Friday, February 29, 2008

Fiction work #13

I like to stare at people while on the bus. The last time was a woman; tanned skin, dark, curved eyes, and a long nose perfectly accenting her oval face. She seemed of Egyptian descent. I like to imagine her ancestors, a male perhaps, on a reed boat, fanning the Pharaoh, a prestigious position, he stands firmly, proud of where he is. The sun is warm; there has been some excitement in the palace. Some royalty has returned, or so they say. He doesn't follow gossip. Right now there is the feather fan, the thick, lazy, water of the Nile, the opulant, almost nutritious shine of the gold around him, and a man on the bank shouting. He is shouting at Pharaoh; they are debating property in an agitated fashion. The guards take an interest; our man does not, although he notices the wind picks up.
The man wades into the Nile; our man begins to watch as the guards close in, but the man puts his staff in the water and the smell, God, the smell, seeping outwards, like an infected wound, red arms, hands reaching, the smell like when he was six and his father injured his own hand. Everywhere, drowning in the scent, and the blood! Oh Pharaoh, it is blood! The Nile! What shall we do? Save us!
Pharaoh is livid, screams for his priests, flings anything in reach. His guards must walk to the shore, they are soaking in blood. The man has fled. When the priests arrive they bring a bowl of water. I hold it as they call our Gods to work a miracle. The water in the golden basin flushes crimson and my heart soars to know my Gods have not abandoned me. Pharaoh approaches, I can smell his sweat as he dips his hand in, but my soul falls away as I can smell his sweat but no blood. A cheap conjure. I wait for Pharaoh to summon the priests, to flog them, beat them for this deception, this failure, but he does not. He smiles. He is satisfied. His smile breaks my heart. I want to stop, wake up, erase this feverish dream, climb back onto the world I knew only a minute ago. But it goes on. We go home, where pharaoh rests, and I cry to my wife, terrified that the dog-headed god I no longer believe exists will eat my soul for knowing what I know. Now there is only one thing to be done. We pack up a wagon and steal away, four tiny figures on the sand, under the huge white moon. We run until we find a tribe. They know the man I speak of, and of miracles, of his God and of great love. So we make new lives, change, then grow; new children are born, we pass on, more children, they pass, years pass, the children of our children's children move far away, time passes, seasons, years, changes, until here, this moment, where his great-to-the-140th-degree granddaughter sits on a blue bus, saying her rosary, as I watch.

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