Long Road to Dreams
Appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine 25 Dec 2016
9 Comments at the end of story.
LONG ROAD TO DREAMS
They walked along the road hoping.
A memory not long ago.
Yesterday was like the day before.
Yet the dream kept coming, repeating.
When will it stop?
When will hopes come true?
Duha woke from a loud noise, crashing, bursting, and rattling the house. Her fleeting eyes caught the repeated bright flashes coming into the room. A photo of her parents no longer hung above the table. She searched and finally stopped at the photo on the floor. Broken glass lay around the frame appearing like diamonds caught by the strobe flashes. The bombing had resumed. Duha turned to face her husband. Almas sat up gazing at the recurring lights filling the room.
He shook his head. “Not again. Not again.”
That memory kept bouncing through his thoughts, as he trudged up the road in the long line. They were not up ahead, but somewhere in the mass middle. Almas was carrying Ozmat. A beautiful boy of four, black silky hair that sparkled with shimmering blue highlights.
Duha kept her head and face covered. Atya, their daughter, young, full of life, now traumatized by the memories of bombs and the dead. She held onto her mother’s hand. The only things in her eyes were forlorn images out across the gray rainy landscape, not wanting to remember, but hoping to forget.
Almas turned to motion his family to pick up their step. “We’re falling back. You know,” he said, “those who come first will be the first.” Noticing the people around him, they trekked to a rhythm of the line’s march, somber and mournful. The only utterance came from the long queue were the slushing of footsteps. No smiles, no lips moved, eyes absent of emotion, their aim captured the road head. “I don’t want us to be the last. It will be harder for us to enter.” Duha nodded, all that was noticeable through her hood were her worried black eyes.
During the nights, nestled bodies took shelter under bushes, trees along the road. Dreams scattered with wishes to come true brought back horrors of their house that took a bomb. Duha remembers thrown against the wall after turning away to avoid a blast. Tasting the blood remembered, her nose broken, her teeth gone. She was once beautiful; bruises, cuts, and missing teeth now disfigured her face. Almas said, “I’ll get it fixed. You again will be the same, beautiful. I’ll stake my life on it.”
She responded, “If Allah wills it.” She did not cry; it was what happens in war.
“I will, I will it,” he told her. “I will make it right.”
“Only if Allah wills it.”
The oncoming drizzle welcomed the horde of unwashed reeking bodies no longer noticed along the road. Many stopped. They entered the bush to disrobe and cleanse their bodies from the stench of sweat.
That night, Almas lay sleepless and stared into the darkness. Silhouetted trees swayed in the wind. It was like that during the crossing. Waves were higher than his house. Saltwater splashed across the rubber boat speeding as fast as the engine could propel it. Little Ozmat bawled and yelled in his father’s clutched arms. Sensing her grief, Duha tightens her grip on Atya—she sobbed. Almas fingered his Subhah in his pocket and recited the ninety-nine names of Allah. Ozmat screamed at every wave coming into the boat.
The mass slogged on to another day along the wet road, gray upon gray, and black upon black. Every hill they crossed, another waited. Another day, like the last never ended. Rain fell hard. Rain fell soft upon their tired bodies. Their clothes wet. Feet sore bled from blisters. Thoughts became distant and far away. Queued in line, the family trudged on. Almas carried Ozmat, sick and tired. Duha holds Atya’s hand to keep from falling back out of position with the group. The crowd slogged on up the road, aiming for their dreams.
Starry nights didn’t abate the memories. Duha tossed and turned throughout the night remembering. Fighting the waves coming into the rubber boat occupied her nightmares. The seawater splashed and drenched the migrants. Some cried, some yelled, some sick with fever, and some recited quiet prays to Allah.
Turning to the woman next to her, Duha notices her bending over her newborn son. Limp in her arms, he made no cry, no motion, or sign of breath. Then, a large wave came upon them; she stood up and slipped into the water. Duha screamed. No one took notice. The woman had no hope; a bomb before the flight caught her man.
They walked along the road dreaming to forget the memories.
Yesterday was like the day before, a memory lost to time.
Only for a fleeting moment of hope coming from over the hill.
Will they fulfill their dreams?
All the children of Syria.
1. CK Evans says
This was incredible. Thank you.
2. Gaye Franklin says
A truly grim picture, but told vividly and with mastery. Thanks.
3. C L King (@CLKing_writes) says
4. J Hopkins says
An intimate portrayal from a much-needed humanist perspective.
December 25, 2016 at 7:11 PM
Taking on this reality is no easy feat. Well told, well shown…well done.
6. K S S Pillai says
Ravages of war portrayed well.
7. Irene says
Hope will overcome horror. Well done.
8. Jon Beight says
This reads as an excerpt from a novel. If it isn’t, you should consider it. Thank you for what you are doing for the family. A very well written piece.
9. Collis says
Emotional and well written piece. Thank you.