Shahin is Iranian. He lives with his mom, who doesn't like Swedes. But I'm sitting on the back of his bike anyway, with my right arm tight around his waist and a cigarette glued between my fingers. I squeeze for all I have to avoid falling off, dig myself under his cold leather-jacket that's warming up from my slow breath. The moisture in the air sticks to my face. My legs dangle like two hot dogs. The bare side of my feetdrag against the wet asphalt now and then. A green shard of glass digs its way into my skin. I harden my grip further; the tears keep themselves dry. Because it's okay. Such things pass. Nothing to cry for. I just have to drag my foot against the asphalt again and it'll come out.
His stomach is warm against my arm, and I can hear Sigur Rós playing in the headphone hanging over his shoulder. Shahin isn't a typical Iranian. He's blond in the head.
The bike is sounding horrible under his feet, as if he's choking it. He says something that I barely catch. He doesn't finish the sentence. It's not often that he finishes his sentences, and even when he does, it sounds like he doesn't. I pretend to understand anyway. One doesn't need to understand him; he doesn't require it. He's there anyway. He sends me cute SMSes anyway. He calls in the middle of the night anyway. And he fetches me when I ask him, even though he's blond in the head and doesn't finish his sentences.
I drag a quivering puff and look behind me at the smoke that flies away. It has stopped raining, but the puddles we ride over splash, and the water jumps up on my thighs, slides down, jumps up, slides down. They look generally shitty like mid-spring rain puddles do. My hair gets stuck in the corner of my mouth. I blow it out a few times, but it doesn't move.
"So..." he says and slows down. I jump off and pull my underwear out from between my butt-cheeks. He walks past me, holds the gateway open. He's my prince. And we'll stroll into our castle of ruined dreams. I throw my cigarette away and pretend that it never was when it disappears under the stairs in the green-gray staircase. His mom will surely smell it and wrinkle her nose, dislike me even more. But that's okay. Such things pass.
I wait to ask the question. I wait until we're alone in his room, after dinner. It's a little hard to dare sometimes. Especially when it's like it is now. He has known about it for a long time, but this time it's a bit worse, I think. Yeah, I guess it is. Otherwise it wouldn't be so hard to take my flip-flops off; they wouldn't get stuck between my toes like that. And I probably would say hello to his mom in the kitchen. But I don't know if I dare.
Sigur Rós' grand ending strings stop abruptly in his headphones, and he shuts the player off, leans his shoulder against the wall and pulls his shoes off. I think about that time when we were laying in his bed and it was in the middle of the night, but it was a little light outside since it was winter; it's so awful in the winter. So I couldn't sleep and turned the TV on that played a video with them. It was two boys kissing, and I thought they must have high blood pressure because their cheeks were so rosy. I wanted to kiss Shahin then, but I thought that he might wake up because I'm so awfully clumsy. So I started writing "kiss" at the end of the SMSes I sent him instead. He continued to write "hug." I guess he doesn't like me as much as I want. But that's okay. Such things pass. He can be my prince anyway.
We sneak into his room, and I borrow a pair of pajama pants from him before his mom catches a glance at me. He doesn't like it when his mom speaks badly of me. Not because I understand what she says, since she doesn't know much Swedish. But I can see it over the edge of the bowl when she speaks badly of me. Shahin looks annoyed like that, as if he just wants to get up and walk away. Or wants me to go. I think she talks badly of me pretty often. There aren't many who like me, so it doesn't do me much. Most think that I'm pretty shy and don't say much. Maybe they even see me as boring. So I don't dare buy cigarettes myself either. It's always Shahin who goes forward and buys out for me, because he looks older than what he is. He asks me what I want every time, although he knows what I want. But it's okay that he asks. Then I can say Prince with a little extra emphasis, and say that I want gold and that it should be a hard package. Buy a lighter too, because I lost mine. I lose lighters pretty often.
My mom doesn't like that I smoke either. Who does anyway? I don't know if I like it myself. Sometimes. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I know I do. Because it isn't possible to listen to Sigur Rós without smoking Prince. It just isn't the same thing. It doesn't feel as real. You don't think of the kiss then; you think of the rosy cheeks and high blood pressure.
It's quiet in his room, and the clothes rustle a lot. My t-shirt is also wet, so I change it. Shahin looks away although he pretends not to. Because we are best friends. It's okay that we see each other's bodies and sleep in the same bed. There's nothing more to it.
I like his room. It's a little too small but also quite big, so that everything fits but it's hard to walk in between the stuff. And it's always a little too dark because the lamp is one of those with yellow lights that only look good in his room.
It gets harder to hold the question in much longer since I've thought about it so much. "Can I sleep over?" My voice is a little too small and a little too deep.
He looks at me for a moment and blinks. "Yeah..." He probably wants to say something after that. But he doesn't. I get a little unsure if he really thinks so; he gets a little slow in his movements and doesn't seem to know where to go. He walks into the toilet and comes back and goes there again, and then he tells me that it's time for dinner. But I don't know if I dare. Because I don't want to ask again tomorrow. And it feels like I shouldn't have asked anything now either. Said half the truth kinda.
I sit at the table and laze, and Shahin takes out the glasses and spoons and forks. Shahin's mom looks at me from where she's bending over the table putting plates down. "Hi," she says meaningfully. Extra hard. I should have said hi first. But I forget it every time. I'm probably blond in the head too. Now she'll never let me stay. She'll surely chase me out with a frying pan or something. I hope Shahin comes with me then; I'm afraid of the dark. It's much more fun if we can be together on his bike, so he can be my prince on a black horse and I can send love letters to his cell-phone. I can't write pretty and traditional like that, because I have dyslexia and handwriting like a frog. My mom thinks I'm stupid because I'm like that. She's probably right, since I'm not that good at math either and I get a lot of F:s although I study several hours a day. But that's okay. Such things pass. When you grow up.
In Shahin's kitchen, his mom can't think I'm dumb. Their food is a little weird, and I poke the meat away because I'm trying to become vegetarian. The food is rice and something green - it tastes good but weird. I'm starting to get used to it, though. My hair falls down in my plate, and I strike it away immediately. It's so disgusting. Think if a strand of hair had fallen in my food. Shahin's mom would surely think I'm disgusting and give me a hard stare. Then I'd never never dare to ask. But I don't dare to ask anyway when his mom can hear, although morally, I know that it would be the right thing to do. I wait until we're alone in his room, after dinner. And then he can tell his mom, and I guess I'll have to sit in the living room then, or escape out and say that I'm going to smoke but then she'd be sour because I'd smell like cigarettes and she'd never say yes. I'll have to sit in the living room then, yeah, and stare at the TV that speaks in Turkish or something. I think it's Iranian, but I'm not sure. It all sounds the same. They show a bunch of black and white movies; they're really perverse, with rapes and such. Girls who walk around in mini dresses and bikinis and are a little fat. Shahin probably likes those fat girls. He'd never like somebody as scrawny as me. My bones show. It's so disgusting. I hope he can turn all of that around so that his mom will feel sorry for me. It's surely a little pity about me. I'm so alone. I'm alone when I'm at home too, even though I share a room with my half-sibling. Kajo think I'm stupid. Kajo is so smart. Kajo never studies and has a lot of A:s anyway. Mom likes that. When Kajo gets A's, Mom can afford skis. But I don't like the winter anyway. So it doesn't bother me that I don't get to ski. That Mom can't afford that for me. That Mom can't afford clothes for me. Because if I stopped smoking, I could afford clothes, she thinks.
It's cold in Shahin's room. He thinks that the rest of the apartment is too warm, so he turns the heater off in his room. I crawl under his blanket, furthest in, beside the wall. He has caught a little cold and wants to get up without bothering me if he should need to blow his nose. He turns the TV on. It spreads its blue-white light over us. And it's Sigur Rós' video, the one that I saw that night. But it's dark outside now, and I don't have low blood pressure, so maybe I'm not that clumsy. So when he sits beside me and starts to pull his jeans off, I kiss him hard on the lips.
"My mom has kicked me out."
"That's okay. Such things pass."