere in the distance I spot Noor dropping her purse, very loudly. I wonder if she did it on purpose. My date rushes to her rescue. Left completely alone and without a single friend, I panic and hide in the bathroom.
When I emerge Rashed is gone.
After a break up, it may feel like you are on the precipice, one step in the wrong direction can send you down the rabbit hole to that dark and ever-expanding place that makes you call, cry, or desperately search for a sign to reassure you that your ex will come back. Not me.
Instead, I grab a bright yellow card sticking out of my bag and head to a new gym that had given out complimentary passes to the office earlier that day.
I walk to the treadmills and spot Rashed. Unshaven and slightly vulnerable looking. An unplanned encounter. Could it be fate? I give him a small smile. He pretends not to see me, switches off his machine, and walks away.
The next day at work, I receive an email from human resources informing me that my contract will not be renewed due to poor performance. It references that one assignment I had deliberately sabotaged back when I first started.
I suppose that’s how it goes. If they don’t marry you, they fire you.
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