My father was late and my mother was now going back and forth, praying loudly and mumbling things under her breath as she looked out the window. Her breathing got heavier as Noura seemed to sink deep into her thoughts unaware of the world around her. She was sobbing silently; I think she wasn’t aware of that too.

The air in the room seemed to get thicker, I felt I was suffocating, so I just closed my eyes and tried to escape to another place.

As I tried to recall some nice picture, that of a stone rippling in the water spring, another picture flashed before my eyes. It was Naji. Maybe it was because I was scared, so my mind immediately recalled its own icon of fear: The undertaker.

Saif and I had always been intimidated by Naji for no reason other than he was, in some way, associated with death. Whenever someone died, Naji would be the one to lower them down into the grave, and that was enough to make us avoid passing him by or looking him in the eye, it was as though he would cast some kind of spell that would make anyone who came in contact with him the next person to be wrapped in white sheets and lowered into a dark, damp hole. Parents even used him to scare children into going to bed. He didn’t speak much and spent most of his time inside his house, a house that Saif and I had always speculated about what was inside it.

“Maybe he has skulls” Saif said once.

“But, how could he?” I replied. “We see him when he buries people, they always open the white sheet at the face so we could see it. It’s always there”

“Maybe he goes back at night and digs them up. People say they saw him more than once heading towards the graveyard after dark”

A picture of naji’s tall, thin silhouette walking between graves loomed before me.

“But… why would he do that?” I shrugged.

“Maybe he likes to keep something to remember them with”

Suddenly there was a banging sound, and I felt a shiver. Just then I realized I had fallen asleep. I was still dazed as I opened my eyes, I saw my mother and father standing by the door, they were talking and my mother was pummeling her hands repeatedly over her cheeks. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but when I looked at Noura, she was no longer crying, she was listening intently, with a look of a triumph that told me beyond any doubt: she’d been avenged.









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