Fiction exerpt: Rih Al Khamsin

A Spiritual Tale
“How did you get here?” She asks.
Our camels – dromedaries really, but everyone calls them camels here – walk us across the infinite sand. Our companions fled when we were warned of bandits. She had told us we were safe despite appearances. The bandits did leave us alone. Life has become unpredictable to me. It did not use to be this way. Everything was so easy until I tried to be true to myself.
“Don’t you already know my story?” I ask.
She felt familiar to me when I first saw her. I had a tingly sensation in my chest and a feeling … an experience of recognition like meeting an old friend, or was it a long lost lover? Since we dressed in desert clothes, including a veil, I could draw no more hints from her looks to help me remember her. Only the sound of her voice teases my curiosity. Imagination, like mirages, plays with my mind. I imagine her in ways I would not want her to know, at least not without being more acquainted.
“I like the sound of your voice,” she says.
Hmmm… Is she flirting with me?
“I was married,” I start, “I had a good paying job, then I lost everything, and went bankrupt.”
 “I cannot feel you in what you are saying! I want to know you, not your circumstances …”
I don’t understand and shut down.
“You’re not used to people being interested in you, are you?”
“… guess not!”
“We could make love right now and then you would trust me enough to open up, or you could just trust me.”
Before I can tell her of my thoughts, she continues, “… of course, once we make love, you’ll stop seeing me as I am … You’ll dream of making love again, and you’ll start being scared of losing me. Trust wouldn’t last.”
I think of Le petit prince and The Alchemist.
“… so why don’t you just trust me and avoid all this drama.”
Her earnest ways disarm my entangled thoughts.
“Who are you?”
“Mary Magdalene.”
And so I trust her. “When I lost everything, I first felt freedom. I had a new chance at finding meaning in life. I saw a therapist to find out who I am. She listened. One day she told me I should stop therapy, get back to my former line of work and to my former wife. Every fiber of my being screamed that she did not know me. I did not know how to tell her my truth. I did not know how to say she had gotten me wrong when I did not know what was right.”
“I like it… Continue…”
“You like what?”
“You are on your journey. It’s all good, don’t be scared!”
“So I went to see a psychic. What I remember the most is he said people don’t know me because I don’t know myself …”
“You only think you don’t!”
“I am still lost!”
“Only in your mind!”
“… not in your heart!”
“Listen to your words! When the therapist urged you to return to your meaningless life you knew she did not speak to your truth, so you weren’t lost! She gave you back to yourself.”
“I don’t think she intended that!”
“Does it matter?”
“Is that water ahead?”
“No! Not for another hour!”
“How do you know? Are there signs?”
She chuckles. “I know this path!”
Time passes. Suddenly, I scream: “How did you do that?”
“Do what?”
“You changed me into a woman!”
“Child! You did it! You wanted to see life as a woman!”
“But when I had thoughts like this before they never came true!”
“Would you stop asking why, and just experience? What’s new?”
“Well … I have lost my lust for you!”
“Ha! Ha! What else?”

(soon to be published in a collection of shorts called CONSTELLATIONS)

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