t h i r t y - n i n e

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"No, Sehar aapi, I can't." I get out of the car and try to manage the grocery bags and the phone all in the two hands Allah has given me.

I put my phone between my shoulder and my ear and close the door of the car, then search for my apartment's keys in my handbag as I walk out of the parking lot.

"Sawera. This is the last wedding in my cousins group. The next is going to be the next generation's. Mirha is very dear to me and I don't want to miss her wedding just because my best friend's too busy to be happy in my happiness."

"Your best friend?" I laugh as I zip my handbag once I'm near the building.

I feel the bags being taken from me and look at the figure in front of me.


I take my phone in my hand and stretch it away for Sehar aapi to not hear it, "No, no thanks I'll do it by—"

"—Ssh," he feigns sternness and tilts his head towards the phone.

Ugh, I hate people helping me all the time.

"Yea, my best friend, what's wrong?" She asks,

"No, nothing, I just didn't know,"

"how'd you not know? Abyan says it all the time."

"Yea, but he's a kid—"

"That's not the point. You need to come to Pakistan with us."

"Sehar aapi, I won't. I've never been there. I don't know anyone, where will I live, what will I even do?"

"Sawera jaanam, you're coming with me. Of course you'll live with us."

What does us mean? Does it include Azaan?

I'd ask that but Areeb's around.

I smile to him.

Wait, Areeb's around.

No, that's a bad idea.

"Sehar aapi, I have a very cruel boss and if I take even one leave he'll burden me with two days of extra work."

"Sawera, that's your mistake. I told you to partner up with me. You didn't like the idea. I don't care now, I'm not ever talking to you again if you don't come." She cuts the call.

I put my phone in my bag and think of it while opening the door of the apartment.

Areeb walks in.

"Thank you, Areeb, I could have done it on my own—"

"—You can pay me back with... the velvet cupcakes you're making?" He says, looking inside the grocery bags

Those were for when Abyan comes home, but since he's not and he's going to... agh, the urge to see Azaan.

What if I take Areeb with me?

What if Azaan sees me with Areeb, he sees that I've moved on, and decides to move on as well, because why would he not when someone like me can?

"Yea, sure. Areeb, would you, um, like to— so we have a wedding in Pakistan. Would you like to come with me? Only if you're free, like you don't need to waste time for me, and I don't really—"

"—Sure, Sawera, when is it?"

"Two weeks later."

"My parents have been asking me to go visit them for a long while anyway, I'd love to... Where is it, though?"

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