Even with the lights on, it was still a dark corridor that stretched on and on like forever, and also, sometimes, like my bubble-gum—she would’ve differed and said something like it stretched on and on like her anticipated cellulite—but that forever ended outside a room that shouldn’t have been hers to begin with. I remembered all the things visitors brought us, things like chainsaws too weak to bring down the leg of our old grumpy armchair to use for the nursery bed, gold lighters too pretty to use for that last proper smoke, and some unnecessary meddling, and suggesting that eventually led to fights over baby names. I held on to her hands after her windy dreams and my garish nightmares were done with— we only managed to create something unconceivable out of them— and thought how unjust it was, that, we couldn’t bite into a watermelon right this moment and dive into its watery red schmaltz, or spit the seeds at 60 MPH while digging our fingernails deep into the rind. I entertained listening to the waltzing pulse in her chest close to her stitched tummy, but instead I stayed focused on those dump blips on a monitor darker than the dark, well-lit, bubble-gum/cellulite stretching corridor
It was still a dark corridor with zero windows even with all the lights turned on, and like forever might, it stretched on and on until it stopped outside the room with closed doors, her room. And as with all closed doors, one had to knock. I didn’t want to knock, because to me, and only me, this door left wide open was one I didn’t want to open. I knew the baby unicorn was there, unfinished, on canvas, with its silenced baby-screams, as useless and shapeless as that unspoken sorry we both wanted to say to each other. A few brush-strokes and all would’ve been well, but there was no easel, and no colors, nothing at all to go on by.
In spite of all that bright-blinding light, the dark corridor pressed on and on like a fed-up forever that decided ages ago to call it quits outside her room. Inside, there was a pauper’s jacket that was once mine, a creepy, slinky, wooden, toy monkey—also mine but not for long— and the beautifully hand-drawn, bubble-gum-pink unicorn she gave birth to, having a watermelon for lunch instead of breast milk. I laughed at it, like any proud dad would, but I cried, ugly nightmarish childish-dad kind of crying when I looked at their reflection in the window. She was still breathing from colorless tubes, still hooked up to dark screens with phosphorescent loud blips. I held her hands tight. Yeah. I think I did. Quite unreal. Yeah. Must’ve been.
I was holding on tight for her dear life, when the truth was, I wanted her to slip. I wanted to let them both disappear.
Riham Adly is an Egyptian writer/blogger/ translator. Her fiction has appeared in journals such as Flash Frontier, Flash Back, Okay Donkey, Bending Genres, Afreada, Connotation Press, Spelk, The Cabinet of Heed, Vestal Review, Five:2:One, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Gingerbread House lit, Writing in a Woman’s voice, and Danse Macabre among others.