Monday, September 6, 2010

The Island of Amodhai

The memory came over him, heavy on his chest, a crushing weight. He threw off the few blankets that covered him, but found no relief. He remembered her. He remembered the wife he left, her face distorted with rage, calling down upon him curses from the heavens, her eyes on fire like the demon of the sea.

His heart beat within him, the drum of an angry god. He exhaled heavily, and turned his mind with some exertion to the one he left her for, to Badriyah.

In her father’s garden, lush and overgrown, he walked with her, her hand in his. She looked at him with eyes filled with love, wondering and wondrous as when the world was new, two perfect mirrors like seas reflecting sun. The taste of her still in his mouth, intoxicating him.

He spun her a little in their path so that she faced him, their hands clasped together.

He said, “There is a story I half remember of a djinn and the mortal woman he loved. He promised her eternal life. I don’t recall the end of the tale. Perhaps you know how it ends.” He let his hand stroke her hair, resting his fingers on the curve of her supple neck, then gently caressing the length of her naked arm.

She said, I’ve never heard this story. Eternal life seems a long time, and all things pass away.”

He pressed his lips against her mouth, then placed his hands on her narrow shoulders. “I can promise something better. I can promise a little time, across the sea, on the island of Amodhai, the land of my ancient fathers. There, together you and I might pass our days untroubled. In death, our memories of that time will breathe new life into our bodies, resurrect the cheek of youth, and suffuse our shades with the hue and soft of living flesh. Our love like the sun in spring, will restore our form and figure age after age and transport us for a little season, though our ghosts wander in Sheol forever.”

She smiled at him and he said, “Open your mouth. Say to me: take me across the sea, to the island of Amodhai, far from this world.”

This moment he remembered, though it seemed now clouded, confused as though she hadn’t answered, his dearest hopes ruined. Yet he did remember, she said yes. And he counted that moment, in the warm sun and humid air, the happiest of his life.