Was she damned, cursed and denied salvation? Wasn't heaven looking upon her at all? Would she ever fall in love again or was he the death of her?
When she fell in love with Laith, she was just a child; a fifteen year old with plaits and notebooks full of rebellious poems.
"Lady Rowena of Sherwood
I'd die to kiss your sacred foot
The stars are shining in your eyes
Among a thousand bittersweet lies"
And there were many more…
She remembered all those faint memories and felt her eyes moisten with long imprisoned tears. Those beautiful days of the past! How she regretted not enjoying them to the fullest and how she missed his melancholy pleasant scent.
Whenever she read those poems she wrote back then, she remembered his scent; strong, manly and strange…
The first time they met was in a hospital. Her mother was having a breast surgery and he was visiting a friend. They smiled at each others and he casually picked up a paper that she threw on the ground with frustration.
"I'm a curious sucker! I know that!"
She smirked as she remembered his always-ready excuses. He never failed at surprising her.
It had been a long time, really!
However that wrinkled paper brought them closer. She was just leaving to her house with her aunt when he called at her, waving with the paper and shouting with a mixture of gasps, giggles and curses. He talked one hundred words per minute and he was very tall, like Sakkara Mountain in the west.
"This poem is like no other shit I've ever read! Shit, this is art!"
She was a bit appalled by his intrusion to her privacy but soon forgave him when she discovered the reason he was interested in her, he, too was an artist! As a matter of fact he was a painter…
"Goya made nightmares an epic, he created beauty in the heart of ugliness and chaos, Goya to a painter is like Poe to a writer; they were both geniuses, tormented and scared. They scared us and scared themselves so they made a difference."
And in no time they became friends. Friends like no other, young, wild and free. Everyday they went out and about sharing views and thoughts on books, natural catastrophes and politics. They moved from a café to another, reading and talking. If one of them was possessed by the malicious art demon, the untouched would leave the tormented artist in that troubled genius of tranquil creativity. They cheered each others on tiny accomplishments and criticized their works constructively with increased interest as if they were professional literary critics.
"Love, thou art a devil in disguise
Fooling the fools with lavish lies
Wreaking havoc on the innocent
Burning the shelter of the homeless and the settled
Love, for thee I send my curses and despise"
And from here the fire blew up! She wrote that poem and he hated it, acted nervously and demanded to know why she had written it.
At first she didn't bother giving an explanation but when she understood the scary reason behind his outrage she started becoming hostile and running away from him.
She thought he'd leave her when she vanished from his life.
"In this damned country no man runs after a woman who leaves him. They just find another woman as soon as they glimpse the first sign of freedom from commitment."
One of her girlfriends told her so and she saw no reason why not to believe it. He would disappear because she ended their friendship and cut all the ways in front of his sudden shift towards a shore so insecure for her to row at.
"I don't wanna lose you!"
A phone call in the middle of a cold December night woke her up from her dreams and she listened to him as if she never knew him before. His words were truthful and straight-forward and although he was as calm as soothing as usual, his confessions didn't please her, the scared her! So now he was their friendship into a love story, now he would talk to her about love and other demons. Now he ruined their beautiful friendship; the only goddamned successful relationship in her life fell to the ground and shattered in pieces.
She pleaded for forgetfulness, hoped that he would shut up about it and would never mouth the word love.
But he was too persistent and stubborn; he put her in front of the dreaded choice. He demanded an answer and accepted nothing else.
When her memories got to that part, she sighed sadly and let the sea of tears run down her cheeks. It was all coming back to her like a hurricane.
"It's now or never. Yes or No. You love me or you don't! Cuz if love is not your choice, I can't remain your best friend and I can never go back to day we were still on the first step of the ladder."
She opened her eyes and sniffed back the tears wearily. Twenty years! Twenty years had passed since she refused him, since she said her no, broke his heart and hers in the process. She was proud, young and afraid of commitment, of love and other demons.
Here she was, in her thirties; lonely, practical, very successful at work and very lonely at heart. She knew that when she said no to him, she had lost her soul mate and her one. Ever since that eerie day, she saw nothing of him and never learned his news.
It was over!
And over indeed, she wasn't only a woman of business, she became a charitable woman, someone who would roam the cities of Egypt and spread the love and kindness in the hearts and souls of those who were less fortunate than her.
She gave her life to volunteer work and visited many poor areas; she saw hunger, sexual abuse, death, cruelty and grief. She considered it her task to help those people and make them happier with all she could. That was the reason behind her quiet trip to Luxor, where she planned to build a huge library for the poor ignorant children and start an up-to-date educational system with them.
She smiled and thought about those silly memories from the past and wondered who cared about them now? How could she relive ancient history and forget about the future of clean, innocent and educated boys and girls? How could she ignore the mothers who prayed for her every time she came to visit them or improve their standard of living? Painful past memories were nothing compared to bright plans in the future. This work did break the stone in her marble, dry life and maybe it would cast Heaven's sun upon her.
She quickly reached the railway station and waited for her train. In a few seconds she threw herself on a comfy seat next to the window and enjoyed the warm, merciful October sun.
She turned abruptly and saw Laith; gray haired, huge and surprised but smiley as ever.
Her eyes moistened, her lips trembled and before he said a word she whispered,
"I love you!"