Standing outsider her locked door, he scanned his memory for places Yasmine might have gone—a drink? A day-trip? He walked the forty blocks back to Port Authority, spending most of it knotted in regrets and daydreams. He adjusted his earbuds, turning up the sound on the 1970s Turkish folk player he had found, his late father’s colleague. The ragged old hippie droned in Rahad’s ear as he walked, the sound crossing oceans and decades. Every time he heard this song, he remembered the singer’s thick moustache, the way he seemed to sing through it. He missed Yas. Against all reason and recent memory, he had imagined her delighted to spend an afternoon together, indulging in a bottle of smoky red. If he had taught her nothing else, at least she had kept this: an hour isn’t squandered if you taste a good wine, if you fill your ears with good music. He had convinced himself that such a visit would be possible, if he could just survive her initial surprise and anger—he hadn’t considered that she may be spending the night elsewhere.
The last time he showed up unannounced, his welcome was a long, dramatic sigh. “I called, azizam,” he said, deflecting the lecture he knew was brewing in her head. He didn’t set down his overnight bag or sitar case for fear of her anger, but in the end, she invited him in. “I called many times,” he said and moved past her. “You don’t check your messages. I got tired of waiting.” That was months ago.
This text originally appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2018.