Christmas, p.1Khaleel Jooste
By Khaleel Jooste
Copyright Khaleel Jooste 2016
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In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Allah! There is no God but He,
the Living, the Self-subsisting, the Eternal.
No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep.
All things in heaven and earth are His.
Who could intercede in His presence without His permission?
He knows what appears in front of and behind His creatures.
Nor can they encompass any knowledge of Him except what He wills.
His throne extends over the heavens and the earth,
and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them,
for He is the Highest and Most Exalted.
Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:255
As Allah wills
25 December 2013
Nothing has changed.
Not a single thing.
A strange smell hung in the air. He wasn’t sure what it was. He closes the door behind him, walks down the long passage and takes a left.
The dining table was exactly as they left it.
Half his last meal; salmon, butterflied shrimp.
He shakes his head. Maria would never believe it.
It’s a crowd pleaser… there are never any left overs…
Glass with the last of the Clairette Blanche; he was supposed to save it for a special occasion. That was as special as any.
The source of the smell does not seem to be coming from here. He leaves the dining room and heads further down the passage. He enters the main bedroom.
Still he can’t bring himself to switch on any of the lights.
He sits on the end of the bed, picks up the pink slipper that lay by itself on the thick, Persian carpet.
He has to force the slipper loose.
The sticky stain had dried.
Did you remember to take out the trash?
That is the last thing he remembers she said.
He stares at the dark stain on the carpet.
Will, I… love…
He throws the slipper hard against the wall. It bounces off the nightstand that stood by the swing mirror that was the centre piece of the huge bedroom.
He gets off the bed and heads to the kitchen; heads straight for the bin. It was empty.
The smell was not coming from the bin.
Slowly he walks to the fridge and opens it. The soft light lights up the dark kitchen. She had the light specially put in. Said the pink gave the food a different color. She found it more appetizing.
Please, Will, don’t forget.
Something about her changed. That was something he couldn’t deny. Maria never noticed, but he did.
Will, I’m still… me.
He shakes his head.
Solitary tear rolls down his left cheek.
Those hate filled words.
If she… was still there…
She would never.
Will, I’d never do anything to hurt you.
That was not her.
She was already gone.
He wipes his face, closes the fridge door and heads down the passage into Maria’s room.
As he walks in, he remembers.
“They are never alone,’ she hands him a picture, “remember that.”
He takes it.
“Look, by the vendor. Do you see?” She points with her finger.
“Who’s the girl?” He frowns as he puts his hand to his mouth and runs his finger all along his moustache.
“Don’t know. Must be someone important. Most pictures are of her.”
She takes a sip of her drink and stands up. She runs her fingers through her hair.
“What are we going to do?” She sounds anxious.
“Don’t know.” He swallows hard and throws himself back onto the bed.
“We can’t stay cooped up in here forever.” She walks to the window, opens the curtain slightly and peeks through the small opening. The rain had stopped. There were still many clouds in the sky. It was nearly sun set. The streets were all deserted.
She turns and faces him.
“William, I refuse to live like a prisoner in my own house.” She puts her hands on her hips. She was wearing pants and a grey-blue jersey.
“I know, honey, but what do you propose we do?” He gets up, goes to stand in front of her and takes her face in both his hands.
She puts her hands on his and returns his worried gaze.
“I refuse to be taken again. Do you hear me!? I refuse! I’d… I’d rather die.” She embraces him.
“No one’s going to be taken and no one is going to die. Don’t talk like that.” He kisses her forehead and leads her back to the bed.
“What about Maria? Should we tell her?”
“No, Michelle, we can’t. She’d only be in danger. Best she stays in the dark about this. We simply can’t risk it.” He implores her.
“But, William. She has a right to know. This involves her too, you know.” She gets off the bed and starts her pacing; finger in her mouth. She tries to bite whatever nail is still left. Her fingers are bloody at the edges.
“I know… we simply can’t risk it.”
“I’m sure they’re already watching her.”
“They probably are, but she doesn’t need to know that.”
“But when, William? She’s in danger.” She returns to the bed. Sits down and puts her left hand on his knee.
“Soon. I promise. But we need more information first.” He squeezes her hand.
“I hope you know what you are doing. Can he be trusted?”
“What other choice do we have?” He searches her face. Her left eye twitches more than it used to. He notices an involuntary tremor of her whole head as well.
He is worried.
“I guess you’re right.” She shakes her head and runs her fingers through her dark hair.
“We’ll be okay, sweetheart. We should not lose faith.” He takes her hand in his and kisses it.
“Faith is all we have, right?” She leans her head against his shoulder.
“May God help us... I wish… I wish we had another place.”
She looks into his eyes.
“Merry Christmas, Will. I’m glad you’re here… with me.”
“Me too, sweetheart. Merry Christmas.”
He kisses her lightly on her forehead.
A tear rolls down his cheek as he takes a seat on Maria’s bed and picks up one of the stuffed animals scattered on top.
Adidas or Addis.
William always got confused.
It was her favourite.
William shakes his head.
All he knew was that Maria was particularly fond of it. She found it sad that this beautiful fish was so popular with fish owners, that it was kept in prison, tanked up, and that it was not free to explore the vast waters.
Why people would keep fish in tanks, she didn’t understand.
She, for one, couldn’t stand being watched twenty-four-seven.
Her mother always found it funny that her daughter wanted to be centre stage, but couldn’t handle being placed under a microscope.
Her every move watched.
More tears roll down William’s cheeks.
If only she knew.
William puts the stuffed animal back.
Wipes his face and leaves the room.
The source of the foul stench was not coming from Maria’s room.
Only the family room remained.
Hesitantly, he closes the door behind him and heads to where it all ended.
Where it all began.
More tears roll down his face.
“Come. Don’t be scared.”
He waits for her to climb into the hole.
Takes her hand as she reaches the bottom.
“Smells very soilly and stuffy, but we’ll be out soonly.”
He lets go of her small hand and walks further into the darkness.
“Wait for me!” The little girl shouts. “I don’t think this is a good idea.
I’m scared of the dark.”
He turns and waits.
When he is able to see her face, he reassures her.
“We’ll be in the light soon. Promise. Only this darkly passage and we’ll be out of here and this will only be a memory. Vaguely. Come.”
He turns and walks.
She short on his heels.
“What’s that noise?
“That is only the drip of the rivery space. We’ll be there. Soon. Nearly. Don’t worry.”
He turns and faces her again.
“You’ll love it. There’s this really cool ringy thingy with mostly only mossy stuff. Can’t say what it is for surely, but my handy thingy tells me it might be one of those others we found by the parky space. You remember?”
She moves closer to him.
Her face just-just visible.
“Do you mean the…”
“Yeah!” He interrupts her excitedly.
“Come. You’ll see.”
“Slow down.” She rushes after him.
“Almost there.” He reassures her again.
He enters the room.
The sliding door closes behind him. He hears it lock. Softly. He wipes the sweat from his forehead and walks towards the desk hovering in the middle of the room. The lights were dim, only the blue underneath the desk. He straightens his shirt; it was silky grey; his pants white.
Every minute that passes
Christmas by Khaleel Jooste / Romance & Love have rating 3.8 out of 5 / Based on15 votes