Doing homework

Ayla looked at her phone, clicking the home button to bring her screen to life. The time smiled prettily at her, in the cutesy new font she had changed it to after having the no nonsense factory default font installed since she had first gotten her smartphone. She sighed. No texts. She pressed the lock button on her phone. And she had checked her phone about six times in the past two minutes. She stared out her bedroom window.

She supposed that her street looked quite nice. She tended to not notice it much. She didn’t go walking often and she didn’t spend time outside in general. She was always studying and when it was windy it was hard to study outside. In general, it was just easier to study inside because there were outlets and air conditioning units and it was nicer.

Her street looked normal, just as she had imagined it in her head. Across her house was the opening to a cul-de-sac. There were two tiny trees, spaced in the grass space in front of the sidewalk in front of her house.  They were close to each other,  yet far enough apart that you could look at one without seeing the other. You had to turn your head to look at one then the other. She knew that plants needed proper minerals and water and whatnot to grow properly,  and that it wasn’t good to put them in competition for natural resources so unnecessarily, but  she still wondered why they couldn’t have been planted closer together.

Then she heard a knock on the door. Her heart jumped.

“Ayla! Your friend is here!”

Ayla’s heart jumped. Today is the day. The thought made her stomach squirm. But she knew it was now or never. She could drag…this on forever and ever but she really needed answers. She needed to move on one way or another.

Ayla didn’t bother responding to her little sister, though. For some reason, Beyza never learned Mawar’s name. She knew Samantha’s name. But Mawar never could determine why Mawar wasn’t on Beyza’s radar. As racist as Beyza was, Ayla would have thought that her little sister would like Mawar more than anyone else, but that clearly wasn’t the case.

Ayla went down to the stairs and put one hand on the doorknob and used her other hand to unlock the deadbolt.  She opened the door.

And there she was.

“Hey!” Mawar smiled serenely, her dark face framed with a light pink hijaab decorated with lavender and light blue roses. Ayla gave a small smile back, stepping away from the door so Mawar could come in.

“So,” Ayla said. Mawar was already taking off her light pink ballet flats.

“Are you hungry?” Ayla asked. “We could go grab something to eat before we start.”

“Not really. I ate before I came. But thank you.”

“Alright.”

Mawar took a few steps to the dining room table, which now served primarily for group homework use, as Ayla did homework by herself upstairs, but whenever someone came over to do work, they worked downstairs. She put her backpack down on the ground and got out her laptop.

Okay, here we go. Ayla sighed. She locked the door and joined Mawar at the table.

Mawar was logging into her laptop by now. Ayla got out her earth science binder and opened the front cover, getting out a packet from the front flap.

“So. I have no idea how to do this,” Ayla said, staring at the elegant profile of Mawar’s face. She looked down at her paper

Mawar looked at her, expression etched somewhere in between sympathy and amusement. “I think I get it. We’ll figure it out.”

“You’re so smart.” The words hung in the air, slightly breathy with awe. Ayla felt the words glare at her, in angry red whiteboard marker, and she wanted to erase them as quickly as possible.

“Haha, not at all,” Mawar said, clicking laptop mouse loudly, and staring at the blank Excel sheet. “This class just makes no sense.”

“It literally has no relevance at all,” Ayla added.

Mawar smiled stiffly. “Okay. So.” And then she proceeded to explain the group assignment that probably doesn’t really matter at all I just really don’t want to write this part of the story it’s awkward and it hurts.

The assignment was actually easy enough to finish. Ayla just really sucked at using Excel, a skill that apparently was “not a big deal” and had been acquired by Mawar in elementary school, when she had involved in science fair every year. Which of course made Ayla feel even worse because–science fair? In elementary school?  With projects that that weren’t “how many seeds are in an apple?” and “does sunlight affect plant growth?”\

“Now what?” Ayla asked as Mawar printed the assingment. Mawar was over often enough that Ayla’s dad connected Mawar’s laptop to their printer. Something about that just made Ayla really happy, made her feel content.

But the satisfaction was overshadowed today by unease.

Mawar didn’t look up at Ayla when she asked her question.

“Well, I brought English and French,” she said.

“Okay. Or, there’s probably something on TV.”

Mawar looked at her, faint amusement barely flickering in her eyes. “There’s always something on TV.”

Ayla laughed. But it wasn’t her normal laugh. It was a forced half cackle half cry for help. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“Ayla, you have homework, too,” Mawar said.

“But don’t you want to have fun?”

Mawar barely twitched a pristine eyebrow (on fleek). “There’s a time and place for fun.”]

“And certain people?” Ayla asked. While she did, she regretted it, feeling so self sacrificing and like she was baring her neck to Mawar. She hated attention seekers and she felt like one now–people who asked for sympathy when they didn’t need it. She didn’t need it.

But I want it, she thought begrudgingly. Sadly.

Yet, Mawar didn’t seem fazed by her albeit pointed question, at all. “Of course.”

Ayla felt frozen and numb for the rest of the time. She did homework methodically. Every so often, she would say something stupid and Mawar say something biting back in response, and it made her heart prick, but somehow, sometimes stomachs were better indicators of mood. Her stomach was not moved. Part of her she felt was moved on habit but. She was letting go. Eventually there was a knock on the door and Ayla said, unnecessarily, “that’s your dad.”

Mawar was already packed up.

“Thanks for coming,” Ayla said automatically.

Mawar smiled at her. “Thanks for having me over.”

Ayla watched Mawar leave. She smiled at the door. She moved on from homework, feeling like she deserved it. Things will be okay.

***

I haven’t posted in so long and I need to post!!! I don’t know with this one.

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