Minus One (part 7 of 7)

CONTINUED FROM PART 6

“Is this real? Is this really happening”, she cries on my shoulder.

“I am so sorry hayete…I am so sorry…”, I tell her. “Sit down hayete. Sit down. Let me get you a glass of water”.

She looks like she’s been crying forever. I help her sit on her bed and go to the kitchen to get the water. When I come back she’s changed her place. She’s now sitting on Fadi’s bed.

“Nadine…drink this hayete”.

“I don’t want to. How can I drink or eat when he’s not around?? Ma fiyye, Jad”.

“You must be thirsty from all the crying. Yalla, please hayete”.

She gives in and lets me hold the cup to her mouth while she sips. Her tears subside and she’s not gasping for breath anymore.

I brush back the strand of hair that’s fallen to the front of her face. “There…all better”.

I donno what to say to her. Anybody who’s been in my shoes right now knows you really can’t say anything to make a person feel better about losing someone.

“I came over as soon as I heard. I can’t imagine what you must be feeling right now…”, I tell her.

“Thank you for coming. I need you here, Jad”.

“And I’m here for you…I’m here, habibe”.

“How did you…find out…”

“Akh…last night at around 7 pm. We got a call from the school saying they found him on the…”. Her eyes start to tear up. “On the rooftop and…”

I grab her hand and caress it. “It’s okay…”, I tell her.

She continues to talk. “Dad had to go identify his body cause…he was so mutilated he was…unrecognizable”.

“God…”

“I still don’t believe it…Who would do such a thing?”, she looks in my eyes.

“Whoever it is…they won’t get away with it. I promise you. Alright?”, I reassure her.

“Akh…I just want my brother back. You know we were supposed to go to Batroon this Saturday? I promised him we would take the bus and go there”, she says.

“Oh, really? In this rainy weather?”, I ask her.

Her eyes wander off and she sighs. “He actually wanted it to be rainy. He said it reminded him of a special day he had with someone. He said he…”.

Then she stops and looks at me. “Listen Jad. I want to tell you something. My brother was …umm…gay. I just never told you because… well…it wasn’t an issue with me and I didn’t think it should be an issue with you either”.

“No…umm..of course not”.

I’m so shocked she’s bringing this up right now. I feel very uneasy.

“And I knew how you felt about him anyway. That’s all that mattered”, she says.

“What do you mean?”, I ask her.

“I know what you used to do to protect him. He used to tell me how you defended him from the bullies in class. He admired that about you”, she continues.

I smile uncomfortably.

“So thank you, Jad. Thanks for being kind to my brother”.

I nod at her. “It was nothing…”. I can’t look her in the eyes.

“My brother was gay. I accepted it. Others didn’t. The whole school didn’t. So when he told me he finally found someone…a boy…that he liked…I was so thrilled for him. I wanted him to tell me everything about it…but haram he was so reluctant at first. So shy.”

“Oh…so do you know who the guy is?”

“No, he wouldn’t tell me. All I know is that he had this great date with a boy in Batroon and then they head to the Phoenician Wall and sit on it. Out of all places, right? Then it starts to rain. And they have no umbrella…nothing. But they just sit there under the rain. It really didn’t matter they were soaking wet. He was so happy that at that moment, the world wasn’t looking and it was just the two of them. That’s when the guy touches his hand and then kisses him. ”

“I see…well that’s something, Nadine”.

“Yeah…I just wish I was more there for him, especially in his last days, you know?”

“Why? Was something wrong?”

“Well, the guy couldn’t accept that he could develop feelings for a boy. He had a girlfriend and he told Fadi to back off because he would never leave her”.

“Oh…”

“I just wish I did something to…”

“You couldn’t have done anything… It is what it is…You can’t control everything”.

“Yeah…I guess not. Thank you for listening. I love you”.

“I love you too”.

I kiss her on the cheek and hug her.

Someone knocks on the door and walks in. It’s her aunt. “Nadine, habibte, I’m gonna make you a sandwich so you eat, okay?”

“No I really don’t want to khalto”, she responds.

“You have to eat ya habibte. You can’t do this to yourself.”

Her aunt comes and taps on my shoulders. “Bravo Jad. Listen to Jad, habibte. You have to eat. I’ll be right back”.

Her aunt walks out and closes the door.

“Tayyib habibe, listen, I’m gonna go now…”, I tell Nadine.

“Nooo..stay…it’s okay, stay”.

“Don’t worry, I’ll come back later in the afternoon. I promise”.

“Tayib…please come, okay?”

“I will”.

I give her a big hug and kiss her on the cheek.

I stand up to leave and head to the door. Then I hear her say:
“You think he’ll show up?”

“What?”

“At the funeral. You think he’ll…”

“Oh, you mean…”

“Yes…the boy. You think he’ll show up?”

“If he loved your brother, then I’m sure he’ll be there”.

“That’s what I’d like to think, too. It would make my brother happy. And what about you?”

“Of course, I did. Will… Of course, I will”.

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Thanks for reading…You rock!
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