Day 21

Chapter One

I remember the time we got locked out of the 8th floor apartment. It must have been what 7? 8 years ago?

We were doing the same shit we always do before it happened. We were sitting on two separate sofas in complete and utter awkwardness. You, hugging your pillow on your lap, and me turned slightly away- facing those gorgeous floor length windows with the view of one Cairo’s busiest streets. Several packs of gum were strewn in a random pattern on the glass coffee table in front of both of us. Do you remember that flickering florescent light? It was so annoying.

We were alone on the floor, there was never anyone else around. It was one of your demands – that we always meet alone, away from friends or people in general.

I would make some retarded comment about the pollution, or the serenade of ambulances that would pass by every five minutes, and you would be engrossed, completely glued … to your phone, which, by the way, I found infuriating. I would study those leopard print cushions and think they were the most hideous things I had ever seen. I also remember us throwing them at each other, in a 50% passive aggressive manner and 50% flirtatious attempt.

Who throws pillows at each other?

I had no idea what to say. Not because there was nothing to talk about, but because there was simply too much.

You would offer me a drink, and me, petrified, would always refuse – for the mere reason that I didn’t want to spill. I bet you never knew that about me, I don’t like to eat in front of people, I get ridiculously self conscious. Oh, and I hate sharing food with people. It irritates the crap out of me. I don’t know why, it just does.

Right, back to the 8th.

I believe you had one of the most beautiful paintings I had ever seen on one of the barren walls. It depicted a woman playing the piano, but with so much passion, it was as if she was playing with her heart and soul. She was so entranced in the music she was creating. I wanted to be her- so lost in the beauty of my own music that the world didn’t matter.

The rest of the walls were bare – and a little dirty, and the tiles on the floors were a mess. The whole apartment needed a desperate makeover, something to replace the sparsely decorated rooms.

I remember walking towards the large windows and begging you with my mind to wrap your arms around me.

You never did.

I wanted to sit next to you, to play with your soft light brown curls, to have the courage to look into your hazel-green eyes, and to perform the gutsiest act of them all – hold your hand.

But I never did.

About an hour and half in I was sick of my failed jedi mind tricks. I got up to leave and stormed out. The thought of spending another minute unappreciated in your presence nauseated me. The same question pounded my mind, why was I here? It was always hard for me to go – mainly because each time I made the pilgrimage to the 8th floor, I hoped it would be THE trip I had been waiting for – for years. That you would finally succumb and give me what I wanted. Each step out towards the exit was a sharp reminder that this time had not come.

I twisted the bright gold door handle and slammed the door behind me as I beelined for the elevator button. I prayed itelevator would come fast. I just wanted to leave, so I could go back to being me, instead of some stiff awkward girl that resorted to 14 year old flirtation antics.

You could tell I was upset and in an act very unlike you, you came after me. You stepped next to me, in front of the elevator. You looked perplexed, like you had no idea what to say or what to do.

The door then slammed shut.

We looked at each other.

I tried my hardest to hide the laughter bubbling up in my throat. You looked pissed – which made me want to laugh harder.

I planted my tongue firmly in my cheek – it’s my way of getting my face to not smile. It took you 20 full seconds before you realized you had left everything in the apartment, your phone, your keys, everything.

The fact that I couldn’t fall on the floor laughing hysterically was killing me. You of all people always have it so together, to see you so flustered was exhilarating.

We ended up calling your brother, right?

We sat on the narrow, dusty, underused stairs in front of the elevator in the familiar awkwardness waiting for him to come unlock the door. We knew there would be questions, thankfully I wouldn’t have to answer any of them. The small talk was painful. I think we both stopped breathing for those 10 minutes, because when we finally heard the elevator chime, we both let out the largest sighs of relief.

I said hello to him and good bye to you with my eyes glued to the ground, as I hurried  out of there as soon as I could – all I wanted to do was listen to my music on my way home.

What I could never understand was how much I missed you when I left. I would try to remember every rigid moment, every nuance and facial expression. It made no sense to me.

It was so irritating because I could never explain it to any of my friends, none of them understood. They would always relay the same conclusion – you’re just addicted to the game.

Who gets hooked on a bad game? That doesn’t even make sense.

I couldn’t help but wonder, how many other girls did he bring to the 8th floor? Was it equally as awkward and rigid with them? Probably not. I imagined him being a more thawed version of himself, expressive and intimate.

This made me sad.

As always, waking me up from my reveries, 10 minutes into the drive home, my phone would light up with a message from you, the text would say something like “you looked really good today,” or “I’m glad you came.” You know the kinds of things that make my stomach do backflips and make my cheeks hurt from all the smiling I would do – and we would start all over again.

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