An Odd Creature – Short Story By Oussama Benayad.

Daylight started receding as dusk came to take hold of the limited landscape, whereas the continuous dog-bark near the theatre had intensified the state of turmoil in which I was contending. As everything around me had become dim, I grew worried of what may have happened to them. They were supposed to have shown up somewhere around there by dusk; but there I was, sitting alone in total confusion like a cursed satan, and waiting for fate to be merciful. By nightfall, I would probably be sleeping, as I did for the past few days, to accelerate tomorrow’s arrival so that I could wait for them again there at the same spot. But something went different that night; I seemed to be re-analysing how I arrived there, I was contemplating the last few days as though I were watching a nineties movie. As I was diving in yore, my brain was being wretched of a specific fear, a fear I considered to be the supreme, which was that of returning to the mental asylum, where I had been before due to issues that were no longer extant. But as I started thinking of whom I was waiting, and how they entered my life, I was immensely astounded by how odd that matter was, which made me feel nauseous and urged tears to thread their way out of eyes which always spoke for my disabled tongue.
It was one of those warm days of April when I thought of breaking the routine by going for an outdoor recreation. Visiting the sea seemed to be a good idea at that time. Although I loathed the terrifying sound of seagulls and the idea of how many people had perished because of those mesmerizing yet malicious waves, the hauntingly melancholic atmosphere would always bestow upon me a languid feeling that would inspire me to write at least some verses of a poem.
As I arrived at the ocean, I went directly to a specific rock at the seashore on which I normally sat whenever I visited the place; from there, I could see the other side of everything, It was so close to the water but at the same time very safe, it made me able of creating without being possessed by what I created, and, most important of all, without being kidnapped by the high, voracious waves of the Atlantic Ocean. But that day I couldn’t write, I couldn’t create and was deprived of the ability to meditate as my eyes caught sight of a human being who happened to be sitting few meters away from me, like whom my eyes had never seen. She was a young red headed lady with silky hair and a fringe which hung down her forehead to almost cover her doe-like eyes whose colour I couldn’t catch sight of. She was as white as a newborn, and seemed to be sketching the landscape. But what interested me more was the way she was into what she was doing, she seemed to be having a complete world of hers in which she was deprived of all senses except that of sight. She seemed to have been in a world in which there was no one but her and the sea, and by drawing what she was looking at, she was creating the inhabitants of her world the way no one did before.
A strong desire possessed me out of a sudden, and I wanted to know who she was; but as I was dumb, I didn’t know how I could do so. I felt as helpless as an animal; specifically, I felt like a dog which wanted to show its master how much it loved them, how much it was interested in knowing every single thing that was related to them, and how much it might endure for their sake; yet, all it received were two heart-rending words: “Bad Dog!” I felt very melancholic.
After a few minutes of thinking, I couldn’t find any logical way to talk to her, or to caress her attention, so all I did was to helplessly stare at her and at her leather satchel. Normally, I would never feel interested in a person whose clothes or any similar things were made by killing innocent animals. I had always believed that animals, like us, had the right to live without being disturbed by our greed; for that reason I thought that killing animals for food or for any other reason was a petty. But there, the case differed; there she was with the skin of a dead animal, but my principles had sacrificed their pride as I had violated them by wanting to know a person who did not conform to my miserable world’s rules, but it was not any kind of a person, this one seemed to embody hope, which was very needed in my hopeless world. She had the upper hand, she was a goddess.

Finally, she noticed my eyes looking at her, while my mind was vacillating from one idea to another.
‘The way… ” She faltered. ‘The way you’re looking at me makes me nervous!’
I couldn’t believe my ears. ‘She’s spoken to me, she really has! But how should I respond? How should I react to what I have just heard? And the tone whereby she’s spoken, it’s meant that I bothered her by my way of looking hasn’t it?’ I said to myself
I did not know how to react, so all I did was giving her a smile that seemed to be totally out of context, though a smile is never out of context.
‘What makes you smile?’ She asked, while covering her eyes with her hands from the sun-glaze.
I felt very embarrassed, and nonhuman. She had something I did not have, which was the ability to express her thoughts using her voice, and voice tones. “Voice tones” were what I had never understood; all what we dumb people could utter were some incomprehensible, horrible sounds which, when used with a tone, were not very comforting to hear, and for a dumb person who was not deaf, I suffered.
Thoughtlessly, I started making gestures which meant that I was devoid of the ability to speak. I was carefully watching every single move she was making as I was trying to explain to her my disability, and she did not seem very surprised or disappointed by what I had just said, which puzzled me a trifle.
‘But dumb people are generally deaf, aren’t they?’ She said with an innocent smile.
I took my diary and wrote “you’ve just said it, ‘generally’ there are exceptions” As I wanted to hand her the diary, she stood up and came closer to me. She shook my hand with her soft, baby-like, left hand, read what I had written, and smiled at me. As she smiled, I could see how black and full her eyes were, I had never seen such black eyes in my entire life; if Satan had not had committed a sin, He would have been in a heaven which looked like her eyes, morbidly beautiful.
She said her name was Sanja, She was Croatian and she came to Morocco to spend some time and go back to Birmingham, where she currently lived. Then I introduced myself by writing my name and my age on the diary, and as she read my name, she asked what seemed to be a rhetorical question: ‘Are these names or riddles you Moroccans have?’ Though I found that to be funny, I couldn’t laugh, as I would’ve started making those awfully peculiar sounds which would’ve made her despise me, so I just smiled like an inmate in the death row. Later, as I tried to see what she was sketching, she took a cigarette out of her satchel and started smoking while contemplating me as though I were a Da vinci’s painting. I felt very blissful; looking at her pallid lips, the god of that world whose inhabitants were being created previously is now depriving life of a few minutes through smoking, before my eyes. My miserable world seemed even more miserable, but I did not care very much at that time, I was absorbed into Sanja’s world; I was invited in, and I would’ve loved to stay in forever. But my visit was brought into a halt as she told me that she had to leave. I did not want her to leave; as with every step she would make, my heart would be torn asunder. So I made a gesture that meant “wait”, I took my diary and wrote in a hurry with an incomprehensible handwriting “would you like meet me tomorrow  6 PM theatre watch ballet performance”. After reading my note, I could see the look of hesitation seizing her wide eyes, and the way she was biting her lower lip made me even more scared of her reaction. She was too beautiful for a dumb person, too perfect to go out with such an animal, and even if she did, she would probably do so out of pity.
‘I think that would be great, tomorrow at 6. PM. But I don’t know where the theatre is; should I take a taxi?’ she questioned.
To my joy, I started nodding like a race-horse that had just enriched plenty of people, yet at the same time I felt very ashamed because she had to take a taxi. I wished I could have had a car but I couldn’t have. Most people my age were having such good time with their parents’ cars; going to parties and living their adolescence to the utmost, but all I could do was going to the sea from time to time, by foot, and then coming back home like an old retired man who was awaiting death.
‘Great then, take care ha-ha’ She said while leaving.
Watching her leave, I wished I had had the ability to speak; I had so many things I could’ve told her, I could’ve said that her eyes were haunting, and that she was one of the most stunning girls I had ever talked to. But what I wouldn’t have told her even if I had had a voice was that her beauty depressed me. It had always happened to me; that feeling of despair I underwent whenever I saw a beautiful girl; it felt as if my mind were more logical than my heart, and it knew that nothing was ever to take place between me and that person because the difference was too vast.
That night at home, I was filled with a sort of happiness that was seasoned with fear. I did not know how such a thing had happened; throughout my life, I had never had such a sultry, beautiful girl talking to me. I had always been considered a disabled guy whose company would be a struggle; and what exacerbated the situation was that I had never been interested in people who had my type of disability or any other type, I did not want to be with a person who cannot talk or see, or even hear; a person with whom we both would be compelled to spend our lives making gestures and annoying sounds. That would’ve been hell on earth; I would’ve killed my self in that case.
Awaiting sleep, I started digesting the details to which I had not payed attention when I had been with Sanja. The first thing that came up to my mind was the way her lips and the cigarette had been interacting, because that really did haunt me. Back there, I could see her lips feeling the cigarette more than they would feel a farewell kiss. For some reason, I knew that neither could my lips, nor could someone else’s be as vivid and longing as the cigarette’s tipping paper, which made me feel so small. On the other hand, I started thinking of a man who had kept looking at us in a very bold way that had kind of distressed me. Later on, as night seemed to be endless, sleep decided to take me with it.
The following day, at 5:45 PM, I was already waiting in front of the theatre; I was very agog, probably more than ever. I was, for the second time in my life, neatly and uncomfortably dressed, with hair combed backwards; the first time was in my sister’s wedding. My shoes made me feel so confined; the way I couldn’t move my toes inside of it, together with the twenty minutes that I had been standing there, and the billions of eyes checking me, in a hurry, had me grown a trifle perplexed. But it didn’t take long until I noticed her coming by the top of the street. As my eyes met hers at the distance, my heart started throbbing awfully and I couldn’t stand on my feet any longer, I was paralyzed. She looked so resplendent, so white, and so angel-like.
‘Good evening darling’ she said.
As she talked, I noticed something to which I did not pay attention previously; she had not come by taxi or, at least, she had not come by it up to the theatre. but I did not care very much.
Smilingly, I thrust my hands in my pocket, brought out a paper on which there was written: “let’s get in, I have already bought the tickets” And gave it to her. After she read it, she smiled as usual and we walked in silently.
Inside of the theatre, it was totally black; nothing but the stage could be seen, which made me feel so comfortable as I wouldn’t be examined by anyone and I would feel more confident. Also, I wouldn’t be wondering if Sanja had been checking how many pimples I had on my face, or how asymmetrical my face was.
The first performance was, in addition to its being unprofessional, a glorification to the great ballet dancer Fanny Elssler, as was said by one of the tiny things on the stage. Then, a sort of music which sounded like Opera created its special atmosphere, the elite ballet dancers started speaking through their movements, and some words were uttered, by whom they were uttered was of which I was ignorant, such as “À la quatrième” and “À terre” Among others.
For a few minutes, I had totally forgot the existence of Sanja, which made me feel guilty, and as I turned toward her, I could see her face enlightened by the soft light of the stage. She was very carefully watching the show as if she were to write a review of it, and the way she was innocently concentrating made me realize how I really wouldn’t be able to stay away from her henceforth. That was another time at which I wished I had had the ability to speak. It was dark and communicating through writing wouldn’t do, but I didn’t want to remain silent throughout the performance, I wanted to talk with her, to discuss this art at which we were looking, to do what people of high culture did, but fate objected, so I went back to watching the beautiful lasses colouring the stage with their sensitivity, while my heart was being shattered.
As the first performance ended, she turned toward me in total bliss and said:
‘I don’t know how to thank you for bringing me here, I will never forget this! I love you!’
In pantomime, I said that I loved her too, and I meant it although she probably did not. She was very likely to have said so out of thrill.

During the start of the second performance, she ignored me again, but this time she placed her hand on mine, and there it was, a strong sexual desire being embodied before my eyes. Her hand touching mine made me realize how full of lust I was, and how empty. I very strongly needed to be loved, and that act, which she probably did not do on purpose, made me discover my blind self a bit more. But as I was suffering from her impact, she aggravated it by calmly placing her head on my shoulder. I could hear her now breathing, inhaling and exhaling, and then inhaling again and exhaling, which seemed endlessly possessing. I felt like an unborn inside of my mother’s womb, and the breathing sound was hers, which made me feel very safe. I did not know what to do, so I placed my head on hers. At that moment, we progressively turned toward each other and, suddenly, our lips clasped.
‘I had too much fun!’ Sanja said after a fifteen-minute monologue.
‘So did I!’ I expressed with a hand gesture.
‘It’s only 8:20, how about a walk to and at the seashore?’
I did not mind doing so.
On our way to the seashore, too much love was in me, and I couldn’t think of anything but that five-second kiss. It was the first time I kissed a girl, but it was not “a girl”, it was Sanja. I, for the very first time, knew what it meant to exceed that level of being a body, to that of becoming a spirit; back there, we were two spirits dancing on the rhythm of the opera, while embracing one another through a kiss, and as the kiss was brought into a halt, we went back to being bodies. Meanwhile, Sanja was reciting what seemed to be a stanza of a poem:
‘Wait for me and for my love to you
Everyday by dusk, or so.
We’ll fly and sing as the sky is blue
With a husky voice, and feathers of a crow.’

‘Do you like poetry?’ I wrote on my diary and showed her.
‘Yes, very much; I even try to write sometimes.’
‘I want to read or hear what you write!’ I wrote on the diary.
‘What you have just heard is mine!’
‘I really liked that!’ I wrote.
Then, the usual smile was drawn on her face as the wind of the ocean started being felt by our skin.
We were passing by a cemetery that happened to be on the way to the sea, and through which there was a shortcut. As we walked in, I could feel a huge aureole of depression that surrounded each grave, which cleared my mind. ‘This is why I abhor death very much’ I thought.

At that time, Sanja and I were very happy and excited, while those soulless objects, the dead they were called, inside the graves were laying there senselessly, unable of relating, or of recognizing the feelings we had, or even of envying us. Similarly, after my death, I would be in one of those graves, and two lovers would pass by and I wouldn’t understand as I would be devoid of the ability to feel, to produce, and to offer love or hate or any other feeling. I would be a corpse, an object that had an aureole of depression surrounding its grave while people would be on their way to experience heaps of different feelings, negative would they be or positive, it wouldn’t matter, at least they would feel something.
‘Let’s sit on that wall!’ Sanja said, saving me from my mind.
I nodded.
We sat there on the wall, side by side, contemplating the sea, the waves, the sky, and  many other things, some of which did not exist in tangible reality. There were many people there at the ocean, yet I felt that no one was there but Sanja and me until, out of a sudden, someone said with a sharp tone “Get the hell out of here you bloody germ! This place is for people, not for animals like you, go to a dumpster maybe!”
Turning toward the sound, It appeared to be the sea restaurant owner or a waiter who was about to hit a poor homeless man that was asking for food. I couldn’t control my self; I closed my eyes for a second, opened them and, reluctantly, moved toward the sound like a bull. For a moment, I had become oblivious of the fact that I could not speak, and wanted to tell him to let the man alone or I would punch him in the face. But as I returned to my sane state, I went directly to the begger, and gave him a few Dirhams with which he could buy something to eat .

The begger then thanked me and said:”May God grant you happiness, as he just did with me through you, my dear son.”

I thought, at that time, that what the man had said was absurd. I may have been there at the right time, and I should not have been able to be there if some slight incident had occured on our way. Yet, that didn’t mean it was God who had arranged for me to be there and help that person. Because if God was a sensitive entity that enjoyed arranging  for those priceless moments when a person showed compassion to his fellow brother to occur, why didn’t he stop all the wars or, at least, send other men, like he did with me, to places where people are being eating by hunger? That would have made millions of faces smile the way this man did or even more profoundly.

As I turned around, I couldn’t find Sanja; my heart sunk, and my mind started thinking very quickly. I started looking everywhere and, to my fear, I even looked at the sky as though she would have flown. I couldn’t find her, and I was filled with sorrow.
About to shed a tear, I took a paper off my diary and wrote in our colloquial language what meant in English << Haven’t you seen a ->> as I tried to describe her, I was shocked. I could not remember anything except her name.
‘Have I done it again? I hope not. But what if it’s what I think it is? No, no it can’t be that, wouldn’t people notice me kissing nothing at the theatre? But it was totally dark and the seats on either side of us were empty! Still, it can’t be so, I felt the kiss, I felt it, and it was real.’ I thought.
To convince my self, I tried to concentrate more and try to imagine her face, but I couldn’t. I could not remember anything except her name, and I grew intimidated.
‘I think it is what I think it is.’ I thought with a bit of sarcasm and a lot of fear.
That meant one thing for me, mental issues. But that wasn’t what made me worried at that moment. All I cared about was Sanja, I loved her. For the first time in my life, someone had given me the chance to show them that I was not a boring, dumb person who had nothing more than what any living being had, it was the first time I was appreciated by someone, and it had felt good. I believed that Sanja would come back, I was sure she just went somewhere, maybe it was too late and she had to go back home, or maybe I was knocked out by the waiter of the restaurant, and I was now dreaming.
‘Anyway, she knows me now and we will probably meet tomorrow, and if I don’t recognize her, she will.’
Then, with a bright smile, I headed back home, hoping to die, but not really wanting to.
On the way home, her face came back to my mind, bringing with it two sentences:

‘Wait for me and for my love to you,
Everyday by dusk, or so.
We’ll fly and sing as the sky is blue,
With a husky voice, and feathers of a crow.’

The End.


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