By Myrna Abbas
Blue. That’s all I saw as my eyes fluttered open. I felt a soft prickling against my back, and I realized it was the sand beneath me. The soft grains were sticking to my arms as I lay there, the scorching sun stinging my cheeks. I felt the crustiness of my dried lips as I ran my tongue across them. So thirsty. I curled my fingers against the sand and grabbed a fistful of the powder. Where am I? Letting the grains fall between my fingers, I planted my palms down onto the surface and pushed myself up into a sitting position. A bird flew past, and my eyes followed it across the sky.
My head flinched to the left.
With all the force I could muster, I tried to push myself up off the ground, but my elbows quickly gave in. I felt so weak, and all I could think about was water. I needed water. Scanning the area, I saw a few palm trees in the distance, and in between two of them stood the silhouette of a man.
A surge of energy pulsed through me as I jumped to my feet, but my knees buckled and I found myself on the ground again. I saw the man begin to sprint toward me and I noticed he was carrying something over his left shoulder. The closer he got, the more darkness clouded my vision, and then I was out.
“Is she alright?”
“I think so. I found her out on her own.”
The two voices resonated in my head, one blurring into the other. I recognized the Egyptian dialect immediately, and a certain warmth filled my chest. My eyelids felt too heavy to open; a big lump stood in my throat. I felt a soft hand gently pry my mouth open, as cool water trickled into my mouth. In an instant, I shot my eyes open and violently snatched the heavy clay pot from the stranger aiding me. It felt cool against my palms as I bent my head back and let the water hydrate my dry throat and make its way down to my stomach.
“She’s definitely awake now. You poor thing.”
Panting, I put the pot down and took a look around me. An elderly woman kneeled beside me, her light green eyes staring tentatively into mine. I noticed her dark brown Jellabiya and tattered rubber slippers. Bunches of yellow gold bracelets decorated her fragile, ivory wrists, and made a soft, abrupt jingle as she reached her hand out toward me.
“What’s your name?” she prompted.
“Don’t scare her, Amma. She is probably a tourist and may not understand a word we are saying.” It was the man from the desert. He was standing behind the woman, his hand placed on her right shoulder. He was also dressed in a dark brown Jellabiya, but had a white turban wrapped around his head. He was significantly younger than the woman, yet his hands were darkened with labour.
The woman disregarded his demand, “Come now, child. Everything will be alright. My name is Fatima, and this is my son Abdul Rahman.”
They both froze, awaiting my reply.
I opened my mouth to speak, “My name is Nadia,” my voice cracked.
A wide smile spread across both of their faces, and the young man kneeled down to my eye level.
“You are from here!” he exclaimed. “It was hard to tell at first.”
The elderly woman squeezed my hand. “What were you doing out there on your own? Are you lost, my dear?”
For a moment, I couldn’t respond. It wasn’t because I was too tired or too scared, but because I did not know.
“..I,” I cleared my throat, “ I don’t know. I don’t know how I got here.”
They exchanged a confused look. The woman shifted her weight and plopped herself down on the floor. “What’s the last thing you remember?”
This is part 1 of the series ‘District of the Heart’ by Myrna Abbas. If you have any works of fiction that you would like to share, contact Egyptian Streets via email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment!