A horn blared as Hamid cut across two lanes of traffic and stepped on the accelerator to pull away from the cluster of traffic.
Dilara grabbed the handle above the window to resist the inertia that threatened to throw her across the car. “Did you have to do that?”
Hamid looked at her with a quick grin. “No. But it was fun.”
A smile tugged at one corner of Dilara’s mouth.
Hamid turned his full attention back to the road. Traffic in Istanbul was crazy at this time of day with everyone scrambling to get home from work. He thrived off being in the middle of all the activity and opportunity to be found in this city, but even he hated rush hour traffic. It was just a bit too much activity.
“How was your day?” He had to slam on the brakes as another car darted across his path.
Dilara braced herself but answered in a calm voice. “Same old, same old. I added numbers all day.”
Hamid laughed. “You do realize you say exactly the same thing every time I ask how your day went, right?”
She stared at him from the corner of her eyes. “There’s a reason for that.”
“Oh, come on. Your job can’t be that bad. What’s something interesting that happened today?”
Dilara stared at the car’s ceiling like she was thinking. “Umm, let’s see. Nothing. Nothing interesting ever happens at work. I’m serious when I say that I just add numbers all day.”
He’d always thought that was just her version of, “Fine.”
“That is what you went to school for.” He swerved when a pedestrian came out into a crosswalk without stopping. “Idiot.”
“You ran the light.”
“It was yellow.”
“Whatever. I might’ve gone to school to study accounting, but that doesn’t mean it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. You know that.”
Yes. He did know that. How could he forget? “I know. But you do have a degree in it. You might as well try to enjoy the job.”
It was silent for a few minutes after that and Hamid thought he had dodged the conversation he’d feared was coming.
“I want to quit, Hamid.”
“Quit what?” He felt her eyes boring into the side of his head.
“Don’t play games with me. I want to quit my job.”
Hamid found a couple of cars to slip between to give himself time to think. He knew she wanted to quit. But it just wasn’t possible. Not now. “Honey, we’ve talked about this before.”
She shut down. He could feel it. She didn’t move at all, but the air in the car shifted.
“You know I don’t want to keep you from your dreams it’s just—”
Hamid knew it was no where close to fine. He opened his mouth but she held up a hand.
“I said, it’s fine, Hamid.”
Hamid let out his breath and closed his mouth. Talking to her right now would only make it worse. Best to just shut up and drive home.
They made it home without any other major traffic problems. Or conversation.
Hamid hoped that by the time dinner was prepared and eaten, the whole job issue would be forgotten and they could move on with a pleasant evening.
But halfway through the meal, his hopes were dashed.
“I’m just saying I want to talk about it.”
Hamid took a bite of rice and chewed it while he considered his response. The mock ignorance hadn’t gotten him far on the ride home, so he decided not to try it again. “I don’t know what there is to talk about. It’s just not possible.”
Dilara set her fork down. “Well let’s talk about why it’s not possible.”
He stared at her. Wasn’t that obvious? When she said nothing, he asked, “Are you waiting for me?”
“Yes. Yes, Hamid, I’m waiting for you. Why isn’t it possible for me to quit?”
Hamid took another bite. “We can’t afford it. You’ve seen the budget, you know as well as I do that we need your paycheck.”
“Only if we want to keep living in this apartment.”
Hamid cocked his head. “Well, yes, I suppose if you’d prefer to live on the streets, we might as well both quit.”
“That’s not what I’m saying and you know it.” Her voice took on the edge it got whenever his sarcasm annoyed her. It was a familiar edge to Hamid.
“So are you saying you want to move? Just so you don’t have to go to work anymore?”
“Not so I don’t have to work. So I can write. You know that’s what I want to do.”
Hamid looked down at his plate then back up at Dilara. “You know writers don’t make any money. Not for years, if ever.”
“That’s not the point.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s not the point, it’s reality. I know you want to write and you know I think you’re a great writer, but that doesn’t change the fact that we need your paycheck.”
Dilara closed her eyes and took several deep breaths.
Hamid wasn’t sure if he should take that as a good sign or a bad one.
“We can make changes. Sacrifices. It would be worth it,” she said
Hamid raised his eyebrows. “Worth it? Who knows when it would be worth it. Even if we did move, the gas I’d spend getting to work would cancel out any savings. It’d take you months to write a book, years to get it published, and even then you might not make enough money for it to matter.”
“Sometimes I wonder if you even know me at all.” She picked up her fork and went back to eating.
Hamid stared at her, his own food forgotten. “Of course, I know you.”
Dilara slammed her fork down again. “No. I don’t think you do. You think money is what matters to me? That I want to write so I can make money?”
“No, I don’t think that.” He shook his head. “But that’s what I have to think about, our finances, our family.”
“What about doing something with my life? What about my dreams? Do you think about that?”
Hamid put both hands on his head and looked at the ceiling. “Yes, I think about that. But we have dreams, too. Dreams we’ve been working toward since college. You really want to throw all of that away?”
Dilara looked away and got quiet.
He’d gotten through. Good.
“Maybe those aren’t my dreams anymore.”
She said it so softly Hamid wasn’t sure he’d heard her. “What?” He looked at her just in time to see her wipe a tear off her cheek.
“I’m not sure what those dreams are really worth, anymore,” she said.
Hamid’s stomach sank. “How could those dreams be worth nothing? A family? Children? Our own house?”
Dilara still wouldn’t look at him. “But how does any of that help people? How does it make a difference?”
He stared at her, mouth hanging open, struggling to find words.
“I want to do something, Hamid.” Tears were coming too fast for her to hide them now, but her voice remained steady. “I want to be something more than an accountant.”
“Like a mother?”
She bit her lip. “More. I want to make a difference. To matter.”
Hamid shook his head then lowered it into his hands. He looked back up into her eyes. The tears had stopped now.
Dilara broke the eye contact. “I want to quit my job. I need to quit, Hamid, I can’t keep being an accountant.”
Hamid pushed back from the table and stood. “It’s not possible. I’m sorry, Dilara, I really am, but it’s just not possible.”
Dilara stood fast enough to knock her chair into the wall behind her and left the room.