She had done it. She had made the mistake she had sworn she would never make. And right now as Dalia stood looking down at Ahmed, she realized that she had little-to-no control over her life, actions or feelings. She felt utterly and incomprehensibly dejected. As if her mental abilities held no sway over her emotional and physical domains. Her time in New York had come to an end and the most important thing to materialize from the trip was suddenly, irreversibly over. Ahmed sat on the couch in his impeccably furnished midtown apartment. He seemed to be taking her impending departure with the same ease and complacency with which he had pursued their entire time together. His cavalier attitude was more than Dalia could take. She could barely stand to look at him and so she turned her back to him and gazed out his windows at the lights of Times Square twinkling in the distance.
"You honestly don't even care, do you?" She asked, her breath making moist circles on the window pane.
"About what, babe?" He replied, spooning himself another helping of Chinese fried rice.
"Exactly." She said, turning to him with her hands on her hips.
He finally looked up at her with a puzzled look on his face. "What? What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about us, Ahmed.. Or does 'us' only really exist in my head?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" He asked calmly, leaning back as he poked at the rice with his chopsticks.
It truly amazed her how a man who was so passionate and ferocious in the bedroom could be so utterly cold on every other matter and in every other situation. She had never seen him mad.. never seen him annoyed... It was as if his very existence could only be surmised by an encounter of a sexual nature.
"It means... It means, what the hell is this? You and me. We've been together for what? five, six months now? And I'm leaving in two days and it's like you don't even care." She said, shaking her head in disbelief.
"It's not that I don't care... It's just... Madry.. It's not like we said that this was a committed, 'relationship' type thing. Come on, Dalia. I thought we were just having fun."
"Having fun?" She snickered. "Yeah, we've been having fun alright. And now it seems that instead of you thinking of me as a companion.. as someone you could really be with, I, somehow, gave you the impression that I was nothing more than a fuck-buddy!"
"Dalia." He said, putting his bowl of rice on the coffee table and spreading his hands. "That's not fair. I have treated you with nothing but respect. If all I saw you as was a fuck-buddy, would I have taken you to all the places we've been? Would I have hung out with you and slept over at your place even when there was no sex involved?" He gave her a look that told her he knew that she knew he was right.
"All I'm saying is.." She dropped her defensive stance. " is that I thought that this would transform into something more meaningful at some point."
"Something more meaningful? Like what? Marriage? Dalia, we've been through this plenty of times.. you know how I feel about marriage.."
"Yeah, I know." She said, raising her voice in exasperation. "But so what? Are you just gonna be a bachelor for the rest of your life? What about security.. What about companionship?.. What about.."
"What about it?" He said, cutting her off. He stood up and hardened his tone. "I'm sorry if you had some convoluted fairy tale fantasy going on in your head, Dalia, but I am not responsible for that. Whatever illusions that you have been entertaining are of your own making. I have been nothing, but honest about you and about my intentions ..."
"Or lack thereof.." She interrupted.
"Whatever! The point is that I have, at no point, even hinted at the idea that this would be more than a fling or casual relationship. We had fun and now it's time for you to go home and so this will just be something that happened between us at this point in time.. It does not need to go any further than that." He finished and stood facing her with a look of determination on his face. It was as if he were willing her to get the point.
Dalia looked up at him in stark amazement. She was stunned speechless.. more from his emotional outburst than what he had said. He had sprung to life as he had said those things to her and it was stupid and she hated herself for it, but she loved him more in that moment than in any other. Tears welled up in her eyes and her vision blurred. She looked down at her feet, visibly resigned to the fact that she had absolutely no power over her universe. It was the cruelest, most real, most bitter-sweet moment her short life had ever seen. She felt her feet move beneath her towards the armchair that held her bag and coat. Without a word she slipped on her overcoat and shouldered her bag. He didn't say anything.. He didn't try to stop her or console her. He knew it was pointless to do so. She walked to the door and turned the knob, pulling it open. She stopped for an instant and turned to face him.
"New York... This city... It'll always be about you and me." She said, shaking her head in wonder. Then she turned and walked out of his door... out of his life.
Leaving New York never easy... I saw the light fading out.