That night was very hard on Layla. Each time she remembered Abu Ashour She would shiver with fear. Why would she be so afraid after she’d seen him dead with her own eyes? Maybe he wasn’t dead. Maybe he was just asleep, who knows? Usually Naji is the one who declares people dead, and he wasn’t there. How could she be sure? What if Abu Ashour Came back for revenge. There was no rest for her until she’d seen his rigid, lifeless body with her bare eyes.
As soon as the first trace of dawn manifested in the horizon, Layla was making her way to Saif’s house. The village was still asleep and the unfamiliar quietness only added to Layla’s fears. As she arrived at Saif’s house, she picked a pebble of the ground and throw it at the window in the eastern wall of the house, where Saif’s room was. Fortunately for her, Saif was a light sleeper that she didn’t have to throw another one before his silhouette materialized in the window frame.
“You have to come with me” she said with a trembling sound that made him understand there’s no time to ask questions.
For the first time, Layla was running ahead of him. He didn’t know where she was taking him. They ran through alleys and winded corners they knew by heart that the dim light of early dawn didn’t seem a problem. They proceeded as fast as they could, panting heavily without uttering a word, until she suddenly stopped in her tracks. He was so close behind her that they almost collided at the sudden stop, but they didn’t notice, because their eyes were locked on the house where the corpse lay.
“There. He’s there.”
“Yes. I must see him”
“But… he’s dead!”
She turned to face him, and their eyes met, and he saw what he’s never seen in her eyes, a fear like never before.
Her first instinct was to say she couldn’t tell him, but her tears betrayed her, and before she knew it she was laying everything out in front of him like an open book.
“I need to know he’s dead”
“Layla, he is dead! Everyone saw him.” He sounded more mature and reassuring than ever.
“No! We’re not sure. No one is sure! I need to see him. I need to be sure.”
He looked hesitant, and he tried to calm her down again and explain to her that Abu Ashour Can’t be alive, but she didn’t seem to be listening. She only looked up through teary eyes and said what he couldn’t argue against.
Saif knew he had no choice, he had to make her feel safe again. He moved towards the house and she followed him closely. The door was open, but it took them a few minutes to muster their courage and cross the threshold. As they stepped in, they saw the still corpse lying on the sofa and could smell death in the damp air of the room. They moved closer until they were standing over the dead face, and despite the sheer horror running in her veins, Layla started to feel a sense of relief now that she saw that he was really dead.
Saif was relieved too as he accomplished his mission, and in an attempt to further reassure her, he touched the cold forehead of Abu Ashour.
“Feel it. It’s cold. That means he’s dead”
Layla hesitated a moment, then she put her hand in Saif’s hand who left it and put it over the forehead. He looked at her and smiled, but her eyes were fixed on something else, with the same fear that was in them earlier, and she seemed unable to speak. Following her look, Saif eyes rested on the sight that will haunt him for the rest of his life. There, just under their shaky hands, Abu Ashour Stared above with wide open eyes.