Short Fiction by J M Jackson
My parents named me Ehsan. I have lived for eleven years. My parents saw five of those years. I have new parents now. But I have my same old wall. I remember many happy sunrises and many happy days spent sitting against my white wall. I share my wall with my gecko friends. They come to say hello each day. They run around my feet. They tickle along the wall.
I loved learning English when I was younger. I like to think in English now. When I look at my feet, I see sandals and not saplai. I found my sandals last year on the street. They were a bit bloody, but still good sandals. I cleaned them up fine. I am almost too big for them now. Or they are too small. I think I am growing. Or the world is shrinking.
Sometimes men throw coins at my sandals. I thank them in my heart for their kindness. God provides, and I am thankful. I collect the coins and sometimes I buy food. Uncle Fariad sells food from his shop on the next street. He is always shouting when I see him. He always makes sure I have food when I have coins. He is very kind. I think he looked after me when I was younger. He always has his pakul on his head. I do not think there is an English word for pakul. I suppose it is a hat. But that is too simple a word. His beard hugs his face like a bushel of spiders legs. I would like to have a beard like his when I grow up. I am not sure where he and his beard are now.
Cars always bounce along this street, driven by men with beards. The cars make lots of dust. My geckos like the dust but I do not like it. I can watch the cars all day. They cannot stay still for long otherwise they get bored. They must keep moving. Their engines must stay running. If they stop, it is only for a short time. They move away quickly. I think they are in a rush to get away from this street. But I do not understand why.
Sometimes when the cars stop, men get out. Men walk up to the white wall and pass through the decrepit door in the wall. I like the word decrepit. It is a perfect word. The door is decrepit. Some of the men are also decrepit, but most look strong. I watch their sandals come closer and wait for a coin to hit the dusty ground. Most times, they pass straight by me. I do not mind. They are men. I am just a boy. The door opens for them with the sounds of bones breaking. The door’s hinges are broken. It is held up by the ground. It scrapes a path in the dust each time it opens and closes.
I like it when the door opens. I can sometimes see inside. The girl I love lives behind the door. I know it is wrong to love the girl. I am too young, but I am also old enough. I love this girl, and I know it in my heart. But I think the word for love in English is not correct. There is only one word for love, when there should be many. I know that there are different types of love. It is not all the same. I do not know how to explain them in English but I know that my love is the strongest. I worry that you cannot understand me because I am speaking in English.
Sometimes I see the girl when the door opens and I catch her smile with my eyes. It is often dark, but sometimes I can see her. I get more coins when the men leave. The men are normally happy when they leave. It is a happy place. I wish everywhere was happy like this place.
Sometimes when the door opens, my mother of this place drops me some bread. I say thank you with a smile and always eat it slowly to make it last. Eating bread makes me happy. I smile and wiggle my toes in my sandals when I am happy.
On some days, the door does not open at all. I watch the cars and I watch the men, but the men do not come to the door. On days like this, I play a game. I start to watch the door and I try to make it open in my mind. I bend my neck and look across to it from where I sit. Or sometimes I get up and walk across the road. I kick some stones, then I sit and stare at the door again. I squeeze my eyes hard. Sometimes I see writing appear on the door. I can never read it, but I can definitely see it. It slowly appears then fades. Like a messy chalkboard. When I finish staring, I get up and walk back across the road to the white wall and sit next to the door again.
One evening, when I was sitting against the wall watching the cars and the people, a car stopped at a funny angle in the middle of the road. I am not sure if funny is the right word, maybe strange. It was early evening, and the street was busy with beards and sandals. The car seemed to be quite dark inside. Definitely strange. It was an old car, decrepit. It sat silently for some seconds and I kept watching it. It seemed peaceful. The waves of bodies and cars flowed around it.
When the car door finally opened, a cautious foot stepped onto the road, followed by another. A head appeared above the door, and an arm. The arm was attached to a hand. It was up in the air. The hand was attached to a messy wire. A wire. The man’s hand was holding the end of a wire. The man’s head was looking up and. gone. flash. white. ringing. nothing.
I think I lost a few seconds. Maybe minutes. I woke up being carried by my love. She must have picked me up as she came out of our door. Her beautiful face. Her shoulders were bare. I could not feel my legs but I felt happy in her arms. She had rescued me. This was the happiest moment of my life.
Other people were running with us. I saw a leg on the road. I don’t think it was mine. I began to feel my legs. I was in pain. But pain is not the correct word. Stronger. My brain began to ache. Stronger. My eyes could not contain the liquid welling up behind them. I heard my voice begin to crackle, scream. I could no longer see my love. My eyes had clouded. It began to rain. The rushing light quickly turned to darkness and I think we had entered another door, me and my love, we were together in the darkness and then there was nothing. nothing. nothing.
My name was Ehsan and I lived for eleven years.