‘Children Of The Universe’ by Mai Mostafa & Ahmed Nader Gretly

A young woman crouched on the ground, her arms around her knees, with sand between her toes. She gazed into that distant point where the sky, a pitch black veil with millions of scattered diamonds shimmering all around, met the infinite sea. She felt small amidst the universe that beheld her. She was so lost in thought, that the original reason of her being  there seemed vague. This child of the universe let her hand drop, then began to draw patterns with  her finger tips before cupping a handful of sand, letting its tiny grains slip between her fingers.

“Isn’t it marvelous?” a voice that seemed not to come from a certain direction, but from all around her, reached her ears.

The young woman did not know for sure whether someone somewhere really asked that question, or if that question merely came from the voices that roamed her head. But the fact was, she did not really care.

“I’ve always wondered,” she said with a voice that wasn’t really hers, but somewhat borrowed with its hoarseness  “Do fish get lost in the sea?”

She heard nothing but silence that seemed to last for a few seconds too long. Only the sounds of the waves and the cool breeze made that silence worthwhile. Then, she saw a glimpse of something at the corner of her eye; something like a tiny flash, a spark. Along with it, came a noise a lighter would make when someone rolls its wheel. A few seconds after that, the smell of burning tobacco reached her nostrils. She realized that the mysterious voice belonged to man that stood somewhere to her left.

“Well, people usually get lost in their own thoughts,” the stranger finally said “So maybe, fish do get lost in the vast sea.”

She weighed his words in her head; they seemed logical. She wanted to say something, but he beat her to it.

“I sometimes get lost in my own thoughts,” he said “But I try not to let that happen, because I fear my own mind and all it possesses.”

“I try,” the young women said, not looking away from that distant point in space “I try to run away, but she always finds a way to grab hold of me and pin me in place, making me relive all those memories that I’ve tried so much to let go of…”

The last letter, that ‘eff’ in Of appeared to linger on her lips until it became one with the sound of the rolling waves.

“They haunt you.” he said “They tie you down and force you to watch those distant memories as if these memories were some sort of movie on infinite replay. But there’s this one memory, this one scene that keeps staring you in the eyes, and all you do is strive to change its plot.”

“I was so young,” she said “maybe eight or nine, still trying to figure out a way to build a foundation for who I am. With every brick I built, she tore it down…and I was so weak, so powerless that I didn’t have the courage to stop her. But how could I have known that these things she did would scar me for the rest of my life?”

“When I think about it—” he began, then paused “When you think about it, you begin to form an idea of the reason why you are who you are today. You begin to see the chains of events, connecting to each other right before your eyes, of why you try your hardest to feel that you’re worth something, that you have to be strong and in control.”

“Curiosity did not kill the cat, it made her stronger and killed me instead, or at least a part of me.” she said as she went back to putting her arms around her knees, holding them tight “She was supposed to be my best friend, but she acted otherwise by constantly trying to destroy me. She mocked my every action, which is something that sounds silly, but at the time it really hurt. I used to cry, hoping that I’d see a different side of her. But it only got worse.”

“They mocked you—” he said “Th—they mocked me, for being strange. I cannot even remember their names, only their faces hover around me, wearing demonic grins. I was so young, so void of knowledge and they were much older, much stronger. I keep wondering, wishing really, that I had done something, ran away, or even screamed. But that scene keeps flickering before me, unchangeable.”

“Sometimes, others would sympathize,” she continued “but her side of the story was so convincing that it destroyed any hint of sympathy others felt for me. So I chose silence, but that was a mistake. My silence drove her to do the thing that still stabs my heart, till this very day. She’d strip me off my clothes, only to please her eyes. She forced me to please not only her eyes, but her body as well…”

She felt her face warm up, then felt something crawling under her skin. Her heart sank and her lungs shrunk. It was as if her soul was trying to push something out, but was met with mighty resistance.

“I remember them pushing me into a bathroom stall…” he said with a voice that was filled with awe “I remember the four of them pushing me against the wall, laughing to themselves, laughing at the young child they’ve been bullying for so long. They took off my clothes and began clawing at me. I did not run. I did not scream. In shock, I let them touch me in places I was too young to understand that being forced to be touched there would rip away my dignity. I did not understand. I was too young. I was too young…”

The warmth in her face increased, than she felt teardrops rolling down her cheeks. She heard a sound, and felt her head turning away from the sea to the direction where his voice came from all night long. She saw a dark silhouette moving towards her. The young girl got up and moved towards the figure. The face of the young man who’s been speaking to her came to vision; a pale face with twinkling lines running from his eyes down his cheeks. They both extended their arms, until their hands met each other.

They held each others’ hands so tight, with tears rolling down both their faces. Both children of the universe felt small, but for the first time in their lives, they felt strong.

 

 

 

Follow Mai Mostafa on Twitter right here,

and don’t forget to check out her blog: http://maimostafa91.wordpress.com/

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About Ahmed Gretly

Ahmed Nader Gretly. Construction/Site Engineer, fiction writer, poet, psychopath, researcher, a book addict, and a daydreamer from Cairo, Egypt. Currently doing Construction Project Management, MSc, at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
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