SALWA KARIEM - A SHORT STORY
Salwa Kariem is an Egyptian aspiring writer. She attended the faculty of English Language and Literature and majored in Feminism. She likes to write all kinds of writings. She also works as an English Instructor for a reputable international company. She is a fitness enthusiast and likes to listen to people.
A SHORT STORY
On a fine morning, she wakes up, all cranky. She gets dressed, goes down the stairs, goes up again, and then sleeps. She dreams of a fortune-teller. A fine, spare built woman. “She is beautiful,” she tells herself. She feels her sweat going down her spine, that bone-withering feeling she is familiar with weighs on her.
The fortune-teller commences her speech, “Look, young lady, you are to go in a deep slumber, breaking all the shackles of this modern world, flying way back in time, to an era that you belong to!”
She startles and tells her, “but I can’t! I am happy where I am now.” She adds “Plus, I am a woman of colour, I don’t think any era will really suit me.”
The fortune-teller looks at her with a grim and responds with all the mockery she has in her “you are to blame whenever you go; you are a woman dear. Yet, let not pain elude your intelligence. Women are known for their wit. “I want to be known for something else. I don’t want to be the cunning material; I want to be the strong one.” She says angrily. She steps forward and kills the fortune-teller in cold blood. She continues walking till she finds a hairdresser. She thinks to herself that a facial is in order. She finds the hairdresser attractive in a raffish way. She is not a woman of education it appears to be. Yet, she has an undeniable charisma. She asks her to do her a facial. The hairdresser looks at her face and tells her “you have a pretty, small face, don’t you?” She asks the hairdresser “if you want to be known for something, what will you choose? Beauty, strength, or wit?” The hairdresser looks at her in denial “is that a rhetorical question, love? Of course, I will choose beauty.” She looks at her and contemplates, “well you have a great deal of beauty, don’t you think that you might be in need of something else? More important?” The hairdresser’s own mental capacity is roaming around the entire universe looking for an answer. The hairdresser ponders the question, weighs everything against the other, and then comes up with an answer, “Well, I just need to be pretty and a man takes care of all the rest. Why would I bother tiring and exhausting my feminine body in a quest for something else? They are created to serve us; to work and get the bacon home!” She relaxes and draws out a razor blade; she starts to cut her face and body.
She gets gnawed at by these futile conversations. She is in desperate need of a glass of water. Nevertheless, she can’t find one. She gets close to a well. She gets closer and closer. She finds a woman. She seems to have a pious face. Yet, only her eyes can show. She asks “Do you happen to have some water, madam? I am really thirsty.” The woman doesn’t answer at first but then tells her “thirst is a humane quality. We all get thirsty. Praise the lord and ask him for forgiveness.” She gets perplexed, “Madam, all I asked for was some water. You have a well below your hands. Couldn’t you spare me some?” The woman replies, “why are you thirsty? Why didn’t you pack a water bottle? Why do you blame the lord for everything and you are to blame? Can’t you look at yourself? You are sweating like a pig; yet, you won’t get a drop of water from my stock. It is hot and will be hotter.” She finds the woman irritating. She decides to leave. The woman adds, “You didn’t even try to convince me to give you some water.” She looks behind her upon leaving and asks her, “what if I can give you a question instead? You kept bombarding me with a herd of questions. Can I?” The woman looks at her all lofty and nods. “Okay, if I give you the option of being known for something, what will you choose: Beauty, strength, or wit?” The woman triumphs and answers her in a pitiful manner “Young girl, I don’t get to choose, the Lord chooses for me and I get to abide by his choice.” She holds her by the neck and drowns her. “Well, your Lord has already chosen for you then.”
She is all tired and up in arms with the world of her dreams. She finds a tree, an apple tree. She picks an apple and sits under the tree’s shades. A man comes up to her and asks “you ate from this tree! It is a bad tree. All women who ate from it died already. I guess. You are to be more careful. It is the forbidden tree. Trees are nice things, but they can be really vengeful.” She looks at him, trying to recognise him. “Have we met before? You look like someone I am familiar with.” He smiles or rather smirks and answers, “Don’t you know me? I am the one who crafted the dream; I am the dream man. I get to interfere with your dreams and cater them, tailoring them however I need. You get to obey. Don’t you think that this is a recurring dream? You kill me every time.” She gets all scared “why do I do that? You seem like a nice guy.” He says “all the people you have killed are nice people, but you killed them anyway.”
She recognises him. She knows where she saw him. He is the master of puppets: The Puppeteer. “So, every time I kill you at the end of the dream. Well, I won't kill you this time then. I will just craft you a dream, a storyline, and you shall follow till the end of time. Keep repeating the same until..” He doesn’t wait for her to complete. He draws up a gun and shoots himself. She wakes up, gets dressed, goes down the stairs, goes up again, and then sleeps.
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