My Tears

A splatter of mud on the back of his head drew the boy from his thoughts, as he turned to witness the delighted snickers of his friends atop the barren hill. The boy hurried to retaliate, grabbing some mud from the ground, but he faltered at the sight of his father in the window. He caught a stern gaze and prepared to relinquish his weapon, but the gaze broke and his father burst out laughing. The boy grinned sheepishly, and resumed his wait against the wall of their ramshackle hut.

He heard the sound of a motor coming up the dirt road, and turned to glance at its source. The car was going unusually fast, recklessly fast. The boy started towards it at a run. He slipped on some mud, falling flat on his face, and had just enough time to watch the truck crash into their only fruit-bearing tree.

The boy’s father was running towards the road, apparently indifferent to the truck or its driver. The boy got up, trying to remove the mud off his face with his mucky hands. He saw his father bending over a mound on the hill and walked towards him. A bag of groceries lay forgotten on the ground, and, to his delight, the boy spotted a chocolate bar amidst the crushed tomatoes. Picking it up, he noticed the trail of blood for the first time, and his eyes followed it to the mangled body of his mother.

The walls of the office reeked with a splendor almost sinful in its extravagance. The framed certificates, most of which were mine, fit in with this new setting, emphasizing the awkwardness of the wooden tablet in the middle. I fingered its chipped corners, this last remnant of our past, and read with a sigh: Your Prayer is Your Liberation.

Yes, I thought, but only with a just claim.

The door opened behind me, and a man walked briskly inside. He wore a suit of stressed wealth that dangled loosely off his slim shoulders. The tie that hung around his neck was of silk, and the diamonds on his watch attracted too much attention. As he noticed me, his face lighted with the glow of forced joy, a shadow of the delight he used to experience at the sight of me. I saw that his eyes had a strained look, accented by the bags of skin protruding beneath them. I looked into them for a moment longer, wondering sadly.

“Ah, yes. Ahmad. So glad you’re here. I just have to make a call, and then we can go.”

I nodded, and sat down in the comfortable, leather armchair, watching as he spoke in the same formal tone he had greeted me with. He was leaning sideways on his left elbow with the receiver at his ear, finger tapping nervously on the fine mahogany desk. I was entranced by his tapping, staring vaguely at the calluses that his hands still bore, crowns of the labor that led to his prosperity.

This life does not suit him.

“All right, Ahmad. Let’s go.”

We entered the mosque, my heart soaring through its high ceilings. I spotted a small boy being chastised by an old man, his friends behind him laughing. The boy was taking it solemnly, but his eyes had a mischievous glint and his mouth was twitching. I saw that my dad was smiling, too. The familiar face coming towards us gave me his reason.

“Ahmad, you’ll excuse us for a moment. Ramsi and I need to discuss some business before the prayer call.” It was not a request.

Ramsi’s pale complexion startled me. His usual waddle was reduced to a weak shuffle, and his hands were sweaty and trembling. I reached out to catch him as he collapsed. Yells resounded throughout the mosque, and people rushed to get help. My heart pounded, struggling to survive, as if this man’s last moments were mine. His hands lifted weakly, and, in a final effort, he pulled my father close to him.

“I know you’ll take care of Maria,” he choked, so that only we could hear. With that, he lost consciousness.

The boy sat on the fence surrounding the cemetery; he had eyes for only one grave. A distant voice was calling him, and he jumped down to answer it.

“Goodbye, Mom,” he said and ran off.

Six long months had passed, yet my feet still carried me past the site of the man’s final resting place. I was too afraid to approach the grave, my meek courage coiling, and I continued home.

Laughter came from the living room. My father had not informed me of any guests today, so I decided to take a peek before barging in. I closed the door softly behind me, but was saved when my father stepped into the kitchen. He was giddy with an almost demented pleasure.

“Ahmad, come in and meet your new stepmother!” He pulled me into the room. I nearly threw up when I recognized her.

“Dad, “ I said, revolted, “Is this how you pay the dues of friendship? How you respect a dying man’s wish?”

“Come now, Ahmad. Be sensible. Ramsi, may God rest his soul, is gone now. Would you leave his poor wife to cannibals? She is now my own in honesty and goodwill.” He winked at Maria and held up his glass to her in salute.

I felt a brick fall on my head. What logic could penetrate his dead soul to reach the living memory that he had once been? I strode out the door, stepping hard in my anger.

Sitting down on the fence, I turned to my companion and said, “You and I have a lot in common.”

The boy looked away. Perceiving several droplets on the ground, he said with forced calm, “It looks like it’s starting to rain.”

“No,” I replied. “Those are my tears.”

My Tears

Natella2020

Joined December 2007

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Artist's Description

This is for the Twisted Tales competition, Twisted Karaoke

Based on the Arabic Song, “My Tears” sung by Ammar Al-Azaki.

To view a video clip of it (and I highly recommend it), please see here

Feedback is always welcome, thank you.

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