In a world that never smiled, a truth that never spoken and miracles that were never visible… the moonlight shone so bright along the silver pond that was a plot for a historical yet unknown incident.
He was there, staring through the stars, devastated from life as lots of his kind, searching for salvation among the realms up high, as they may have searched for salvation within the low spot he stood still.
As he drank from its silver drops, he found his reflection upon its mirror visage. How much did life change his beauty into much ugliness! Scars were all over his face and body, making him smile from sadness instead of happiness. He kept staring at the sky that seemed like staring back to him. If the earth abandons us, will the stars disbelief in our mission?
He thought he heard a cry, but it was real. A continuous weeping of a child that echoed within the gaps of his life. Beyond the silver pond, he thought he saw the figure behind the tree, but it was only a shadow. It was too dark, too glamorous, when life goes too harsh while still it’s full of vast wonders for us to discover!
He found an old small boat that only had room for one. He felt lucky using it for reaching the shore that carried much mystery and puzzles. It’s the unraveled instinct inside us that always drives our interests to the unknown, to the unsolved riddles. It can be a blessing. It can be a curse. We can never know, unless we pass to the other side of the shore!
He floated on his way to the other side, where the pond was full of unknown creatures diving underneath his endeavor. He didn’t see them, but feeling their existence was enough! Nevertheless, He kept fighting with his doubts, risking his life, all for the unknown!
The other side was like a different planet. He followed the sound, and the shadow he saw from far away. He circled around the tree to find the one that was weeping. The child buried his face through his hands.
“Are you lost?” the man said.
The child never replied, as least he stopped crying. “Who are you?” he asked again, “Where are your parents?”
“I am? How come?” the man smiled to comfort the child.
“You found me, thus I am yours.” And he held the boots of the man. He kneeled to hold the child and life him up, but he found him too heavy. He tried to explain but he couldn’t understand. He wanted to tell the child that it’s not who found you that must be your parent, but it’s who led you to this alien place!
The grip of the child was too strong when he held the man’s left foot. The man struggled to release it till he succeeded in flinching away. Suddenly the child looked so scary, it made the man even farther with his body and further with his heart.
He kept walking through the dull trees and dark land, but wherever his fear drove him to, he saw the same images and scenes. It was as if he was thrown into a maze; one that has no way out except for being part of it.
The cries of the child never left his ears. The man struggled too hard to overcome the maze, and dominate it with his strength, intelligence, emotions and sixth sense, but he always failed.
He felt like being a part of an unbreakable system that he longed to decode. First it was failure that he felt, but later it turned to feeling lost. He wanted to go back. He wished he can touch the lake of beasts once again; to just stay by the shore of it, or have a dive with those creatures of doom, just anyplace away for this maze!
Through the woods he delved through, he was about to reach the solution for this equation, hence he found another child by a rotten tree. Her pigtail braids were about a meter long, dangling on the floor as she stood there silent as a grave. Their length reflected an age she never grasped for, yet he had no choice but to approach her.
She kindly smiled as she gave him her back. Her hair was as strong as wood. She never turned toward him. He was the one who circled to find her smile directed toward him after the anonymous song she was chanting.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your daughter!”
“And how can you say so? Because I found you?”
“No. It’s because you are afraid, yet approached.”
Confused, shuddering, “I approached because I am lost!”
“Those who abandon their offspring are surely lost,” her smile faded away.
As she stared, he found his way into the maze once again. He was lost there for who knows till when. Nevertheless, he found the lake once again! He raced his doubts toward it. The cries were there once again. And the first child was still there, waiting. Across the other tree, she bloomed, “I am his sister.”
The man knew that he had to confront them in order to find a way out!
The boy, “This is the land of the lost ones.”
The girl, “Take us to the other side.”
“So do I,” the man yearningly shared.
He endeavored to carry the little boy that was nearly handicapped. She looked at the man and said, “This boat only carries two of us. It’s the same that brought us here! You should make the choice.”
He wanted to go back by any means, though he was too suspicious regarding their anonymous identity. He decided to let them go on the boat, and he would swim among the beasts!
He watched the boat disappear within the darkness. He delved into the mystery of the murky silver lake that shone within the night. He swam too fast to avoid as much alien creatures as he can!
The temperature of the water changed much as he peddled. He thought he saw several islands and heard many secrets from underneath, yet ignored all for the sake of survival. When he was halfway through, an enormous storm was there, with towering waves, as if he was in an ocean. Waves took him so high and dwelled him too low, yet he kept peddling to the promised shore.
He kissed the land as his hands touched the shore. It felt like a journey of years! He looked around happily, ran along the bushes, toward his home that was once too alien for him.
With dazzled eyes, he pushed the bushes, anticipating the scent of his place to find himself in another realm! He sure landed on the wrong shore! He kept wandering through its ugliness, lost, confused… afraid too! Till he found the two children there…
He asked them eagerly, “What is going on? I do not understand!!”
They answered, “Don’t you know, misery and dullness are the shadows that follow us.”
The man fell silent, devastated, he sat there, right next to them. They became his best friends; his new family. They shared with him their company, and he shared with them their curse…
- Published with Beyond Magazine / Cairo / August 2010.
- Published online with United-Humanity.com
Reviews by my Readers,
Carina Bastian de Souza: Yes, the world is full of misery and dulness but it has light and love as well. Each one of us has scars as a result of our inner fight between those two forces.Each one of us has to decide what side we are going to feed inside us.We are stronger, braver and smarter than we think. Once we choose light and love, with all of our faith, we are not lost anymore. You carry misery and dullness with you only if YOU want it.It's your choice!! Don't blame others! Don't you ever dare to give up!!
Imelda A Williams: Common sense of communicating to any citizen in this world will all help us understand each other "culture, personality, tradition" appreciation of what in been gained in an Education; shall all link us in unity.
Nancy Schultz: Mahmoud...this is simply FANTASTIC !!! I love your writings...one would not dare skip over even ONE WORD for each word you write instills some emotion, or brings to ones eyes an actual picture of what is happening in the story. Keep writing, my friend, for if you don't the world would be missing something of great beauty !
Heidi Lessmann: The man's two companions misery and dullness found him after he had searched for something...his identity.Before he found them had to first deal with two other companions fear and danger.His life followed by shadows that we all have to master in our lives.Our lives are an adventure, we travel with shadows that we learn to live with. We have the choice, either we let the shadows control us or we have the strength to know their character and face them with a smile.
Alia Taher: Mahmoud, it's lovely & very profound as usual. I really enjoyed reading it. I like the way you tackle & depict the theme of belonging & the sense of closure that the story culminates into after the struggle the hero undergoes throughout the... story. The continuous weeping sound that he hears & which somewhat echoes throughout the story, thanks to the vivid description, reminds me of some famous lines in Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "In Memoriam." This is how they go:
But what am I?
An infant crying in the night;
An infant crying for the light,
And with no language but a cry.
Similarly, the hero of your story as well as all humanity are crying & yearning for the light. The hero & the children experience this light through sharing & togetherness, since he embraces their burdens & they embrace his & this creates a sense of comfort & serenity. A lovely piece of writing indeed. Keep up the good work :)
Aliaa Mohamed: An outstanding gothic story, a brilliant one indeed :). I loved those lines : "It’s the unraveled instinct inside us that always drives our interests to the unknown, to the unsolved riddles. It can be a blessing. It can be a curse. We can n...ever know, unless we pass to the other side of the shore!"
I like how you depicted the man's inner conflict & agony through scars & weeping. He was pursuing something neglecting his inner soul (the child within him) till it became dull & miserable. Portraying his uselessnes in the handicapped boy was really interesting. You made it easy for me to visualize it & I somehow perceived it as a dream =)
Noha Khatib: PERFECT ..... so impressive , really through life when we pass through the passage of being lost misery and dullness become a two familier companions for us our , lands become very strange places to us and we decame so doomed , but we must... never give up life is but a thread of challenges and we must fight for finding our way through it . Sometimes we must fight our fears to know what is ambigues to us in order to conqure it and find our way towards the peace road but if we surrender to it our life will be crowded by more heavy guests even heavy than misery and dullness . Really it is the first gothic short sory i read and it make sense to me , the way you repreasented his journey and his discoveries aroused my curiosity so much , i think it is not the man story only it is most of us story we always bring misery and dullnes to our life making them a stable guest then we suffer alot to puch them out and conquer them kicking them out of our life forever .... wish you impress us with more of your beautiful artistic pieces and cordial thanks for sharing :))
Maria Neville: Excellent piece of literature Mahmoud..beautiful metaphors...very moving...and true...we never know if our unsolved riddles are a blessing or a curse unless we cross to the other shore.....
Manal El Diwany: Great ending !
“He asked them eagerly, “What is going on? I do not understand!!”
They answered, “Don’t you know, misery and dullness are the shadows that follow us.”
Let me say that's sometimes the essence of the word 'fate' He left " the silver pond that was a plot for a historical yet unknown incident." to find something out there on the other side, returned back wiz"misery and dullness".Isn't that wat we face every single day?! expectations that may be shattered for any reason or another.
"They shared with him their company, and he shared with them their curse…"
I can say that this became his curse too.
But let me ask a question please. Is there any connection between the boy & misery,and the girl & dullness ?
Because I ended up founding the two of them wiz him and the girl was discribed as "she stood there silent as a grave. Their length reflected an age she never grasped for " that's simply dullness.Earlier u mentioned this about da boy "He circled around the tree to find the one that was weeping. The child buried his face through his hands" again that's how misery is,so I can tell that this is a connection may be from my point of view ! it will be a pleasure to hear urs too.
Great job Mansi
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