Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating(2)

“See you torn—” Nik has already hung up.

I know I should probably worry more about whatever’s going on with Nik, but I figure we’ll deal with it the way we always deal with things—each on our own. My responsibility here is to open the front door and let her in. I can definitely do that.

Plus, I still have an entire chapter of biology I want to make notes on. So, I toss my phone on my bed and flip open my biology book once more, putting Nik out of my mind.

It’s a good thing I spent last night studying because Ms. Taylor springs a surprise test on us as soon as we walk into double biology in the afternoon. Surprise tests are her absolute favorite thing, even when she hasn’t actually taught us half the material she’s supposed to have covered. At least once a fortnight we start biology class with a test—if not more often. I have a feeling these are about to become even more frequent the closer we get to our Leaving Certificate.

Somehow, my classmates are still surprised by the test. I just roll my eyes, pick up my pen and dig in.

Most of the questions are on the chapters I was making notes of last night, so I’m feeling pretty confident. On the other side of the aisle, Aisling Mahoney is biting her lip so hard that I’m surprised she hasn’t drawn blood. When she looks up and catches my eye, she gives me a nasty look. I shoot her a wicked grin in return.

It seems to get under her skin, because she scowls and goes back to her test—which is more blank space than anything else. Maybe if Aisling spent more time paying attention and less time snapchatting in class she would actually know some of these answers.

Humaira comes around to our row at the end of the test, collecting up our papers.

“How’d you do?” she asks Aisling.

“Bad.” Aisling casts me a glare as if it’s my fault she didn’t do well. “I hate these surprise tests. I can never keep up with biology; there’s way too much to study.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you out, yeah? We can go over some stuff during lunch,” Humaira offers with a smile. She’s the only other Brown girl in our class—the only other South Asian girl in our year—and because she’s been in this school for longer than me, sometimes I think people expect me to be exactly like her. But Humaira is the most annoyingly helpful person I’ve ever met, so everyone was a bit disappointed to learn that I’m the most annoyingly unhelpful person they’ll probably ever meet.

“Thanks, Maira.” Aisling flashes her a smile, like it isn’t her own fault for not paying attention, for not studying. I notice my fists are clenched on my desk. I unclench them slowly, trying to rid my body of the tension it has built up in the last few minutes, and open up my biology textbook.

Humaira doesn’t need my help or protection, no matter how much I want to shake her and say For God’s sake, stop! She’s way too eager to lend a listening ear, to be the person that everybody goes to for help. She doesn’t see the way they’re leeching her of everything she has and giving back nothing in return. Sometimes I wonder how Humaira has lasted this long. Sometimes I wonder how much longer she’ll be able to last.

But it’s none of my business.

It’s not like Humaira and I are friends.

When I first moved to this school in second year, Humaira was the one tasked to show me around and guide me. I had no doubt it had to do with the fact that we were both Brown girls and everyone assumed that we would get on. But Humaira and I couldn’t be more different, even if we are both Bengali.

Humaira shuffles toward me next, surprising me with a smile. “How’d you do, Ishita?” I don’t know how she can code switch so effortlessly. Because our parents are Bengali, we have two names—I’m Ishu to family and most Bengalis, and Ishita to everyone else. But Humaira has so many names at this stage that it’s difficult to keep them straight.

“Fine, probably.” I shrug. If I’m being honest, I’m pretty sure I aced it. Like I’ve aced every single test since I started at this school—As all around. But Aisling is already glaring daggers at me and she might actually murder me if I don’t show at least some humbleness.

“Nice.” Humaira sweeps my test away into her bundle.

“How’d you do?” I ask.

She gives me a small smile and taps the side of her nose before moving on to the next row of seats.

I roll my eyes. I’m pretty sure if Aisling had asked, Humaira would have been more than happy to share.

But whatever.

chapter two


WATCHING ABBA SPEAK IS KIND OF A SURREAL EXPERIENCE. His voice envelopes the whole room, and even though he’s speaking to everyone at this rally it seems as if he’s speaking only to me. In some ways, he doesn’t seem like my Abba at all. In other ways, he’s all of the wonderful things that make him my Abba.

Beside me, Aisling slips her phone out of her pocket. The glare of her screen is uncomfortably bright. I feel a prick of annoyance, but bite it down.

On the other side of me, Deirdre holds up her own phone to me. The top right reads 6:35 p.m. Dee raises an eyebrow like she’s asking me a question. I shake my head, hoping that answers her, but she’s frowning now.

Before I know it, she’s leaning forward until her shoulders bump against mine. “I thought you said we could leave at six thirty?” She says it like being here is some kind of punishment.

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