She wore her favorite red dress that day. That one-piece with a neck strap which stretched up to her knees. It did cost 89$ but to her it was worth every penny. It was a bright, yellow Saturday morning. One of the hottest mornings of the summer, but she wasn’t so warm. She licked on to her butterscotch ice cream cone. Again, her favorite. A kid in the park ran into her chasing his sister. She laughed, bent over her knee and patted him on the head. She was so good with kids. One of the reasons why she loved visiting the park so very often. The park was filled with them.
A little boy swung her sister so hard she fell on the ground, but she didn’t cry. She got up, dusted herself, went back to the boy and slapped him so hard on the cheek, he fell on the ground and started weeping. A father and his son were playing catch with their baseball. The father cheered his son everytime he caught the ball. There was ruckus of noise in the park which was so chaotic, but to her ears it seemed as if it all blended into some sort of music. A music only she could hear. A melody only she could recognize.
A blonde flick of her hair dangled over her face touching her lips, caressing them. It went all the way through the side of her face, touching her apple cheek, obscuring her brown eye and toying with her lips. She placed it at the back of her ear with her finger. She offered her ice cream cone to him. “D’you want it?” she asked. She was standing right next to him but the sound felt so distant. It almost reverberated as it came to him. He raised his arm to grab it but she pulled the cone away. “You have to catch me for it.”, she said and laughed. He started chasing her as she ran towards the park exit. She laughed all the way through. Somehow the laugh echoed through the whole place. Dark grey clouds had started hovering over. They covered the blue and the yellow and the somehow it felt as if the colour had faded from the world.
She exited the park gates and stood still on the pavement. She turned around and looked towards him. Her blonde flick had now found its place on her eyelid. She blinked those brown eyes and again placed the blonde flick at the back of her ear. She smiled.
A red Volkswagen ran into her and drove away. Suddenly the day wasn’t bright anymore. It was as if a solar eclipse had occurred all of a sudden. The chaotic park fell dead silent. There was no girl swinging. The swing swung all by itself. No boy playing catch. His glove was biting the dust off the ground. A red rose in the park withered and then fell off. Dead.
The ringing of the phone woke Sam up.
He checked the alarm clock. It was 3:19. He picked up the phone.
“Yeah?”, he said sounding almost deranged.
“Hey it’s me.”, said Eric. His voice had the same heaviness.
“Its 3’o clock”
“What d’you want dumbass?” Sam asked running his palm through his curls.
“Nothing man. I just wanted to know how you’re doing”, said Eric trying to obscure his laugh. “Just kidding man. So listen, d’you remember our guide Iqbal?”
“Yeah”, said Sam. He remembered him quite well. That dark, middle aged man with crooked teeth and chest hair that could knit themselves a sweater. He remembered him ruffling his chest hair once in the street and going ‘It is considered to be a matter of pride and the sign of a true man in our country. Women go crazy over it’. He then smiled as his crooked teeth shone in the sunlight.
“So it turns out that our man Salem wasn’t like a complete stranger. He had come to the village a few days back to visit an old widow named Fatima. Turned out our man had the hots for her. He convinced her to leave the village just a day before the storm and she now probably lives in another small Arab village in Kuwait by the name of Behrami. So I called the boss-”
“You called the boss too? At 3’o clock?”
“I did”, he chuckled. “You should’ve listened to his voice man. It was hilarious.”
“You’re a nutjob”
“So anyways the boss says we have to go to Kuwait tomorrow. Or should I say today. There’s a bus that’ll take us to the village from there. So start packing. Our flight leaves at 5:30.”
“What as in 5:30 in the next two hours?” said Sam as he rose from his bed and looked at the alarm clock.
“No. No. 5:30 in the evening.”
“Oh Thank god!” Sam sat back on the bed scratching his head. “Wait so this couldn’t have waited until I woke up?”
“Oh! Oh yeah, it could’ve.” said Eric chuckling lightly as he hung up the phone.