The

Rainclouds shuffle in like soldiers, big, heavy, looming; heavy with burden and held aloft only by God. Their names are Stress, Anxiety, and Laziness; their drizzles are brief moments of panic as due dates draw near; and their thunder and lightning are the text messages and phone alarms that jar Leila awake when she dozes…

A Universal Truth

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any student in attendance of an MSA event, must be in want of a spouse. Or. So her mom tells her. When Leila first gets her acceptance letter to Rutgers, her aunts are ecstatic. They don’t ask her about her major or her career aspirations or her school,…

Below Freezing

Leila doesn’t do her homework on Sunday night. Rather she peeks out the window and squints at the street lamps, where tiny snowflakes are floating to the earth in the dim, amber light. No school, she thinks, biting her lip, please, no school, because she doesn’t really want a snow day, but she doesn’t want to make the trek…

Love

You know who can talk about Pokémon for five hours? Leila can talk about Pokémon for five hours. (She doesn’t, of course; but she could, if she really wanted to. Which she doesn’t.) The semester begins, the snow blankets the East Coast (and blankets it, and blankets it, and blankets it again), and it is February….

Safe

Daylight Savings Time ends, and, wow, could she use a savior. By now, Leila was pretty much settled into her school schedule; wake up at fajr and pray and read some Qur’an and crash for another hour; tumble out of bed and get dressed and do her hopefully-day-long-wudu; spread some cream cheese onto a bagel and wrap…

Awkward

It’s when she’s taking off her sock with one hand and trying to keep her balance in front of the sink with the other that the janitor walks in, and Leila tries not to wince by the appearance. Instead she shoves her hand out to the automatic sink so it’ll dispense another handful of water….

Heartbreak

Leila falls in love. It happens inside a new place that opens on campus a few weeks into the semester; one of her friends tells her about it in high spirits and drags her there later that week. It’s small and hidden, so it’s hard to find the entrance from the outside, but the inside…

The Call

The first time she’s compelled to go to MSA is not the fondue party. It’s not the fondue party, or the Eid banquet, or any of the other events they hosted all throughout her first two semesters. She goes to them, sure, because they sound like they’d be good for her and because her friends…