In December of 2018, I was published for the first time . . . in my school’s online literary magazine, The Greenspring Review. Three poems and one short story were published.
My short story, “Layla and Khalfani,” is part of a series and I hope Part 2 will be published the next issue, Fall 2019! If you haven’t already, feel free to read Part 1 here.
Below is an excerpt of “Layla and Khalfani, Part 2”, full short story hopefully (and prayerfully) coming soon!
It took a lot for me to come see her that night. My mom thought I should try to fix things. I knocked on the door to the studio and moments later some scruffy, gangly-looking dude snatched the door open.
“Wassup bruh? May I help you or some’?”
“Yeah.” I swiped my nose, swallowing the lump of nerves that built up during the elevator ride up there. “Is Layla here?”
His gaze lingered on me suspiciously, but I scoffed and gestured for him to hurry. He stretched his long neck behind him and yelled, “Lay!”
She reciprocated the same tone, “Yeah?!” She sounded exhausted.
“This dude wanna see you. . .” He kept his ear tuned for her response before I suddenly took more interest in the speckled carpet beneath my J’s.
“Who is it, Terry!”
The dude— apparently named Terry— turned his attention back to me. “Aye, whatcho name, dawg?”
“Man, just tell her Khalfani here.” I was growing impatient. Today was a long ass day and the last thing I needed was for Layla to be difficult. This was already difficult enough.
“It’s dis dude named Khalfani!”
A few seconds ticked by as Terry and I commenced into a stare-off. To be honest, I’m not sure why though. . . “Tell ‘im to bring his sorry ass in,” Layla giggled.
I clenched my teeth and momentarily closed my eyes, wincing at the pain of her blatantly nonchalant tone. Layla was always honest about how she felt; she never held back for anybody.
As I mentally composed myself, Terry cackled, “Aye man, what kinda name is Khalfani, anyway?”
Sighing, I replied, “It’s Egyptian for leader. Now move, bruh.”
“Aye man, I ‘on’t want no kinda trouble,” he chuckled, surrendering with his hands up, then stepping aside to reveal the small studio. I flipped him the bird and continued my stroll, finding Layla posted up in the doorway to her cozy booth. “Aye, Lay, Imma go. You good?”
“Yeah. Thanks, Terry. I’ll lock up.” Terry peace-signed her farewell, grabbed his shit, and left.
“Heeeyyy,” her voice stretched out the word like spreading butter on a hot, dinner roll. Not g’on lie, shit was sexy. Titillating. It was just like Layla to tease me. I hated that she knew me so well. She raised her arm higher on the doorframe and subsequently, her pale-pink thin sweater rode up and exposed her hip. Flexing my jaw, I quickly averted my gaze as my heart sped up. She is definitely making this difficult.
She giggled as she sauntered to a small round table to refill her wine glass. After, she toed off her slippers and lounged on a chaise all while delicately holding her glass. Her slender, toned body elegantly reclined across the tufted grey suede chaise. She looked comfortable— in her element— yet exhausted, but I can tell that she was trying to play it off.
Stuffing my hands in the pockets of my sweatpants, I cleared my throat to refocus on why I was here. “’Sup. . .”
She side-eyed me before sipping her wine. “Hey. . .”
I nodded repeatedly as if to will myself to say the words I’ve been afraid to tell her.
“Khalfani, I’m really not in the mood right now for whatever the fuck you want. The wedding is in two weeks. I’ve been here for three hours after work so I’m exhausted! You bein’ here is actually annoyin’ thee fuck outta me, and why are you waltzin’ around like we in a ballroom or som—,”
“I told her everything.” Pause. “And the wedding’s over.” I stood in it for a while . . . not able to lift my head to gauge her reaction. I stood in me owning up to my lying, my deception, my fault. “I fucked up, Lay. I really fucked up.” I finally found the courage to see her— her eyes were wide at my confession.
“Don’t call me that,” she said definitively, her voice deepening in seriousness. She rose up, placing her wine on the little table nearby and stood right in front of me. “You don’t get to call me that, anymore. I am not Lay,” she mocked me, “I’m Layla.” She sounded on the verge of tears, like her overwhelming emotions choked her and gargled her words.
Admittedly, it was hard to swim in her big, doe-shaped eyes. The same eyes that I’ve stared at for years, apologizing for the same shit.
An uncomfortable silence hovered over us for a few minutes as we just continued searching each other’s eyes, trying to grasp onto things we haven’t said, yet. I stood there trying to anticipate the rest of this conversation.
Hope you enjoyed the excerpt! Find the complete short story here!
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