This short story is about a death and loss. A mother walks through the desert talking to her son who doesn’t know he has passed.
Her dress flapped in the air like a pair of black wings. A hot breeze rolled across the desert throwing sand into her eyes. She tugged at her headscarf to cover her face.
“My it’s hot!” she said.
“Not for me,” said a high-pitched voice.
She turned towards the voice. Syed gave a mocking smile, his tiny teeth the size of pearls. She rolled her eyes at him.
“Not a drop of sweat on you!” she said covering her mouth with the scarf. She thought of how the Gods smiled upon him even in death.
“What can I say? I’m blessed,” he said.
Syed grabbed the extra-wide bag she had been carrying for the last mile. With the added weight gone, she was able to walk smoothly instead of leaning to one side, as she often did when carrying heavy things.
“You need to take care of yourself, Ma,” said Syed.
” I will, dear.”
“When I grow up, I’ll buy you a big house and a nice car with a…,” he paused a moment while thinking of the word, “what do you call the man who drives the car?”
“I’ll buy you a chauffeur, and he’ll drive you anywhere you want to go!” When he glanced at his mother, there were tears in her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
She couldn’t bear to tell him. Not again.
“Don’t you want a driver?” he asked.
She paused and wrapped her hands around his face. As her scarf fell away, Syed could see her cheeks were moist from tears. Stepping on his tip-toes, he used his tiny fingers to wipe them away.
“Don’t worry, Ma, when I grow up I’ll take care of you like you took care of me.” He wrapped his arms around her waist.
They stood there till the winds forced them to carry on. The pair walked through the desert another mile. Syed told his mother jokes he heard at school. She laughed even though she had heard them countless times. When they reached their destination, Syed grew curious.
“Where are we?” But she didn’t respond. She continued walking towards the cluster of palm trees standing a few yards ahead.
When they reached the shade beneath the palm trees, she knelt down taking the bag from Syed and pulling out a red ribbon which she tied around the trunk of a tree. Then, she grabbed candles, a few toy cars, and a metal container filled with rice pudding.
“My toys!” he said, “and rice pudding, my favorite!”
In her heart, she knew she had to tell him. She reached for his wrist, tugging him closer to her. Looking up into his eyes, she kissed his small hands.
“Syed, my love,” she had said the words often, but tears still filled her throat, “this is where you died.”
He pulled his hand away from her as his eyes grew small and his cheeks red.
“You lie!” he yelled while backing away from her, “you lie!”
The winds suddenly died as Syed’s high-pitched voice was screaming. And just like that day, he back further away from her.
“Syed, no my love!”
And just like that day, she rose to her feet to run after him but slipped on her long dress. He continued to yell, and as Syed stepped further away, a truck slammed into him.
But unlike that day, the tires wouldn’t peel the flesh from his bones, his blood wouldn’t stain the sands, and he wouldn’t stare into her eyes as he gulped his final breaths.
Today, he vanished into the air leaving her alone beside the side of the road.