Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.
Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.
Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and the Fast and Furious franchise. She’s the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest. Originally raised in Texas, she now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner, a cat bent on world domination, and another cat who’s just here for the snacks
GUEST POST BY AMINAH MAE SAFI
That is something I learned from Jane Austen. How to tell a small story in an epic way. How to make the people the world finds the most insignificant— teenage girls— and make their lives feel central and important. Jane Austen was among the first to give us the interiority of young women as they were growing up. I’d like to think, if anything, I can at least live up to that legacy.
James stood and started feeling through his pockets. “We went out for barbeque earlier.”
Lulu didn’t understand the gibberish he was rambling. She wanted him to go away, and leave her alone, like she’d never been found to begin with. He didn’t even go here. How had he possibly gotten a ticket to the party, Lulu wondered. She fought back more tears, these of pride.
He wasn’t looking at her, though. Finally, he seemed to have found the object of his search. “And they always give us these.” He closed the space between them in two perfunctory steps, handing her a small square packet.
Lulu saw what he offered– a moist towelette. She stared.
“I thought. You wanted to clean up. I think. I don’t care. I thought you might want it.” He must have noticed her wiping up her face.
Lulu didn’t know what to say, so she took it. He sat beside her without further comment. She mopped under her eyes, clearing what must be a mass of mascara and eyeliner pooling there. She slapped her cheeks lightly. She took a deep inhale and turned her face to him– her sparkling, charming smile plastered across her face again.
“How’s it look?”
“Better. I think. I mean, your nose is red. But the rest of your makeup looks good.”
Lulu ought to have been affronted by the honesty, but she wasn’t. She appreciated it. “It couldn’t. Not after.”
James tilted his head, then, motioning towards her. “May I?”
“What are you going to do?” Lulu leaned back, mistrusting both him and herself in such a moment.
He curled his fingers back, unsure. “You. You have a… thingy. Just there.” He touched a lock of her wig resting by the outer corner of her eye. He pulled back again. “I’m sure you can get it.”
There was a vulnerability in him in that moment that Lulu couldn’t resist. She tilted her face towards him. “This help?”
“Sure,” he said, his voice maddeningly steady.
James clamped his lips as he made a hesitant move towards her. Lulu closed her eyes. She felt a light tickle at her temples. Curiosity got the better of Lulu. Her eyes flashed open and they made direct contact with his. Lulu shut her eyes again quickly.
He stayed his movements. “Hold still, please.”
“I’m not sure what this is. I think. I think it’s fuzz.” His fingers grazing the edge of her wig. They pulled delicately through her false hair. “Got it.”
Lulu’s eyes fluttered open. She cleared her throat. “Is it better?”
He placed one set of her false eyelashes into her hand. “Wasn’t all that bad to begin with.”
Lulu couldn’t look him in the eye anymore. The moment was too strange, too intimate.