Dining by Storms
Chapter 1 –
To Fall Again
Among the belting billow branches, now a worn bristle swayed through the brush of a banquet’s warm shades as they paraded off the eyes on a sober November afternoon. Gray stone walls hid behind their ancient solemn sanctity, bowing to its bountiful chapters they earnestly studied year on year out as a timeless story unfolded countless times beyond the hallowed halls and mirrored windows. Seas of studious waves cascaded off its adept abode and flushed throughout the courtyards and passages. Some were oblivious, others cautious of the tales that rang around the seasons. Locked on this principle, one could lose themselves, catching the whiff of all its sweet musk as it spirited around the campus.
Aziza and Fatima had just gotten out of class and were walking down the campus yard together. There was a slight urgency in their steps. Fatima needed to head home, and Aziza was going to the library. “Today was cold!” Aziza exclaimed.
“But still was good.” Fatima added, “I mean productive, you know.” Aziza nodded but noticed Fatima’s unease in her voice; she seemed a bit spaced out. However, Fatima had a habit of it. She could quickly lose herself in her thoughts.
“I know; I finished my work and finally signed up for the gym membership earlier this morning!” Aziza said.
“We can go together now!” Fatima said as she nudged her shoulders against Aziza’s bright yellow wool parka.
As if in agreement with her, Aziza continued, “You can’t run outside anymore unless you want to catch a cold. I mean, you can run maybe every other day or twice a week, but in this weather,” Aziza paused to catch her breath, “I can’t go more than a few miles. Did you know that the sudden rush of cold air, together with a fast heart rate trying to pump more oxygen in the body during a strenuous activity like running, leads to acute bronchitis or even pneumonia as a result of tearing in the lung walls and condensation from the warm atmosphere of the lungs being bombarded by a rush of cold air? It is true. I googled it, word for word, and it says something like that.” Aziza beamed as if proving a point.
Fatima couldn’t help but smile to herself. Aziza had started running in the last year of high school, and as a freshman now, she built up a tolerance. Fatima came along with her once or twice a week, but she hadn’t gotten into it as much as Aziza. However, she enjoyed her enthusiasm and wanted to work hard to be as passionate as her.
Somewhat caringly overwhelmed, Fatima added, “Imagine if you run five miles every day, tearing your lungs and freezing your butt off. You would sure catch a cold. It’s like inevitable; it must be.” They walked off the schoolyard. “But, could we do 9 pm today, maybe more like 10 or 11, you know?” Fatima asked. It was 5 pm already, and she had to head home to do her laundry, call her parents, and make dinner.
“Yea, 9 pm is good; I’ll be done with that essay I mentioned the other day,” Aziza said.
“I’ll see you later tonight,” Fatima said.
“By the way, what were you making tonight? It was your turn on the schedule, right?” Aziza asked.
“I was thinking of doing some salmon fettuccini alfredo with mango, orange, and avocado salad,” Fatima answered.
“That sounds so good,” Aziza gawked as she turned to her wide-eyed and smiled. Fatima enjoyed being around Aziza’s enthusiasm; she was like the ying to her yang. “Can’t wait!” Aziza said as she turned towards the library on their right and nudged Fatima’s hand. The university had a large yard dividing the dorms from the class halls. The library fell on the far-left end of the campus next to a couple of dorms on the opposite end of the class halls. Fatima waved Aziza off into the library and turned around to head back to the other side.
Their apartment was a couple of blocks behind. Fatima and Aziza rented out an apartment close to campus because it was the best option for the price and location. They kept a tidy schedule and lived above their means as college students. Most days, Aziza and Fatima would walk from their apartment or take the bus if it was too cold in the mornings, but today she wanted to walk; she figured she could wake herself up a bit after that class on game theory.
Fatima had about a 20-minute walk left to the house. She wanted to use it well to figure a few things out, but her schedule had kept her on her toes for the past few weeks, and her thoughts, like her little pink calendar notebook, were too cluttered. Luckily finals would be over in 2 weeks, and then she could finally relax.
Fatima slowly hunched her shoulders forward to shield herself slightly, but she knew that would do no good. As Fatima eyed the fall foliage, she couldn’t help but think of the season’s colors and how inviting it felt. She even considered just putting on some sneakers and leisurely jogging, not for running, but to numb and warm herself up in the shades of orange and brown as they fluttered about. She felt like just immersing herself in the woods to escape and be at peace, her thoughts blank as a smooth pearly stone nestled between the fallen leaves. Ahhh, perfection, she thought, as she pictured jumping and laying in the leaves. She used to love it when she was younger, but now she was wearier of the cold, its old familiarity had somehow escaped her, and she couldn’t put the finger on how.
Though now like a fuzzy dream, she could still picture the days when her older brother had to rake the leaves once a week. One time when she saw the pile, she just had a sudden urge to jump in it; it felt like the best idea she had ever thought about in her whole life as she grinned from ear to ear. Though she was only 4, and for that age, that probably is the best thought you could have gone on in your head. Sure enough, her brother got annoyed, but it became a habit, so after a couple of times, he would make two piles, one in the center of the lawn and one way off in the corner. After she injured herself once, he decided not to do two piles but stayed consistent with only one bank because sometimes there wouldn’t be enough leaves to cushion her excited rushes.
Now, as that memory slowly escaped her, she shuddered a bit. She knew why she couldn’t enjoy it as she used to. It all started that day one early November morning eight years ago when a couple of police offers rang their doorbell.
Though, looking back now, it seemed inevitable. She could remember how her mother’s voice nervously cracked as she spoke with the officer. Her older brother and younger sister were in the kitchen arguing over who would get the last sucuk, a Turkish sausage she loved with eggs. Dad was playing along as he was reading up on the news, his eyes half on Fatima and half on the newspaper neatly folded to the section about the recent emergency laws passed ever since the insurrection; at least, that was what was being blared on the news so many times.
She didn’t quite get what was happening, but a couple of words were constantly used as sentences were shuffled around. To her, it seemed like a new fad, some words were excellent those days, and everyone was using them. Who knows what was going on if they knew what they were saying or if they were joining in on the ‘cool’ words of the day? It seemed more like play to her; she never really had gotten the seriousness of the issue. Her parents made sure that they felt safe.
But they weren’t; her dad used to work in the Department of Interior but left and started his small business with the money they had saved up. She never cared for what he did and wouldn’t ask too much. To her, seeing her dad happy every day going to work and coming back home, sometimes excited as he shared with her mom about some good news happening, was all that mattered.
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