by Marjorie Robertson
It all started when Baba came home from Cairo. That was when you got those crazy ideas, they say. At night in the coolness of our stone house the soft roar of trucks on the highway to Rabat came and went like ocean waves, and we whispered to one another through the curtain separating our rooms. (Like sleeping on a beach along the French Riviera! you said. Like working the docks of Marseille! I teased back.) Your visions of distant places along with a hearty stubbornness were a bad omen, a bad combination for a young woman from the valleys of Morocco—(said Mama with her arms lifted and outstretched, palms up, just as her mother had done to her in her youth). But sometimes, whenever you felt like it, you were quiet, even with me, your sweet chiot, your puppy—(if you said sit here, I sat, eat this, and I ate). Say what they will, but I say once in your entire life, that time after Cairo two years ago, you tired of dreaming aloud, and you became unreachable—a hard shell of a woman with endless black eyes to keep even me from knowing her thoughts.
And then you were gone.
Oh, my leader, my most beautiful sister! You were my shade at midday.
Baba had cut his trip short for the Eid and by coincidence the end of the harvest, an easy time of year to remember for the special way the indecipherable sounds and swirling odors and tastes stick to each other to form a memory.
The scene was a familiar one—a caravan of cousins from the city arrived, and a soccer game promptly began while I tended the spit and could only watch the game with envy as the roast sheep sizzled and crusted over.
You came out and stood beside me with Aunt Siman’s baby propped on your hip and a tray of sweet mint tea balanced in your hand.
“Go play,” you said to me. “The fire will keep itself for a time.”
To read the full story, go to the Santa Fe Writers’ Project at: