The sky out my window is that fiery red which makes the heart swell with life and there it is again: that sensational expanding within my chest, rising to my throat, gripping and stinging my eyes.
I bury my face into the scarf. Traces of fig leaf and sandalwood bring her rushing back to me as the mountains stretch into fractals, the tears come. The puddle on the red sky horizon, where the sun has fallen and melted, flickers with a faint shimmer and so suddenly the desert goes dark and I have never been so mysteriously out of sorts than I am on the six o’clock from Casablanca.
Gliding to a stop, the train hisses and pops, and ever so tentatively the doors stretch open, as if waking from an ancient sleep, creaking, stretching and finally, almost there, quit so those deboarding turn sideways, sucking in bellies and removing packs and balancing boxes upon trained heads. There’s no telling where we are. Out there, way out there, I mean stretching-your-eyes out there, is a city or at least a cluster of lights. Is that it? But here, it’s just a lamppost and a platform of backlit women, veiled and watching our subtle roll and pass through as their smiles fall into frowns, and they go on waiting and we lurch deeper into the African night.
Each one’s the same. Hiss, pop, impossibly congested desert town platforms, lampposts blackened with moths and large scaly things as the moon, rising beyond, lends a silvery glow over all the details she touches as the desert comes to life once more in this reversed role as nature returns to her rightful place and it’s our turn, us humans, to hide away within dens and shrubs.
So. Completely. Alone.
Every single desert town. Platform of veiled women. Waiting. Sometimes I catch sight of their villagers beyond, dusty main streets and always the shadowy figures of children running amok, kicking cans and beating the tattered remains of saggy cardboard boxes with twigs and old broomsticks.
Cracking the seal with a sharp click I down the bottle and bury the evidence deep into pack as the tremble in my hand steadies and I drift away…”
The protagonist has just landed in a mysterious town in Africa. With nothing but a rucksack and a name scratched across a piece of paper: Djemaa el-Fna, “whatever that means…”
We open as he’s feeling deep regret for the past year and taking this tremendous leap into the unknown. But, at the same time, aware of this need to liberate the self from the old life which has led to a deep pit of depression and drinking…
While my novel is entirely true, there are moments which I allow artistic license to paint scenes with more interest.
I would love to know what you think.
Yes, this is only a small glimpse, but I know the importance of landing an intriguing opening. And this is my goal here…