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I’m sleepless in Beirut, my feet upon a mound of bedsheets,

and still recovering from being sleepless in between time zones. The lost hours are not lost at all, they just accumulate and grow into a tumor of heavy and laggard until you can do nothing but vanquish it by stamping your face into a pillow.

The empty stretch of bed to my left is where I came to the last inch of my conclusion: this kid needs at least ten more years to feel like a man. Excel was fun, he hardly ever bored me, he was brainy, he had managed to acquire good taste in music over the last few years, he was quirky and he was cute. Seeing him asleep in the morning I only felt slightly sad that something was stunting his growth.

“You want me to be more serious?”

“It’s not a question of being fun or serious, it’s about maturity. You’re so jumpy sometimes, hopping from one idea to the next without letting the other person finish.”

“You know, you’re right, you’re right. I’m so stressed at work that it plays with my mind. It’s probably my medication,” and he went on to explain his mild anxiety disorder.

“How long have you been taking it?”

“For about a year. After that time in Paris…”

He was referring to the weekend he came to visit me. Despite his nervous state, so intense that even I was slightly disturbed, it was one of the best times we spent together.

“Stop fidgeting! I can’t sleep like this!” I had told him off on his first night.

On the last day we went for a long walk along the Seine, into the Marais, through the galleries of Centre Pompidou and the Jardin des Tuilleries. By the time we had two hours left to his departing train, it was like a comedy of love.

We laid on the grass beneath the overcast sky, crows picking at leftover biscuits, his shirt over my naked shoulders and my head on his lap. Looking at the scattered couples around us, for once I felt like I was living the Parisian postcard. In the urgency of the last moment, it was pure and innocent. I even wished he’d miss his train.

But we made it on time to the Gare du Nord, separating in the tunnel that linked it to the Gare de l’Est. I may have been a little sad, but having grown so used to dealing with separation, I only texted him with a wish for a safe return.

Come to think of it, Excel and I only ever lived such moments: a day here, two days there. Yet, sitting here with him in the early hours of the morning I felt like I was less engaged. Perhaps if I hadn’t met Red in Dubai, I would have allowed myself to be seduced by the idea of making it work with this boy with whom I played house with in 4th grade.

“Do you see us together?” I asked.

“Let’s just say that whenever I’m with another girl, I always see you in the corner with a disapproving look.”

I didn’t need to dig further. He hadn’t answered the question, the ground beneath us was still firm.

An hour later, it was Red standing in the room and I wished instead that it were himself he was watching. I could only imagine how much more ignited and intense everything would be. I closed my eyes and Excel was no more.

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