This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
FERTILIZATION OF AN IDEA
A tall, handsome, dark eyed Casanova stood on 42nd street staring into a retail window. Behind a male mannequin dressed in the latest Versace suit stood a petit beautiful young woman. She was American in posture, but French in her way of dress. Draped in a brown pencil skirt with buttons in the center that trailed just above her knees to the top of her waistline, it complimented the simple off white blouse with sleeves that came just pass the elbow. This casual look was dressed up with a short rope of small pearls that lay elegantly upon her neck. The dark eyes of the Casanova moved away from the pearls, up her neck, past the plush lips, and small nose to her slightly cut eyes. Like his the color was dark brown to go along with the eyebrows that lined them. Her lovely face was shaped with cheeks that rose high as mountaintops. Jet-black hair cropped just past the eyes hid the woman’s full beauty from the sides, while her short bangs allowed her to view those daring enough to take a peak. He had seen her many times before, but this was the first time he had seen her out of her element. An assistant teacher at his university, she frequented the English department regularly. Never too much for his eyes to take, this unexpected encounter was a pleasurable treat. She was all he ever thought about, and at that moment the only thing that stood between them was a simple show room window.
“Salem, I know you like that suit, but now we don’t have time to look,” Lamya said, as she stood behind her brother.
Lost in the beauty that stood before him he had completely forgotten about Lamya, whose reflection he could see in the window. Unlike the object of his affection her hair was covered by a dark brown hijab. She chose to wear it soon after returning home some years ago. It fit snug around her full face bringing out her big round eyes, pug nose and thin arched lips. Those features permanently replaced the beauty of her large loopy dark curls, often pushed back away from her forehead by pretty little flowery headbands. These locks were now only seen behind closed doors. He remembered his sister wore short skirts with white knee high socks, accented with colorful t-shirts and tennis shoes. Unfortunately these were replaced with long sleeve shirts and full-length skirts. In the west it left little to be desired. Turning around he grabbed his sister’s hand. The family, were in the states for one month, and on the second evening of arriving it would be their mother’s first time fixing a Moroccan meal on US soil. It had been a while since he had sat down with his family to eat. Looking back through the glass once more his beauty would have to wait.
A far cry from home Salem had long left the dorm life deciding instead to take a chance as a man in the big city. Though he loved the colorful people, walks in Greange village, and that casual run through central park, what he loved most was that feeling of being home without actually being there. Astoria was the area he chose, and for him it was perfect. The neighborhood gave him the taste of the familiar without him having to swallow a mouthful. He had the best of both worlds and as he walked with Lamya away from the main city towards Astoria, the thoughts of home forced him to close his eyes and take a deep imaginary breath of the ethnic scents that would soon fill his nose. Not to spend too much money they grabbed a cab. Betting on a short cut they took an alley- way, which led to a side door straight to a lift. On the way up to the seventh floor, as his stomach began to grumble he realized that he couldn’t think just about himself anymore. His apartment had become like his childhood home, and at least for a month it was family that would have to come first, no matter what. Playing, he pushed his sister to the side racing toward the door. On that day there would be no nanny to meet them, but instead their mother happy to see her two siblings together.
In less than two days his family had managed to turn a two-bedroom New York flat into the likes of a villa in Abu Dhabi, the new suburbs of the U.A.E. As they entered his apartment facing the opposite end of the room were two colorful Moroccan lamps placed strategically on each side of his living room window greeting anyone who dared to visit. As he closed the door the smell of incense over took any food cooking on the stove. Happy to see her two children their mother’s embrace seemed to last an eternity. Grabbing her son by the hand she led him straight to the dining room table. Different from when he left it that morning the table was dressed with a miniature marble water fountain that sat on top of a table runner decorated with tiny silk brocades. Though he loved his family the added additions to his place made him feel as if there was no room to breathe. To escape he gave the excuse of having to wash his hands.
Splashing his face with water he dried his hands while looking closely into the mirror. He hadn’t done this in a while and attributed the habit resurfacing due to his families visit. It was definitely not one of his favorite past times, though he never truly understood why. Without a blemish on his face and too much hair to deal with, there was nothing he had to complain about. In-fact whoever set eyes on him: friend or foe had to agree that he was a hot item. With a nice body, sparkling white teeth and a face most magazine editors would die for who could ask for anything more. Yet each glimpse into any mirror gave Salem an empty feeling.
“Salem, Yala, Yala,” his mother shouted from the living room.
Startled but relieved he took a deep breath and went back to the dining room table to try to enjoy the meal he had been waiting so long for.
It was big day for Salem. He would pick up his cap and gown for the last time. Just before noon he would finish his last exam, making him free of responsibility for at least the summer. Having little time to eat he stuffed himself as much as he could and then kissed his mother goodbye, pressed for his sister to hurry, he handed his father the cup of tea his mother had just made. Grabbing Lamya by the hand as she finished wrapping her hijab he rushed out the door. Listening for any sign of their parents, they leaned against the wall, both taking a deep breath and exhaling in relief. This was another habit that had resurfaced in him, another habit that he couldn’t explain. It was understandable that Lamya kept it up, she had been staying with their parents, but for him, it was different, he had been away, on his own for eight years straight. That morning there was no time for him to sit back and think about his motives, there was only time to enjoy the external fruits of the day. As if they knew what the other was thinking brother and sister looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and hurried to the elevator.
It was unusually hot for an April morning as they reached the university. It kind of reminded them of home. Waving good-bye they both went their separate ways. Lamya went to explore campus and the fit guys who populated it, while he headed to his classroom. Entering the classroom as if free money were awaiting him, he noticed for the first time in three months that the room was actually full. He took his usual seat in the back of the room, and though he considered himself a gentleman at that moment, the last three years of his college career was filled with more classroom pranks and plots than he could remember. He had a reputation; so sitting in the back of the class drew attention away from him. In the past year he had matured considerably, and on that final day he began to feel as if he had graduated into adulthood. As the exams were passed out he reclined in his seat confident, it only took him thirty minutes to finish. The professor graded it on the spot and handed it back to him with a peculiar look on his face.
“You know I couldn’t have cheated. You create the exams at the last minute. Everyone knows that,” Salem said.
The professor smiled, shook his hand, and pointed to the 95% at the top of his exam. Ecstatic he gave the professor a fare well pat on the back. The 95% assured him of a 4.0 graduating average. The long walk the library was well welcomed. Never again would he have to race across campus just to make it to class. In a month he would be an alumnus, and he was sucking up all the fresh air that went with it. By the time he reached the library the line for graduation robes extended to the front door. It seemed as if the whole university was graduating.
Waiting in line for at least fifteen minutes, a tap on the shoulder broke his boredom.
“Hey man what’s up? It’s all up hill from now on baby! Just one week and it’s on to bigger and better things,” Mitch chanted.
Mitchell or Mitch as he preferred was his closest friend since stepping foot on campus. Salem was wondering where he had disappeared to the weekend before.
“Man, where have you been? I had to spend the whole weekend with my family,” Salem rebutted.
Looking puzzled Mitch gives him a shove in the shoulder.
“Man what are you talking about? I was doing the same thing you were. I told you my family would be here too. Favorite son had to play catch up with all the family gossip,” Mitch said pushing him forward in line.
“Damn, I’m sorry. I forgot too. You should have picked up the phone. We need to talk. I told you I was serious about throwing that party. Are you in,” he asked raising his eyebrow as he spoke.
Grinning from ear to ear Mitch raised his hand high in the air waiting to receive a high five.
“I’m all in. We might as well do it up and make it hot while we’re at it,” Mitch said pushing Salem forward once more.
Annoyed by his lack of attention and his continuous lack of notice to her, the attendant frowned. Freckled face, with a red bob, a short stature, and a wide physique she pushed her square shaped glasses high on her nose.
“Excuse me! Can I help you,” she grumbled.
Startled Salem turned abruptly surprising her so much that she almost fell backwards out of her chair.
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I thought I still had a few people in front of me,” he said as he reached to try to help her regain her posture.
As if the abrupt surprise shook her out of a trance her attitude quickly changed as she gave him a sheepish look.
“It’s okay Salem, just give me your last name,” she batting her eyes.
“Do I know you,” he asked.
“I’m Liz. We started here at the same time,” she replied as she rolled her eyes to what seemed like the back of her head.
As Liz spoke he noticed that there was also a line to the right of him. Looking down at the many feet that awaited for their turn at the head of the line, the attendants agitated voice caused him to look up and notice the first in line right next to him was the assistant teacher that he admired. Caught in her beauty he stood with his mouth wide open. Ignored once more Liz slammed her hand down on the counter.
“Salem, what is your last name,” she nearly screamed.
Embarrassed Salem tried to give his full attention to her with a sheepish smile himself.
“I’m so sorry, it’s Tamimi,” he said pulling his wallet out of his pocket.
“Tamimi, where are you from," she asked taking a chance and batting her eyes again.
“It’s Arabic,” he replied.
Turning his head slightly towards the assistant teacher, she was too busy to even notice him. In return the attendant could only frown as she turned to search for the cap and gown with his name on it. He was focused on the assistant and smiled at her hoping she would. Assuming everyone was just happy to be in the cap and gown line she gave him a slight smile in return, picked up her package and walked away. Losing all hope the attendant slammed Salem’s package on the counter and pushed him aside to help Mitch. Giving Mitch a shove he pointed at the assistant grabbed his package from the counter and inconspicuously followed her through the bookstore. Grasping the package close to his chest he realized that if he were ever going to speak with her it would have to be at that moment. Who knew what would happen after graduating day. In just the few minutes of following her, he learned that though she taught English as an assistant, she was a journalist for the universities paper. She talked a lot and seemed to have quit a few friends. The more he learned the more he needed to know. As she walked out the door, he grabbed her by the hand. The sun was still high as the doors opened, and even though he meant to touch her slightly, he held with a tight grip. Startled she turned and for the first time he stood speechless, that is until Mitch slapped him on the back as he was walking out.
“As soon as possible, as soon as possible” Mitch said as he took a quick glance at Salem’s hand.
He let go of the assistant’s hand as he watched Mitch leave, and not wanting to feel like a loser he spoke fast so Mitch wouldn’t have anything to say later.
“Hi, I know you don’t know me, but me and my friend who just left, I believe are graduating with you. So, some buddies of mine, and the international club are holding a graduation party on the 29th. We would love if you and some of your friends could be gracious to volunteer some time to help us coordinate it. We want as much variety as possible and with you working with the paper,” he said as he pointed at the paper she held in her hand. Putting her once confined hand on her hip she pretended not to be startled.
“How do you know I work for the paper? You’re in one of my classes aren’t you,” she asked, as she looked him up and down.
“Yeah, English 235 with professor Chow, and I’m an avid reader of the schools news paper,” he said in a confident tone.
Almost on his tiptoes he stood taller waiting for a letdown.
“Sure, I already have some friends that are in the club. I don’t have my phone right now, but you can take my number,” she said pulling a pen out of her purse.
With a sigh of relief and a smile that followed, he found it almost impossible to contain himself.
“It’s Salem,” he said while pulling the cap and gown receipt out of his pocket.
“Okay, Salem my name is Cherise Leflore. Look me up in the school directory. It’s a busy day for me, so try me tomorrow,” she replied writing down the information and quickly handing it back to him.
And that was it, after all that time he finally knew her name and had a possibility of meeting up with her again. It was a good day and walking out the door he couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that he had his cap and gown in hand, had spoken to the assistant for the first time, and his sister was able to flounce around campus as she pleased free from the wondering eyes of her parents. He was ready for the new chapters to come in his life.
Searching for his sister around campus, he found her with a few other girls chatting in the cafeteria. They were rating the guys as they passed by. He watched his sister closely. He had never seen her flirt before. She never told him anything about her personal life, and he did the same, but now he wondered. Either way for him first things were first. He was never one to let a good opportunity pass him up. What he knew better than Mitch or any of his friends, was that having a sister younger or older had one big advantage. Opening the door to the cafeteria he made his way not only to his sister, but the gorgeous girls who stood talking with her. Approaching the women with his Casanova smile, he sneaked up behind his sister and put his hands over her eyes. Getting the attention he wanted as the other girls giggled, he weaved his charismatic ways around them. He was hoping to assure eye candy for the party.
“Hello ladies, I hope my sister is not bothering you too much,” he said as he gave them all a big smile.
Lamya playfully pushed her brother to the side, shyly introducing the girls to him.
“I’m sorry this is my brother Salem,” she said as he stepped in front of her.
The girls were mesmerized, and the look he received from them was all too familiar.
“I didn’t know my sister knew anyone at this school. She’s here visiting from the U.A. E... But if you’re interested you should get my sister’s number. I’m having a graduation party and it would be great if you could come,” he said giving his sister one of the most fake hugs of all time, as he signaled for her to pull out her cell phone.
Still giggling the girls gave him a nod. Salem was not an arrogant guy, but he knew how the girls loved him. He also knew that before they reached the cafeteria doors his sister would have each of the women’s numbers. Outside under the sun he stretched his arms out while looking up towards the sky. He soaked up all the sun he could get, knowing that it would eventually be sucked out of him after reaching home. Rushing out of the cafeteria excited that she would get to meet her new friends again, Lamya grabbed her brother by the hand leading him down the sidewalk.
“I didn’t know you were having a party, I have to go shopping,” she said.
Pulling away from her Salem looked around to see if anyone was watching. Brother and sister holding hands may have been fine back home, but in the states it was a different story.
“Hey you can’t tell mom or dad about this party or else you and me will find our-selves sitting at home that night,” he said as he walked ahead of her.
Lamya agreed not wanting to lose a chance at experiencing probably the last American party in her life and there was no way their parents were going to interfere with that.
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