by Ruun M.
Furnishing it decoratively in the immaterial adornments that signified life’s meaninglessness, forlorn found itself a home in my heart. A tacit longing, a feeling of ire, drummed placidly. The life which fell apart, reassembled hastily, presenting itself as a whole compartment.
Needled intermittently like fallen pins, the scent of exhaust fumes, and cigarette smoke filled the air, constructing a layer of confinement. Another day in the 6th Borough was another day in a familiarly dusty, hellish vacuum. In a world where nothing is too pristine to not find itself in dirty laps, or broken on the ground, the times never quite changed, but the end always felt imminent. The bouncing ball on the playground, the whole world— all that went up, came down. That morning, even though the sky was falling at a breakneck speed, nobody could hear gravity quite like her.
In the morning traffic, she attempted to block out the noise of the main streets. Perched on the silver lawn bench, in plain view from the window, she closed her eyes. She pressed hard against her ears, deafening the malaise of honks and screeching tires; numbing sensory. The fiery hells, and the fear which inspired manifestations of hell here on earth, shifted beneath the craters in the thick of the earth’s rigid plates, infused, widening the girth of the lens of which I pondered from the window.
A school bus filled with children craning their necks out of the windows for a better view of license plates as they taunted each other in jest. Unfazed by the commotion, tuning out the industrial din commencing on the road, she sat there, short enough that her feet didn’t touch the ground. Suspended in mid-air, little blue-ribboned white shoes swung back and forth like a pendulum.
She peeled her hands apart from her ears, and her eyes open, turning to meet my curious gaze. In a jump, she got off the bench, and in truncated steps, she walked to the window, cracking it open half-way.
“Who are you?”
Reaching inside the window, she grabbed my hand, and feverishly began tracing the brown lines mapped across my fingers, and palm. She recited the Quran. The Arabic she wielded with her tongue were words I once pronounced with a visceral edge, when I believed that in the trenches of the cosmos, the end times would fold up all of the earth like a carpet. When this happened, I thought, my soul would be cleansed. I thought sublimely - nakedly - I would swim upstream the heavens, reuniting with the essence known simply as Allah.
The girl began to tremble in place, heaving as if the violent onslaught of an earthquake ravaged her insides. Accompanying the sudden movement were tears. I thought her cries could be heard blocks away, that it rivaled the rush hour bustle but the pedestrians, and the cyclists and passengers let on like they couldn’t hear her.
The next thing I remember was Nabil, my twin brother, inserting his legs in the half-cracked window, lifting it up to the top, and closing the window behind him.
“Did you see a little girl?”
“No,” he said.
Ruun M. is a writer and editor of fiction and nonfiction. “The Cosmos” is an excerpt from her in-progress YA novella.