Aisha rushed around her apartment to get ready. She had thrown on some nice jeans with decorative paint splatters and a nice cashmere sweater decorated with paint smears on a black background. The paint smears were by her hand and looked like orange stripes.
It would be a cold walk to her mom’s house, where the dinner was taking place. Along the way, she noticed great Maples losing their leaves, and Cedars becoming golden in the setting sun. She passed by the small park between her parent’s house and her apartment.
She turned right and down the street to her mom’s large two-story house. The door bore marks from when Popo had been a pup and scratched the door inside and out. The two big windows facing the front were adorned with planters and the smell of turned soil reached her nose. Momma’s been messing with the small gardens again.
She walked onto the driveway and up the sidewalk to the door, which she pulled her keys and opened, letting herself into the house. She hung her brown leather jacket up on the coat hanger by the door and walked into the warm room, where her mother and sister were chatting. Popo grey with age wagged his tail from the corner of the room and slowly made his way towards her.
“Why hello Popo! How are you doing, old boy?” she cooed giving the German Shepherd a belly rub. She stood and dusted stray hairs from her jeans before walking over to her sister and mother. Joyful blue eyes looked into her own eyes of midnight.
“Aisha, honey, we were just talking about you.”
Aisha smiled and slid down beside her sister. “Oh, what about me? That I’m gorgeous and stunning?”
“Arrogant much?” Shayla laughed, bringing her cranberry juice to her mouth.
“How you passed the state test with flying colors and chose design instead of, say, engineering school,” her mother said.
Aisha rolled her eyes. It was always the same with her mother. She kept hoping her studying at the design college was just a phase, but Aisha was determined to become one of the top of her profession. Her mom liked to blame her status as an artist, but she knew the truth. She wasn’t Shayla.
“Mom. You know it’s been my dream since I saw my first animated movie.”
Her mom scoffed. “I should have never taken you to see Princess Mononoke”
Aisha smiled. “But you did and I wanted to be an animator since.”
Her mother sighed. “Why couldn’t you have been a lawyer or scientist and put that great brain of yours to work?”
Popo trotted over to Aisha probably feeling her frustration. He was always good at that and she clung to his fur, as her mother stood to check on the pot roast she could almost taste.
Her sister patted her hand. “Don’t listen to her Aisha. When you’re making millions she’ll change her mind.”
“I probably won’t make millions but I hope to work on a big movie someday,” said Aisha sadly.
“There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. Look at me. I dreamed big and now I’m an executive in my firm and have the best boyfriend. I couldn’t ask for more,” said Shayla.
“You did it in what, five years? That’s unheard of. I wish I could be like you, then mom wouldn’t be on me all the time.” Aisha sighed, raking her hair back and swinging her legs, feeling much like a small child in front of a real adult when it came to her sister.
Shayla set her juice aside and wrapped an arm around her. “We each make our own lives Aisha. Our decisions are what make us and I think going for your dreams is a good thing. Despite my success, I don’t have time for my passion anymore. No, keep doing what you’re doing and one day you’ll find your destiny,” her sister said winking.
She looked down and found Shayla had a gold string around her ankle like her.
Shayla’s phone rang and she shot to her feet excited. “He’s here!”
The doorbell rang and Shayla got up to answer it. Aisha sighed and followed her sister grinning. Her sister opened the door and a tall, athletic male walked in with roses for her sister. Shayla sighed and kissed him. Her eyes alight like diamonds. Then he turned his grey eyes to Aisha and smiled.
“Aren’t you going to say hello?” he asked Aisha.
Aisha glanced at his ankle. A golden thread was tied around it. She expected to see it tied to her sister’s golden thread, but it kept going in her direction. Her eyes trailed it to where it met another. Hers. It was connected directly to hers. She glanced back at him almost comically. Time seemed to stop for her, as realization started to settle in, then an agony, unlike any other, and fear. Fear for what it meant. Michael was lost to her, wasn’t he? Bad thoughts made her stomach squeeze painfully and she whipped around and ran for the kitchen instead, leaving a room full of shocked people.
She couldn’t bear the scene and now knew what Jeremiah meant. Her destined was long taken from her. He was her sister’s boyfriend. She entered the kitchen as her mother was taking the roast from the oven.
She busied herself with the chore of serving everyone so as to not to think about her predicament. When she reached Michael, she refused to face him instead, pretending to be in conversation with Shayla. As she was leaving he said, “thank you.” She replied, “no problem,” but wouldn’t meet his eyes.
Dinner passed and she volunteered to do the dishes, something she never did, to avoid conversation with Michael, usually her favorite part of the evening. They had a lot in common. Now it was clear why. Now a strange dawning realization from her last memory replayed this morning, hit.
Like a thousand megawatts. She had been interested in him a while ago but her sister had just been through a rocky relationship again and she had found her screaming one night. She had promised to make sure her sister found a good man. And she has. Mine! But I can’t do that to Shayla, not when I promised and I put them together! Oh God, I...
A hand dipped a glass into the dirty water, and she turned to find a slightly disgruntled Michael gazing at her through those piercing grey eyes. I don’t need this right now! I can’t handle this!
“Did I do something to piss you off somehow?” He asked standing right beside her.
She inched farther away and sighed wiping her soapy hand against her forehead leaving a smear of soap.
“No, Michael. I’m just tired. It’s been a busy day at the university.” She wasn’t lying about that. She had three different projects due in a week and she had yet to conceptualize any sketches.
“Hmm. So you aren’t just ostracizing me then?” He raised an eyebrow and she found herself smiling.
“Alright… you still have to help me find a ring.”
Aisha dropped the dish she had been washing. It clattered into the sink.
He placed a hand on her shoulder and leaned in. “Are you alright Aisha?”
“Yes! I’m fine,” she said picking the dish back up but her hands were shaking. Michael saw this. Popo came trotting in and growled at Michael before pushing his fury snout into Aisha’s legs. Aisha bent down to calm the old dog and a few tears slipped from her eyes, alarming Michael. He left the kitchen only to be replaced with Shayla a few minutes later.
“What’s wrong, Aisha?” she asked, coming over and petting Popo on the head. The German Shepherd buried his snout in her hand and she scratched his muzzle gently.
“I’m sorry. I’m ruining your dinner. I think I better go…” the sound of loud thunder reached her ears and she groaned. “Well, a little water never hurt anyone,” Aisha muttered standing up and rubbing her eyes. A tree branch flew into the window, then scraped it, making both sisters jump.
“You are not walking home in this Aisha, especially in your condition,” stated Shayla.
“I’ll stay in my old room then,” Aisha grimaced. The room had a tendency to leak during storms. Shayla’s hand stopped her. “Aisha, mom turned your room into an office.”
“My room? The smallest and shoddiest room in the house?” asked Aisha, quirking her brow.
“Well, it’s a small office,” Shayla muttered shrugging.
“I’m sure! Where did she put my stuff?” Aisha stuck her head out of Popo’s ruffle and faced her sister.
“The same basement that floods when it rains!” Aisha shouted, springing to her feet.
“Yeah, but I’m sure she put your things on the shelves?” Shayla said twirling a lock of her hair in between her hands.
“You think!” Aisha ran out of the kitchen and through the house to the large basement. She opened the door and her eyes widened as she took in the water on the floor and the boxes of her things on the wet ground.
“What the fuck! I can still use those old drawings to conceptualize my projects! They don’t mean a thing to you, but to me, they mean the world!” She screamed pulling soggy boxes to dryer corners. She shoved at a box but it was stuck. It was too heavy to move, then it was moving and Michael was lifting the box.
“Where do you want it?”
She pointed to a dry corner blushing. He carried the box over to the other boxes and set it down. After a bit of rearranging, Aisha sighed and glared at her mother who was watching the spectacle, a drink in her hand.
“What! I wasn’t special enough for even a shelf? You hate me that much!”
Her mother’s eyes narrowed and she left the hallway, while Aisha crushed her hands into fists. Taking her phone out, she texted Jeremiah.
He texted back. On my way. I’m close.
Having had enough for one day, she rushed up the basement steps ignoring everyone and snatched her leather jacket. She thrust it on and opened the door to the rain. “I’m leaving!” she yelled and slammed the door closed behind her.