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WHere's Candice and Lauren?” Caleb threw down his bag pack on the nearest space he could find, “And I always thought I was the one who came late” He said, rolling his blue eyes. He took a seat at the red-vs-white chairs planted around the diner. The place had and awkward monosyllabic insistence of the eighties: bright puffy seats and tables, lava-lamps, artificial-yet-looking-real turntables, eye-popping wallpapers and etcetera. Nearby their table was the kitchen and on the far end of the room was a jukebox playing some kind of oldie' music.

Laughter muffled the screeching of the cars outside the puny shack.

The diner seemed congested and small but that was enough to satisfy the regulars that came by. “Here they are!! Finally!!” Dave muttered behind the high-pitched beats of the music that kept playing. Outside the tinted glass windows a couple of young adults waved by. Two girls and a guy walked in a few minutes later. “Sorry we're late.” Lauren brushed up her tinted blonde hair backwards. Candice opened her jacket and hung it over her chair. Gail bent low to pick up a dime that fell out of his pocket.

Besides the fivesome there were a couple of people scattered around the place; some came in groups, some alone while others waited for their merry company to show up. Caleb's eyes flew on this brunette, benched solitary on the corner. She was really beautiful, her shoulder-length cropped hair slept peacefully on her milk-white skin. She was dressed nicely in cotton and patterned jeans. Her emerald-green eyes looked perfect with her thick eyelashes. Her red cheeks blotted with red dimpled up every few seconds. He had never seen anyone so beautiful. His eyes still lay smoothly on her young body; within seconds her sharp eyes discovered his. She smiled peacefully. Caleb just wanted to have a good look at this perfect stranger, in the thoughts of never seeing her again. But deep down inside he did want to see her again.

“Caleb?” Gail nudged him form his left, “You okay with coke and pizza?” He stared at them for a moment then nodded, “Yeah sure…” He searched for that girl that stole his gaze again. Her seat was empty and spotlessly clean.

“Yeah so we're meeting over at the coffee shop all right? Please don't be late. Yeah, bye! See ya!” Caleb folded his cell back into a tiny rectangular figure again and got in his favorite tee.

“Hey Caleb!!” Lauren and Dave shouted at him. The others waved and or set up a warm smile at him. “Hey guys!” He waved back and took a seat beside Candice. “So what happened at Shirley's wedding?” Gail piped in their conversation about the new foreign-exchange student at school. “Yeah you should have been there man! You missed all the fun!”

Caleb's eyes donned a familiar looking girl sitting on the nearest coffee table next to them, “And they had like the biggest wedding cake I've ever seen!” It was that girl he saw at the diner. She wore the same cotton top and patterned jeans. She smiled back at his gaze. “Yeah and we…” Caleb's voice lowered down, “Guys…I think I've seen that girl before” His peeps stared at the seat he pointed at, surprised. “Caleb? You okay buddy?” Dave patted him on the back. “There's no one there…” Candice frowned. “Yeah Cal…I'm getting confused…there was no one sitting there pal…” Dave spoke out.

Caleb stared hard at the empty space; he was so sure he saw someone. “But I swear I saw someone…she smiled at me…” His voice muffled away with all the laughter around him. He laid his arms crossed on the small table, thinking hard. There was a purse lying on that table. The stranger's purse. He saw her smiling from the corner till she faded away into the smoke-polluted city atmosphere.

By Mayeesha Shafiq

The spice of life

EVER wondered why we never want to die? Why is that after so much pain and suffering one still wants to live? Why soldiers in Warfields want to live even after seeing so many deaths? Why we still want to survive after so many mishaps?

It's simple. It's because of the fear or you can say 'unpredictability' of the unknown. Nothing is guaranteed in life .As they say 'marriage holds no guarantee, if you want guarantee better buy a washing machine' but jokes apart its not just marriages though it might be on top of the list. The uncertainty is the real sweetness and charm of life.

Uncertainty makes us hope. Hope against all odds. We know deep inside that anything can happen. It is this realization that makes us live for the better. It is this realization that gave birth to religions and it is this realization that makes us believe in god and in life after death. If you just knew what would happen to you for the rest of your life, trust me you wouldn't want to live. Life will lose its spice.

This unpredictable life gives us courage and strength. We know that no matter what happens if we try hard we can achieve anything. This brings us to karma. Yes life is predictable in an unpredictable way. When I do something bad I know it's going to come back to me no matter how much I try to escape. Every thing has its consequences. Our Prophet (pbuh) said 'all your misfortunes are due to some past action your hand has performed'. Here Islam is talking about karma. Even Hinduism speaks strongly about karma. You can never escape your action. It's just inevitable. You can run from it, you can hide from it but you can never escape karma. (I'm not quoting Enrique here)

So next time you hurt someone remember it's going to come back to you maybe in a worse way. Next time you snatch away someone's right remember your rights maybe taken away from you some bad day. Next time you refuse to help someone think that one day you might become more helpless. So think before leaping and just don't leave life like some useless crap. Make this world a better place and if you cannot please at least don't make a mess here!!

By Avia Nahreen

I do

IT is the first thing I do when I get out of bed and the first thing I do when I get into my car. I turn off the radio. I don't flip the stations or turn down the volume. I just shut it off. It's one more thing I can't take. Kind of like how I can't take the same route to work, or order the coffee from the deli down the street. I smell your perfume in the hair and I hear the rustle of your clothes, and if I stop and listen I can hear your laughter in the breeze.

It haunts me through the day. When I roll out of bed and don't see your missed calls on my cell phone, when I drive down to work, anticipating the first email of the day from you, when I turn around and expect to see you there…I still can't get my head around the fact that you're not there. I still can't get my head around the fact that you won't be there.

I do, wonder what you're up to. Are you on the same side of the world as me, do you wake up to those rainy summer days and wish for a little sun, do you jump over puddles and laugh when a behemoth of a car comes trundling up the road and splashes your shoes with mud…I see you doing these things, when I think of you. You're always smiling and it's never raining and there are never any mud puddles to drench your feet in when I dream of you.

And I do, too. I dream of you. I'm always dreaming of you. I go through the motions of my day with your name at the back of my throat. I shadow-type your name when my fingers stray over my keyboard. I have a picture of you in my mind. Every one of the five hundred-odd songs on my iPod could have been sung by you, for all the difference they make.

I wonder where you are now. I wonder how you're getting through your days without me. Do you think of me? Do you miss me in the mornings? Do you love me still?

Probably not. I saw you yesterday. You were at our favorite café, your head bent over your usual cup of coffee, that one strand of hair cutting a diagonal across the face I could trace in my sleep.

I saw him, too. He had your hand in his. This time, it was him who reached across the table to brush the hair from your face. It wasn't me.

I wonder why I do what I do.

Dedicated to The Dark Lord



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