Landscapes in the City

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Falisha is a simple woman. She wants to be a model. But there is just one tiny little problem. She is a scarf wearing Muslim and the industry is making it anything but easy for her to get in. And like the industry she struggles with the acceptance from her mother who wants nothing more for her than to drop modeling and get a real job and a husband. All seems hopeless when she is given an ultimatum until she meets Zaid who seems to know just what to do with her. 😏

Romance / Drama
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

October 24th, 2019

"Marry Me" he urges the wind blowing past his warm skin.

I hang off his words in confusion. People stare at him standing firm with his proposal.

My heart beats fast against my chest, He's serious.

October 11, 2019

Her eyes scan the room. As I wait for her to notice me, I can see that her eyes work like a camera. Searching for someone to focus on.

There are sixty of us and it is hard to make a decision.

Finally her camera eyes land on me. Her wrinkled lids blinking like a closing shudder. As soon as she closes them, they open as if she took a photo of me. Hope she likes what she sees.

I straighten my sweater pulling at the hems over my jeans. I wipe away the sweat that gathered on my head from the bright lights beaming down on me.

She strides over, black sweater, pale wrinkled face, a straight line of a woman from her feet to her torso. The look all model scouts have.

I fix the number pinned to my breast as we lock eyes, her lips turning up into a thin curve. She stops a distance from me so that she isn’t looking up at me.

“Falisha?” she says the words seem caught in her raspy voice. Heads turn as she says my name.

The first time a scout ever addressed my name. A smile spreads across my face. I nod, waiting for her to continue.

Her eyes scan me once more from my feet to my head, she takes a short breath in and tightens her lips. My eyes move across her face.

“I am having an issue.” she puts her hand to her chin shaking her thin face.

“An issue?” I repeat waiting for her to continue, confusion setting in my head.

She nods her head in a slow pace “ yes...” she drags now squinting her eyes.

The bright lights illuminating everyone around us. Chitter chatter sounding far away in the small studio.

She puts her hands together “You don’t fit” she trails.

“I don’t fit” i repeat blank trying to follow her but not making the connection.

She shakes her head, closing her eyes and pressing her pink lips together.

She giggles “ don't get me wrong you fit, i mean you would fit” her eyes scan the other women standing around us. “You just-”

“What do I have to do to fit?” I smile leaning in.

She gives a brief smile her hand lifting so that she can point. She wags her finger around my head taking a breath in.

I take a slight turn to see what she is talking about but find myself staring back at her.

I giggle “ what?” I throw my hands in the air.

She inhales in through her nose. “ The scarf” she exhales. Rolling her eyes.

I blink as things become blank

The scarf. Of course.

My face falls flat.


“ Do you understand?” she says nodding her head.

“Yes, but-”

“No, do you understand? You are a pretty woman. You have everything that I would want. From your height, you are perfectly slim, I don’t have a lot of…” she moved her hands around “ what are you” she says pausing and leaning in toward me looking up at me.

I sigh “ black, african american” i say and she snaps her fingers “ yes, i don’t have a lot and you will fit right in with the line up of deeper toned models. In the face you have a lot going for you” she eyed me closer.

“The cheekbones, your perfectly sized lips, and your eyes, you could use some concealer’

“Their hereditary” I say pointing up to my eyes.

She shook her head. “What is?”

“The bags-”

“ I don't care,” she says, throwing her hands up, cutting me off. She continues “the point is I could do a lot with you” she says, her eyes shuddering in as if she is taking many pictures of me, ones she will have to delete later.

“But it’s just that on your head. And i already have a girl who wears that i don't need another” she points at my head a hint of worry in her voice. “ you are in if you just reconsider that..” she adds

A picture appears. Me standing on the runway. Me, finally working with an agency. Me, finally getting everything i’ve wanted since i was younger. A smile creeps across my face as she eyes me as she eyes my appearances. Me without a scarf. My face falls stiff and of course she notices.

“This is a huge deal I'm offering you” she says glancing around at the other girls around us “many girls in this room want this offer” she warns eyes wide open.

I clench my teeth.


From inside the studio, i couldn’t tell that it was raining. It was thundering all day but I didn't expect there to be rain. I shift in my seat in the bus. Watching as the car flash by throwing water in the air.

I press my head against the window. Sighing at the picture of the woman's request still floating around in my mind. Her face is shrugged away along with her offer.

I pull my head from the cold window as my phone dings in my purse.

I open it to see.

Naya: how did it go? 3:20

Naya: u still there? 3:20

Naya: was it better this time?? 3:20

I glanced over the phone and gave it a tight smile.

I text, Not this time :( . 3:21.

Naya: aww, why.

The scarf

Naya: nooooo. I thought they would be more inclusive. I’m sorry. How about you try my agency?

I roll my eyes at the text.

I look from my phone as someone's slow chuckle fills my ear. The woman on the side of me could not have made it. And the man sitting in front of me is asleep. I go back to staring at my phone. Scrolling through my social media. I roll my eyes and smile as my followers have gone down by 2 now leaving me with 992.

Once more a low chuckle surrounds me. I drop my phone in my lap and look off my shoulder. A man sits against the window. His grin is all I can see from under the hat that he wears. He sits up.

“You good?” he says in a warm voice. the smile disappearing from his lips leaving them perked.

Am I good? It rings in my head. What? Does that mean?

“I’m good,” I tell him, confusion in my voice.

I turn my head and he becomes an after thought as i text on my phone. Until i see my stop coming down the street in the rain. The old buildings surrounding mixed with the new. Pops of color and many trees.

People walk across the streets with not much cars coming by.

To my feet i wobble to stand. Making my way to the front to get off. Shivers run down my back as a cold pressure wraps around my wrist pulling me back as the bus comes to a stop. My body presses forward everything pulling me to the ground i brace myself for the fall my heart pounding but i never touch the ground.

As the bus stops i gather my balance the pressure still around my wrist. I turn to see the hatted man from before. This time his lips slightly parted as i follow his hand from my wrist.

Why is he holding me.

He pulls his hand a way and throws them in the air in defence.

Still i search for the rest of his face but the fluorescent light around him cover them instead the only part of him i can see as he looks down at me is the outline of his jaw.

“I’m sorry” He shakes his head. “ you left this” he says and my eye widen as i see what is

“My phone” i say as he puts in my hand. I shake my head at myself how did i leave it?

“Thank you” i say turning to get off the bus.

“You're a river” he says in his low voice.

A river, i turn to meet him but before i can ask him what he means the bus driver warns me to get off before i miss it. I turn my eyebrow up at him and get off the bus.

Speed walking through the neighbor hood wet wind hits my face and the colored leaves crunch at my feet. I take a glance back at the bus stop on the corner as cars roll by and the town buildings peaking from down the street

“You’re a river” comes to my mind. What was that?

I turn on to a path leading to four apartment buildings taking up the block in the middle of the neighborhood. Balding trees surrounding it. I check my time flashing on the phone that i almost lost if it werent for that weird man on the bus. Of course it wouldnt be my first time losing a phone.

“4 o’clock” I whisper to myself. The buildings in front of me i walk to the red door that i have been going through since i was a little girl. I am long ways from a little girl but I still know what i will walk into when I go to the apartment.

Before i can get up the stair i am stopped by one of the neighbors asking for my dad to come fix something in their house. As if they were waiting for me and saw me when i was outside from one of the big windows.

When i make it to the apartment. Apartment 17 i already have 5 request for the landords, my parents. I write them down in my phone making sure i make it a priority that it gets to them.

As the door squeaks open am met with the dim apartment. They havent made it home yet. I sigh out. Not seeing any candles lit or any incents to light the place up and what little light comes from the fading blue sky peeping in the through the heavy curtains.

I make it to my room. Down the warm hall where heats blows past my parents room in between the bathroom and a lening closet.

A square lilac room. A floral covered bed in the middle of the floor a large window above it. In the corner set a dress and next the dresser my desk and on the otherside of the room my small closet.

I grab the marker off my desk and erase the model casting for the day adding an x to the many x’s of the new month. I sigh my eyes going over the rest of the castings for the month, ones that Naya recommended.

I back down on to my bed letting the evening go by I drift off into a nap.

"Oh I wish I was there" Asalah says with her light calm voice. Coming from my phone.

I giggle on my pillow.

"Don't laugh I would have done something, don't nobody mess with my cousin like that" she says In defence with a smile on her face.

I sit up on my bed the smell of food making its way under my door. Beans, rice, and cornbread.

I sigh. "I was close. Closer than I ever was in the past." I say with a smile looking up at my ceiling from corner to corner.

"Well we know it's not you" she says and I can already tell what she is about to say.

"You say this all the time"

"Because it isn't" she says " it's the scarf" she lets out and before I can answer my name is called for me to eat.

"I'll call you back lah"

I make my way down the hall and the flickering candle lights up the apartment leading the way. The same cotton with a hard wood like smell wraps itself around me. In minutes I won't notice it as much.

Passing the couches, my mom's gray fat cat, Feather reaches up at me purring, sounding more like a growl and hopping to the ground from the armrest. . He comes when my mom comes, they go everywhere together.

Pass the two corners that make an entree way into the dinning room and the kitchen. My mom sits at the table with my dad who has already started eating.

Candles being the only light that sits between them. Their shadows dance on the curtains that cover the balcony.

Play “unsteady” by the ambassadors

I take my seat between them two, a plate already made for me.

As we begin to eat I catch my mom's eye on me her deep skin illuminating by the candle casted on her.

Her eyes are mapped out by eyeliner Almost like her cat but they go across her eyes. Her cheek bones sculpted high and her lips pouted out.

She sits with what little Breast she has, something she was generous to pass down to me. Her long legs crossed under the long black dress she wore. And her black hair puffed into ponytail. Always she made me think of the statues Zach and I broke when we were younger.

That used to sit in the living room, black tall figurines of women in different poses.

I want to take a picture of her in those poses. I never asked. She doesn't like her picture taken.

"Falisha?" she ask in her high voice. I glance up from my food to see that she isn't looking at me but at my dad who sits inches taller than her but hunches down at his food.

He glances up at her, the candle bouncing shadows off his face sending shadows of his beard sculpted to his long chin down his shirt as he chews his food. He lifts his head and for a split second showing the waves. He looks like a shadow in the dark this way, his bones in his face the only dominant thing standing out. I would call him the grim reaper if he wasn't the nicest thing in everyone's life.

Dad sighs in looks over to me.

“Falisha, your mom-” he stops as he is sent an eye from mom. “Your mom and I want nothing more than for you to pursue your dreams” he says sitting back in his seat. Mom tilts her head and he raises his eyebrow.

And with that I can tell where the conversation is going. I drop my spoon and a small cling chimes through the room.

“But we notice things for you are not the same as they used to be”

“The same as they used to be?” I ask tucking a stray braid behind my ear.

“Listen, falisha we believe you have what it takes when it comes to this modeling thing. It's just not the same as when you were younger and you were in those pageants. And i know you were winning all the time”

Mom squints her eyes and shakes her head at him. “Please” she says looking off into the candle seeming as if she wants to say something but won’t.

I look to my dad for him to continue on what he was saying.

“ I guess what I am saying is, we see that your stuck”

I shake my head no but before i can explain my mother snaps her head toward me.

“Yes you are, you are stuck. Because everyday since you graduated college you’ve gone to one of those modeling castings with the same results. You could be putting your degree to use.” she says tapping her spoon against her food. “I shouldn’t of let her put you in those pageants” she murmurs. Causing my heart to slow.

Dad takes a breath in at mom’s words. He stammers to fix what she said but already sees that the words are already swirling in the rooms like our shadows against the candles. Mom breaths out. Looking into the candle in the middle of the table as the flame goes up and down. This is who she is, she isn’t happy with my modeling and blames all on one thing. This is the only time she becomes like this.

“ At this point we’re just asking for you to make a decision for your life” dad continues once every second glancing at mom. “ i’m asking you what it's going to be. Are you going to continue modeling or are you going to get a job?”

The room falls silent. Mom gives me a side eye. “So what’s it gonna be?” she says her high voice slowly.

She’s making me choose? The hair at the back of my neck stands. “Modeling” I say, more firm than what I want.

Mom sucked in “ then no apartment” she says turning toward me.

“Why?” I nearly shout feeling a vein in my throat.

“ First off calm down and sit down,” Mom says her hand pointing to the chair behind me and her eyes firm on me. A small glance around the flickering room and realize that I am no longer sitting but towering over the table. With a small bend I found myself back in my seat. Mom’s eye follows me.

“Sorry '' I say the apartment being taken away from me swirling in my head. The apartment that was a gift to me for graduating college.

Dad continues on to his food. As mom continues “ When we gave you that apartment we thought you would have a job but now we see that you do not and I don't see what you would be doing up in that apartment that you can’t do here. And we can’t keep telling other people who want to rent the place

She throws her hand in the air.

I try to work out something to say to make her change her mind but nothing comes out and instead the candles flickering become like stars twinkling as my vision goes blurry.

Silence fills the room again and I go back to shoving food into my mouth.

Dad breaths in his food no longer there.

“How about this?” he lets out. I glance up from my food to catch mom eyeing him. Her long face shaking to him.

“I’ll give you six months,” he says and the silence becomes thick as mom’s eyes become wide.

“Yusha, really?” mom stares at him and the eye.

“I’m just giving her some time with a new deadline, Natara” he breaths out, rolling his eyes and looking back at me. My heart pounds with excitement. Mom doesn’t say anything more. The cat hops into her arm and she looks into the candle flame.

“ I'll give you six months to see where this modeling thing goes. We will keep the apartment open until then. You either decide to get a job or we give it up. And even though you’re 22 while you're out there looking for work in the modeling field still check up with your mother and let her know everywhere you're going” he says looking between us both.

“Okay” I say, my eyes falling on the same flickering candle mom's eyes are on while she strokes the cat closer.

“Do what it takes” the familiar voice says in my mind, causing a picture to flash through my head causing my heart to slow. I nod my head to it.

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