They cartwheel through his dreams, legs splayed, eyes open. Sometimes together, sometimes one at a time. Fabric unfurls around them, golds, blues, reds and greens. When he wakes, heart fractured, he can still see the colours on the back of his eyelids. In the early morning darkness he walks to the restaurant, his hands in his pockets, cracked from hours in the cold soapy water. He’s left Tariq asleep on the mattress in his sister’s sitting room. Later the boy will watch cartoons on TV and laugh. He’s already forgetting his mother and sisters. When the great wave came, he caught Tariq by the belt, but Meyra and the girls in their silky hijabs slid through his hands like fish. He still feels the boat buck and plunge beneath him as he walks, wishing now he’d pulled Tariq close and tipped them both backwards into the vast dark water.
Fiona J. Mackintosh
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