Note: Written for a challenge to use the word “theek” in a story, which I would otherwise not use ever.
I hate this. I hate it. I hate it.
“I hate this,” I tell Zain.
He squeezes his arms around me, hugging me tighter to him, and simply says, “I know, habibi.”
We’re sitting on the hardwood floor of my studio, where he found me a few minutes ago staring at a tube of glucose tablets and a juice box, because I realized I needed something, but I couldn’t for the life of me make a decision about which one to use. It felt like a monumental choice. Like the fate of the universe pivoted on how I treated this low. Zain had come in, assessed the situation in one glance, and grabbed the juice, opening it as he sat down with his legs sprawled out on either side of me. “Drink, babe,” he’d said, holding the straw to my mouth.
I have no idea why I said that, except that it seemed to be the only word in my vocabulary.
His snort blew a puff of air against my earlobe. “Can, or I’ll spank ya.”
I’d squirmed a little and started gulping the liquid down. Thinking back on it, I say, “You wouldn’t’ve. Not when I’m low.”
Zain knows what I mean, of course, and he laughs. “Just figured it out now, huh? I was counting on that.”
I hate him, too.
I want to be up, despite the shakes and the chilly, dizzy feeling that won’t fade. Enough time has passed. My painting is waiting, half-finished. It needs more blending before the pigments get too dry. As I go to stand, Zain yanks, and I land hard on my butt again.
“I’d say ‘nice try, brat,’ but that was really kinda pathetic.” With hardly a pause for me to glare at him over my shoulder, he asks, “Hey, what’s your favorite part of my body?”
“Y’know, abs, face, biceps, left pinky toe, what-have-you. I’m just curious.” And he grins.
“None. I hate every cell of you,” I inform him. “Let me up.”
“See, my favorite part of your body is probably your ass,” he says, like I hadn’t spoken. “Although your eyes are stunning, and the freckles? Adorable. But, yeah, I think your ass, or… hmmm… maybe I need to be a bit more specific.”
He shifts so he’s holding me with just one forearm across my chest, no less firmly than before, and his now-free hand slides down the back of my thigh and pinches where it meets my buttock.
“Yep, that’s it, right there. The theek. Definitely my favorite part.”
I’m not sure I heard him correctly. “The what?!”
“Theek! See, thigh,” — his fingers move up a few inches — “cheek,” — and back down, almost squished between me and the floor — “and the theek’s right here between them!” He taps the spot again.
“That’s… that’s so…” For once, my speechlessness isn’t due to the hypoglycemia. “Don’t ever say that again, it’s horrid. I refuse to let that word be applied to any part of my body. Categorically refuse, do you understand me, Zain Ayman?”
He sighs dramatically. “Well, if you’re gonna get all piqued about it. Heh, theek pique!”
It causes me physical pain. With both eyebrows raised at him, I say, “I swear I’ll wash your mouth out.”
“Go right ahead!” he replies. “That’ll remove the need for me to do it to myself if I ever wanna return the favor.”
I scowl. “For what? You don’t care how I talk.”
Shrugging against my back, he says, “Dunno, but I like to keep my options open. Anyway, feeling better? You must be, you used the word ‘categorically,’ and you didn’t even slur it.”
My jaw drops as I realize that yes, I do feel a tiny bit better. Enough that I probably won’t lose my balance the second I get to my feet. Then I notice how gently he’s holding me. It was background noise to my annoyance — with my body, with him, and with the universal forces that decided to invent diabetes and bestow it on me.
Behind the teasing, his gaze is watchful.
“Yeah,” I say. “I’m okay, Z.”
His chest relaxes, and he says, “Good. I hate this too, y’know.”
I nod. I do know. He just makes it seem so easy, being my anchor, that sometimes I forget.