She was flying in her dream, flying through the sacred sky, when she tumbled through the clouds and landed in a heap of rubble upon the earth. Then she knew she was no longer dreaming because someone trampled on top of her trying to get somewhere else. She tried to move, but her legs were pinned down, her foot twisted in a hideous manner on the other side of a slab. Thunder clapped inside her head. She tried to call out, but her mouth was gasping on the stones next to her and beside that lay her tiny, battered heart shining in the moon’s light. Suddenly it struck her: she was dead. She could see pieces of herself all about.
Yet instead of being horrified by this, she felt a surprising warmth inside. She was flowing. Not down the dusty road and towards the sea, but up towards the heavens where her dream had been. In that very moment she was turning into light, her spirit expanding. She had risen and others had risen too, all of them ascending, weightless. They had begun again.
The village lay scattered far below, the people who had survived were shouting and throwing their hands wildly about, everyone looking for all the things they’d ever loved that had been taken away. She could not see this or even hear it, but she sensed it. All things came back to what they were.
It was market day, but she would never be going again with her mother and sister to buy the apricots and figs or the fresh anchovies from the smiling fishmonger. She would never sip sweet boza sprinkled with bits of shaved cinnamon bark or chase her sister through the silvern almond grove. La-le! La-le! – she could hear someone calling, the syllables of her name hanging crystalline in the icy air.
And it had all happened because of that evening years ago when the contractors had made their hidden agreement: more sand than cement. Who would even know? They exchanged incredulous looks as they imagined a new car, gold watches, trips to the resort by the sea. What was so wrong with wanting such things? What would ever happen? Nothing, not for a thousand years.
For the children of Turkey.
Donna Obeid’s work appears most recently in The Baltimore Review, Carve, Flash Fiction Magazine, Hawai`i Pacific Review, South 85 Journal, and Waterwheel Review; she was a finalist for the Julia Peterkin Literary Award and Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Read more at: www.donnaobeid.com.