Everyone was boring, Adam thought. Nobody had tried to be unique and innovative in years.. His peers boasted about the same subjects and ate the same tired food, and obsessed about the same viral Internet fads. Last September the campus had been diseased with the dab. In the months after everyone had been "damn Daniel!" even if their names weren't Daniel.
Adam couldn't blame them too much. In all honesty, he was probably boring too.
Today, Adam was blessed to take writing, his favorite subject .thinking up parallel universes where things never happened the way the readers expected excited Adam. In his tales princes would slay princesses and rescue dragons or Cinderella's slipper would fit on a man and the prince would just marry him instead. Anything out of the ordinary was fascinating to Adam, and writing class was just the place to explore that.
The elderly teacher, Mr. Sayed, had finally gotten around to telling his class what their new assignment was. Though he did not show it Adam had become very giddy inside. This very moment was the highlight of his week.
"I'd like all of you to write a two-thousand word essay about someone who has influenced your life. It could be your mother, your father, your siblings and even the janitor." The teacher paused, but only for a moment. "No Wikipedia or any of that gizmo nonsense; just pure unedited writing." He heaved a sigh. Mr Sayed was especially tired today. The bags his under eyes were a dark hue of purple, and the creases were very pronounced.
"Does it have to be about a real person?" Adam asked raising up his arm.
"Yes it does, Adam. No fairy tales from you this time."
The whole class chuckled.
Adam slumped onto his desk contemplating what useless story he'd have to write this time. Fantasy was his forte and now that he had lost it, he had no idea how his essay would be interesting.
Adam turned over to his friend Noor who sat directly beside him
"What are you writing about?" Adam whispered as quietly as possible.
"My girlfriend, of course," Noor said in a matter of fact tone.
Adam wasn't surprised. Ever since his best friend and this mystery girl had started dating, Noor wouldn't shut up about her.
"You always, always write about her," Adam groaned, speaking for the class when he said this. Everyone was tired of his constant poems and songs about his 'habibi'. "Isn't there anyone else in this whole country of Saudi Arabia that you'd rather write about"
"You're just jelly," Noor sniffed.
'. I am not," Adam replied defensively.
"That's exactly the kind of thing some who's jelly would say."
Adam couldn't help but laugh. After a bit, Noor started to cackle, as well. There were no arguments or drama between Adam and Noor. They didn't take each other seriously enough. Whenever they would start to fight one of them would laugh or change the subject. Adam wished the rest of his class were like that.
The last bell rang signaling that the school day was over. Everyone in the classroom stopped what they were doing, packed their bags and left. Adam waited until the class was empty, before getting up from his desk and .with an exasperated sigh.
"What's wrong?" Noor asked.
"Nothing," Adam muttered. Noor gave him a look. "Ok fine, I just don't know how I'm going to go home next week My dad's gonna be traveling." Adam sighed again. Noor rolled his eyes and hit Adam in the head with his satchel as he headed to the door.
"Don't be dumb. Obviously, I'll drive you home," Noor grunted, "but the driver will pick up someone else before he comes here."
"Yeah, who?"Adam wondered as they headed out of the classroom.
"I'll tell you more next week, but her name is Sabi."
"Huh. Ok. See you tomorrow."
Noor got into his driver's car and drove away. Adam's dad, it turned out, was late. When Adam finally got into the car he could see his dad was on the phone as usual. Instead of interrupting him he opted to wait until the call was finished. His dad was an avid businessman who was highly regarded for his dignified behavior. Hanging up on important associates was simply unacceptable, even to say hi to his son.
"How was school today?" Adam's dad asked when the call ended. He pulled up the break and navigated them out of the driveway.
"School was fine," Adam replied in a blasé tone. His Father didn't seem that enthusiastic to talk to him either. Although Adam and his dad were near lookalikes - both had the same freckled skin, and pale green eyes; both were well groomed and jaw droppingly tall - all their conversations were short and vague. Neither cared about what the other was doing at that point and asking was just a formality. Not a single word was spoken during the whole ride home.
The next day
Adam woke up late..As if it was his second nature, the sixteen-year-old slipped on his shirt, grabbed his backpack and sprinted out of the small apartment, which he shared with his parents. Once outside, the murky air of his unventilated building hit him like a slap in the face. It smelled smelled like an animal had died weeks prior. The short hallway was decorated in broken white tiles that had browned with age. Usually Adam would try to guess at what point he would no longer be able to call them white, but not today. Today he was late.
He took the stairs two at a time, his feet barely touching the ground. He'd never run track before, but he felt if the gym teacher could see him now, he'd have made varsity. Unfortunately Adam didn't see the girl who was tying her shoelaces near the bottom of the staircase. At least not until it was too late. He lost his footing and barreled into her and the impact launched him from the ground. His head banged the bottom of the steps. It took some time for him to register how badly he'd been hurt .
"Are you...are you okay?" the girl said in broken Arabic, rushing towards Adam.
Adam felt like a newborn deer as he struggled to his feet; shaky, unsteady. He was hoping she'd be so reassured by his ability to stand up that that they wouldn't have to enter an awkward conversation. Adam was always fearful of meeting new people, especially if they were girls. A sharp pain went through his leg and he was forced to sit back down.
"I'm fine," Adam said switching to English after ten minutes of talking to the girl in Arabic and her ignoring him completely.. She didn't seem to do any better with the english. There was a puzzled look on her face and her dark brown eyes seemed to only be fixed on Adam's beaten up ankles.
"I really am fine," Adam clarified covering up the bruise. His voice was much clearer now. He was starting to fear that she couldn't speak any of the languages he knew. He started to panic thinking that she would just stand there staring at him for eternity and he wouldn't be able to leave because that would be too rude. The reality, it turned out,was much worse.
"Oh god, I've hurt you! I'm so sorry!" the girl finally spoke in perfect English. She slapped his hands away and inspected his ankle. Adam didn't like people touching him in any way, shape, or form, but for some reason he couldn't push her away. The whole situation was just too weird to him.
"Are you Adam?" she asked. "Our mutual friend was telling me all about you."
She spoke calmly as if she knew him. In one quick movement the girl tugged off her black headscarf revealing a mountain of curly hair. Deftly, she used the same scarf to wrap the injured joint.
"Which friend?" Adam asked, even though he already know the answer. He tried not to flinch at how tightly she was wrapping his ankle.
"Noor. You know that one with the curly hair and black eyes." She tightened up the last knot. "There's less blood to the ankle, which means less pain, right?"
"I guess?"Adam said whilst rubbing his ankle which now hurt a lot less. "You didn't have to do this."
"You're right, but I was the one who accidentally tripped you."
She grabbed both her bag and Adam's and slung them over one shoulder .
"Can you walk?" she asked as she extended her strangely small hand.
He nodded and grabbed hold of the hand. She hoisted him up with ease and helped him walk to the car.
Adam was absolutely mortified that he had to be helped by some random person, let alone a girl. Everytime he tried to escape, though, the girl just held on to him tighter. God, she was strong!
"I'm Sabirah," she said out of the blue. "Noor calls me Sabi, so I just go with that."
"You guys must be great friends then," Adam said putting on his most believable smile. Small talk. He sucked at small talk.
"Yeah, something like that I guess. I've known him for eight years. We even go to school together."
The words came like a complete shock to Adam. How could Noor be bestfriends with this girl for such a long time and yet, Adam had never seen her before?
"So do you often go around trying to kill people on stairs so you can fix them?"
All of a sudden the relatively short girl's expression wrapped into a frown...or a very menacing grin. He couldn't tell when it came to her really. In the fifteen minutes that he'd known Sabi, about five thousand expressions had crossed her face. It didn't help that her face was so incongruent. Her eyes were sharp and angular making her look menacing, but her cheeks were so large and squishy looking that someone would easily mistake her for a little kid. The fact that her coily hair had been pulled into two tight buns atop her head didn't help either.
He didn't get time to contemplate it further, because at that moment Noor decided to arrive.
"Adam! Sabi!" he yelled as he ran towards the both of them. The door of the black lexus swung wide open, like a mawing jaw. Before Adam could comprehend what was happening Noor had shoved him away to hug Sabi. Adam stood awkwardly to the side watching this friendship he'd only just been introduced to. They were definitely best friends. Maybe even better friends than Noor and Adam themselves.
Noor then let go of Sabi and gestured towards the car
"Let's go or we're going to be late!" He took a look at Adam's leg with the black scarf. "You're going to have to tell me what happened there. I sense a story." He wiggled his eyebrows. Adam blushed for reasons he could not understand.
"Shut up," he grunted. "Help me get into the car."
Laughing, Noor swung Adam's arm over his shoulder and helped him limp to the car. Sabi tagged along behind with the backpacks. The trio then made their way to school.