Fiction: Masquerade Chapter Twenty Three

Chapter Twenty Three

When Adnaan had darted into her room, firmly closing the door behind him, Saami’ah had thought there’d been a break in. Her brother wasn’t fleeing burglars though, just the noise that came with both parents periodically checking on him while he tried to sleep. He’d promised that he’d leave within an hour, and that she wouldn’t even notice him. He’d even offered to sit on the floor, just so long as she lent him a pillow.

Saami’ah had been about to start up a movie on her laptop to let herself wind down for the night, and it wasn’t exactly difficult for her to plug in her earphones and scoot over to make room on her bed for Adnaan’s long legs. Fifteen minutes into Stitch’s quest for destruction, he’d scooted closer so that he could see the screen too and Saami’ah had switched the sound to her laptop’s speakers so he could hear the dialogue too.

Adnaan was a decent movie-watching partner, even if he had made her pause the movie in the middle so that he could gather snacks from the kitchen. He’d brought her back her own giant bowl of popcorn, so Saami’ah forgave him.

He looked a lot better than he had not two hours ago, and Saami’ah did wonder what on Earth had happened that had been so serious, and yet had taken so little time to bounce back from. But she pushed the thought to the back of her mind and ate popcorn instead of trying to figure it out any further. It wasn’t her business, after all.

Haseena did poke her head in once, but only for a moment. Adnaan had waved at her and promised that he was feeling better and she’d left them alone after that.

When the movie ended, Saami’ah was uncomfortably full and slumped against her pillows. From the groan Adnaan let out when he tried to straighten up, she guessed that he’d overeaten as much as she had. The blinking clock at the bottom right of her laptop’s screen informed her that it was just past nine – early enough that she wouldn’t even attempt to go to sleep. If she’d been a little less deep into a food coma, she would have tried to get up and study something to redeem the night. Instead, she turned to Adnaan and asked, “Wanna watch the sequel?” which quickly devolved into them arguing about whether direct-to-video additions counted as sequels (yes!) and her thoroughly betraying how invested she’d been in a franchise about a small blue alien.

In Saami’ah’s defence, he was adorable and she’d spent a ton of time admiring the hand-drawn animation – just as much as she’d spent wishing she could have her own Stitch when she was little. Faced with her insistence, Adnaan quickly gave in. “If you feel that strongly about it, it must be good. But we’re watching Treasure Planet next time or I’m gonna walk out right now.”

He’d been teasing, of course, but Saami’ah had been quick to agree. She liked her solitude, but Adnaan’s company was nice – and not intrusive. He hadn’t looked at her strange when she’d started tearing up or made fun of her for caring so much about a children’s story. Saami’ah appreciated that.

His little sister was better company than he’d thought she’d be. Adnaan had originally expected her to get prickly a few minutes into him camping out in her bedroom, but she’d let him invade her space and had even put her laptop between them so that they could watch her movie together after he’d moved closer to see the screen. He’d never really been in her room before. Not since she’d moved in and it had been converted from the big guest room it was to Saami’ah’s space which he wasn’t meant to go near, that was. He couldn’t help noticing that in all the months she’d been living with them, she still hadn’t made any changes. Adnaan could see exactly one thing that was different – the lampshade – and his mother had done that.

It was a little sad. Saami’ah still acted like a guest half the time and her room showed it. Heck, she hadn’t had his cell number until this morning (and she’d only gotten it because he’d put it in himself unlike the first time when he’d followed his mother’s advice and written it down for her).

But she was slowly relaxing. She’d talked to him this morning and she’d called him. She’d called him a lot actually. He still couldn’t believe he’d slept through it all. Thank goodness Dad had heard the constant chiming. He didn’t think Saami’ah would have called him to come and pick her up all by herself. She acted so strangely around Dad sometimes. She barely talked when he was around, and she got so formal it was uncomfortable to watch.

They didn’t talk much. He was still tired, and Saami’ah was never the first one to start a conversation unless she absolutely had to be. But she let him fiddle with the volume and brightness and even let him hit pause and go make them some popcorn, and it felt like she was getting more comfortable. He hadn’t been aiming to bond with his sister, he’d just wanted some peace and quiet. But watching what seemed to be one of her favourite movies with her was a pretty great way to spend his evening, even if he was struggling to keep his eyes open by the end of it.

When the credits started to roll, he made to get up, taking that as his cue to leave. But Saami’ah surprisingly offered to start up the sequel. And then, in response to his comment about not knowing there had been a sequel to Lilo and Stitch, she started explaining and they had the world’s silliest argument. It was fun. More fun than he’d had in ages.

P.S. I know, I haven’t been responding to comments – I’m sorry! I’m not getting notified of them anymore 😦

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