Story: South America in Egypt
By Mariam Shaalan
Everything goes for a reason. It goes to leave you wondering in the sunlight of sixth of October, a city. But he did it on purpose. He made our garden in the house we bought look and feel like we were in South America. The jungle-filled place where I had first and last seen him. I wonder if he did that other thing on purpose. Made our garden look so much like it that the breeze smelt like it, too, to torment me, and make me think of him even when he wasn’t here.
A hand brushed mine and I looked down to see those pair of bright chestnut brown eyes peering at me. He used to say they looked like nutshells, but to me, they looked like two suns. Two very far away, very lustrous suns that ruled two solar systems I knew nothing of. Perhaps, that was why I felt so distant from him, and fell under his power like I was of no feet or legs or mind. Or, in that case, a solar system.
“Mommy?” said my son in his beautiful, calm voice. It irked me so. I hated listening to such maturity before its time. My man always said our son was smarter than the two of us combined. Unlike us, he didn’t take his clothes off on a whim and jump in mud pools just before dinnertime. That was what he told me. Now he’d left to that other place where angels have tongues that feel like streams of gold, and who knew on which limb they let those tongues flow on now. The thought sickened me.
I had no problem fantasizing about my man in the arms of voracious angels before, but that was while he was here. When he was here, everything felt safe, free and majestic. Everything opened me up and made me want to feel with my heart more. Everything sounded the same and different at the same time. I wanted to explore all the ends and beginnings with him, beginnings of mountaintops, of dust grains, of how silk were made. Anything.
“Mommy?” Now his hand tugged at mine. The soft touch became a pull now.
I closed my eyes, crying. I refused to hang my head, though, but refusing this whim, my knees gave way and I fell, feeling the scent of the ground, the dirt of South America in Egypt all the more now. He was here, and wasn’t at the same time.
“Mommy?” said his mature sound again. I wished it would stop. I wished my son would stop calling me ‘Mommy’. But it never happened. He would always call me that. If not ‘Mama’ or ‘Mamty’ in years to come.
Suddenly, I opened my eyes. They were dry. And climbing back up to my bare feet, the mud still tinting my soles, I took his hand and went back inside the house. He would always call me his mommy.