Thirty Minutes Later
Salim & Camilla’s Townhouse | San Myshuno
Dinner was quiet — too quiet. Like the kind of quiet that lingered in the air before the sky darkened, the last few minutes of calm right before the storm started, the last moment of peace — before all hell broke loose. Aside from forks scraping half-empty plates and glasses hitting the table, the room was quiet. No talking, no conversation, just awkward, tense silence and that — was even scarier than the double team attack from the women that Camilla feared would happen.
She scanned the table, taking note of everyone’s behavior, specifically their guests. Aahana was taking another sip of her drink. Nothing unusual there except that sip — was a long sip. A really long sip. Like she was deliberately keeping her mouth full. Like that wine was the only thing preventing something bad from happening and Nura — she was sitting next to her cutting the same piece of meat that she had been cutting for at least five whole minutes and that wasn’t even the weirdest part. The weirdest part was how she never looked down at the knife or the plate — not even once. Instead, her eyes were narrowed and dead set on Aahana and Salim — well, he was too busy stuffing his face to even notice what was going on, right in front of him.
“Um … Salim,” Camilla whispered, tapping his arm hoping to get him to look up long enough to see what she was seeing, “can you pass me that bowl over there with the potatoes in it?”
Before he could sit up, Aahana reached over and handed it to her. “Here you go.”
“Thank you … Aahana,” Camilla pursed her lips, slightly annoyed at her impeccable hearing.
Aahana reached across the counter again, this time for the wine bottle and refilled her glass — for the sixth time — a potential problem depending on her tolerance for alcohol. Nura was finally done cutting, but that knife — was still sitting firmly in her hand and her eyes — were still planted on Aahana.
Camilla grabbed Salim’s arm, shaking him hard, “What do you think about the cake? Is it good?”
“Yeah, it’s great,” he finally looked up at her, “What kind is it?”
“Strawberry Red Velvet Cheesecake,” she nodded towards the other side of the counter, praying he would get the hint.
“Oh, well it’s good,” he kissed her on the cheek before diving into another slice of cake, earning him a swift kick in the leg, “Ouch! What?” he grabbed the spot that was now left sore by the heel of her boot.
“Nothing,” she sneered.
“This was a lovely meal, Camilla,” Nura smiled politely, “Preparing meals, is this something you always do?”
“Here we go,” Aahana mumbled under her breath.
“Um … well,” Camilla glanced at Aahana then back at Nura, “I bake more than I cook so … not usually?”
“Baking, cooking, it is all the same and still an effort and that is more than some people make,” Nura cut her eyes at Aahana, her obvious disdain sitting in the space between them.
“That’s cause some people got other shit to do than play housewife all fucking day,” Aahana rolled her eyes.
That finally got Salim’s attention. “Nobody has to cook,” he looked at Nura, “or play housewife,” he looked at Aahana, “so everybody just eat, okay?”
Both women folded theirs arms, each looking in the opposite direction of the other. They were tense, but quiet — at least for a minute anyway …
“So, Camilla, what is it that you do?” Nura resumed her questioning.
“Coding— computer programming— I actually just got a job at this really big tech company that I’m starting soon.”
“Oh, congratulations. Is this something that you plan to do long term, even when you’re married?” Nura asked.
“Well yeah—,” Camilla paused, “wait, married?”
“N-nobody’s talking about marriage,” Salim stammered, “Mom, nobody’s talking about marriage.”
“God forbid you were,” Aahana interjected, “cause you know Nura’s ass’ll have something to say about it.”
“I beg your pardon?” Nura shifted her body towards Aahana, knife still in hand.
“Oh God,” Camilla said under her breath.
“I said,” Aahana leaned in close, making sure she heard every word she said, “your nosy ass always has something to say about shit that don’t have nothing to do with you.”
“Well, if you were capable of making good decisions on your own, Ani,” Nura glared at her, “maybe I would not need to intervene.”
“You know what Nura, fu—”
“Ani!” Salim slammed his hands down on the table, “Mom, stop! Both of you!”
And that — was Camilla’s cue to get out of there. As much as she appreciated not being the target of everyone’s animosity, she really didn’t want to be in the middle of whatever this was either, so she volunteered to check on the girls, who’s tiny snores could be heard over the baby monitor, and disappeared upstairs. Aahana took this as a sign too. A sign to get as far away from Nura as possible before she really hurt her feelings and made her way to her daughters’ room as well.
“What’s going on with you and Ani?” Salim asked Nura, attempting to get to the bottom of what’s really going on between them.
It wasn’t unusual for Nura and Aahana to disagree, it was literally the foundation of their relationship, but that whole exchange that just took place in front of him was way deeper than anything he had ever seen go down between them.
“That girl is stubborn and her head is hard as rock.”
“Yeah, but you know that already. Why is it a big deal now?”
“Because, I simply tried to give her some advice to help with the babies because she is a new mother and does not know everything, but instead of being grateful, she was rude and said horrible things to me.”
“What did she say?”
She didn’t respond immediately. Instead, she sat there, looking away from him. Her fists balled tightly in front of her. Her face sporting something other than it’s usual strong and confident expression. Her feelings — clearly hurt by whatever was said.
“She said that … that you did not want me in your life anymore,” she said with a voice as sad as the look on her face, “and that it is the reason you did not want me to meet Camilla.”
“That’s not true,” he sighed.
“Then why am I just meeting her today, Salim?” she looked up at him, “You’ve been dating for months, almost a year now. You are living together but yet, I am just meeting her?”
“Because,” he walked over and sat on the stool next to her, “when we first got together, all the way up to when the girls were born, all you talked about was Aahana and I getting back together. No matter how many times I told you that wasn’t going to happen, you would not let it go.”
“Yes, but that was in the past. I have done nothing but respect your wishes about your relationship but you are still closing me out. I had to ask for an invitation to your house. You would not have invited me on your own.”
Eventually … One day … He didn’t know really. This dinner was a test to see if she was really ready to respect the fact that he had moved on. To see if she was truly willing to accept the woman that he was in love with. To see if he could invite her into his happy place without fear of her ruining it but he couldn’t tell her that. He could however, apologize for how he treated her in the process.
“I’m sorry I hurt your feelings,” he wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her tight, “I should’ve invited you over sooner, but I’ll make sure we make more opportunities for you to visit, okay?”
“It is okay. You are forgiven. Sit down,” she patted the seat, “Now about Camilla, I like her. She cooks.”
“Well I’m glad to hear that,” he chuckled.
“Good. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the wedding.”
“Are you … okay?” Camilla asked Aahana hoping not to get her head bitten off for asking questions.
“Me?” Aahana placed a finger on her chest, “I’m fine but that bitch is working my last fucking nerve.”
“Yes, Nura,” she replied sarcastically, “I swear she has to be the most annoying person on the fucking planet! Always has something to say, always talking shit. Doing everything she can to make my life miserable every fucking time she’s around. Could you imagine having to deal with somebody like that on a regular basis?”
This — must be a trick question. It had to be because she just summed up, in so many words, her behavior towards her, during her entire pregnancy.
“No … I … couldn’t …”
“Well, I guess you better get used to it then cause that right there,” she pointed towards the door, “is classic Nura.”
“What do you mean?” she moved closer, curious to learn more about her future mother-in-law.
“She just always,” she exhaled, “feels like everything has to be done her way. Like the other day, she called me and asked if I had given anymore thought to breastfeeding so I was like no, we’re doing the soy formula and it’s like me saying that offended her or something and she just started going off about how I’m making the wrong decisions and basically telling me what I need to be doing so I told her ass off. This kind of stuff happens so much, I’m just sick of her.”
Having a mom who has strong opinions on how she lives her life and is less than shy about sharing those opinions, Camilla could relate firsthand to how Aahana was feeling. She only wished she was bold enough to speak her mind sometimes — in a less disrespectful way of course — she wasn’t trying to get slapped.
“That’s so frustrating.”
“The most frustrating. But she’ll never change, so my advice to you,” she pointed a finger at her, “is just make sure you stand your ground. Don’t let her run your life, trying to get in your head with all that 19th century housewife shit, cause she will try and if I had to guess,” she pointed at the door again, “she’s probably down there right now trying to plan your wedding so just … stand up for yourself especially when Salim’s not around.”
Super awesome reader of mine 😀 Enjoying Camilla’s story? Wanna be the first to know when the next episode is out? Yeah? Cool! Click below to subscribe and get updates sent right to your inbox.