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Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga


Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Author:Jasmine Warga
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2017-08-22T04:00:00+00:00


Oak Falls, 1994–1998

Lena and Julian quickly fell into a routine. At first, they only saw each other three times a week, but before long, they were seeing each other every day. And it still didn’t feel like enough time.

Lena’s cousin was concerned. It wasn’t that she had anything in particular against Julian, except for the obvious—he wasn’t a fellow college student, and oh yeah, he was white, not Muslim, and didn’t speak a single word of Arabic.

“What does that matter?” Lena challenged her cousin one afternoon when they were sitting at the kitchen table, eating a snack of pita bread slathered with za’atar and olive oil.

“We’re in America now. Doesn’t it make sense that I should date an American?” Lena continued, switching from Arabic to English, and the language transition clearly caught her cousin off guard.

“You want to speak in English now?”

“It’s good for us to practice.”

Her cousin shoved more slices of pita in Lena’s direction. “If you marry an Arab, you won’t need to worry about your English.”

Lena bristled. “Untrue. I live in America, regardless of whom I marry. And maybe I won’t marry at all.” Then she added, “Or maybe I’ll marry Julian.”

“Allah y’eanna.” Her cousin blew on the top of her steaming cup of mint tea and sighed.

Lena stretched out on the floor of Julian’s bedroom. She was resting on her stomach, fiddling with her latest project. A miniature collection of women, all carved from pinewood. She’d recently become more intrigued with woodworking after speaking with Julian’s father about the craft.

She studied the miniature figurines. She liked the way they had turned out, but there was something missing.

There was no spark.

Julian slid down beside her and gently kissed her cheek. She turned to him and held out one of her figurines. “Tell me what is wrong with them.”

He took the figurine from her thin fingers and rolled it between his thumbs. “She’s pretty,” he finally said.

“But she’s not saying anything.” Lena sighed and flipped over onto her back. She snatched the figurine back from him. She studied her, and then glanced at the twenty identical copies of her. There was still a surge of pride that would rise in her chest when she observed her own art. This made her feel guilty, and worse, silly even. Childish. But she couldn’t help it. She was still unbelievably giddy that she was finally making art with her own two hands.

She just wished her own work wasn’t also a constant disappointment to her. She wanted to be better. There was an insurmountable gap between her ambitions and the actual product she was creating.

“Be patient,” Julian said. “Keep your ears open and listen. She’ll talk to you eventually.” He gestured toward all the figurines. “They all will.”

“How typical. The musician tells me to listen.”

Julian laughed and wrapped his arms around her waist, drawing her close to him. He covered her neck with kisses. “It’ll come. You just have to trust it.”

“I’m not so good at trust, Oliver.”

“I know.”

It frustrated her endlessly that Julian was a more patient artist than she was.



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