Second excerpt from “Six Weeks”
I wake up to the muted howling of the siren. I open my eyes and, for a few seconds, my mind is a complete blank. Then I jerk up into sitting position, grabbing my phone from the bedside table. The phone is blinking with four unanswered calls. 9:47. Shit. Shit, shit. I quickly call father back. ‘I’m sorry. Just woke up. Alarm didn’t go off. I’ll be there as soon as I can,’ I spit out, all in one breath. The siren is still howling and I can hear it echoing back from the phone. ‘Morning to you too, Nairouz. Please, breathe. Check on the kids, take your time. Don’t leave the house until it’s safe outside. My meeting was cancelled, so I don’t actually have to be at the office until later,’ father’s voice is calm, or maybe he’s making it calm for my sake. I sit in bed, waiting for the siren to fade, straining for any sounds underneath that howl. I count one, two, three – several seconds go by, then four, five, six, and seven. Seven muted thuds, missiles falling in the sea. I close my eyes and take several deep breaths. I stretch my arms up, feel the tension in the back of my neck. Something is pounding in my head. I remember the wine from last night. Then the fact that I have two kids slaps me across the face. I rush out of the bedroom, my head spinning. I stop at Razi’s door and put my ear to it. I can hear him slightly snoring. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d slept through a missile hitting the building opposite. I take slow steps towards Yasmeen’s door. I open the door slowly and peer in. Yasmeen’s sitting up, hugging her knees to her chest. She looks up at me, but I can’t read the expression in her eyes. ‘Aren’t you supposed to be at teeta’s house?’ her voice, like the siren, is muted. I sit at the edge of her bed. She scoots her thin body closer to me, rests her head on my shoulder. ‘I have a horrible headache. And I overslept. You want to get dressed and come spend the day at teeta’s house?’ My fingers make their way through her thick hair. ‘I want to stay home and sketch,’ her voice is barely audible. I don’t tell her she can bring her sketchbook and pencils with her. We remain like this, the seconds passing us by, until the siren fades into silence. ‘Call me if you need anything, alright, habbuba?’ I kiss the top of her head before leaving her room to get ready.
It’s almost eleven by the time I get to my parents’ house, dressed in yesterday’s t-shirt and shorts, already sweating from the Tammuz humidity, my body under-caffeinated, my head still pounding, I almost run into father as I open the door. ‘Mashallah, Nairouz,’ he takes a step back to let me pass through. ‘You look . . . are you okay?’ I turn to face him, shoving my hands in my pockets. ‘As okay as I can get when we have missiles falling around us, and me having to – ‘ I stop midsentence. Father nods at me silently and gives me an awkward half a hug. ‘Alright then. I’m off. I wrote down the address and room number of that physiotherapy class for you. It’s on the kitchen table. Class begins at four, but you should be there ten minutes earlier. You can take my car, I’ll take a walk to the office.’ And then he’s gone. What physiotherapy class?! I want to scream at the door.
(c) khulud khamis, 2016
To read the first excerpt, go to: https://haifafieldnotes.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/six-weeks-work-in-progress/
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