Chapter 10

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Miguel took a sip of Earl Grey from the navy blue mug that Zed had given him for Christmas this past year. He stood in his parent's kitchen, watching as Laila was making some shawarma for their lunch. The smell of cumin, paprika, and garlic wafted through the air and made his stomach growl. He was leaning against the counter as she cooked. He had been banned from touching the stove, which was fine with him since she was the better cook. He smiled as Laila began to scoop chicken from the pan onto a plates fitted with hummus and pita. She turned around, both plates balanced in one hand, and frowned.

"What?"

Miguel shrugged. "Nothing. I'm just glad you came to visit. I know your parents were talking about taking you to Arizona for spring break," he smiled wryly. He stretched out his aching back and dipped a finger in the hummus she had made.

"You're not the only reason I stayed, Miguel," Laila smiled and slapped his hand as she passed him on her way to the kitchen table. "I also have a project that's due the week I go back to school, so I figured I'd get some done now"

"If you say so," Miguel said as he pulled out a chair for Laila. She placed the plates on the table and then took her seat. Miguel sat across from her and leaned in to smell the food. "This looks amazing, I'm starving!"

Laila picked up napkin and place it on her lap, then picked up her fork. "You have no idea, buddy. This is going to be the best damn meal you've had in ages."

Miguel dug into the food, finding that Laila was not exaggerating. As they ate and talked, Miguel thought back to the events from the past year, the crowning moment being when his parents had hired a new lawyer for him. Melissa Thomas had practiced law for seventeen years before she decided to focus on immigration. Miguel didn't understand the logistics of what she had done, but it had worked and he was home, which was all that mattered.

On the morning of his deportation, he had been given one last phone call before his mom's cousin was supposed to meet him at the border. He hadn't been able to eat, he hadn't been able to sleep. When he called his mom's number his dad answered, much to Miguel's surprise. It was the first time they had spoken since his arrest and they both had found it difficult to find the right words to use. In his typical stoic manner, Miguel's dad had informed him that Melissa had made a breakthrough in his case, that his deportation was to be delayed while she met with a judge to determine if his presence in the country was truly unlawful.

Miguel waited in the camp for three more days while Melissa worked out the legal case that counteracted the executive order issued by the President. Miguel received another call from his parents on the third day. Both of them had tried to share the line and his mother had ended up taking lead on the call. She explained to Miguel that Melissa had found a way for him to not only stay in the country but also for him to get his Green Card.

Two months later, Miguel was back home, signed up for classes at the local community college and considering a career in education. Almost half a year had passed now, and he was on spring break. He and Laila had grown closer and had even discussed a relationship the last time she had come to visit. She was working on a graphic design program at the Art Institute and was so busy with her freelance work that Miguel hardly ever saw her.

"How's that class with that ADD professor?" Laila asked as she dipped some pita into her hummus.

"Not as bad as I thought when I first told you about him," Miguel said waving a piece of pita around. "He still doesn't wear shoes though, and I'm pretty sure he hasn't washed his hair in like a month."

"We have one of those too," Laila said with a grimace.

They finished the meal while swapping stories and then worked together to clean up and do the dishes. After that they sat down on the couch to watch the third season of "The Mandalorian." They sat close in the corner of the brown, leather couch in the living room as the show's theme began. He moved his arm up around Laila's shoulder and she nestled in closer to him. By the time they got halfway through the episode, they both had fallen asleep.

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