Downtown Shopping District | San Myshuno
There was something about deadlines that made the time fly by at unnatural speeds. Making the hours feel like minutes and the minutes feel like seconds and the seconds — pretty much nonexistent. It was this accelerated version of time that had Salim checking the clock over and over and singlehandedly fueled his anxiety about this proposal that was only four short days away.
He leaned against the wall outside the restrooms, as he waited for Cassandra, one third of his party planning committee, to finish up another one of her bathroom breaks. By his calculations, if they walked just a little faster and spent a little less time at each stop, they could get everything they planned done without sacrificing any future bathroom breaks all while leaving enough time for him to pick the girls up from his mom’s house and make it back home before Camilla even clocked out.
On the other side of him, Jesminder — who was just as anxious as he was — scrolled through her phone, rereading the contents of the checklist she put together in preparation of the pop quiz she was about to give him — to make sure he was really on top of the tasks she’d given him.
“The stuff at her job’s taken care of, right?” she continued scrolling, queuing up the next question on her list.
“Yeah, I spoke to her boss already,” he replied confidently, “We’re all set for the party space. She even has the other girls talking to her about dresses and stuff.”
“And the menus I sent you?” she glanced up from her phone like she was a teacher questioning one of her students.
“Got them saved in here,” he held up his phone.
“How ‘bout the songs for the playlist?” she asked with narrowed eyes, skeptical of his attention to detail.
“That’s in here too.”
“Inspo for the table setups? Pictures for the frames? Quotes for the—”
“Everything’s in here,” he chuckled, “I promise I’m on top of it.”
“Alright,” she said with her hands on her hips, “cause we ain’t half-assing no party that has my name on it. Not if you—”
The doors swung open and Cassandra emerged from the restroom, just in time to save Salim from threats of bodily harm in the event he drops the ball on this party. “What I miss?” she asked, looking back and forth at the two of them.
“Nothing,” Jesminder put her arm around her, leading her in the direction of their intended path, “Now let’s get going. We got a full list to get through and with lil’ man playing kickball with your bladder like he’s been doing all day, we ain’t got time to waste.”
Later that Evening
Salim & Camilla’s Townhouse | San Myshuno
On a typical weekday, commutes and dinner plans occupied the first half of Camilla’s post-workday evening. Once the traffic cleared and a parking spot was secured, she would toss her keys, strip down from everything that reminded her of the workday then spend a little while searching around the kitchen for something to eat but Salim being off work this week, meant he would finally make it home before her and be the one to take care of dinner or in his case — pick up dinner.
Having food waiting for her when she got home was one of her favorite things about Salim’s vacation, a close second to spending time together and all that stuff, but Yasmin didn’t seem to share her enthusiasm and was much more interested in the box of double chocolate chip cookies she somehow managed to get from the kitchen than her Happy Meal that was sitting untouched on the table.
“I have tookie?” Yasmin climbed over Salim, handing the box to Camilla.
“Um…” Camilla looked in the opposite direction, trying to avoid locking eyes with Salim who was watching her — waiting for her response, “Let’s eat a little bit of food first, then you could have a cookie, okay?”
“I no wan it,” Yasmin shook her head, “I wan tookie.”
This cookie thing — well not the cookie exactly, but her authority or lack thereof with the twins — was a topic that came up often. So often that lately, every instance in which one of them asked her for something — specifically something where the answer should be no — was used as an opportunity for Salim to assess her progress which admittedly, wasn’t much. She promised to do better though and was sure that one day, she would be able to say no without backtracking but that day — was not today and Salim somehow picked up on that too.
“Camilla…” he sighed, “We just talked about this.”
“It’s one cookie, Salim,” she pouted, sharing the same expression as Yasmin who was also giving him puppy dog eyes.
“One cookie now, ‘til she asks you for another one, then another one,” he took the box from her, “You just need to learn to say no.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s okay to say yes sometimes though,” she contested, “As a matter of fact, I read this article the other day that says it’s good for their emotional development and stuff. I’ll show you.”
She lifted his phone from the sofa cushion between them but was startled when he flung forward and snatched it out of her hand, like it was on fire or something.
“Wh— uh… where’s your phone?” he stuttered.
“Upstairs… on the charger…” she watched him slip the phone into his pocket, “Why? Is there something in your phone you don’t want me to see?”
“No— Of course not— I… I just think mine needs to charge too…” he proceeded to reopen that hole that had just been sealed up from his questionable behavior the other day.”
“Give it to me, I’ll put it on the charger for you,” she held her hand out in a calculated move disguised as a gesture of kindness. A move in which there was only one correct answer.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll do it… In a minute.”
And he — just chose the wrong one.
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