Warning: This is lengthy. Enjoy
We landed. We actually made it to Egypt and all it took was me quitting my job and an hour to pack. When I told Akeem that I quit work before our flight, he looked happy, but on the plane ride, he looked downright terrified and sort of sick. I kept asking him what was wrong but he just waved me off saying he was fine, just nerves since he never flew before. I don’t believe that for a second but whatever. He still never told me what he needs to tell me either so I’ve been in a cloud of uncertain curiousness.
We were staying in a tourist type place. I had seen many types of people from all over the world but the only thing I could think of was my history. Is this the place where I can finally find the answers to my questions? I should call dad but he would probably go ballistic or something. Oh well, at least I have Akeem. The first thing we did when we set our bags down in our room (yes we were sharing a room… something I’m kinda nervous about for some reason) was head to the local and only market.
I looked around one store with Akeem following close behind me. It was a small store, not much more than a stone shed and the clerk looked at me like I was crazy. I simply walked up to him, determined to find some answers.
Assuming he spoke English, I asked if he saw anyone around looking suspicious.
“Suspicious like how?” He asked me and thank the gods he spoke English.
“Like they were looking for something…? I um, well I’m not sure how they would look.” I say to him.
“Only person looking for something is you, you want to buy or not?” the man said rudely. Akeem sighed a little, I know he was probably jet-lagged but I just couldn’t shake the feeling of something important happening while we were here in Egypt.
“Lilith, can we just go? We can start searching tomorrow.” He says quietly and I simply turn away from the man behind the counter and walk out of the little shop. Akeem inhaled sharply when we were outside and I was about to ask what was wrong but he cut me off.
“Let’s go, now. Anywhere but here.” Whispering only loud enough for me to hear. I looked around, the market was vastly empty and the only other person was a boy in a red shirt. He hardly looked threatening.
“Shhh!” But by that time I already lost my patience. It was very thin from the plane ride anyway.
“Don’t shush me! Why are you acting so weird all of a sudden? No, not all of a sudden, but all day Akeem!” I yelled and he dragged me out of the market but not before the boy in the red shirt noticed us, staring in confusion.
“Did that girl say Akeem?”
“The hell Akeem!?” I yell at him when he stopped pulling me along. He was looking nervous and out of breath from my struggling (god I never knew he was so strong) but I was still mad at him.
“Lilith, please. I’ll tell you ok? I’ll tell you everything.” He says softly and for a moment, that soothed my rising anger towards him. I crossed my arms, waiting for him to start.
“Uhm…” He starts out but doesn’t say anymore.
“Uhm what? Start explaining mister! Why’d you freak out when you saw that boy? Who is he?” I question him.
“Ok, well… first off, my family is here.” he says and I honestly wanted to slap him. “That boy was, er, is my brother. His name is Cairo. You see Lilith, I ran away from home at a very young age because my family… is… royalty. I didn’t want the crown, still don’t actually. I ran away because my father was pushing me to be his heir.”
“So, let me just get this straight. You’re a prince, you ran away because you don’t want to be… king? Egypt doesn’t even have a king Akeem! You made your family worry because you were a coward?” I say to him, seeing every word I said cut him.
“Lilith… I was stupid, young, naive… what do you want me to say? I made mistakes, I’m sorry.” And that’s when I lost it. I slapped him and he stared at the ground, hurt forming in his eyes.
“You lied to me! You lied to me ever since we met, that’s four going on five years Akeem! Is your last name even Hayden?? Do you even live in Auberon? What else have you lied about!?”
“If, I may interrupt…” A new voice says. I look up to see that boy in the red shirt… Akeem’s brother… staring at us. “My name is Cairo, as I’m sure my brother here has told you. He really did deserve that slap but maybe not all the hostility?” Cairo says, an amused smile playing on his face. I glared at him and he immediately lost that smile.
“Cairo… how did you know it was me?” Akeem asks him completely avoiding my gaze. Good, I can’t stand the sight of him right now.
“Well, when you left I never stopped looking for you. Neither has father or mother. Then, when we got the internet, well… I found a picture of you from college… You’ve changed brother. You weren’t one to lie when you were here.” Cairo finishes and glances back at me. “Of course, I’m not entirely sure what this lovely woman has ever done to deserve such disrespect.”
“Nothing, I’m an idiot… I uh… Father?” Akeem says awkwardly.
“Oh he was very angry when he found out you disappeared… but he’s mellowed out now. Come on, let’s go see them. They would want to meet who you’re dating too.”
“We are NOT dating! I would never EVER date a liar.” I state and turn on my heel to walk back to our base camp. I was so angry with Akeem. I thought I could trust him but I was wrong… completely wrong. I heard footsteps approach and looked back to see Akeem following me.
“Go away. Go see your family. Leave me alone, I’m going to do this alone.” I say to him, seriously annoyed with his stupid face. But instead of doing what I said he walked a little faster and stood in front of me, grabbing my shoulders and staring into my eyes.
“Lilith Rose Xavier. I. Fucked. Up. I know I did you wrong. I know lying to you was the biggest mistake I could have ever made. I know no amount of ‘I’m sorry’ is going to make up for it but I will gain your trust back. You are the most important person to me and I want, no, I need you to know that.” He says. I blinked once, feeling him shaking, whether from guilt or something else I don’t know but I do know he’s genuinely sorry for what he did.
“I… accept your apology. But, you’re going to have to build our trust back up… now let me go.” I say and he let me go but before I could take a step, Akeem grabbed me and kissed me. Hard.
I stared in shock for a few moments before coming to my senses. Akeem kissed me. He kissed me and I was immensely confused as to why.
“Why did you–“
“You know why Lilith. And don’t you dare lie and say you never suspected a thing because I know you did. I know it.” Akeem says firmly, shutting down the denial I was feeling. Yes, I guess I did know that he liked me… I just never really acknowledged it because I had bigger things to attend to, still do actually.
“How am I supposed to respond to that then? What do you want me to do?” I ask quietly.
“You can love it, nurture it, or something. Just don’t reject it… I couldn’t live with myself knowing that you don’t… that you…” He couldn’t finish his sentence.
“Alright.” I say simply. This feeling that I have, it’s new. I don’t think I’ve ever been in love but maybe this is what it feels like? Like when you look at their face you feel like you’re walking on air, even if they did just lie to you. Even if he was still a big mystery to me. Even if he doesn’t change his face right now I was going to cry because I know he’s been waiting so long to hear me say that I love him…. but I don’t, I think I don’t. I just know that I don’t want him to ever feel like he betrayed me again and to be happy all the time like he was back home. I want…
“We can take it slow. I won’t say that I’m your girlfriend or anything but we can take this slow. Ok?” I ask him and see him nod slightly.
“Not girlfriend but we are together, we just won’t label it yet. But… no other man can have you now.” Akeem says, his eyes looking playful. I smiled, I was happy to agree to that. I was his, but I wasn’t his girlfriend… good enough. For now at least.
“It’s getting late… You two should come to the palace.” I heard Cairo’s voice. Was he standing there all the time? I saw Akeem’s face go bleak but before I could say anything about it he took my hand and led me in the opposite direction of where we were staying for our trip. I was curious about his parents. He always seemed scared to even hear about them but here we are, marching straight there with Cairo leading.
“What are your parents like?” I ask him and he sighed.
“My father is an alchemist and my mother is a fortune teller. They’re your basic normal family with a touch of magic.” Akeem says and at the word magic I got excited.
“Are you saying that…?”
“No, my family are only mortals. They just have a strong connection with the magic realm… My father might be able to help you though. Let’s just hope he doesn’t hate me first.” he replies but I still didn’t lose hope. Perhaps one of his parents can tell me something.
We arrived at Akeem’s old home and I was astounded to find that it was really quite modest… for palace standards.
“Just like I remember it… intimidating. Are they in there Cairo?” Akeem questions and his brother nods.
“They always are, they hardly ever leave since you left. They’re more than likely at their usual stations, father at his alchemy station, mother right beside him at her crystal ball… Come on! Let’s go see their faces when you walk in!” Cairo laughs and open the door.
Inside it was quite dark and Akeem grabbed my arm and pulled me to the couch to sit while Cairo went to get their parents. I gazed around for a few moments before losing interest and turned to Akeem.
“So this is where you grew up? You must’ve been a popular little boy.” I say to him and he chuckled a little.
“Popular, sure. If by popular you mean girls wanting to date me only because I was royalty or guys trying to use me then yeah sure, I was hella popular. But that’s another reason why I left Lilith. I wanted to see what life would be like without that status… turns out it’s great.” He laughs and for a while, he was back to his old self, joking around and being playful. Then we heard footsteps approach and his mood immediately changed back to being reserved.
Akeem stood when he saw them. I followed suit standing a little ways behind him. Smiling nervously because they weren’t saying anything; just staring. What are they thinking?
“Mother, father. I assume Cairo has told you…?” Akeem starts and his parents stared some more before his father spoke.
“My son, how you’ve grown. Runaway. Lie. Stole. Deceit… only a few of the things you have done. What made you come back?” His father asks and Akeem’s shoulder fall slightly. He looks down at the floor and doesn’t speak for a moment until his mother hugs him.
“My desert flower. You’ve returned… We’ve missed you so much Akeem.” “I’ve missed you too Ma-ma…” “Your health, how is it? You look stronger now.” “It’s getting better Ma-ma, I pray it stays this way.” I overhear Akeem and his mother which raised even more questions. Akeem’s health? I thought he was the healthiest person I ever known.
“Gold hair… you must be his child.” Akeem’s father stared at me, making me uncomfortable. “Uhm… I uh. Who are you talking about?”
“You, young one. You are his daughter, Anubis. What is your name?” “Shaheen, it is rude of you to ask that without introducing ourselves. Forgive him, he’s always been like this. My name is Bakari, I’m Akeem’s mother as you may have guessed. This man right here is my lovely husband; Shaheen. Akeem, you must tell us about your lady friend. She is quite beautiful.” Bakari says brightly. I blush and thank her while Akeem looks sheepish.
“Mother… father, this is Lilith. I met her in college a while back. We’re practically best friends. Let us sit, my tale is a long one.” Akeem says sounding completely different than when he’s alone with me or Ariel… or back in America for that reason. It’s amazing to see him so… docile.
“I’ll start dinner then.” His mother says and his father huffs but follows his wife to the kitchen. “So Lilith, tell me… your username on a certain forum wouldn’t happen to be–” “You’re VictoriousOne? No way! Well, actually I guess there is a way.” I cut him off. I had almost forgot about my earlier experience until he said something. “Your name is Cairo, you’re username fits well.” I say and he laughs. “As does yours Lily, as does yours. We must get to know each other better and I must thank you a million times for bringing my brother back!” Cairo exclaims to me and I see Akeem flinch. “Can we sit down now? I’m getting tired.” he says and his younger brother nods, a flash of concern comes across his face but he turns away before I could analyze it properly. Akeem’s mother said something about his health too…
After a while the food was ready and everyone sat down to eat. Akeem’s mother somehow prepared Shawarma, Falafel, and Baked Angel Food cake for us to eat and it was all delicious.
“Akeem, tell us about your life in America. What did you do, how did you survive?” Bakari asks, breaking the quiet and Akeem stops chewing mid bite. “I uh–” “Do not talk with your mouth full boy. We have raised you better than that.” Akeem swallows his food and apologizes. I felt slightly out of place with his family. Not that they weren’t friendly enough, just I don’t know about them enough to have any valuable input. Although I did want to ask them all the questions buzzing around in my head, Akeem needed time to get back acquainted with them. So I simply waited, after all, I wanted to know Akeem’s past too.
“I caught a boat to America… at least that’s where it took me. I would’ve caught a boat anywhere as long as I didn’t have to stay here. I lived on the streets for a few years; like Aladdin, except I didn’t have a pet monkey, I had a pet cat. A fiercely loyal feline, Ra helped me through depression and finding food to eat. I found odd jobs around and saved up enough to get my BA in college. Then I got three jobs just because I could and got a small house. I hardly live there though, mostly I stay with Lilith and Ariel, or just sleep in my car when I don’t want to go home. It’s lonely there.” “So big brother has two girls. Lucky, I can’t even get one.” “Shut up Cairo, I only have one.” Akeem retorts.
“How did you afford a car?” Shaheen asks his son. Akeem smirked, “I know a few tricks father.” “Akeem, I told you not to use magic for selfish things. How was your health there? You know–” “Ma-ma, I found a doctor. He was treating me.” Treating? As in, Akeem has some sort of disease or something? Why has he never told me about this?
“Akeem, how did you… afford it?” “The money from my jobs.” “Why haven’t you ever told me that you were sick?” I ask him quietly. He looks hurt, genuinely hurt. “I’ll tell you about Lilith, I promise, just, not right now okay?” I glare at him but didn’t say anything more. Did Ariel know about his health too?
Dinner was slightly awkward after that. Mostly they talked about how much Akeem changed or about life without him. It was when Akeem brought up the reason he was here in the first place that I finally got to join in.
“Father, as you have no doubt noticed, Lilith here is one of Anubis’ children.” “One of? He had more?” “I have 4 siblings in total. Two of which are also my dad’s kids. Liberty and Jay; we’re triplets.” I explain to him and Shaheen looks slightly impressed. “But you were chosen to be the one… fascinating.” He says quietly. “Oh father, While I was online looking for Akeem I came across a forum. Lilith was on it and I promised her that I would ask you for help with her issue. But now that she’s here…” Cairo trails off, his eyes shining.
“I see… Lilith, would you like to see the mystic aspects of… well, Anubis’ younger years?” Shaheen asks me and I nod vigorously. “That’s the whole reason why I’m here. To find answers…” I say and he smiles slightly. “Then we shall excuse ourselves and I will show you what I know.
“In this tome is where I have stored various information on the gods of Egypt. One such section is about your father; Anubis. The other sections range from the other gods to alchemy elixirs and potions for others. Read it, tell me what more you would want to know.” Shaheen says to me when we got upstairs to the third floor. He opened a large book that sat on a podium and flipped to a certain page. It marked the beginning of my father’s life as a god and he beckoned me over to read it. And I did, intently. It was morning before I even knew time had passed.
I learned that as a young boy, my father never even wanted to take on the role of a god. The Egyptian people took him in as their own and inducted him into the process of training…. I read on to the side written notes scrawled around the page I was on currently.
‘Exam 1: God of Embalming and Death received extraordinary high marks for their first set of trials.’
‘Exam 7: Child chosen for the role of Anubis continues to show unusual connection to the underworld. Must study him further.’
I skipped ahead a few pages to see if there were any notations of the process of the exams themselves but found none. Then, one thing caught my eye; it was a symbol, oddly western. A simple skull and crossbones. Next to it was what seemed like a hastily written note; ‘
The child of Anubis Anubis himself now, he has done his last exam. Passed with flying colors, not unusual. At the end there was another figure in the chamber with the child man. Hooded figure, gave off an omnipresent feeling. Strange for the man has always been tested a lone from the others. Who is this?’
I flipped a few pages further; ‘The god Anubis has decided to leave, never to do his duties again. Immortality he does not want.’ It ended there with nothing more about my father. I turned back to Akeem’s father looking on solemnly at the book.
“What… really happened with my dad here?” I questioned him. He nodded towards the book, “Everything written has happened. Even when your father summoned what you would call ‘The Grim Reaper’ himself. Of course we did not understand it then–“
“How… do you… know my dad?” “My father. He was the one who found my friend and took him into our home as one of his own. We were brothers, if not by blood, we grew up together as brothers. That is how I still revere him. Anubis only became a god because he was destined to, just as you are Lilith.”
“Whoa, wait, what? I’m just a normal… really?” “Perhaps you should contact your father. I would enjoy seeing my brother again.” Shaheen tells me and beckons me to follow him back downstairs. As soon as we left I started to feel insanely tired and he noticed. He pointed me to Akeem’s old bedroom where I found Akeem himself sleeping soundly on the couch in his room.
I made why over to him and he stirred awake before I even got all the way to the couch. “Did you find out more?” He asked me groggily. “Yes. Go back to sleep Akeem.” “Can I lay on you?” I thought for a moment before deciding it wouldn’t hurt and agreed. When his head touched my legs I could feel he was already back asleep, leaving me with my thoughts of my dad and what he felt when he experienced his induction. Perhaps an inquisitive call home would help, not like I’m going to be sleeping for a while anyway.