by N. Alawadi
Laith never had it easy hiding his secrets away. *Critiques and feedback are appreciated*
| I fell to the ground of the school's courtyard, with both of my hands covering my face. My lips were numb and swollen. A cold, wet drip ran down my left hand. A faded iron taste touched the tip of my tongue and I knew, by then, I was bleeding.
"Wimp!" I heard before I felt a hard kick to my stomach.
The pain jabbed at me and climbed up my body but I refused to let a tear come out. I wasn't weak.
Loud noises assaulted me. It took a couple of seconds to let the pain fade and I could feel the exact place I'd been hit. I moved my left hand down and it settled on my stomach. Slowly standing up, I saw boys fighting and throwing punches, some were my friends and the others were not.
"Stop. Please!" The girl who caused the chaos shouted. Tears sprung from her eyes. She stood in a corner, trembling, imploring those around her to stop the violence.
I stumbled towards the boy who had hit me, but before I could attempt anything, my Biology teacher stopped me. Other staff members appeared, trying to stop the boys and ease their temper.
"When will you ever learn?" the principal said, aggravated, to the group of boys that now sat in an old classroom. Most of the wooden chairs had writings all over them, the tables were covered in drawings, and the walls and floor were stained with unknown substances.
He looked at me but said to us all, "You're all suspended for a week."
"Cool," one of the boy's said. The room erupted into a ruckus and everyone jumped up in an effort to get out.
I laughed along with my friends.
"Hey, what was the fight about, anyways?" Khalid, one of my friends, asked. He brushed his long brown hair and looked at me with his dark brown eye awaiting an answer.
"Laith was flirting with some guy's girlfriend," Moosa, another friend, explained while he chuckled. Moosa's eyes were nearly identical to Khalid's but unlike him he had short dark brown hair.
"How was I supposed to know she had a boyfriend? She seemed pretty into me. Her boyfriend can't be treating her well," I said, trying to defend myself." You know what? I did everyone a favor. Now we have a week off school."
"You guys want to hang out at my house?" Khalid suggested.
"Are you kidding, my parents are going to kill me!" Moosa said, worried by the situation.
"Come on, man, you don't have to tell them," Khalid said.
"Are you stupid? Is this the first time you have gotten in trouble?" Moosa asked.
Khalid looked clueless until Moosa gave up on him. "Why do you think they took our names? They're going to call our parents and tell them everything."
"What? Really?" Khalid said, his face turning blank as the words sunk in.
I snickered. "You guys are such cowards! Afraid of your parents."
"Well, if you're so sure of yourself, why don't you ever invite us over, are you hiding something?" Moosa asked.
"Yeah, we've never been to your house," Khalid said.
"It's none of your business," I said.
"Whoa, sorry for bringing it up," said Moosa.
"Yeah, what's your problem?" said Khalid.
I didn't answer and kept on walking until I found my bag. I picked it up and headed towards the back of the school. I heard the curious whispers of my friends behind me.
I told everyone that my driver parked at the back of the school because it was too crowded in the front. The truth was I didn't have a driver. I walked home every day. I never wanted my parents to pick me up that would be embarrassing. Luckily, my house wasn't far away from school. I hated home. It was a dump. It was smaller than a cottage with one bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The exterior was so old it was falling apart.
I opened the door to the house and threw my bag on the beat down couch.
"Laith, is that you?" My mother called out from the bedroom.
"What do you want?" I asked.
"Why are you home so early?"
"Mind your own business," I answered and walked to the door.
"Wait..." she whimpered.
I slammed the door behind me.
Both my parents were illiterate and my father was disabled. Most of our income came from the government, but a bit was covered by my mother's small grocery. My father worked as a cashier. It was not fair.
I walked with both my hands in my pockets. It took me thirty minutes but I finally reached the internet cafe It was located in another richer neighborhood then ours. I never went inside the place.
I called a friend to pick me up from the Internet cafe.
"How come every time I pick you up, you're always at the internet cafe?" Khamees asked.
"What's with everyone today? What exactly is so interesting that'd make you so curious about me?" I said raising my voice.
"Hey, chill!" he said.
"My parents kick me out of the house often. Is that what you want to hear?" I blurted out.
"Whatever," He said, suddenly uninterested.
Khamees parked outside our usual hangout cafe. We went to a lot of cafes but this was where we went the most. The building was huge and colored dark red and black from the outside. It had two floors and was Moroccan themed.
The gang was inside today, since it's 45 degrees outside. They sat on a rectangular table in the corner of the room. There was a TV, placed on their right side, that played Arabic music videos.
"How dare you start without us!" I said, forgetting my previous anger and smiled.
"Sit down, my friend. No more talking. Just smoke," Khalid said, pointing to the Hookah, a water pipe used in smoking, holding the shisha, a flavored tobacco,.
I took a seat next to Khalid, and started smoking and watching the football game on TV. A few minutes later, I noticed a girl staring at me. It was the same girl from this morning. She smiled at me, shyly, her eyes cast down trying to avoid my eyes.
"Hey you, come here," I said.
"And bring your friends, too," shouted Khamees.
The girls tried to resist at first. We kept calling them till they finally got up and sat at the table next to us.
"Good job," said Khalid, with his hand on my shoulder.
I turned to face the girl I had called over and asked, "What's your name?"
"Roudha," she answered with a sweet voice.
Some of the guys started flirting. I got Roudha's number. Nothing really new, it felt like a routine, something that happened every day.
I felt suffocated by the smoke, so I stood up to get some air. I asked Roudha to come with me, hoping for the company, and she did. I didn't notice anything about her. She was just like any other girl I've been with. Excessive make up and expensive clothes, that is all they were.
I took a deep breath of the outside air before I noticed a guy across the street looking at me. His eyes were sharp and he had a frown on his face, disgusted by the sight of me. I knew that look too well, he was looking down on me. He seemed to be with his mother. She wore expensive jewelry. She had a necklace that banged against her chest ,bracelets that jangled on her wrist, and rings that sparkled from the sunlight. I gave him the same disgusted look. Judgmental, rich jerk.
Little did I know then, that this tiny moment would change my life.