Short Story

Bed 13

 Photo Courtesy of Anwar Sabri Photo Courtesy of Anwar Sabri

I am sitting on an armless steel-frame chair with a buckled backrest. I am propped (my weight, my woes, the great mass of frustration and fury that fills my head and every spare inch of my chest) on my two thin forearms. I plant them, unfeeling, into my thighs, and on the hard mattress of the bed, where I have spread a floral sheet to make it fit for human use, my daughter lies stretched out like a corpse. In her little nose there is a plastic tube which supplies her with a thin stream of life. Another tube feeds her more and more of the fluids, which are depleting much faster than the doctor said they would. Across the ward other beds are lined in rows, most of them empty. Two beds down a man in fifties is sprawled alone. Having failed to attract the attention of the nurses he is staring up at the ceiling. I can’t worry about him now. Now, my daughter is all I see. I watch her eyes, sunk in their dark sockets, and am furious that my hopes have fallen so low that all I want is for her lids to flutter.

I drag my gaze away. The flies partying around a stain beside the small plastic bin. The ceiling fan making moan, its rusty blades ripping through my guts. I am possessed by powerlessness. How am I going to kill him? How to beat him, if only this one time? I beg. “I swear I’ll never ask for another thing”. I lean back in the chair. The back buckles further. A despairing attempt to cast out the jelly of defeat from my lungs and my joints, and I weep into my trembling hands. Nothing works.

Azraeel, if you come I swear you won’t be taking her alone.

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Translated to English by Robin Moger.

العربية (Arabic) : هذا المنشور متوفر أيضا باللغة

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