landslide - fleetwood mac

zayn

I am strewn across the small sofa in the loft of my mother's home. My legs are draped over Carlie's lap and a PS3 controller is in my hands as I play Grand Theft Auto. My sisters stare at the television screen with disgust, but Carlie snorts with laughter whenever I steal someone's car after beating them up.

"This is absolutely horrible, Zayn." Doniya grimaces.

I roll my eyes. "You're the one who owns this. Why, again, do you have this game?"

"Waliyha's boyfriend left it here." Safaa speaks up, excitement evident in her tone of voice.

I pause the game to stare at Waliyha. "You have a boyfriend?"

She groans and puts her face in her hands. "Yes, Zayn, I do."

"Why didn't you tell me?" I exclaim.

"Because I knew you'd go all overprotective-big-brother on me."

Carlie laughs from beside me, shaking her head. "If I were you, I wouldn't have said anything either.

"Yeah. Thanks a lot, Safaa." Waliyha quips.

My eyebrows draw together. "Where is he? What's his name?"

"His name is Carlos. He's in Sacramento visiting his mother's side of the family for a week." She answers, staring down at her phone.

"Does mom know?"

She nods. I frown.

Despite the fact that Waliyha is probably old enough to date, I still do not want her to. Who knows what kind of guy her new boyfriend is, and to top it off, I am not even around enough to meet someone she supposedly likes.

That is what I hate most about living across the country: being away from my family. My sisters - besides Doniya - still seem quite young to me. It feels as though I am missing all the big things in their lives: Safaa's first day of middle school, Waliyha's junior prom, and most likely her senior prom, too. Because of money, I will not be able to attend any graduations or see them for their birthdays or any special things like that. I hate it.

"I wish I could meet him." I finally mumble, resuming my game.

I feel Carlie's blue eyes on me as I continue playing. She squeezes my leg almost reassuringly, but I ignore her gesture. Sometimes being with my family makes me upset because I know I will have to leave soon, and I know I will not see them again for another year.

"So, Zayn, what'd you get me for Christmas?" Safaa asks brightly.

I laugh. "Not telling."

"What about me?" My mother's voice resonates suddenly, making me pause my game again. "Dinner's ready, guys."

We get up and head downstairs to the tiny dining room. There is only enough seating for four, so Carlie and I sit in folding chairs and squish next to my sisters.

My mom has grilled a large steak for Christmas Eve dinner. The thought of the meal alone makes my mouth water and I do not hesitate to start eating, taking occasional glances over at Carlie. She eats politely and neatly; completely opposite of me.

"Jesus, Zayn, you go away to college for two years and it's like you haven't eaten since you left." Doniya speaks up, a smirk on her face.

"Be quiet." I say with my mouth full. "How do you know I'm not trying to bulk up or something?"

Waliyha laughs. "You've never even set foot in the gym, Zayn."

I roll my eyes again and my mother clears her throat. She is probably unspokenly reprimanding my sisters for their rude comments being said in front of my girlfriend, but I do not think Carlie cares. She smiles, laughing a bit.

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