I couldn't believe it.
Audrey and Celeste sat at the foot of my bed while I played my music so loud I couldn't hear either of them, but I am sure they were trying to comfort me somehow.
Celeste, who had a migraine, cringed as she inched the volume on her CD player down.
I was sprawled on my camping mat-come-bed with pictures of him all around me, wearing one of Celeste's floral dresses and my pearl necklace, makeup done to perfection and tissues with mascara edging on them rolled into balls pushed aside neatly by Audrey, who sat patting my foot awkwardly, strange one that she was that rejected physical human contact in almost every other situation.
"He told you he couldn't marry you so you have only yourself to blame for hoping, though I'll agree he's a jerk," Celeste tried to provoke me. She knew baiting was the keenest, wisest, tried-tested-and-true way to get me out of bed to eat something. If I was angry then I'd be hungry. Depressed as I was, I hadn't eaten for almost a week.
I just stared at her blankly. How had I become so pathetic?
"If he loved you," Celeste continued, getting up, "he'd marry you."
"Ignore her," Audrey patted me again. I glared at her. "She's just like that--- and we all know why. But you knew there was no hope. And still you kept hoping. You knew the family would force him to marry someday.
Some people fit into boxes, and you are not one of them. Some people can go in and out of the box, but you, you can't fit in the box, not in any box. And Khaleel? He can't get out of the box. You two kids were doomed from the start. And he hates your lipstick. And he's a jerk."
I wanted to agree. But I knew a different Khaleel than they did.
"He saved me Audrey. When no one else is there, he always is."
She nodded. "He'll always save you. But he can't marry you. And he can't save you from yourself. Celeste is right about that."
That was the truth of it really, the bottom line. But try telling that to a serriously depressed person now, why don't you?
"But I love him!" I whined. "He's a coward, a cheater, a liar..." I pat her shoulder back pointedly and made the following allowance, "...but only to you.
And an idiot, but I love him."
She sat back. "He was your knight in shining armor. That's why you say that. All girls have a rescue fantasy, even one as bullshit tough as you."
"Yeah, true. But Khaleel was never exactly a Knight-in-shining-armor kind of guy."
Audrey giggled with me. "More like holes-in-his-shorts and rubber flip-flops?"
I looked pained for a second, and she knew she'd made a mistake. "Khaleel looked damn sexy in those shorts."
She patted me on my foot again. "Only you would think so." As an afterhtought. "He has a nice neck though. Too bad I wanna smack him in the back of the head until that neck snaps."
Khaleel had wronged Audrey more than he'd ever wronged me.
"He's a coward and an idiot," I allowed. "He didn't deserve me. But... he was the first one who said that..." I drifted back into melancholy.
About the fact that he was a coward and an idiot, Audrey philisophized, pulling my floral dress back over my thighs as I twisted around at the mat to pick up one of my drawings Khaleel had given back to me: "Sometimes heroes really are." She nooded her head at me, as I stood, the both of us began to clean up the room while rocking out to the CD player's bad Mariah Carey CD.
"Sometimes your knight in shining armor is an Omani guy with a nice neck, sexy torn shorts, and a vivid fear of his family, who happens to act like an idiot at times," I admitted, realizing the Khaleel that I loved so avidly, never really existed, at least not to anybody but me. He'd still saved me. Nothing he'd done since could take away that fact.
Audrey patted me again."Yes, yes he is. Sometimes," she began, "...your knight in shining armor is really just a retard wrapped in tin foil."
We laughed. It was the first time we had laughed in a really, really long time. I was sad she was going.